Friday, August 26, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.32: Knowing Dissatisfaction

tRptir n' aast' iindhanair agner
n' aambhasaa lavaN'-aambhasaH
n' aapi kaamaiH sa-tRShNasya
tasmaat kaamaa na tRptaye

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

A fire is not satisfied by dry brushwood,

Nor the salty ocean by water,

Nor a man of thirst by his desires.

Desires, therefore, do not make for satisfaction.

If desires made for satisfaction, then a man of thirst might be satisfied by his desires. But, Ananda seems to be stating, as an objective fact, having verified for himself the Buddha's teaching around small desire and knowing satisfaction, a man of thirst is never satisfied by his desires.

The thing to be clear about in this teaching, as I understand it, is that objects of desire are not the cause of dissatisfaction. On the contrary, an object of desire, like say a cup of green tea, can be very sastisfying. Dissatisfaction does not lie in desires, or in objects of desire. Dissatisfaction is a function of having big desires or ambitions, i.e., thirsting for some object, i.e., end-gaining.

Desires do not make for satisfaction, but the practice of having small desires does make for satisfaction.

What makes for satisfaction -- as we all have already verified in our own experience at some time or another -- is skillful practice, or doing a job well. Skillful practice might mean, for example, eating moderately when hungry. In Alexandrian terms, what makes for satisfaction is to gain an end in process of directing the head forward and up, the back to lengthen and widen, and so on. Again, skillful practice might mean sitting in lotus in such a way as to allow enjoyment of the samadhi of accepting and using the whole self.

Speaking for myself, without the teaching of FM Alexander I couldn't be satisfied by the Zazen teaching of my Zen teacher Gudo Nishijima. And without the traditional practice of sitting-dhyana as transmitted by the buddha-ancestors, I couldn't be satisfied with the Alexander Technique. But putting the two together... to tell the truth, most of the time I am still not satisfied, for various reasons, the main one of which is probably some residue of the desire to achieve great things and be worshipped and adored by millions of people.

EH Johnston:
A fire can never be satiated with fuel, or the salt sea with water, or the man who is full of desires with love. Love therefore does not lead to appeasement.

Linda Covill:
A fire is never content with its fuel, not the ocean with its water, nor a lustful man with sensuality. Therefore sensuality cannot deliver satisfaction.

tRptiH (nom. sg.): f. satisfaction , contentment
na: not
asti: there is
indhanaiH (inst. pl.): n. kindling , lighting ([cf. agnīndhana]); fuel ; wood , grass &c used for this purpose
agn'-iindhana: n. kindling or feeding the fire
indh: to kindle , light , set on fire
agneH (gen. sg.): m. fire

na: not
ambhasaa (inst. sg.): n. water
lavaN'-aambhasaH (gen. sg.): m. " having salt water " , the sea , ocean
lavaNa: mfn. saline , salt , briny , brinish ; m. the sea of salt water
ambhas: n. water

na: not
api: also
kaamaiH (inst. pl.): m. desires, objects of desire, sensual pleasures
sa-tRShNasya (gen. sg.): mfn. having thirst, thirsty, desirous

tasmaat: ind. from that , on that account , therefore
kaamaaH (nom. pl.): m. desires, objects of desire, sensual pleasures
na: not
tRptaye (dat. sg.): f. satisfaction , contentment

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