Tuesday, November 2, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 6.18: Reacting to an Unreal Thought

sev"-aartham aadarshanam anya-citto
vibhuuShayantyaa mama dhaarayitvaa
bibharti so 'nyasya janasya taM cen
namo 'stu tasmai cala-sauhRdaaya

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

While I made myself up,

He held the mirror as a service to me,
and thought of another!

If he holds it now for that other

So much for his fickle affection!

Now Sundari is reacting to a thought as if it were real -- which is something that many of us tend to do much of the time. Hence...

"Non-doing is, above all, an attitude of mind. It's a wish. It's a decision to leave everything alone and see what goes on, see what happens. Your breathing and your circulation and your postural mechanisms are all working and taking over. The organism is functioning in its automatic way, and you are doing nothing." "If you're going to succeed in doing nothing, you must exercise control over your thinking processes. You must really wish to do nothing. If you're thinking anxious, worried thoughts, if you're thinking exciting thoughts that are irrelevant to the situation at hand, you stir up responses in your body that are not consistent with doing nothing. It's not a matter of just not moving--that can lead to fixing or freezing--it's a matter of really leaving yourself alone and letting everything just happen and take over." "This is what we're aiming at in an Alexander lesson, and if we're wise, and we understand, it's also what we aim at in our own practice of non-doing. It is something that requires practice. Like most other things in life, it isn't some-thing that you can achieve by simply wishing to do so, by just thinking, 'Well, I will now leave myself alone and not do anything.' Unfortunately, it doesn't work out like that. The whole process requires a lot of practice, and a lot of observation. Out of this process a tremendous lot of experience is to be gained..."

-- Alexander teacher Walter Carrington (quoted here)

Hence again...
Free from desires and tainted things, / Containing ideas and containing thoughts, / Born of solitude and possessed of joy and ease, / Is the first stage of meditation, which he then entered. / Released from the burning of the bonfire of desires, / He derived great gladness from ease in the act of meditating -- / Ease like a heat-exhausted man diving into water. / Or like a pauper coming into great wealth. / Even in that, he realised, ideas about aforesaid things, / And thoughts about what is or is not good, / Are something not quieted, causing disturbance in the mind, / And so he decided to let them go. / For, just as waves produce disturbance / In a river bearing a steady flow of tranquil water, / So ideas, like waves of thought, / Disturb the water of the one-pointed mind. / Just as, to one who is weary, and fallen fast asleep, / Noises are a source of bother, / So, to one indulging in his original state of unitary awareness, / Ideas become bothersome. / And so gradually bereft of idea and thought, / His mind tranquil from one-pointedness, / He realised the joy and ease born of balanced stillness -- / That inner wellbeing which is the second stage of meditation. / And on reaching that stage, in which the mind is silent, / He experienced an intense joy that he had never experienced before.

-- Saundarananda 17.42 - 17.48

What Sundari is demonstrating, then, is the kind of anxious, worried thoughts... that stir up responses in the body that are not consistent with doing nothing; and, equally, she is demonstrating the kind of ideas, like waves of thought, that disturb the water of the one-pointed mind. The problem is that when, like Sundari, we create some imaginary scenario, although the scenario is not real, the brain responds to it as if it were real. Whereas in sitting-meditation as non-doing, or as a practice whose direction is towards the end of becoming, the thing that has to be real is itself a kind of thinking, or wishing, or deciding.

This is why Walter Carrington said:
"You must really wish to do nothing."

And this is why Ashvaghosha wrote in 17.44 of Nanda realising or understanding (buddhvaa) how disturbing thoughts can be, so that on the basis of that realisation or understanding Nanda decided (matiM cakaara) to let go of thoughts and ideas.

Getting a grip on thinking is no easy thing. Thoughts and ideas are dangerous because the brain reacts to them as if they were real, and thus responses are stirred up by thoughts and ideas which are not conducive to non-doing, or peace. But if we react to that danger by shrinking in fear from the notion of thinking in Zazen, by attaching to the view that there can never be any place for thinking in Zazen, which is essentially a kind of physical gymnastics, and so those who practice so-called "mindfulness" are just non-Buddhists... then this kind of fearful reaction and this kind of stupid and arrogant idea might be just a perfect example of thinking having become divorced from reality.

In conclusion, what do I know about it? I don't know about others. If I know anything, I know that I went wrong. I know this strong tendency here and now in me to go wrong, an end-gaining tendency, a desire to feel right in the gaining of an end. I wanted to be a Big Time Charlie, I wanted to be enlightened. And even now in translating and in commenting, I want to hit the target, I want to get it right. The wish to do nothing that Walter Carrington speaks of, and, equally, the wish to end becoming that the Buddha and Ashvaghosha speak of, is a different kind of wishing altogether, a different kind of thinking altogether.

EH Johnston:
If, when holding the mirror to serve me as I decorated myself, he was thinking of someone else and if he is now holding the mirror for someone else, bravo to his fickle love !

Linda Covill:
He held the mirror as a service to me as I got myself ready, while thinking of another! If he holds it now for some other woman, so much for my fickle friend!

sev"-aartham (acc. sg. n.): as a service
sevaa: f. service , attendance on (loc. gen. , or comp.
artha: aim, purpose, meaning
aadarsahanam = aadarsham (acc. sg.): m. a looking-glass , mirror
aa- √ dRsh: to appear, be seen
anya-cittaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. his mind being fixed on some one or something else
anya: other
citta: mind, thinking mind

vibhuuShayantyaa = inst. sg. f. pres. part. causative vi- √ bhuuSh: to adorn , decorate
mama (gen. sg.): to/for me
dhaarayitvaa = abs. causative dhR: to hold

bibharti = 3rd pers. sg. pres. bhR: to bear , carry , convey , hold
saH (nom. sg. m.): he
anyasya (gen. sg.): another
janasya (gen. sg.): person
tam (acc. sg. m.): that [other person]
ced: ind. if

namaH (acc. sg.): n. bow , obeisance , reverential salutation , adoration (by gesture or word ; often with dat. e.g. raamaaya namaH , salutation or glory to raama)
astu = 3rd pers. sg. imperative as: to be
tasmai (dat. sg.): to that
cala-sauhRdaaya (dat. sg.): fickle affection
cala: mfn. moving, restless, fickle
sauhRda: m. friend ; n. affection , friendship

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