Saturday, October 30, 2010


rati-priyasya priya-vartino me
priyasya nuunaM hRdayaM viraktaM
tath" aapi raago yadi tasya hi syaan
mac-citta-rakShii na sa n' aagataH syaat

- = - = = - - = - = =
- = - = = - - = - = =
- = - = = - - = - = =
= = - = = - - = - = =

The heart of my lover
-- lover of sexual pleasure and of me --

Has obviously waned in its passion for me,

For if he still loved me

He would, having regard for my heart,
not have failed to return.

Whether one is, like the Buddha at the end of Canto 3, tatra (there in the moment, in the here and now); or whether one is, as Sundari is described in this Canto, anyatra (somewhere else, not with it), the fact remains that 2 + 2 = 4. Two plus two still equals four.

It is on this basis that in 16.64 the Buddha, as I hear him, teaches: When working of the mind is deluded in nature, / One should appreciate the causality herein; / For here in the midst of mental delusion lies a path to peace, / Like treating a wind condition with oil.

Hitherto in Canto 16, though her fear reflexes have been excited by anxiety and suspicion, and though anxiety and suspicion have excited her fear reflexes, so that Sundari has not been her former happy self, she has nevertheless remained in touch with her reason, as demonstrated by her consideration of why? and how? in the previous two verses. From here, however, her thoughts begin to run away with her. A gap begins to open.

Dogen wrote in his rules of sitting-meditation for everybody:
"If there is even the slightest gap, heaven and earth are far apart."

This is a sentence that speaks to us on more than one level. For example, it sometimes serves to remind: To thine own self be true. But the sentence also describes what happens when a person gets even slightly out of touch with their reason. If we think that two plus two might equal five, we might as well think two and two equals a trillion -- a miss is as good as a mile.

Having asked questions that deserve to be asked, questions asked on the grounds of causality, here Sundari begins to come up with speculative answers to those questions.

In a sense, Sundari is prescient, because soon enough Nanda will become besotted with the apsarases, the celestial nymphs, and his passion for Sundari will indeed fade away. But at the time Sundari is issuing this lament, Nanda, we are told in 6.12, is still demonstrably in love with her.

In conclusion, then, I read this verse as signalling the opening of the kind of gap in which thinking becomes increasingly divorced from reality.

I was taught in Japan that because of the gulf that exists between the reality of action and the world of thinking, no kind of thinking is appropriate in Zazen practice. Zazen is just the reality action, which is different from thinking, was my teacher's motto. So one, two, three... go. Just do it.

I was just the empty cup, for a while, into which my teacher poured this teaching.

But it gradually became clear to me that this teaching was itself just prejudiced, one-sided thinking. It was thinking, like Sundari's thinking here, divorced from reality.

This morning, waking to the sound of my neighbours'' five cockerels crowing, I took the precaution of taking with my to my cabin/dojo a set of noise-reduction headphones. After 15 minutes of sitting, feeling a certain ill-will towards my neighbour and her cockerels, I considered whether or not to put the headphones on. I remembered the Buddha's teaaching in 16.62: When the mind is agitated by the fault of malice, / Loving-kindness should be practised, towards oneself; / For kindness is calming to a hate-afflicted soul, / As cooling treatment is to the man of bilious nature. So, as a kindness to myself, I put the headphones on and enjoyed the rest of my sitting in relative peace. Though my decision to prepare the headphones and then to put the headphones on was informed by thinking, it was not thinking that was divorced from reality. It was more akin to what FM Alexander called "thinking in activity" or akin to what England's Rugby World Cup-winning squad called T-CUP, "thinking calmly under pressure."

Sitting with noise-reduction headphones on is not traditional, because the technology is recent. But the constructive thinking, even while sitting, which led me to put the headphones on was just traditional.

I come here to be alone by the forest in France because I have gradually understood, from experience, that living this solitary and simple life in nature is the most suitable way for me to experience for myself what Dogen called SHUSSHIN NO KATSU-RO, "the vigorous road of getting the body out." So I come here to work on myself, as an individual, utilizing thinking and spade and the blueprints of Dogen and Ashvaghosha and any other suitable means, and to enjoy myself, as an individual, utilizing noise-reduction headphones, electric blanket, coffee, BBC Radio 4 or any other suitable means. This irreligious individual way is what I preach and practice -- as far as is possible, without any gap.

EH Johnston:
My lover is so fond of love and so affectionate to me that surely his heart has become estranged ; for apart from that, if his passion for me still continued he would certainly have returned in fulfillment of my wishes.

Linda Covill:
My lover loves love and loves me; surely his heart has hardened, since if he still loved me, he would have cared about my request and been sure to return.

rati-priyasya (gen. sg. m.): being fond of the pleasure of love, loving love, delighting in the joy of sex
rati: f. pleasure , enjoyment , delight in , fondness ; the pleasure of love , sexual passion or union , amorous enjoyment (often personified as one of the two wives of kaama-deva , together with priiti q.v.)
priya: fond of attached or devoted to (in comp. either ibc or ifc.)
priya-vartinaH (gen. sg. m.): being in love
priya: fond of attached or devoted to (in comp. either ibc or ifc.)
vartin: mfn. abiding , staying , resting , living or situated in (mostly comp.) ; (ifc.) being in any position or condition , engaged in , practising , performing ; conducting one's self , behaving , acting; (ifc.) behaving properly towards ; turning , moving , going
me (gen./dat. sg.): of/with/to me

priyasya (gen. sg): m. lover, beloved, husband
nuunam: ind. now, (esp. in later lang.) certainly , assuredly , indeed
hRdayam (nom. sg.) : n. the heart
viraktam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. discoloured , changed in colour ; changed in disposition , disaffected , estranged , averse , indifferent
rakta: mfn. reddened ; excited , affected with passion or love

tathaa: ind. in that manner , so , thus
api: even
raagaH (nom. sg.): m. redness; any feeling or passion , (esp.) love
yadi: if
tasya (gen. sg.): his
hi: for
syaat = 3rd pers. sg. optative as: to be

mac-citta-rakShii (nom. sg. m.): having regard to my heart/mind
mad: me
citta: n. thinking , reflecting , imagining , thought ; n. intention , aim , wish ; thinking mind, heart
rakShin: mfn. one who guards or protects , a guard , protector , watch , sentinel; (ifc.) guarding against , avoiding , keeping off , preventing
rakSh: to guard , watch , take care of ; to spare , have regard to (another's feelings)
na: not
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
na: not
aagataH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. come, arrived
syaat = 3rd pers. sg. optative as: to be

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