Sunday, June 19, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 10.29: Different Birds with Blue Eyes (& Golden Wings)

citraiH suvarNac-chadanais tath" aanye
vaiDuurya-niilair nayanaiH prasannaiH
vihaMgamaaH shiNjirik'-aabhidhaanaa
rutair manaH-shrotra-harair bhramanti

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

Birds which are -- again -- different,
with distinctively golden wings

And bright, beryl-blue eyes,

Birds called "shinjirikas" fly to and fro,

Carrying away minds and ears with their songs.

"Golden wings" suvarNac-chadanaiH suggest an essential means of transcendent action, and brings to mind the Thirty-Seven Wings of Awakening, which is the title of Shobogenzo chap. 73.

Birds distinguished by their golden wings are no ordinary birds; hence, like trees that grow full-blown blue lotuses, they are described, again, as in 10.21, as different (anye):

Trees there that abound in red lotuses look like trees ablaze./ Different trees, growing full-blown blue lotuses, seem to have their eyes open. // 10.21

And in line 2 of today's verse, again, as in 10.21, Ashvaghosha makes an association with eyes and blueness -- the colour of cool detachment, as opposed to tainted redness. The suggestion might be that eyes which really see are dispassionate eyes.

I do not know the meaning of the name "shiNjirika" in line 3, but the meaning of abhidhaana is clear: abhidhaana means "called." So the point might be that in Asvhaghosha's vision of heaven, as it is on earth, birds belong to distinct nameable species identifiable by distinguishing features like golden wings.

Line 4 evokes the free life of a wanderer whose use of his voice has the power to change others' minds -- no ordinary person, but one who meets a certain distinguishing criterion, which Dogen called the samadhi of accepting and using the self.

What is the gold we have been mining in this blog? Above all, I think it is a means -- a means which is different (anya) from the usual end-gaining approach.

The essential thing to clarify is how the ancient yoga practice of padm'-aasana "lotus sitting," can be a golden means of realizing the criterion which is the samadhi of accepting and using the self.

According to my old teacher Gudo Nishijima, keeping the spine straight vertically allows the autonomic nervous system to become balanced. But that teaching might be a very crude approximation of the truth, and if in the past I allowed my mind and ears to be carried away by the preaching of it, that was my stupid mistake.

Trying to keep the spine straight vertically in an end-gaining manner, i.e. trying to be right on the basis of feeling that is liable to be faulty, is not what is symbolized in today's verse, as I read it, by suvarNac-chadanaiH, golden wings.

The samadhi of accepting and using the self is a human being's original, natural state. Why, in that case, are those who dwell in it called anye, different, odd, other? Because they are special, religious people (like those consecrated Catholic priests who abuse children)? No. Because they are in some way superhuman? No. Because they got their grubby claws around the kind of enlightenment that deluded people deludedly suppose to exist? No. I think the state of buddha is different because it arises out of a means which is different from end-gaining.

Among Zen Buddhists in particular, a very common form of end-gaining is trying to be buddha. As an anti-dote to that tendency the Alexander teacher Marjory Barlow used to tell me that being prepared to be wrong was "the golden key."

Hidden in line 4 then, as I read it, is the teaching that true buddha is free from trying to be right, and freedom like that tends to transmit itself naturally, for example, through the sound of the voice.

EH Johnston:
Other birds called shinjirikas have brilliant golden wings and clear eyes blue as beryl and roam about, charming the mind and the ear with their songs.

Linda Covill:
There are other birds too, with limpid eyes blue as cat's-eye gems and shimmering golden feathers; these shinjirikas, as they are called, flit about enchanting the mind and ear with their trilling.

citraiH (inst. pl.): mfn. conspicuous , excellent , distinguished ; bright , clear , bright-coloured ; variegated ; various
suvarNac-chadanaiH (inst. pl.): with gold wings/feathers
suvarNa: golden
chadana: n. a cover , covering ; a wing ; a leaf
tathaa: ind. in like manner, likewise, similarly, too
anye (nom. pl. m.): other

vaiDuurya-niilaiH (inst. pl.): the blue-green color of beryl
vaiDuurya: n. a cat's-eye gem ; beryl
niila: n. of a dark colour , (esp.) dark-blue or dark-green or black
nayanaiH (inst. pl.): n. " the leading organ " , the eye
prasannaiH (inst. pl.): mfn. clear , bright , pure (lit. and fig.); distinct ; placid, tranquil

viha-M-gamaaH (nom. pl.): m. "moving in the sky," a bird
shiNjirik'-aabhidhaanaaH (nom. pl. m.): called "shinjirika"
shiNjirika: (no reference traced)
shiNjin: mfn. tinkling , rattling , sounding
abhidhaana: n. telling; a name , title , appellation

rutaiH (inst. pl.): n. (often pl.) any cry or noise , roar , yell , neigh (of horses) , song , note (of birds) , hum (of bees)
manaH-shrotra-haraiH (inst. pl.): carrying away hearts/minds and ears
manas: n. mind (in its widest sense as applied to all the mental powers) , intellect , intelligence , understanding , perception , sense , conscience , will
shrotra: n. the organ of hearing , ear ,
hara: mfn. bearing , wearing , taking , conveying , bringing ; taking away , carrying off , removing , destroying ; ravishing , captivating (» mano-hara)
mano-hara: mfn. " heart-stealing " , taking the fancy , fascinating , attractive , charming , beautiful
bhramanti = 3rd pers. pl. bhram: to wander or roam about , rove ; to fly about (as bees)

1 comment:

an3drew said...














beak !