Friday, August 5, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.10: A Conscious Sensualist?

abhiShvaktasya kaameShu
raagiNo viShay'-aatmanaH
yad iyaM saMvid utpannaa
n' eyam alpena hetunaa

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

In one entangled in desires,

In a man of passion, a sensualist,

That this consciousness has arisen --

This is by no small cause!

Again, the intention of Ananda as I hear him is ironic. "This is by no small cause!" seems on the surface to mean "What a great thing it is [that the mind has arisen in you to devote yourself to ascetic practice]!" But Ananda knows full well that all that has arisen in Nanda is awareness of an end that he wishes to gain. Nanda in his desire for union with the apsarases is no more conscious than a donkey in hot pursuit of a carrot.

In the background Ananda is also fully aware of the karma by which consciousness arises. Ananda knows that a practitioner cannot cause consciousness to arise by trying, by end-gaining. Rather, consciousness is allowed to arise when a practitioner stops trying. The possibility of growth of consciousness exists when we inhibit the desire to go directly for an end relying on unconscious means.

If this reading of Ananda's mind is true, then it is thanks mainly to the input of Marjory Barlow who, for more than 70 years from the age of 16 when she was stimulated by reading books with titles like "Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual," investigated for herself how such conscious control -- as opposed to blind unconscious endgaining -- might be possible for an individual human being to realize.

Marjory also laboured -- as described in this article -- to transmit to anybody who was interested a method by which anybody can investigate for himself or herself how to go about inhibiting unconscious behaviour.

Unconscious behaviour, in the context of sitting practice, might mean for example hRSh, to stiffen up, to bristle, to brace; or might mean kShubh, to quaver.

Understood in these terms, the aim of sitting practice is not to gain the end of an upright posture, as if there were any such thing as an upright posture. The aim is rather NOT to stiffen up unconsciously, and NOT to quaver spinelessly. And it may be that in the gap between these two goalposts, in the gap wherein there is not any definite thing, consciousness arises.

As a starting point for directing oneself into that gap, Marjory advocated coming back to the words "Let the neck be free, to let the head go forward and up, to let the back LENGTHEN and WIDEN, while sending the knees forwards and away."

If we aim only to lengthen, without paying due attention to the widening direction, we are liable to hit the post, to stiffen up unconsciously. Q.E.D.

EH Johnston:
It can be no petty motive that has produced this understanding in one who was addicted to love, full of passion and devoted to the objects of the senses.

Linda Covill:
Not insignificant cause could have effected this understanding in a lusty man in the clutches of passion whose nature centered on sense objects.

abhiShvaktasya (gen. sg. m.): clasped, addicted
abhi: ind. (a prefix to verbs and nouns , expressing) to , towards , into , over , upon. (As a prefix to verbs of motion) it expresses the notion or going towards , approaching
vsvaj: to embrace , clasp , encircle , twist or wind round
pari -vsvaj: to embrace , clasp , occupy
pari-Shvakta: mfn. embraced , encircled , surrounded
kaameShu (loc. pl.): m. desire, love , especially sexual love or sensuality

raagiNaH (gen. sg. m.): mfn. red; impassioned , affectionate , enamoured , passionately fond of or attached to or hankering after (loc. or comp.)
viShay'-aatmanaH (gen. sg. m.): sensual, given over to sense objects
viShaya: m. an object of sense; anything perceptible by the senses , any object of affection or concern or attention , any special worldly object or aim or matter or business , (pl.) sensual enjoyments , sensuality
aatman: m. essence , nature , character , peculiarity (often ifc. e.g. karm'-aatman, active &c )

yad: that
iyam (nom. sg. f.): this
saMvit (nom. sg. f.): f. consciousness , intellect , knowledge , understanding ; perception , feeling , sense
utpannaa (nom. sg. f.): mfn. risen , gone up; arisen , born , produced
ud- vpad: to arise , rise , originate , be born or produced

na: not
iyam (nom. sg. f.): this
alpena (inst. sg. m.): mfn. small
hetunaa (inst. sg.): m. " impulse " , motive , cause , reason

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