Thursday, August 11, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.17: Marks of Friendship

vishvaasash c' aartha-caryaa ca
saamaanyaM sukha-duHkhayoH
marShaNaM praNayash c' aiva
mitra-vRttir iyaM sataaM

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

Trust, acting in the other's interest,

Sharing of joy and sorrow,

And tolerance, as well as affection:

Such, between good men, is the conduct of a friend.

What is a friend? Who has been a friend to me?

My most trusted friend, looking back, was not a person but a dog, who went by the name of Kim. So to anybody who wants above all a trusted friend, my advice based on pathetic experience would be to get a dog. I would steer clear of groups led by Japanese Zen masters. That's for damn sure.

When it comes to acting in each other's interests, the truest friend might be a partner. In that sense Gudo Nishijima was a very true friend to me when we were working together on the Nishijima-Cross translation of Shobogenzo into English. And my wife has been a great friend in bringing up our two sons.

For sharing joy and sorrow with friends there might be nothing to rival team sports, like rugby for example.

And with tolerance and affection, everybody can be everybody's friend.

So there are many kinds of friend. But the best friend of all, as epitomized by Ananda, is the friend who lets you know where you are going wrong.

In that spirit, I would say that my best friends in life have been four Alexander teachers, namely Ray Evans, Ron Colyer, Nelly Ben-Or and Marjory Barlow.

After more than 30 years of trying to clarify how to practise sitting-meditation, I still do not know how to sit and I don't expect I ever will. But thanks mainly to the four aforementioned Alexander teachers, I do have some idea how NOT to sit -- in which knowing there might be both joy and sorrow to be shared, but mainly joy.

EH Johnston:
Among the good the conduct of a friend is marked by confidence, consideration of the other's interest, participation in joy and sorrow, forbearance and affection.

Linda Covill:
Among decent folk, friendly behaviour consists of tolerance, affection, trust, acting in the other's interest, and the sharing of joys and sorrows.

vi-shvaasaH (nom. sg.): m. confidence , trust , reliance , faith or belief in
shvaasa: m. breathing
ca: and
artha-caryaa (nom. sg. f.): promoting another's affairs (one of the 7 elements of popularity)
artha: m. aim, purpose; advantage , use , utility
caryaa: f. going about
carya: n. (often ifc.) proceeding , behaviour , conduct
ca: and

saamaanyam (nom. sg.): n. equality , similarity , identity
sukha-duHkhayoH (gen. dual.): happiness and suffering, joy and sorrow

marShaNam (nom. sg.): n. patience, tolerance
mRSh: to forget , neglect ; to disregard , not heed or mind , mind , bear patiently , put up with (acc.) ; to pardon , forgive , excuse , bear with
praNayaH (nom. sg.): m. guidance , conduct ; affection , confidence in (loc.) , love , attachment , friendship , favour
ca: and

mitra-vRttiH (nom. sg. f.): the conduct of a friend
mitra: m. friend
vRtti: f. rolling ; mode of life or conduct , course of action , behaviour
iyam (nom. sg. f.): this
sataam (gen. pl.): m. a good or wise man , a sage ; m. good or honest or wise or respectable people


an3drew said...

i'd have to agree with that, treachery seems to be very much part of western japanese lineage zen, presumably a japanese character trait that has readily been transplanted into western zen

not that it's not there with humans all the time, but in some subtle way it's part of the training with this japanese lineage zen !

Mike Cross said...

Since publishing this post a week ago, it has been incredibly useful in helping me sort out my mixed feelings with regard to Gudo Nishijima, who was such a true friend to me in some respect, though unable to be the kind of friend to me that Ananda was to Nanda.

In my experience the lack of integrity to which you refer is not there "in some subtle way." It is there in the form of gross end-gaining. It is there in trying to be right. It is there in Japanese cultural arrogance.

an3drew said...

what i have found is that real understanding is very rare and you have to look back across the generations and sometimes quite far to find it

like with saundarananda

you cannot get the person to person transmission that zen claims simply because this understanding is historically so rare

plenty of pretenders tho like brad warner and in fact i do not have a high opinion of guido nishijima!

the last two zen masters with a good understanding were the korean ku san sumin and kodo sawaki and there has been nothing really since tho george bowman is quite good, tho his health hasn't helped in recent years !

of the living toni packer at springwater who is ex zen is the best i have found !

but really you have to look across time, heraclitus, sappho, sa'di, montaigne, schopenhauer, keats, plath, mandelstham, emily dickinson, the blue cliff record, charles bukowski and others







centuries and writing is SO IMPORTANT !

Mike Cross said...

In the Buddha's teaching what is important is not doing wrong.

I do not agree with your views and opinions.

an3drew said...

yeah we differ but have some of the same issues like gullability !

we also have both learnt we are wrong more often than not and permit dissent opinions on that basis !

buddha, jesus and muhammad are not actually historical figures, but rather stories and need to be taken that way !