Friday, July 1, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 10.41: A Bad Dose of the Hippy Hippy Shakes

sa jaata-tarSho 'psarasaH pipaasus
tat-praaptaye 'dhiShThita-viklav'-aartaH
lol-endriy'-aashvena mano-rathena
jehriiyamaaNo na dhRtiM cakaara

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

He became thirsty,
desirous of drinking up the apsarases,

Afflicted by a pervading itch to have them.

Dragged along by the mind-chariot
whose horse is the restless power of the senses,

He could not come to stillness.

If samaadhi means "balanced stillness," today's verse can be read as a study in what samaadhi is not.

In today's verse Nanda is suffering from the opposite of samaadhi. The opposite of samaadhi is inability to come to stillness, this inability being rooted in thirst for some object upon which a subject has mentally seized, and to which a subject has become emotionally bound.

In the background to today's verse there might be a universal truth -- a truth that applies whether one is pursuing stillness as a Buddhist, or pursuing stillness as a non-Buddhist, or pursuing stillness as a student of the teaching of FM Alexander, or pursuing stillness just as a fan of stillness. And the truth might be that in pursuing stillness, it does not to do to be thirsty for anything, including stillness itself. Rather, the wise course for a pursuer of stillness might be to avoid any kind of emotional involvement with anything.

Hence, a protege of FM Alexander named Patrick Macdonald wrote, in connection with learning the Alexander Technique under a teacher:

The pupil must learn to stop doing, "to leave himself" in the hands of the teacher, neither tensing nor relaxing. Further, any emotional involvement in trying to learn what to do, or in what is going on, should be avoided. The best results are gained when a pupil can disassociate himself from what is happening, as if he were standing on one side watching someone else being taught. If he can do this for a time he will find himself taking his proper part in the process, with an awareness that is quite different and greatly enhanced. Alexander named the opposite of this kind of behaviour "endgaining" (i.e., the desire to bring about the end in view, however wrong the means might be).

If endgaining is the desire to bring about the end in view, however wrong the means might be, a better way than thirsty end-gaining for an object -- be it sensual or spiritual -- might be to have small desires and to realize them relying on means that are not wrong.

One who is thirsty for the deathless nectar does not get to drink it. But, the Buddha seems to tell Nanda in Canto 12(see 12.25), to have confidence in a better way is already to have the deathless nectar in one's hands.

EH Johnston:
He longed to quench that thirst with the draught of the Apsarases, for he was afflicted by the despair which held him of possessing them. Confused with desire , that chariot of the mind, whose steeds are the restless senses, he could not control himself.

Linda Covill:
He grew thirsty, and tormented by the agitation which governed him, he desired to drink up the apsarases to alleviate his thirst. Put to shame by desire, that chariot of the mind pulled by the galloping sense-horses, his resolution failed.

sa (nom. sg. m.): he
jaata-tarShaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. thirsty, desirous
jaata: mfn. became, born, occured
tarSha: m. thirst
apsarasaH (acc. pl.): f. apsaras, celestial nymph
pipaasuH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. (fr. Desid. √paa, to drink) wishing to drink , thirsty

tat-praaptaye (dat. sg. f.): for the obtaining of them
tat: them
praapti: reaching , arrival at (comp.); attaining to , obtaining , meeting with , finding , acquisition , gain
adhiShThita-viklav'-aartaH (nom. sg. m.): afflicted by an agitation that inhabited him
adhi-√sthaa: to stand upon , depend upon; to inhabit, abide; to stand over ; to superintend , govern ;
adhiShThita: mfn. settled ; inhabited; superintended ; regulated
viklava: n. agitation , bewilderment ; mfn. overcome with fear or agitation , confused , perplexed , bewildered , alarmed , distressed
aarta: mfn. fallen into (misfortune) , struck by calamity , afflicted , pained , disturbed

lol-endriy'-aashvena (inst. sg.): whose restless horse is sense-power
lola: mfn. moving hither and thither , shaking , rolling , tossing , dangling , swinging , agitated , unsteady , restless; changeable , transient , inconstant , fickle
indriya: n. bodily power , power of the senses
ashva: horse
mano-rathena (inst. sg.): m. "heart's joy "; wish, desire; fancy, illusion; the heart compared to a car
manas: n. mind, heart
ratha: m. (√R) " goer " , a chariot , car , esp. a two-wheeled war-chariot; m. ( √ ram) pleasure , joy , delight

jehriiyamaaNaH = nom. sg. m. pres. part. intens. (1) hR: to take away , carry off ; to master , overpower , subdue , conquer ; (2) hrii: to be greatly ashamed
na: not
dhRtim (acc. sg.): f. holding , seizing , firmness, constancy; satisfaction , content , joy (dhRtiM- √kR, to keep ground or stand still ; to find pleasure or satisfaction)
cakaara = 3rd pers. sg. perfect kR: to do, make

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