Monday, April 25, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 9.26: Pessimism Revisited

yadi pratiipaM vRNuyaan na vaasasaa
na shauca-kaale yadi saMspRshed apaH
mRjaa-visheShaM yadi n' aadadiita vaa
vapur vapuShman vada kiidRshaM bhavet

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If its unpleasantness were not covered with clothes,

If it never touched water after excretion,

Or if it never received a good washing,

Tell me, handsome one! what might a body be like?

A human body is primarily a head, neck and back, with arms and legs growing out on each side with hands and feet, fingers and toes on the end.

kiidRshaM bhavet
What might it be like?

The tips of the fingers, as well as the feet, ankles and a bit of each lower leg, when a person sits as the Buddha taught, might be crossed over to the other side of the midline. The neck might be free to let the head go forward and up, to let the back lengthen and widen, so as to facilitate breathing in, and breathing out as well.

People have optimistic views and people have pessimistic views. The view of an ascetic striver is invariably pessimistic. But the dharma of a buddha is just to sit.

That is the essential teaching of Master Dogen's Shobogenzo, and there is nothing in the teaching of Asvhaghosha that contradicts this essential teaching. The view of the ascetic striver is not the dharma of a buddha. That, as I read it, is just the point that Ashvaghosha is making. People's views, even if they wear a Buddhist uniform and speak eloquently words that sound like the Buddha's teaching, are not the buddha-dharma. The dharma of a buddha is to sit.

EH Johnston:
Tell me, O beautiful one, what the body would look like if what is revolting in it were not covered with a garment, if it were not regularly washed, or if it did not receive enhancement from decoration.

Linda Covill:
O handsome man, describe what your body would be like if its unpleasant parts were not covered with clothes, if it had no contact with water after excretion, or if it were unbathed.

yadi: if
pratiipam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. " against the stream " , " against the grain " ; displeasing , disagreeable
vRNuyaat = 3rd pers. sg. opt. vR: to cover
na: not
vaasasaa (inst. sg.): n. clothes, garment

na: not
shauca-kaale (loc. sg.): at the time of evacuation of excrement
shauca: n. cleanness , purity , purification (esp. from defilement caused by the death of a relation); n. evacuation of excrement
kaala: m. time, hour
yadi: if
saMspRshet = 3rd pers. sg. optative saM- √ spRsh: to touch; (with or without salilam , apas &c ) to touch water , sprinkle , wash
apaH (acc. pl.): f. (in Ved. used in sing. and pl. , but in the classical language only in pl. aapas) water

mRjaa-visheSham (acc. sg.): particular cleansing ; a good wash
mRjaa: f. wiping , cleansing , washing , purification , ablution ;
visheSha: m. a kind , species , individual (e.g. vRkSha-v° , a species of tree , in comp. often also = special , peculiar , particular , different) ; distinction , peculiar merit , excellence , superiority (in comp. often = excellent , superior , choice , distinguished)
yadi: if
na: not
aadadiita = 3rd pes. sg. optative aa- √ daa: " to give to one's self " , take , accept
vaa: or

vapur (nom. sg.): n. the body
vapuShman (voc. sg. m.) : O handsome man!
vada = 2nd pers. sg. imperative vad: to say, tell
kiidRsham (nom. sg. n.): mfn. of what kind? what like?
bhavet = 3rd pers. sg. bhuu: to be, become

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