Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 9.13: A Fearful View of the Elements

prayaanti mantraiH prashamaM bhujaMgamaa
na mantra-saadhyaas tu bhavanti dhaatavaH
kva cic ca kaM cic ca dashanti pannagaaH
sadaa ca sarvaM ca tudanti dhaatavaH

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

Snakes are lulled by charms,

But the elements are not apt to be charmed.

Snakes bite some people some of the time;

The elements strike all people all of the time.

Implicit in the Buddha's four noble truths and in Dogen's instructions for sitting-zen is the principle that if a practitioner stops doing the wrong thing, the right thing does itself. But the striver does not appear to have got the point. Who can say that he is like a dragon that found water?

If we investigate the first element listed yesterday by the striver, water is that element.

The view that water is inherently aggressive is a view that greatly influences the reactions and behaviour of nervous swimmers, but it is a view that is conspicuously absent from the reactions and behaviour of people who have a good relationship with water.

Even in a natural disaster like a tsunami, water behaves not aggressively or capriciously but predictably, so that a huge movement of the earth's crust causes a huge wave to crash onto the coast, after a predictable interval.

When gravity and other forces act on water, water turns white and it may seem to us human beings, in our fearful unenlightened state, to be a raging torrent. But in the Buddha's teaching, which Nanda follows in Canto 17, water and the other things do not have aggressive personalities: rather, they are said to be shuunya, empty [17.20] and niraatmaka, devoid of self [17.21].

EH Johnston:
Snakes can be lulled by charms, but the elements are not amenable to them. Snakes only bite at times, and then not everyone, but the elements do harm to everyone at all times.

Linda Covill:
Snakes can be soothed by mantras, but the elements cannot be managed with a mantra. Snakes bite some people under certain circumstances, but the elements strike all people at all times.

prayaanti = 3rd pers. pl. pra- √ yaa : to go forth , set out , progress , advance towards
mantraiH (inst. pl.): m. " instrument of thought " , speech , sacred text or speech , a prayer or song of praise; a mystical verse or magical formula (sometimes personified) , incantation , charm , spell
prashamam (acc. sg.): m. calmness , tranquillity (esp. of mind) , quiet , rest , cessation
bhujaM-gamaaH (acc. pl.): m. "going in curves", snake

na: not
mantra-saadhyaaH (nom. pl. m.): not amenable to charms
mantra: charm, spell, incantation, mantra
saadhya: mfn. to be subdued or mastered or won or managed , conquerable , amenable
saadh: to go straight to any goal or aim , attain an object , to be successful , succeed , prosper ; to bring straight to an object or end , further , promote , advance , accomplish , complete , finish ; to submit or agree to , obey ; to master , subdue , overpower , conquer , win , win over ; to subdue a disease , set right , heal , cure
tu: but
bhavanti = 3rd pers. pl. bhuu: to be, become
dhaatavaH (nom. pl.): m. elements

kva cit: ind. anywhere , somewhere , to any place , in a certain place ; in a certain case , at some time , once upon a time
ca: and
kaM cit (acc. sg.): anybody
ca: and
dashanti = 3rd pers. pl. daMs: to bite
panna-gaaH (nom. pl.): m. " creeping low " , a serpent or serpent-demon

sadaa: ind. always, continually
ca: and
sarvam (acc. sg.): m. everybody
ca: and
tudanti = 3rd pers. pl. tud: to push , strike , goad , bruise , sting , vex
dhaatavaH (nom. pl.): m. elements

No comments: