shokasya hartaa sharaN'-aagataanaaM
shokasya kartaa pratigarvitaanaaM
ashokam aalambya sa jaata-shokaH
priyaam priy'-aashoka-vanaaM shushoca
= = - = = - - = - = =
= = - = = - - = - = =
- = - = = - - = - = =
- = - = = - - = - = -
He who had been, for those who came seeking refuge,
an abater of sorrow,
And, for the conceited, a creator of sorrow,
Became, as he leant against a 'feel-no-sorrow' tree,
He sorrowed for a lover of no-sorrow groves,
his beloved wife.
Here is a picture gleaned from the internet of what the Monier-Williams dictionary calls "the magnificent red flowers" of the a-shoka or "feel-no-sorrow" tree, which was presumably so called because of the uplifting effect of its magnificent flowers on the viewer's spirit.
The description of Nanda's sorrowful state in today's verse contrasts with the following two descriptions in Canto 17 of the state without sorrow, the former directly from the pen of Ashvaghosha, and the latter put into the mouth of Nanda himself:
Having attained to the seat of arhathood, he was worthy of being served: / Without ambition, without partiality, without expectation; / Without fear, sorrow, pride, or passion; / Being nothing but himself, he seemed in his constancy to be different. (17.61)
"And from that extreme predicament, from that worthless mire, / Up he dragged me, like a feeble-footed elephant from the mud, / To be released into this quieted, untainted, feverless, sorrowless, / Ultimate true reality, which is free from darkness." (17.72)
Reading this and that part of Saundarananda in light of each other, the present description of the sorrowful state rings so real and true that one's belief tends to be bolstered in the similarly real existence of the ultimate sorrowless state described in Canto 17.
But this tendency to believe in the sorrowless state, as an idea, seems to me now (on the basis of having made in the past the religious mistake of relying too much on belief while paying insufficient attention to data gleaned from experiment) to be very much a tendency to be resisted. As an idea, the sorrowless state might be just another idea to drop off.
Rather than believing in the idea of an ultimate sorrowless state, there may be more value in investigating thoroughly what the sorrowful state is -- particularly in the real and concrete terms of faulty vestibular processing of sensory information, and undue excitement of infantile fear reflexes.
There may be more value in carrying out sceptical work in the laboratory of the self to test out what kind of causes lead to experience of a sorrowless state as an effect -- even if it is only for one moment.
Is the ultimate Zazen teaching of Zen Master Dogen that we are all always living in the reality of the sorrowless state?
Even if it is, I wouldn't know. I only know, if I know anything, that my past efforts to do a realization that is essentially an undoing, were totally misguided.
He who was accustomed to relieve the grief of those who came to him for help and to cause grief to the proud, was now himself subject to grief ; he leant against an ashoka tree and grieved for his mistress, to whom an ashoka grove was so dear, and who was the grove of delight to her lover.
He had removed grief from those who sought his protection, he had inflicted grief on the proud; now, leaning against an ashoka tree, grief rose up in him, and he grieved for his wife, who was so fond of an ashoka grove.
shokasya (gen. sg.): m. sorrow , affliction , anguish , pain , trouble , grief
hartaa = nom. sg. hartR: m. one who brings or conveys , a bearer , bringer ; one who takes away, a remover
sharaN'-aagataanaam (gen. pl.): of those who came to him for protection
sharaNa: n. shelter , place of shelter or refuge or rest ; n. refuge , protection , refuge with (sharaNaM √ gam or yaa or i &c , " to go to any one for protection , seek refuge with)
shokasya (gen. sg.): m. sorrow , grief
kartaa = nom. sg. kartR: m.. one who makes or does or acts or effects , a doer , maker , agent , author
pratigarvitaanaam (gen. pl.): of the proud
prati: ind. towards, in the direction of
garvita: haughty , conceited , proud
garv: to be or become proud or haughty
ashokam (acc. sg.): mfn. not causing sorrow/grief, not feeling sorrow/grief ; m. the tree Jonesia Asoka Roxb. (a tree of moderate size belonging to the leguminous class with magnificent red flowers) ; m. name of a well-known king
aalambya = abs. aa- √ lamb: to lay hold of; to rest or lean upon
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
jaata-shokaH (nom. sg. m.): become sorrowful
jaata: mfn. born; happened , become , present , apparent , manifest
shoka: m. sorrow, grief
priyaam (acc. sg.): f. wife
priy'-aashoka-vanaam (acc. sg. f.): with her fondness for groves of ashoka trees
priya: mfn. fond of attached or devoted to (in comp. , either ibc. e.g. priya-devana , " fond of playing " , or ifc.)
ashoka: the ashoka tree
vana: n. a forest , wood , grove , thicket
shushoca = 3rd. pers. sg. perfect shuc: to shine, flame ; to suffer violent heat or pain , be sorrowful or afflicted , grieve , mourn at or for ; to be absorbed in deep meditation