Tuesday, August 30, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.36: Making Thirst History (Or Not)

maanasaM balavad duHkhaM
tarShe tiShThati tiShThati
taM tarShaM chindhi duHkhaM hi
tRShNaa c' aasti ca n' aasti ca

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The mind suffers mightily

As long as thirst persists.

Eradicate that thirst; for suffering

Co-exists with thirst, or does not exist.

The root problem, the tendency to be eradicated, Ananda has identified already as viShaya-tRSNaa, "object-thirsting" (11.28).

Why is the origin of suffering compared to thirst, as opposed to, say, hunger?

We need and desire both food and drink. Both hunger and thirst are used metaphorically to express a strong desire for some object, as in the phrases "a hunger for knowledge" or "a hunger for practice" and "a thirst for approval" or "a thirst for power."

So why thirst rather than hunger?

The answer might be that the desire for drink becomes urgent sooner, and is more liable to be desperate.

An antidote to thirst, then, might be to desire to gain some end -- e.g. the translation of Saundara-nanda into English -- and to go about it in a manner, or at a pace, in which there is no sense of urgency. I am still working on that.

"Eradicate thirst" sounds like it could be some kind of idealistic slogan along the lines of "End Hunger" or "Make Poverty History." But that is not what Ananda, as I hear him, intends by his imperative taM tarShaM chindhi, "eradicate that thirst."

If there is an area that you want to keep free of weeds -- a gravel path, say, or a lawn -- you might want to get a knife and take all the dandelions out by the root, rather than just pulling their leaves away. Thus having eradicated all the dandelions, in the original sense of the word eradicated, you can survey your totally dandelion-free path or lawn.

In a similar way, lying on Marjory Barlow's teaching table, as described in this article, I would sometimes get a sense of having inhibited just about every tendency that there was for me to inhibit -- the main one being the tendency to try to be right, but others including the tendency to do the Alexander directions, and the tendency to want to get on and gain my end urgently.

So this is how I understand eradicating thirst. If there is some higher order of eradicating thirst, so that thirst is totally abolished once and for all, so that thirst becomes history, I haven't experienced it and don't believe in it.

At least in my garden, the reality is that dandelions, even having been totally eradicated, keep growing. And in that situation, what is valuable is not the idea that one day all dandelions everywhere might be abolished. What is valuable is the desire to keep eradicating dandelions. What is valuable, in other words, is an appetite for practice.

EH Johnston:
As long as desires remain, the mind suffers extremely ; therefore abolish desire. For desire and suffering come into existence together and vanish together.

Linda Covill:
As long as thirst remains, mental suffering remains powerful. Abolish that thirst, for suffering and thirst either co-exist, or neither exists;

maanasam (nom. sg. n.) : mfn. belonging to the mind or spirit , mental
balavat (nom. sg. n.): mfn. possessing power , powerful , mighty , strong , intense ; vehement
duHkham (nom. sg.): n. suffering, sorrow

tarShe (loc. sg.): m. thirst
tiShThati = 3rd pers. sg. sthaa: to stand, stay , remain

tam (acc. sg. m.): that
tarSham (acc. sg.): m. thirst
chindhi = 2nd pers. sg. imperative chid: to cut off, cut through
duHkham (nom. sg.): n. suffering, sorrow
hi: for

tRShNaa (nom. sg.): f. thirst
ca: and (ca may be used for vā , " either " , " or " and when a neg. particle is joined with ca the two may then be translated by " neither " , " nor " )
asti (3rd pers. sg. as, to be): there is
ca: and
na asti: there is not
ca: and

1 comment:

an3drew said...










i wonder if 11.34 35 and 36 are interpolations, they seem out of sync, in fact i am getting suspicious that some of the saundarananda has other authors in !