Saturday, January 29, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 8.3: My Maserati Does 185

dvi-vidhaa samudeti vedanaa
niyataM cetasi deha eva ca
dvi-vidhaa eva tayosh cikitsakaaH

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

Pain invariably arises in two ways:

In the mind and in the body.

And for those two kinds of pain,

There are healers skilled in education and in medicine.

The view expressed here might be seen as a reasonable statement of a self-evident truth -- for there are indeed still, in our modern civilization, those who specialize in the field of education (who we call "teachers") and those who specialize in the field of medicine (who we call "doctors"). And the pain that Nanda is presently suffering from is not the kind of physical pain -- from, say, testicular torsion or a flesh wound -- that requires prompt medical intervention.

A conception that is opposed to the striver's view, however, is as expressed here by FM Alexander (and quoted by me last month in my comment to 7.7):

"I must admit that when I began my investigation, I, in common with most people, conceived of 'body' and 'mind' as separate parts of the same organism, and consequently believed that human ills, difficulties, and shortcomings could be classified as either 'mental' or 'physical' and dealt with on specifically 'mental' or specifically 'physical' lines. My practical experiences, however, led me to abandon this point of view and readers of my books will be aware that the technique described in them is based on the opposite conception, namely, that it is impossible to separate 'mental' and 'physical' processes in any form of human activity."

So what, in the background to today's dualistic verse, was Ashvaghosha's own understanding and what was his practice?
Was it to sit in lotus with the body?
Or to sit in lotus with the mind?
Or was it to sit in lotus as abandonment of 'body' and 'mind'?

The reason I phrase this question like this now in English, about an ancient text written around 2000 years ago in Sanskrit, is that Dogen already answered the question 750 years ago in Japanese like this:

Sit in full lotus with the body.

Sit in full lotus with the mind.

Sit in full lotus as the dropping off of body and mind.

Using the Buddha's teaching to heal the mind is not (even if the striver in this verse thinks it is) the lifeblood of the buddha-ancestors. The lifeblood of the buddha-ancestors is just to sit in full lotus.

Because nothing need be added to the lifeblood, speaking for myself, I eschew membership of new-fangled samghas and Japanese sects, not to mention professional societies. Not belonging to any kind of "just sitting" club, I like when circumstances are favourable just to sit.

Gudo Nishijima taught me, very unskillfully, just to sit in lotus as "a kind of physical gymnastics."

FM Alexander, in contrast, described re-learning such simple acts as sitting and standing as "the most mental thing there is."

Just sitting, as Dogen as I understand him pointed to it, has to do with abandoning those opposing conceptions, the first of which is based on feeling, and the second of which is based on thinking.

"To abandon feeling and thinking" sounds like Gudo Nishijima's teaching but Gudo in fact maintained to the end a one-sided prejudice against thinking, and a blindness to the power of feeling. It is something of a bitter irony that my teacher devoted his life to promoting a teaching that, in practice, he was never able clearly to understand himself. When I tried, in my own unskillful and fearful way, to cause the old blighter to understand, he reacted to me as if I were his enemy.

The upshot of all this has been, on the bright side, circumstances that have been quite favourable for me to carry on doing my own thing.

I can't complain... but sometimes I still do...

EH Johnston:
Pain is defined as twofold according as it originates in the mind or in the body ; and so there are two kinds of physician for it, those skilled in the methods of the sacred lore and those expert in medical treatment.

Linda Covill:
Pain is of two kinds, arising either in the mind or in the body; and there are two kinds of physician, those learned in the prescription of their religious tradition and those skilled in medical practice.

dvi-vidhaa (nom. sg. f.): mfn. two fold , of 2 kinds
dvi: two
vidhaa: f. division , part , portion (often ifc. = " fold ")
samudeti = 3rd pers. sg. sam-ud- √ i : to go upwards or rise up together , come together or prepare (for battle &c )
vedanaa (nom. sg.): f. pain , torture , agony

niyatam: ind. always , constantly , decidedly , inevitably , surely ; mfn. connected with , dependent on (loc.)
cetasi (loc. sg.): n. consciousness , intelligence , thinking soul , heart , mind
dehe (loc. sg.): m. the body
eva: (emphatic)
ca: and

shruta-vidhy-upacaara-kovidaaH (nom. pl. m.): skilled in education and/or in medicine
shruta: mfn. heard , listened to , heard about or of , taught , mentioned , orally transmitted or communicated from age to age ; n. anything heard , that which has been heard (esp. from the beginning) , knowledge as heard by holy men and transmitted from generation to generation , oral tradition or revelation , sacred knowledge ; n. learning or teaching , instruction
vidhi: m. a rule , formula , injunction , ordinance , statute , precept , law , direction (esp. for the performance of a rite as given in the braahmaNa portion of the veda ); any act or action , performance , accomplishment , contrivance , work , business (ifc. often pleonastically e.g. mathana-vidhi , the [act of] disturbing)
upacaara: m. approach , service , attendance ; mode of proceeding towards (gen.) , treatment ; attendance on a patient , medical practice , physicking
kovida: mfn. experienced , skilled , learned in

dvi-vidhaaH (nom. pl. m.): mfn. two fold , of 2 kinds
eva: (emphatic)
tayoH (gen. dual. m.): of/for those two
cikitsakaaH (nom. pl. m.); mfn. (fr. Desid. cit) a physician
cit: to attend to, to care for, to treat medically , cure

No comments: