Saturday, July 2, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 10.42: Letting It Come Out in the Wash

yathaa manuShyo malinaM hi vaasaH
kShaareNa bhuuyo malinii-karoti
mala-kShay'-aarthaM na mal'-odbhav'-aarthaM
rajas tath" aasmai munir aacakarSha

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

For just as a man, by adding soda ash to dirty clothes,

Makes them even dirtier,

In order to remove dirt, not in order to increase it,

So the Sage had stirred the dust of passion in him.

Soda ash, or sodium carbonate, or washing soda, is a compound whose chemistry (Na2CO3) makes dirt less intractable, allowing it to come out in the wash.

When you think you are wrong, the old Alexander teacher Marjory Barlow used to say, say No to your old habitual way of using yourself, think the directions for a new way of using yourself ("Let the neck be free, to let the head out, so that the spine lengthens and the back widens..."), and go into movement, without a care in the world -- let it come out in the wash!

The Japanese have another way, an old, habitual Japanese way, which is epitomized by the saying kusai mono ni futa, "On something that stinks, put a lid."

When I came back to England at the end of 1994 to investigate the truth of the discoveries of FM Alexander, after 13 extremely tough years in Japan, trying to sift the gold of the buddha-ancestors out of a load of old Japanese shit, it was very clear to me that Alexander's teaching was very different from other approaches to dirt, like putting a lid on something that smells bad, or the closely associated practice of sweeping dust under the carpet.

To tell the truth, upon detailed investigation (just as the idealized intention of science suffers every bit as much, so an anonymous source informs me, from the arrogance, fixity, and hypocrisy of human beings as that of religion), a lot of sweeping dust under the carpet does go on under the guise of Alexander work -- especially by Alexander teachers with superficial understanding of what Alexander meant by "unduly excited fear reflexes and emotions."

In general, we human beings tend to be afraid of the wrongness within ourselves, which amounts to being afraid of fear itself. So, whether we are religious types, or supposed scientists, or Zen masters or Alexander teachers with certificates to prove it, we tend to go around in fear of being wrong, trying to prove to self and others how right we are.

But the actions of the Buddha, as Ashvaghosha describes them, are actions of a different order; they are the manifestation of a better way.

It is not a way of putting a lid on it, and not a way of sweeping it under the carpet. It is a way of letting it come out in the wash.

EH Johnston:
For just as a man makes dirty clothes dirtier by putting soda on them not to increase but to remove the dirt, so the Sage caused greater passion to him (in order to abolish it).

Linda Covill:
Just as a man uses soda to make dirty clothes even dirtier, not to create more dirt but to remove it, so the sage fomented passion in Nanda.

yathaa: ind. just as
manuShyaH (nom. sg.): m. a man , human being
malinam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. dirty , filthy , impure , soiled , tarnished (lit. and fig.)
hi: for
vaasaH (acc. sg.): n. clothes

kShaareNa = inst. sg. kShaara: m. any corrosive or acrid or saline substance (esp. an alkali such as soda or potash)
bhuuyaH: ind. more
malinii-karoti = 3rd pers. sg. malinii-√ kR: to make dirty , soil , stain

mala-kShay'-aartham (acc. sg. n.): in order to remove dirt
mala: n. dirt, impurity
kShaya: m. loss , waste , wane , diminution , destruction ; removal ; end
artha: aim, purpose
na: not
mal'-odbhav'-aartham (acc. sg. n.): in order to generate dirt
mala: n. dirt, impurity
udbhava: m. existence , generation , origin , production , birth
ud- √bhuu: to come forth , arise , exist ; to shoot forth , increase , grow larger
artha: aim, purpose

rajas (acc. sg.): n. impurity , dirt , dust , any small particle of matter ; the " darkening " quality , passion , emotion , affection
tathaa: ind. likewise, similarly
asmai (dat. sg. m.): to him
muniH (nom. sg.): m. the Sage
aacakarSha = 3rd pers. sg. perfect aa- √ kRSh: to draw towards one's self , attract

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