Monday, August 29, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.35: Needlessness

na tatra kaaryaM tuuryais te
na striibhir na vibhuuShaNaiH
ekas tvaM yatra-tatra-sthas
tayaa raty" aabhiraMsyase

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

In it, you have no need of musical instruments,

Or women, or ornaments;

On your own, wherever you are,

You can indulge in that enjoyment.

This verse might contain the very essence of the teaching of the buddha-ancestors.

Here again is that word tatra, which is liable to go unnoticed, but which in itself might contain the whole of the Buddha's teaching. tatra means "in that" -- i.e., being there, in that state, in the zone, in the moment (see 3.42).

Ananda cites musical instruments, women, and ornaments as three things from which men derive pleasure or enjoyment. Other examples might be the burning of incense, reciting of sutras, performance of prostrations, practice of confession -- not to mention translations like this one, and still less all my verbose explanatory comments.

In just sitting as body and mind dropping off, the buddha-ancestors have taught, there is no need for any other practices. Enjoyable though miscellaneous Zen rituals and practices may be, at least for some people, originally there is no need for any of them.

Above all, there might be no need to stiffen the neck and pull the head down onto the spine. There might be no need to hyper-extend and narrow the back. There might be no need to push the knees into the ground or push the head up towards the ceiling, or any other of that nonsense.

Through his life, from what I have been able to glean, Master Kodo Sawaki practised sitting in a very doing way. So even though homeless Kodo is regarded as the embodiment of freedom from baggage, it seems to me that he left as part of his legacy -- via those he taught who went on to teach others -- a lot of baggage around right posture. To his credit, however, from what I was able to glean from Tsunemasa Abe, at the end of his life Master Kodo at least partially recognized the error of his former ways and stopped trying so hard to have a good posture.

Ningen wa kibaru, "human beings stress themselves," Abe Sensei told me. And yet Abe Sensei himself, at least when I asked him about it in 1994, felt it was necessary to pull in the chin in order to stretch the muscles at the back of the neck. But in my opinion Abe Sensei was dead wrong about that.... though maybe he also saw the error of his ways before he passed away last year.

There is no need to pull the chin in so as to feel a stretch along the back of the neck. To stop doing that and instead allow the head to go where it originally wants to go -- forward and up -- might be a much better way.

The trap that is easy to fall into is to sit in a doing way, feeling that one is there, in the place where one should be, while all the time remaining blind to the contrary truth of undoing and the transcendent truth of non-doing.

To be in it, or not to be in it: that is the question.

But just because I feel I am there doesn't mean I am there. There is such a thing as faulty sensory appreciation. Q. E. D.

Sometimes people leave comments on this blog beginning with "I feel..."

Invariably these words signal to me that what follows will be a view or opinion based on faulty sensory appreciation. Many of us seem to enjoy stating our baseless views and opinions on this and that. But the point of today's verse might be that there is no need for any of that. To feel this and that is not what tatra is pointing to.

EH Johnston:
In it you have no need of music, women or ornaments; you can enjoy that delight alone and wherever you will.

Linda Covill:
With bliss you have no need of music, women nor ornaments; bliss will gladden you when you are alone, wherever you happen to be.

na : not
tatra: ind. in that place, there, in that
kaaryam (nom. sg.): n. occasion , need (with inst. e.g. tRNena kaaryam , there is need of a straw ; na bhuumyaa kaaryam asmaakam , we have no business with the earth); mfn. to be done
tuuryaiH (inst. pl.): n. a musical instrument
te (gen. sg.): you

na: not
striibhiH (inst. pl.): f. woman
na: not
vibhuuShaNaiH (inst. pl.): n. decoration , ornament

ekaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. one, alone , solitary , single
tvam (nom. sg. m.): you
yatra-tatra-sthaH (nom. sg. m.): wherever you are
yatra-tatra: anywhere whatever
stha: mfn. standing , staying , abiding, being in

tayaa (inst. sg. f.): that
ratyaa (inst. sg.): f. rest , repose ; pleasure , enjoyment , delight
aabhiraMsyase = 2nd pers. sg. future abhi- √ram: to dwell ; to repose; to delight in , be delighted

No comments: