Tuesday, September 13, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.50: Oh, Impermanence!

haa caitra-ratha haa vaapi haa mandaakini haa priye /
ity aartaa vilapanto 'pi gaaM patanti divaukasaH //11.50//

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"Oh, the grove of Citra-ratha! Oh, the pond!

Oh, the heavenly Ganges! Oh, my beloved!" --

Thus lament the distressed denizens of heaven

As they fall to earth.

Buddhists of all schools, as I was reminded by a recent comment on this blog, are liable to discuss impermanence in the abstract. Whereas Ananda's words evoke a more real sense of the reality in which the places and people we love change, or we have to leave them, or else the people we love die, or, worse still, they go off us, or turn against us -- at which time it is very natural to make a primitive noise like "Oh!" or "Haa!" or "Aaaaaaargh!"

Speaking of Buddhist schools, I had an excellent email exchange yesterday with Anandajoti Bhikkhu of Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net

The point I think we agreed upon is this: if anybody implies that the Theravada teach what the Buddha taught and that Ashvaghosa is not doing the same; or equally if anybody implies that some school of Japanese Zen Buddhism teaches what the Buddha taught and that Ashvaghosa is not doing the same, then we, from our heretical standpoint, find this not to be the case.

Zen Buddhism, as I see it, is just another -ism to be abandoned.

While the Theravada, Anandajoti pointed out, is a school of thought that developed long after the Buddha.

Ashvaghosa on the other hand is really quite close to the original teachings and seems to have been writing from a "what we can all agree on" point of view.

These, to my admittedly imperfect ears, are very excellent words indeed.

EH Johnston:
The inhabitants of heaven fall to earth, even lamenting in their distress, "Alas, grove of Citraratha! Alas, heavenly lake! Alas, Mandakini! Alas, beloved!"

Linda Covill:
The sky-dwellers fall to earth, crying out in regret: 'Oh the groves, oh the lakes, oh the heavenly Ganges, oh my beloved!'

haa: ind. an exclamation expressive of pain , anger , astonishment , satisfaction &c (= ah! alas! oh! ha! often before or after a voc. case)
caitra-ratha (voc. sg.): n. (with or without vana) the grove of kubera cultivated by the gandharva citra-ratha
citra-ratha: mfn. having a bright chariot; m. name of the king of the gandharvas

haa: ind. "oh!"
vaapi (voc. sg.): f. any pond (made by scattering or damming up earth) , a large oblong pond , an oblong reservoir of water , tank , pool , lake

haa: ind. "oh!"
mandaakini (voc. sg.): f. (fr. manda + 2. añc) " going or streaming slowly " , N. of an arm of the Ganges (flowing down through the valley of kedāra-nātha in the himālayas) and of other rivers; (esp.) the heavenly Ganges
manda: mfn. slow
añc: to bend , curve , incline , curl ; to tend , move , go , wander about ;
haa: ind. "oh!"
priye (voc. sg.): f. mistress, wife, beloved

iti: "...," thus
aartaaH (nom. pl. m.): struck by calamity , afflicted , pained , disturbed; oppressed , suffering , sick , unhappy
vilapantaH = nom. pl. pres. part. vi- √ lap: to utter moaning sounds , wail , lament , bewail
api: even

gaam (acc. sg.): f. cow; the earth (as the milk-cow of kings)
patanti = 3rd pers. pl. pat: to fall
divaukasaH = nom. pl.. divaukas: m. " sky-dweller " , a deity


Anonymous said...

I am the anon. I cared for my
mother and she died 3 years ago,
and my woman's mother died last
month. Impermanence is very real,
not an abstraction.

Mike Cross said...

I don't know what the Buddha-nature is. But it isn't trying to be right, as if rightness were something fixed.

In my opinion, impermanence is not real; it is just an abstraction.

an3drew said...

well i die daily and it's ceased to bother me !

is it such a big deal to own up to your real identity?

even just a first name !

Mike Cross said...

For whom is owning up such a big deal?

an3drew said...

"For whom is owning up such a big deal?"

if you want to see what anonymous posting does to a blog , brad warners “harcore zen” comments section is the best example i can think of !

basically it turns a blog into a war zone !

the anonymous posters coat-tail on the efforts of the blog owner !

that aside hiding and concealment reveal a certain mindset which strongly tallies with the specious nonsense that comes forth in these contexts !

most people have some ability to cobble together superficially fine sounding words, the consistency with which we live them is a different matter altogether

impermanence is neither real nor an abstraction but pure voynichese !

Mike Cross said...

In general, a head that is full of strong views and opinions, even if it is that of a Zen Master, is liable to pull back and down.

Because he was not like that, Bodhidharma replied, when Emperor Wu asked him who he was: "I don't know."