Sunday, November 28, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 6.44: Making an Intimate Connection (with Wrongness)

ity evam ukt" aapi bahu-prakaaraM
snehaat tayaa n' aiva dhRtiM cakaara
ath' aaparaa taaM manaso 'nukuulaM
kaal'-opapannaM praNayaad uvaaca

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

Though this woman, out of affection,
thus put to her various arguments,

Sundari could find no stillness at all.

Then another woman told her, intimately,

What suited her mind and fitted the occasion.

Not a silly prattler in a world of her own, and not a grandiloquent pontificator on a soapbox, the third woman is able to use her voice to make more of heart-to-heart connection with Sundari.

Understanding these three possibilities, one approach is to aspire to the making of heart-to-heart connections with everybody, in the middle way. With this approach one aims for the middle, unconsciously trusting the reliability of one's feelings in regard to where the middle is. This corresponds to what FM Alexander described as trying to be right, and it is the usual way of Buddhists and other religious types -- not to mention politicians and economists of the left and right who are prone to feel that their own view is slap bang in the middle.

Another approach is consciously to practise the extremes of silly prattling and grandiloquent pontificating, safe in the knowledge that one is less liable to be enslaved by a tendency that one is able to practise consciously. This is the kind of approach that children when allowed to play tend to adopt naturally. As a wise student of child development named Orlanda Schrager once said, "We learn about balance by falling over."

Trying to be right is very limiting, as I know well from many years of practising it so diligently. But making an intimate connection with wrongness is the real, golden key to setting self and others free.

Making an intimate connection with wrongness is what Alexander work, when practised well, is all about; it is what the work my wife and brother do in the water, with nervous swimmers, is all about; it is what the work my wife and I do with dyspraxic children, is all about; and it is what this Canto, as I read it, is all about.

"Being prepared to be wrong," Marjory Barlow once said to me, in the most conspiratorial of voices, as if she were sharing an intimate secret, "is the golden key."

Apopros of this, I would like to relate the story of how FM Alexander responded when a girl arrived for a first lesson with him in a state of extreme wrongness, her fear reflexes and emotions all irrationally excited. I can't remember all the details of the story, but the gist of it was that FM did not do any of the things that one normally associates with an Alexander lesson -- the teacher using his hands to put meaning into the words "let the neck be free, to let the head go forward and up, to let the back lengthen and widen, to send the knees forwards and away," et cetera. Rather, FM found out that the frightened girl loved horses, and spent the whole half hour chatting to her about horses.

EH Johnston:
Though spoken to much in this way lovingly by her, she did not regain self-control ; then another woman spoke to her affectionately what was pleasing to her mind and was suited to the occasion :--

Linda Covill:
Tenderly she said this, and more besides, but Sundari still could not contain herself. Then another woman told her something in confidence which better pleased her mind and which fitted the circumstance.

ity evam uktaa (nom. sg. f.): spoken to thus
api: and, also
bahu-prakaaram (acc. sg. n.): mfn. of many kinds , manifold
bahu: mfn. much many
prakaara: m. sort , kind , nature , class , species , way , mode , manner

snehaat (abl. sg.): m. oil ; blandness , tenderness , love , fondness or affection
tayaa (inst. sg.): by her, by that woman
na: not
eva: (emphatic)
dhRtiM cakaara = 3rd pers. sg. perfect dhRtiM- √kR: to keep ground or stand still ; to find pleasure or satisfaction
dhRti: f. firmness , constancy , resolution , will , command ; satisfaction ; Resolution or Satisfaction personified as a daughter of dakSha and wife of dharma

atha: ind. then, and so
aparaa (nom. sg. f.): mfn. another [woman]
taam (acc. sg. f.): to her
manasaH (gen. sg.): for her mind
anukuulam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. following the bank (kuula) or slope or declivity ; favourable , agreeable ; conformable to ; friendly , kind , well-disposed ; n. (in poetry) narrative of calamity leading finally to happiness

kaal'opapannam (acc. sg. n.): suited to the occasion
kaala: m. time; occasion , circumstance
upapanna: mfn. fit , suited for the occasion , adequate , conformable
upa- √ pad: to go towards ; to be possible , be fit for or adequate to (with loc.) ; to be regular or according to rules ; to become , be suitable
praNayaat: ind. confidentially , affectionately , openly , frankly
praNaya: m. affection , confidence in (loc.) , love , attachment , friendship , favour
uvaaca = 3rd pers. sg. perfect vac: to say, speak

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