Monday, October 31, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.35: Work On Yourself, By Yourself, For Yourself

adya prakṛṣṭā tava buddhimattā
kṛtsnaṃ yayā te kṛtam-ātmakāryam /
śrutonnatasyāpi hi nāsti buddhir-
notpadyate śreyasi yasya buddhiḥ // 18.35 //

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Upajāti (Sālā)

Developed in you today is the real wisdom

By which you have done, totally,
the work you had to do on yourself.

For even a highly educated man lacks wisdom,

If wisdom fails to show in his practice of a better way.

When highly educated academics of the 19th and 20th century working in the field of "Buddhist studies," encountered and examined Aśvaghoṣa's writings, they wondered whether he was primarily a poet or a proselytizing religious person, and -- writing strictly from the outside -- they described Saundara-nanda as a poem whose theme was conversion.

Much more than it is an evangelical tract whose theme and aim is religious conversion, Saundara-nanda as I read it is a guide to individual work on the self. Being converted, in the sense of changing one's religious beliefs, is easy. To work on the self in such a way as to get totally (kṛṭṣnam) free of all religious beliefs is mightily difficult. And that is what Saundara-nanda, as I read it -- from the inside -- is primarily about: working on the self, for the self, by the self.

Aśvaghoṣa as I have noted before does not use the word saṁgha as it is customary to use the word today, to mean something like a religious congregation of Buddhists. He uses the word in the non-Buddhist sense of any collection or assemblage, as for example, in 7.24: "hosts of gods, kings and seers." But there is no mention in Saundara-nanda of anything that could be called a "Buddhist samgha."

This does not mean that Nanda is portrayed as somebody who did it all by himself, or as an anti-social island unto himself. In addition to the Buddha, who guides Nanda how to work on himself, there is Ānanda, a master in his own right in the art of working on and forgetting the self; there is the practitioner who impresses Nanda by emanating calm as he sits by a waterfall (7.20); and there is the striver, best described as a work in progress.

So the Buddha, Ānanda, Nanda, the meditator by the waterfall, and the striver: that makes a network of five individuals, at least, who each in their own way have worked, are working, or are on the way to true work, on the self.

EH Johnston:
To-day your intelligence is admirable since by it you have done all that there was for you to do ; for however eminent a man may be in learning, he has not intelligence if it is not developed in the sphere of the highest good.

Linda Covill:
Today your intelligence is superlative, for through it your task is entirely complete. For even an outstandingly learned man has no intelligence if his intelligence does not give rise to Excellence.

adya: today
prakRShTaa (nom. sg. f.): mfn. drawn forth , protracted , long (in space and time); superior , distinguished , eminent ; violent, strong
kRSh: to draw , draw to one's self , drag , pull , drag away , tear ; to lead or conduct (as an army) ; to draw into one's power , become master of , overpower ; to obtain
tava (gen. sg.): of you, your
buddhimattaa: f. intelligence , wisdom
buddhimat: mfn. endowed with understanding , intelligent , learned , wise
-taa: (abstract noun suffix) -ness

kRtsnam: mfn. all , whole , entire
yayaa (inst. sg. f.): by which
te (gen. sg.): of you
kRtam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. done, finished
aatma-kaaryam (nom. sg.): n. one's own business , private affairs
aatma: one's own, self
kaarya: n. work or business to be done , duty , affair

shrut'-onnatasya (gen. sg.): of one who is eminent in learning
shruta: n. anything heard , that which has been heard (esp. from the beginning) , knowledge as heard by holy men and transmitted from generation to generation , oral tradition or revelation , sacred knowledge; learning, teaching
unnata: mfn. bent or turned upwards , elevated , lifted up , raised , high , tall , prominent , projecting , lofty ; (figuratively) high , eminent , sublime , great , noble
api: even
hi: for
n' aasti: there is not
buddhiH (nom. sg.): f. the power of forming and retaining conceptions and general notions , intelligence , reason , intellect , mind , discernment , judgement

na: not
utpadyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive ut- √ pad: to arise, originate , be born or produced ; to come forth , become visible , appear ; to take place ,begin
shreyasi: loc. sg. shreyas: higher good
yasya (gen. sg.): in whom
buddhiH (nom. sg.): f. intelligence

Sunday, October 30, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.34: The Beauty of Being Yourself

bhavaty-arūpo 'pi hi darśanīyaḥ
sv-alaṃkṛtaḥ śreṣṭhatamai-guṇaiḥ svaiḥ /
doṣaiḥ parīto malinī-karais-tu
sudarśanīyo 'pi virūpa eva //18.34//

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Upajāti (Premā)

For even an unlovely sort is a sight to behold

When well-adorned with his own best features.

But a man who is full of the befouling faults,

Strikingly beautiful man though he may be, is truly ugly.

The 2nd line of today's verse, sv-alaṃkṛtaḥ śreṣṭhatamai-guṇaiḥ svaiḥ, as I read it, means showing one's own original features.

In his rules of sitting-meditation for everybody, Dogen exhorts that if we just sit, body and mind will spontaneously fall away and our original features will emerge.


SHINJIN body and mind

DATSU-RAKU fall away, drop off

HONRAI original

MENMOKU face, features, face & eyes

GENZEN emerges, are manifest in front

At the centre of this practice, as I have come to understand it, is a decision to allow the spine to lengthen vertically. This decision is a totally different thing from striving to maintain good posture, or striving to keep the spine straight vertically. It is purely a decision, the most mental thing there is, having nothing to do with right posture.

If I have ever experienced anything that might be called enlightenment, it was 17 years ago when this difference -- the difference between (a) allowing the spine to lengthen and the back to widen, and (b) striving to keep the spine straight vertically -- was first impressed upon me in the context of an Alexander lesson. There was one moment in particular when I got the teacher to work on me while I was sitting in lotus. He set up two mirrors, so that I could look forward and see myself sitting from the side, freed from a totally faulty conception of what it meant to sit upright. Notwithstanding my own faulty sensory appreciation, it looked and felt good. And notwithstanding the fact that Alexander work is not about good posture (at least not directly), the teacher said something to the effect of "That is more towards your natural posture." After that, there could be no going back for me. So I suppose the realization I had that day was something final. But it was nothing religious or spiritual. More a recognition that all my efforts in life up to that point had been combining to turn me into the ugliest of ugly dumb-fucks.

NB: Dumb fuck (Urban dictionary): 1. A person who is so incredibly stupid that it is not even funny any more.

EH Johnston:
For even an ugly man is beautiful to the sight when he is well adorned with his own pre-eminent virtues, but the man who is covered by the filth of the vices, however beautiful to the eyes he be, is in reality ugly.

Linda Covill:
For even an uncomely man is pleasing to behold when he is well-adorned with his own most excellent virtues, but a man, even a handsome man, is truly ugly when he is encompassed by the befouling faults.

bhavati (3rd pers. sg. bhuu): he is
a-ruupaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. formless , shapeless ; ugly , ill-formed
api: even, also
hi: for
darshaniiyaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. worthy of being seen , good-looking , beautiful

sv-alaMkRtaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. beautifully adorned
su: (laudatory particle) well, beautifully
alaMkrta: mfn. adorned , decorated
shreShThatamaiH = inst. pl. m. shreShThatama: mfn. the very best , most excellent
guNaiH = inst. pl. guNa: m. good quality , virtue , merit , excellence
svaiH (inst. pl. m.): his own

doShaiH (inst. pl.): m. faults
pariitaH (nom. sg. m.): surrounded , encompassed , filled , taken possession of , seized (with instr.)
malinii-karaiH (inst. pl. m.): causing taintedness
malinii = in comp. for malina: mfn. dirty , filthy , impure , soiled , tarnished (lit. and fig.);
kara: n. the act of doing; mfn. a doer , maker , causer , doing , making , causing , producing (esp. ifc. ; cf. duḥkhakara, causing pain)
tu: but

su-darshaniiyaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. easy to be seen; easy on the eye; good-looking
darshaniiya: mfn. visible ; worthy of being seen , good-looking , beautiful
api: even, also
viruupaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. deformed , misshapen , ugly , monstrous , unnatural
eva: (emphatic)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.33: Real Living of a Free Life

āraṇyakaṃ bhaikṣa-caraṃ vinītaṃ
drakṣyāmi nandaṃ nibhṛtaṃ kadeti /
āsīt purastāt- tvayi me didṛkṣā
tathāsi diṣṭyā mama darśanīyaḥ // 18.33 //

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Upajāti (Bālā )

Thinking 'When shall I see Nanda settled,

Given over to the living of a forest beggar's life?',

I had harboured from the start the desire to see you thus.

What a wonderful sight you are for me to behold!

Yesterday I asked which of two kinds of freedom the Buddha had in mind: freedom from bad habits, or freedom from noise and fear?

Today's verse seems to answer that question by reminding us that the kind of freedom the Buddha desired to see Nanda enjoying was not freedom in the abstract but rather the real freedom which is in the actual living of a free life.

In the present series of verses going back to 18.22 - 23, when the Buddha praises Nanda for having truly gone forth, the main topic under discussion has been freedom -- freedom from taintedness, freedom from pussyfooting about, freedom from enslavement to objects, freedom from ignorance and all the other foe-like faults, freedom from feverish redness, freedom from thirsting, and so on.

Freedom, as I have discussed it in the abstract, is a bit of nothing; but in reality what might it look like?

It might look like somebody really living his own life, having found his own way. As a father, this is what one would want for one's sons. And as Nanda's guru (in the sense of teacher and of older brother) this must have been what the Buddha desired (albeit not in a big way) for Nanda.

So the conduct of a forest beggar's life, āraṇyakaṃ bhaikṣa-caraṃ, though it might sound like something restrictive and beyond our attainment, I think is better understood as one good example of real living of a free life, that each individual can aspire to live, wherever we are located. Even if we cannot live the whole of a free life all in one go, if we can find half an hour to investigate, for example, the decison to move, or not to move, a leg, that might be a start.

EH Johnston:
I had before been desirous of seeing you, thinking to Myself, "When shall I see Nanda living the forest life, subsisting on alms, following the Rule and self-controlled?" Thus you are a blessed sight to Me.

Linda Covill:
I had previously wanted to see you, wondering when I would see you settled, tamed to the forest life of the mendicant. How wonderful for me that you are now so pleasing to behold!

aaraNyakam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. forest , of the forest
bhaikSha-caram (acc. sg.): m.
bhaikSha: n. asking alms , begging , mendicancy ( with √ car , to go about begging)
cara: ifc. going , walking , wandering , being , living , practising
viniitam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. led or taken away , removed &c ; stretched , extended ; tamed , trained , educated , well-behaved , humble , modest
vi- √ nī : to lead or take away , remove , avert ; to train , tame , guide (horses) ; to educate , instruct , direct ; to get rid of, give up , cease from (anger)

drakShyaami (1st pers. sg. future dRsh): I will see
nandam (acc. sg.): m. Nanda
nibhRtam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. ( √ bhR) borne or placed down , hidden , secret; firm , immovable ; fixed , settled , decided ; still , silent ; quiet , humble , modest , mild , gentle ; free from passions , undisturbed (= shaanta) ; lonely , solitary
kadaa: when?
iti: "....", thus

aasiit (3rd pers. sg. imperfect as, to be): there was
purastaat: ind. before , forward , in or from the front , in the first place , in the beginning
tvayi (loc. sg.): you
me (gen. sg.): in/of me
didRkShaa (nom. sg.): f. ( √ dRsh Desid.) desire of seeing

tathaa: thus, like so
asi: you are
diShTyaa (inst.): by good fortune etc.
diShTi: f. auspicious juncture , good fortune , happiness
mama (gen. sg.): for/of/to me
darshaniiyaH (nom. sg. m.): worthy of being seen , good-looking , beautiful

Friday, October 28, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.32: Getting the Goods

diṣṭyāsi śāntiṃ paramām-upeto
nistīrṇa-kāntāra ivāpta-sāraḥ /
sarvo hi saṃsāra-gato bhayārto
yathaiva kāntāra-gatas-tathaiva // 18.32 //

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Upajāti (Bālā)

How great it is
that you have reached the deepest tranquillity,

Like a man making it through a wasteland
and gaining possession of treasure.

For everyone in the flux of saṁsāra is afflicted by fear,

Just like a man in a wasteland.

This verse also, when I reflect on it, is a stimulus to the tendency I have to worry about ends, as opposed to attending to a means; or to worry about finding a final and universal solution to everybody's problem, which most probably I shall never do, as opposed to working on myself, which on a good day -- albeit falteringly, in accordance with my own strengths and weaknesses -- I can do, or choose not to do.

Reading today's verse, one cannot help wondering: just what is the prize, the treasure, the heart of the matter, the marrow (sāra) that the Buddha seems to be praising Nanda for having finally made into his own possession?

In yesterday's verse, as I interpreted it, the prize was freedom from the backward and downward pull of habit -- transcendent freedom and lightness like the freedom of a bird perching lightly on the tree of dharma.

In today's verse the prize is deepest tranquillity, and implicit in the verse is the recognition that the deepest tranquillity is a condition of freedom from fear.

So exactly what is it that we are directing ourselves towards? Is it freedom from habit, or from fear?

This question might be like the argument between two blind men, one who puts his arms around an elephant's leg and declares the elephant to be like a tree-trunk, the other who sweeps his palms along the elephant's side and declares the elephant to be like a bloody great wall.

Speaking of freedom from fear, or lack of it, yesterday morning two blokes from the water company drove up and started digging up the pavement a few metres from where I was sitting. I thought I would keep sitting for a while, and just observe, in the spirit of "look the bugger in the eye." A few seconds of that was enough. I quickly decided to get the hell out of there and go for a walk. It seemed to me that what I was observing in myself was an unconscious response rooted in a not very well integrated auditory Moro reflex. It was a clear case of what FM Alexander called "unduly excited fear reflexes and emotions."

Later in the day I followed up an invitation to watch a Youtube clip of a Japanese Zen teacher who seemed to be talking about using Zazen as a kind of spade to dig out the ego. My reflection on it was that 'the ego' is a construct from psychology. And that is all very well, but, from working with children who, like myself, are subject to labile emotions rooted in immature primitive reflexes, I am aware of the danger of attributing psychological causes to behaviour which has physical (or neuro-physiological) roots in a dodgy vestibular system.

Anyway, the early-morning experience of the pneumatic drill was enough to remind me, if any reminder was needed, that in the quest for deepest tranquillity, finality for me is not in sight.

EH Johnston:
By good fortune you have reached the supreme tranquillity, like a man who has crossed the desert and obtained wealth ; for everyone caught in the cycle of existence is harassed by the fear of danger, like a traveller in the desert.

Linda Covill:
How wonderful that you, like a man who has come through the wilderness and found riches, have reached supreme tranquillity! For all who are in samsara are prey to danger, just like people in the wilderness.

diShTyaa (inst.): by good fortune; how wonderful! etc. [expression of strong pleasure]
asi: you are
shaantim (acc. sg.): f. tranquillity , peace , quiet
paramaam (acc. sg. f.): highest, supreme
upetaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. one who has come near or approached , one who has betaken himself to , approached (for protection) , arrived at , abiding in; one who has obtained or entered into any state or condition

nistiirNa-kaantaaraH (nom. sg. m.): a man who has crossed the wilderness
nistiirNa: mfn. crossed , passed over , spent , gone through
kaantaara: mn. a large wood , forest , wilderness , waste ; a difficult road through a forest , forest-path
iva: like
aapta-saaraH (nom. sg. m.): one who got the marrow, one who obtained riches
aapta: mfn. received , got , gained , obtained
saara: the substance or essence or marrow or cream or heart or essential part of anything ; the real meaning , main point ; cream , curds ; wealth , property , goods , riches

sarvaH (nom. sg. m.): all
hi: for
saMsaara-gataH (nom. sg. m.): in the flux of samsara
saMsaara: m. course , passage , passing through a succession of states , circuit of mundane existence , transmigration
gata: mfn. being in
bhay'-aartaH (nom. sg. m.): fear-afflicted
bhaya: n. fear ; terror , dismay , danger , peril , distress
aarta: mfn. fallen into (misfortune) , struck by calamity , afflicted , pained ; injured, oppressed

yathaa: just as
eva: (emphatic)
kaantaara-gataH (nom. sg m.): in the wilderness
tathaa: just so
eva: (emphatic)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.31: Even Monkeys Fall from Trees

adyāpadeṣṭuṃ tava yukta-rūpaṃ
śuddhodano me nṛ-patiḥ piteti /
bhraṣṭasya dharmāt pitṛbhir-nipātād
aślāghanīyo hi kulāpadeśaḥ //18.31 //

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Upajāti (Indravajrā)

Today you may fittingly proclaim

That King Śuddhodana is your father.

For it is not commendable for a backslider,
after falling from the dharma alighted on by ancestors,

To proclaim his lineage.

backslide: to relapse into bad habit: to fall back into wrongdoing or a bad habit after striving to act in a better way.

"Backslide" is a word I like, a good old-fashioned word, not a trendy word. In just nine letters, "backslide" conveys a sense of how difficult it is to go against the habits of a lifetime, and of what invariably happens when I strive to act in a better way -- because striving is only emphasizing what I already know, i.e. my old bad habits.

Apropos of that, here is a Youtube clip that my brother sent me of Neil Young talking about Bob Dylan's capturing of some kind of non-habitual essence in his songwriting. It contains the observation"You can't keep that. That comes and goes through you. You can't strive to be that. There's no way you own it."

So the Buddha seems to be praising Nanda for being something other than a backslider. And how to be that something, I don't know -- any more than I know how to walk, or how to breathe. If I know anything from experience, from multiple experiences of backsliding, I know that you can't strive to be that.

Saundara-nanda describes Nanda's pursuit of a better way (śreyas), but a better way is not something that I can get my dirty paws on, not something I can strive to be. A better way, truly, might not be something, but might be a bit of nothing. A bit of freedom from what usually holds me in its grip, habit.

Because our minds find a bit of nothing difficult to conceive, we find it helps to think of it as if it were something. Hence, in phrases like "I've been a miner for a heart of gold," or "mining Aśvaghoṣa's gold," gold, which is something, is a metaphor for transcendence, liberation, release, freedom from the mundane, freedom from habit, which is a bit of nothing.

In the metaphor that is implicit in today's verse, now that I dig deeper into it, the dharma (as in 12.41) is a tree and ancestors are beings as free and light as birds.

That being so, the verse brings to mind Marjory Barlows' exhortation to remember that work which is the most important thing in the world, is not to be taken seriously. One shouldn't get too serious, or be too heavy about it -- in a religious, ancestor-worshipping kind of way, whereby ancestors are liable to become a heavy brooding judging presence.

I am tempted to finish by pounding my chest with my fists and singing, OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Anyone for a banana?

EH Johnston:
To-day you may fittingly proclaim that King Shuddhodana is your father ; for it is not praiseworthy for a man, who has abandoned the golden rule observed by his ancestors, to proclaim his lineage.

Linda Covill:
Today it is right for you to point to King Shuddhodana as your father; for bringing attention to one's family is not commendable in someone who has fallen from the dharma on which his ancestors had settled.

adya: today
apadeShTum = infinitive apa- √ dish : to point out , indicate , to betray , pretend , hold out as a pretext or disguise
tava (gen. sg.): for you
yukta-ruupam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. suitably formed , fit , proper (with loc. or gen.)

shuddhodanaH (nom. sg.): m. Shuddhodhana; " having pure rice or food" , N. of a king of kapila-vastu (of the tribe of the Shakyas and father of Gautama Buddha)
me (gen. sg.): my
nR-patiH (nom. sg.) m. " lord of men " , king
pitaa (nom. sg.): father
iti: ".....", thus

bhraShTasya = gen. sg. bhraShTa: mfn. fallen , dropped ; strayed or separated from , deprived of (abl. or comp.) ; depraved , vicious , a backslider
dharmaat (abl. sg.): dharma
pitRbhiH (inst. pl. m. pitR): the fathers , forefathers , ancestors
nipaataad = abl. nipaata: m. falling down , descending , alighting (lit. and fig.) , falling from (abl.) into or upon (comp.)
ni- √ pat: to fly down, to fall down; to fall into ruin or decay , be lost

a: - negative prefix
shlaaghaniiyaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. to be praised , praiseworthy , laudable , commendable
ślāgh: to confide in ; to talk confidently , vaunt , boast or be proud of; to praise , commend , eulogise , celebrate
hi: for
kul'-aapadeshaH (nom. sg. m.): pointing out one's family; drawing attention to the nobility of one's family
kula: n. a herd ; a race , family , community , tribe ; a noble or eminent family or race ; high station
apadesha (from apa- √ dish): m. assigning , pointing out ; pretence , feint , pretext , disguise , contrivance

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.30: Not Thirsting

abhyucchrito dravya-madena pūrvam
adyāsi tṛṣṇoparamāt samṛddhaḥ /
yāvat satarṣaḥ puruṣo hi loke
tāvat samṛddho 'pi sadā daridraḥ // 18.30 //

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Upajāti (Indravajrā)

You used to be noticeably crazy for possessions;

Today, because you have stopped thirsting, you are rich.

For as long as a man in the world thirsts,

However rich he may be, he is always deprived.

Being a work in progress (or regress), I can't claim that thirsting has finally stopped in me, but on a good day I do in practice at least stop thirsting.

To translate only one verse of Sanskrit per day is a practice undertaken with the express intention to stop thirsting.

In sitting-dhyāna, as Aśvaghoṣa describes it in Canto 17, to stop thirsting does not belong to any of the four stages of sitting-meditation. Nanda does not stop thirsting during his practice and experience of the first, second, third or fourth dhyānas. Rather, he stops thirsting BEFORE he enters the first dhyāna, hence:

In order to go entirely beyond the sphere of desire, he overpowered those enemies that grab the heel, / So that he attained, because of practice, the fruit of not returning, and stood as if at the gateway to the citadel of nirvāṇa.//17.41// Distanced from desires and tainted things, containing ideas and containing thoughts, / Born of solitude and possessed of joy and ease, is the first stage of meditation, which he then entered. //17.42//

The kind of practice Aśvaghoṣa describes earlier in Canto 17 for readying of consciousness (17.5) -- for example, sitting with legs fully crossed (17.3) contemplating impermanence, suffering, and absence of any separate self, in order to shake the tree of the afflictions (17.17) -- tends to be eschewed in Zen, where the approach to giving up thirsting tends to be more direct, i.e.: Just sit!

Directness, it seems to me, is sometimes the truth itself. And directness, equally, is sometimes end-gaining itself, thirsting itself.

There are many levels of thirsting, and many kinds of deprivation, none of which rightly belong in the life of a devotee of sitting-dhyāna. The secret to stopping them all might be contained in the ultimate teaching of the Buddha on the night before he died, namely alpecchu-saṁtuṣṭaḥ, 少欲-知足, SHOYOKU-CHISOKU, having small desire and being quite content.

EH Johnston:
Formerly exalted by the pride of wealth, you are rich to-day by the cessation of desire ; for as long as a man in the world cherishes desire, so long is he always poor, however wealthy he be.

Linda Covill:
Previously you stood out for your pride in your possessions, but today, because your thirst has stopped, you have fabulous wealth; for even a moneyed man is poor in the world as long as he thirsts.

abhyucchritaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. raised aloft , elevated ; prominent ; excellent through (instr.)
dravya-madena (instr. sg.): ardent passion for objects of possession
dravya: n. substance, thing ; fit object or person; object of possession , wealth , goods , money
mada: m. hilarity , rapture , excitement , inspiration , intoxication ; ardent passion for (comp.)
puurvam: ind. previously

adya: today
asi: you are
tRShNaa: f. thirst
uparama: m. cessation , stopping , expiration ; leaving off , desisting , giving up ; death
upa- √ ram: to cease from motion , stop ; to cease from action , be inactive or quiet (as a quietist); to pause , stop (speaking or doing anything) ; to leave off , desist , give up , renounce (with abl.) ; to cause to cease or stop
samRddhaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. accomplished , succeeded , fulfilled , perfect , very successful or prosperous or flourishing ; fully furnished or abundantly endowed with (instr. abl. , or comp.) ; rich , wealthy
Rddha: mfn. increased , thriving , prosperous , abundant , wealthy

yaavat: ind. (correlative of taavat): as long
sa-tarShaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. having thirst , thirsty
puruShaH (nom. sg.): m. a man
hi: for
loke (loc. sg.): in the world

taavat: ind. so long
samRddhaH (nom. sg. m.): rich, wealthy
api: even
sadaa: ind. always , ever , every time , continually
daridraH (nom. sg. m.): poor, needy, deprived

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.29: Sweet Dreams

nirvāpya rāgāgnim-udīrṇam-adya
diṣṭyā sukhaṃ svapsyasi vītadāhaḥ /
duḥkhaṃ hi śete śayane 'py-udāre
kleśāgninā cetasi dahyamānaḥ //18.29 //

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Upajāti (Indravajrā)

Today, having extinguished the flaming fire of redness,

Happily, you will sleep well, free of fever.

For even on a fabulous bed he sleeps badly

Who is being burned in his mind by the fires of affliction.

The antagonist in yesterday's verse, Māra, as I have described before on this blog, is for me very much tied up with redness. My own quest to extinguish a flashing and flaming fire of redness began more than 35 years ago, as I sat helplessly blushing on the top deck of the bus on the way to school, and grimly resolved to find some way out of the predicament. In retrospect, that kind of determination was not so much part of any solution as symptomatic of the problem. It was a determination to solve the problem directly, by doing something or by cracking some maths-like problem, by aggressive intervention, by striving, by end-gaining. It was lacking the wisdom that Patrick Macdonald expressed in his exhortation to face a faulty pattern of reaction squarely, not trying to deny it, not trying to paper over a crack, not trying to sweep it under the carpet. Macdonald's advice was rather to "look the bugger in the eye."

As an example of what it means to look the bugger in the eye, when sitting after sleeping badly, so that energy is low and breathing is tending to be short and shallow, looking the bugger in the eye might mean listening to oneself breathe short and shallow, not necessarily with any expectation of change for the better.

Because the Moro reflex is unconscious, the fight against Māra can be seen as a kind of war against sleep. Countering such a view, today's verse suggests that a victorious buddha tends to sleep well.

For those of who tend not to sleep well, one thing that may help is at least to recognize that insomnia (like chronic blushing) is not a problem that can be solved by direct intervention. Even an insomniac is a whole person, not a mind, not a body, not a soul or a stream of consciousness waiting to be reincarnated, but an individual unit of being, a self.

"But there is no such thing as the self!" I hear Buddhists say, who know all about the Buddhist theory of śūnyatā. And I, in my grumpy bleary-eyed state, say to them: "Fuck off." (Truly I might be saying it to a gullible and nonsensical tendency in myself, following the mirror principle.)

Because insomnia is a function of the whole person and his or her environment, it is generally not a problem that is susceptible to direct, end-gaining intervention. It is a problem calling for what FM Alexander called "re-education on a general basis" -- i.e. a new and improved balance in a person's habitual manner of accepting and using himself. Happily, then, insomniacs can be encouraged by the Buddha's testimony that, if we complete such a process of re-education and thus emerge finally victorious in the war against Māra, then we will sleep well.

In the meantime, I shan't hold my breath.

EH Johnston:
By good fortune you have extinguished to-day the raging fire of passion, and, free from its fever, you will lie down in comfort ; for the man whose mind is alight with the fire of the vices finds suffering even on the lordliest couch.

Linda Covill:
How wonderful that today you have extinguished the raging fire of passion, and will sleep unfevered and at ease! For a man who is being burned in his mind by the fire of the defilements sleeps fitfully, even in a sumptuous bed.

nirvaapya (abs. nir- √vaa): having blown out, extinguished
raag'- aagnim (acc. sg.): the fire of redness/passion
udiirNam (acc. sg.): mfn. issued out , excited , increased , elevated ; self-conceited , proud
ud- √ iir: to go upwards
adya: ind. today

diShTyaa (inst.): by good fortune, etc.
sukham: ind. at ease, comfortably
svapsyasi = 2nd pers. sg. fut. svap: to sleep, lie down
viita-daahaH (nom. sg. m.): free of fever
daaha: m. burning, heat ; internal heat , fever

duHkham: ind. with difficulty, uncomfortably
hi: for
shete = 3rd pers. sg. shii: to lie , lie down , recline , rest , repose
shayane = loc. sg. shayana: n. the act of lying down or sleeping , rest , repose , sleep; a bed , couch , sleeping-place
api: even
udaare (loc. sg. n.): mfn. high , lofty , exalted ; great, best ; noble, illustrious

klesh'-aagninaa (inst. sg.): by the fire of affliction
cetasi (loc. sg.): in the mind
dahyamaanaH = nom. sg. m. passive pres. part. dah: to burn, consume by fire

Monday, October 24, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.28: Not Being Beaten by Māra

nirjitya māraṃ yudhi durnivāram
adyāsi loke raṇa-śīrṣa-śūraḥ /
śūro 'py-aśūraḥ sa hi veditavyo
doṣair amitrair-iva hanyate yaḥ // 18.28 //

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Upajāti (Indravajrā)

Having conquered Māra,
who is so hard to stop in battle,

Today, at the forefront of the fight,
you are a hero among men.

For even a hero is not recognized as a hero

Who is beaten by the foe-like faults.

Māra as I picture him is the many-tentacled monster of misuse, feeding off fear, greed, and faulty sensory appreciation. Māra in other words is the personification of an aberrant Moro reflex, at the centre of all the faults.

To advance to the frontline in the battle against Māra, paradoxically, might be to learn the backward step of turning one's own light and letting it shine.

As one who can't claim to have finally conquered Māra yet, it seems to me that if I sit down with determination finally to defeat Māra, I am in danger of energizing the old bastard, feeding him with my greedy expectation.

A wiser intention, for one for whom finality is not in sight, might be just to look the bugger in the eye.

Yesterday, speaking of the backward step, I had an excellent email exchange with Ānandajoti Bhikku, who has been guiding me through preparation of the Sanskrit text of Saudara-nanda in Unicode, together with a description of the metre of every verse, preparatory to posting on his Ancient Buddhist Texts website. I said I was happy -- in pursuit of the simple life -- to be doing it on a not-for-profit basis. In reply Ānandajoti disagreed with my description of strictly a Not-For-Profit effort; he described it as strictly a For-Loss effort.

EH Johnston:
Today you are the hero who leads the van in battle, having conquered Mara, whom it is so hard to meet in combat; for even a hero is not considered to be such if he is overwhelmed by the faults as by foes.

Linda Covill:
Having conquered Mara, who is so hard to stop in battle, you are a hero in the world today, first rank in combat. For even a hero is not considered heroic if he is struck down by the foe-like faults.

nirjitya = abs. nir- √ ji: to conquer, subdue, vanquish
maaram (acc. sg.): Mara; m. death, slaying ; m. (with Buddhists) the Destroyer , Evil One (who tempts men to indulge their passions and is the great enemy of the buddha and his religion ; four maaras are enumerated in Dharmas. 80 , viz. skandha- , kleza- , devaputra- , and mRtyu-maara ; but the later Buddhist theory of races of gods led to the figment of millions of maaras ruled over by a chief maara)
yudhi = loc. sg. yudh: f. war , fight , combat , struggle , contest
dur-nivaaram (acc. sg. m.): mfn. (from ni-√vR) difficult to be kept back
ni- √ vR: to ward off , restrain ; suppress, remove, destroy

adya: ind. today
asi: you are
loke (loc. sg.): in the world, among men
raNa-shiirSha-shuuraH (nom. sg. m.): a hero leading the fight
raNa-shiirSha: n. the front or van of a battle
raNa: m. delight; n. battle (as an object of delight) , war , combat , fight , conflict
shiirSha: n. the head, the upper part , tip , top; front
shuura: m. a strong or mighty or valiant man , warrior , champion , hero

shuuraH (nom. sg.): m. a strong or mighty or valiant man , warrior , champion , hero; mfn. strong , powerful , valiant , heroic , brave
api: even
a-shuuraH (nom. sg.): m. not a hero, a non-hero
saH (nom. sg. m.): he
hi: for
veditavyaH (nom. sg. m. gerundive from vid, to know): to be known or recognized as

doShaiH (inst. pl.): the faults
a-mitraiH = inst. pl. a-mitra: mf. an enemy , adversary , foe
iva: like
hanyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive han: to smite , slay , hit , kill , mar , destroy
yaH (nom. sg. m.): [he] who

Sunday, October 23, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.27: Going Up, Here & Now

diṣṭyā durāpaḥ kṣaṇa-saṃnipāto
nāyaṃ kṛto moha-vaśena moghaḥ /
udeti duḥkhena gato hy-adhastāt
kūrmo yugacchidra ivārṇavasthaḥ // 18.27 //

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Happily, this meeting with the present moment,
which is so hard to come by,

Is not being wasted under the sway of ignorance.

For a man who has been down goes up with difficulty,

Like a turtle to a hole in a yoke, in the foaming sea.

The metric pattern of today's Upajāti verse (IIUI) is known as Sālā.

The turtle reference tallies with the famous simile recorded in the Pali Chiggala Sutta (The Sutra of the Hole), helpfully translated here by Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu.

In the conventional interpretation of the simile of the turtle, at least as I am familiar with it, the object that is difficult to meet is the true teaching of the Tathāgata. In today's verse the object that is difficult to meet, as a person who has fallen from grace and come back up again, is a moment of the present.

That being so, a quote that I considered including yesterday, in a comment that was already too long, fits even better with today's verse. The quote is from The annual F.M. Alexander memorial lecture given by Marjory Barlow on 9 November 1965 at The Medical Society of London, and Marjory is relating how her uncle FM Alexander discovered for himself how to work on himself, to bring about change for the better:

Alexander could not change anything by doing. He could not trust his feeling. He then saw that he had underestimated the strength of habit. What he observed in the mirror was the end-result of disordered patterns lying deep in the nervous system. And that these inner patterns of impulses, conveyed through the nervous system to the muscles acting on the bony structure and joints of the body, were operative perpetually, whether he was moving, speaking or sitting still.

In fact these inner patterns were him -- insofar as his body was the outer manifestation of them.

The next step in the journey was taken when Alexander realised that the only place where he could begin to control the wrong habitual patterns was at the moment when the idea came to him to speak or move. The moment when, whatever state of misuse he was in, would be made worse as he went into action. He had reached the only place, and the only moment in time, where change could begin, or where he could have any control over the habitual patterns of misuse, which were dominating everything he attempted to do.

This place, or this moment in time, was the instant that a stimulus to activity reached his consciousness. In the ordinary way, when a stimulus comes, we react to it in the only manner possible. The response is made without thought -- without any knowledge on our part of what we are putting into motion. The reaction is the immediate response of the whole self, according to habitual patterns of movement which we have developed from our earliest years. We have no choice in this, we can behave in no other way. We are bound in slavery to these unrecognised patterns just as surely as if we were automatons.

When Alexander reached understanding of this part of the problem he had found the key to all change. He understood at last in what way he must work....

In the way Marjory thus describes her uncle's journey back to the route of his problem, he emerges as a kind of miner of the human mind -- mining for a heart of gold? Probably not quite in the sense that the 24-year-old Neil Young understood it. But then again who knows what somebody like Neil Young was tapping into, or from where that kind of haunting lyric emerges.

I have titled this post "Going Up, Here & Now," which is all very well, But I could have told you 30 years ago -- before I really experienced any kind of difficulty -- that the point is just to go up, here and now. What Marjory's account of FM Alexander's work on himself makes clear is that, in order for going forward and up in the moment to be really going forward and up in the moment, there might need to be a lot of digging back and down.

Searching for a heart of gold on the outside is liable to ends in tears, because the instant that a stimulus to activity reaches consciousness has never existed on the outside. It has never resided in India or China or Japan, or in Thailand or Sri Lanka. It doesn't necessarily reside on a black cushion either -- unless the practitioner learns to listen, unless he learns to stop end-gaining and just will the means.

EH Johnston:
By good fortune this contact with the right moment, so difficult to obtain, has not been made fruitless through delusion ; for when a man has gone below, he comes up again with difficulty, like the turtle in the ocean rising up so as to meet the hole in the yoke.

Linda Covill:
How wonderful that you met the right moment, so hard to come by, and that it was not wasted under the sway of delusion! For a man who has gone to the lower realms struggles to rise, like a turtle in the ocean swimming up to a hole in a yoke.

diShTyaa = inst. diShTi: f. auspicious juncture , good fortune , happiness (esp. instr. diShTyaa , thank heaven! I congratulate you on your good luck!)
dur-aapaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. difficult to be attained or approached , inaccessible; hard to come by
kShaNa-saMnipaataH (nom. sg.): meeting a suitable moment
kShaNa: moment ; a fit or suitable moment , opportunity
saMnipaata: m. falling in or down together , collapse , meeting , encounter , contact or collision with (instr.)

na: not
ayam (nom. sg. m.): this
kRtaH (nom. sg. m.): made
moha-vashena (inst.): by dint of ignorance
moha: m. delusion, ignorance
vasha: m. authority , power , control
moghaH (nom. sg. m.): vain , fruitless , useless , unsuccessful , unprofitable

udeti = 3rd pers. sg. ud-√i : to go up
duHkhena (inst.): with difficulty, by hardship
gataH (nom. sg.): m. a man who has gone
hi: for
adhastaat (ind. = adhas): down below

kuurmaH (nom. sg.): m. a tortoise , turtle
yuga-cchidraH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. being of the hole in the yoke
yuga-cchidra: n. a hole in a yoke
yuga: n. a yoke
chidra: n. a hole , opening
iva: like
arNava-sthaH (nom. sg. m.): being in the foaming sea
arNava: mfn. agitated , foaming , restless ; m. a wave , flood ; m. the foaming sea
stha: mfn. being situated in

Saturday, October 22, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.26: Just Willing the Means

aho dhṛtis-te 'viṣayātmakasya
yat-tvaṃ matiṃ mokṣa-vidhāv-akārṣīḥ /
yāsyāmi niṣṭhām-iti bāliśo hi
janma-kṣayāt trāsam-ihābhyupaiti // Saund_18.26 //

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Ah! What firmness in you,
who is a slave to objects no more,

In that you have willed the means of liberation.

For it is a fool in this world who,
thinking 'I will be finished,'

Gives in, in the face of the end of existence,
to a state of quivering anxiety.

The metre in today's verse, an Upajāti verse in which the first pāda is Upendravajrā and the rest are Indravajrā (UIII), is called Kīrti.

Today's verse whose theme as I hear it is just willing the means, is intimately related with yesterday's verse whose theme is just listening -- not a subject listening to an object, but just listening.

"In the long run," some economist once said, "we are all dead." This statement accords with the Buddha's teaching as I understand it. In the long run "I will be finished" is a true thought. So the fool in this verse, as I read it, is not a fool because he thinks "I will be finished"; rather, he is a fool for worrying about what he can't change. If, instead of quivering in the face of his demise, the fool attended whole-heartedly to a means-whereby, or to just listening, he might thereby make a difference for the better at the only time and place a difference can be made -- here and now.

Described like that, the fool in today's verse could be me, who a teacher of mine named Marjory Barlow described as "an inveterate worrier."

One of the things that so greatly impressed me about another teacher of mine named Gudo Nishijima, incidentally, is that he was a genius at not worrying. The big difference between Marjory and Gudo, however, to me, is that Marjory taught a means-whereby, whereas Gudo's approach was basically end-gaining. Marjory's teaching was in the direction of growth of consciousness. Gudo's teaching was just to do it, unconsciously. The fact that Marjory was a worrier and Gudo wasn't, as I understand it now, had to do with their inherent constitution and the way they were nurtured and brought up in their early years. Marjory, for example, didn't crawl and she hated her mother who was given to emotional mood-swings. Gudo in contrast was the treasured son who arrived after three daughters. So I think that being or not being a worrier was symptomatic of development in their early years, and not symptomatic of the teaching they taught.

The teaching of both teachers was very centred in the present moment. Marjory's teaching was, here and now, just will the means. Gudo's teaching was, here and now, just will the end.

Neither teacher gave me any reason to believe that "I will be finished" might be a false statement.

Of course, if you believe in re-incarnation, or in God in heaven, you can take comfort from your belief that in the long run we may be resurrected, or re-born in a happier realm of existence. So if you are a believer, you can interpret that the Buddha's words in today's verse are dangling the carrot of non-extinction or non-oblivion. You can hear the Buddha suggesting that only a fool thinks "I will be finished," whereas a wise man thinks "If I can get my dirty paws on the deathless nectar, then I might not necessarily be finished."

As a non-believer, I don't hear the Buddha suggesting to Nanda that he can take solace in the prospect of any kind of life after death. I hear the Buddha congratulating Nanda for keeping his eye on the ball, for attending to the means and not worrying about the end which, for all of us, might be extinction and oblivion.

The gist of today's verse, as I read it, then, is to encourage us that as long as we steadfastly will the means, then there is no need to worry about ends, which will all take care of themselves.

Forgive my lack of optimism but, having spent the last three years considering what Aśvaghoṣa meant by "obtaining the deathless nectar," my tentative conclusion is that the deathless nectar is not an end any of us can hope to arrive at in future. It might rather be arrival here and now at a means.

EH Johnston:
I applaud your firmness in that, free from bondage to the objects of the senses, you set your mind on the means of salvation; for it is only the fool who feels terror in this world at the destruction of rebirth, thinking it means total extinction for him.

Linda Covill:
What constancy in you, who are not sense-based, in that you have set your mind on what is prescribed for liberation! For only a foolish person in the world thinks 'I will pass into oblivion!' and so comes to fear the end of rebirth.

aho: ind. a particle (implying joyful or painful surprise) Ah! (of enjoyment or satisfaction) Oh!... et cetera
dhRtiH (nom. sg.): f. firmness , constancy , resolution , will
te (gen. sg.): of you, in you
aviShay'-aatmakasya (gen. sg.): not being identified with objects, having no fish to fry
viShay'-aatmaka: mfn. consisting of or identified with wordly objects , sensual, carnal
aviShaya: mfn. not having an object
viShaya: m. an object of sense ; anything perceptible by the senses , any object of affection or concern or attention , any special worldly object or aim or matter or business , (pl.) sensual enjoyments , sensuality
aatmaka: having or consisting of the nature or character of (in comp.); consisting or composed of

yat (relative pronoun): that
tvam (nom. sg.): you
matim (acc. sg.): f. intention, wish ; (matim kR, to set the heart on, make up one's mind , resolve , determine)
mokSha-vidhau (loc. sg.): release-practice
moksha: m. release, liberation
vidhi: m. any prescribed act ; a means ; any act or action , performance , accomplishment , contrivance , work , business (ifc. often pleonastically)
akaarShiH (2nd pers. sg. aorist kR): you made

yaasyaami (1st pers. sg. future yaa, to go, proceed ): I will go
niSThaam (acc. sg.): f. conclusion , end , termination , death
iti: "..... " ; thus
baalishaH (nom. sg.): m. a fool , simpleton , blockhead
hi: for

janma-kShayaat (abl. sg.): because of the end of birth
janman: n. birth , production, exisence, life; re-birth
kShaya: end , termination
traasam (acc. sg.) m. fear , terror , anxiety
√ tras: to tremble , quiver , be afraid of
iha: in this place , here, in this world, here and now
abhyupaiti = 3rd pers. sg. abhyupe: to go near, to enter a state or condition; to admit as an argument or a position; to agree with , approve of

Friday, October 21, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.25: Listening

adyārthavat-te śrutavac-chrutaṃ tac
chrutānurūpaṃ pratipadya dharmaṁ /
kṛta-śruto vipratipadyamāno
nindyo hi nirvīrya ivāttaśastraḥ //18.25//

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Listening ears open to the truth replete with listening,
and with purpose,

Today you stand surefooted in the dharma,
in a manner that befits the listening tradition.

For a man equipped with listening ears who is wavering

Is like a swordsman lacking valour:
he is worthy of blame.

The metre in today's verse, an Upajāti verse in which the first and last pāda are Indravajrā and the middle two pādas are Upendravajrā (IUUI), is called Māyā.

In 18.22 the Buddha describes Nanda as dharme (locative) pratipattiH, "standing surefooted in the dharma." In today's verse the phrase is pratipadya dharmam (accusative), "having set foot upon the dharma." The intention of the two phrases, as I read them, is exactly the same; and pratipadya, having set foot upon (= being surefooted in) is contrasted with vipratipadyamānaḥ, pussyfooting about.

So the second half of the verse has something of the flavour of samurai Zen, with its emphasis on self-assured, decisive action -- which can be a double-edged sword, depending on what kind of confidence the self-assurance is, and how well-informed the decision is.

But the main theme of today's verse, as evidenced by four occurrences of the word śruta, is listening; or what is listened to, the teaching, the tradition. The verse in the round, then, might be interpreted as asserting that listening is not for wimps.

Ten years ago I attended an Ear-Voice Connection Workshop given by Paul Madaule, a protege of Alftred Tomatis and the founder of The Listening Centre in Toronto. Paul wrote an excellent book on listening, titled "When Listening Comes Alives." When he speaks of "listening" Paul seems to indicate more than just the act of a human subject receiving auditory information -- so that, for example, if I am sitting listening to the forest stream and the birds singing, that whole experience is listening, including not only me the listener but also the stream, the birds, the whole environment. This understanding of, and reverence for, listening is perhaps closer to the Sanskrit word śruta than what we usually mean by the English word listening -- because śruta seems to include not only the act of listening but also what is listened to.

Out of this kind of consideration, a couple of questions arise:
1. Is there any difference between (a) mindfulness of breathing, (b) watching the breath, and (c) listening to oneself breath?
2. Going further, is it permissible to aspire to a state of breathing being listened to, not by me; of breathing being listening itself?

True answers to these questions might be: 1. Don't know. 2. No. (Or, Shut the fuck up!)

But I shall carry on regardless...

A further reflection is that a central pillar of Dogen's teaching is the samādhi of accepting and using the self, which is intimately related with listening. For one thing, how one uses the self has a big influence on one's ability to listen. For another thing, truly to accept oneself depends on being able to listen to oneself.

I write the above as one who has a deep-seated listening difficulty.

My teacher Gudo Nishijima tried to explain the samādhi of accepting and using the self as balance of the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. But the autonomic nervous system works unconsciously, whereas listening has to do with consciously paying attention. So Gudo's hypothesis, as I see it, has to be rejected as false. Since the false hypothesis is at the centre of Gudo's "One True Buddhism," I also reject Gudo's One True Buddhism as false. This may seem strident or rash, but I have spent the best part of 30 years pussyfooting about before coming to this conclusion.

There is a page on my website dedicated to listening. In a past life I have been on professional training courses to help people, mainly children, with listening difficulties. But I really know almost nothing about it.

The only thing I really know, which is why I keep coming back to it, is that the teaching of the buddha-ancestor who transmitted the Dharma to me, was very bad, like an apple that was rotten to the core. But a rotten apple is still an apple. And the ultimate teaching of the Buddha was not to be greedy.

EH Johnston:
To-day you have learnt that which is of good purport and full of learning and have followed the Law according to the learning. For he who is perfected in learning and acts contrary to it is worthy of blame, like a man who, having girded on his armour, shows cowardice.

Linda Covill:
Today you have learned that which is purposeful and learned, and you have followed the dharma according to that learning. For he who has perfect learning and acts contrary to it is blameworthy, like a man with a sword but no courage.

adya: today
arthavat (nom./acc. sg. n.): mfn. wealthy ; full of sense , significant ; suitable to the object, fitting ; full of reality , real ; ind. according to a purpose
te (gen. sg.): of/in you
shrutavat (nom./acc. sg. n.): mfn. one who has heard ; possessing (sacred) knowledge , learned , pious ; connected with or founded on knowledge
shrutam (nom./acc. sg. n.): mfn. heard , listened to , heard about or of , taught , mentioned , orally transmitted or communicated from age to age
tat (nom./acc. sg. n.): that

shrut'-aanuruupam: in conformity with the listened-to
shruta: n. anything heard , that which has been heard (esp. from the beginning) , knowledge as heard by holy men and transmitted from generation to generation , oral tradition or revelation , sacred knowledge; n. the act of hearing; n. learning or teaching , instruction
shru: to hear , listen or attend to anything (acc.) , give ear to any one (acc. or gen.) , hear or learn anything about (acc.) or from; to hear (from a teacher) , study , learn ; to be attentive , be obedient , obey
anuruupam ind. ifc. conformably , according
pratipadya = abs. prati- √ pad: to set foot upon , enter , go or resort to , arrive at , reach , attain; to come back to (acc.) ; to get into (acc.) , meet , with , find , obtain , receive , take in or upon one's self; to undertake , begin (acc. dat. or inf.) , practise , perform , accomplish
dharmam (acc. sg.): m. the Dharma, the teaching

kRta-shrutaH (nom. sg. m.): he who has done listening/learning well
kRta: mfn. done , made , accomplished; prepared , made ready ; obtained , gained , acquired , placed at hand ; well done , proper , good ; cultivated
vipratipadyamaanaH = nom. sg. m. present participle vi-prati- √pad : to go in different or opposite directions , turn here and there ; to roam , wander (said of the senses) ; to be perplexed or confounded , be uncertain how to act , waver , hesitate ; to differ or diverge in opinion , be mutually opposed ; to reply falsely or erroneously

nindyaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. blamable , reprehensible
hi: for
nir-viiryaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. powerless , unmanly , impotent ; m. a weakling
viirya: n. manliness , valour , strength , power , energy ; heroism , heroic deed; manly vigour , virility , semen virile
iva: like
aatta-shastraH (nom. sg. m.): a man with drawn sword
aatta: mfn. taken , obtained ; taken away or off , withdrawn from ; seized , grasped
shastra: n. an instrument for cutting or wounding , knife , sword , dagger

Thursday, October 20, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.24: Untaintedness

adyāsi śaucena pareṇa yukto
vāk-kāya-cetāṁsi śucīni yat-te /
ataḥ punaś-cāprayatāṁ[1]-asaumyāṁ
yat-saumya no vekṣyasi garbha-śayyām //18.24 //

= = - = / = - - / = - = = // = = - = /= - - / = - = =
- = - = / = - - / = - = = // = = - = / = - - / = - = =

[1] UoW: āprayatāp

Today you are possessed of purity of the highest order,

In that your voice, body, and mind are untainted,

And in that, henceforward, my gentle friend,
you will not again be confined

In the ungentle womb of unready slumber.

The metre in today's verse (IIUI) is called Sālā, which is the 2nd most common form of Upajāti verse in Buddha-carita.

Purity of the highest order (shaucena pareṇa) means being untainted by what? It might mean being untainted by having a fish to fry, having some agenda, having some idea of "what's in it for me?" -- as described at length in Shobogenzo chap. 87, Serving Buddhas.

If I have ever experienced such untaintedness, it has only been for the odd moment, as a work in progress (and in regress) -- nothing final.

In 18.10 Nanda, in contrast, seems confidently to announce that for him rebirth is finally over: Rebirth is over, O Refuter of Rebirth! I am dwelling as one with observance of true dharma./ What was for me to do, O Doer of the Necessary! is totally done. I am present in the world without being of the world.//

In the second half of today's verse the Buddha seems to echo Nanda's confidence that Nanda has finally got off the merry-go-round of saṁsāra.

Whether such finality is really possible or not, I for one don't know. But if I were to believe in the possibility of such finality, and strive after it in an end-gaining manner, that for sure would be just taintedness itself.

The whole of Canto 18 might be a big stimulus to tainted end-gaining, if we allow it to be... I want to get what Nanda got. I also want to get the definitive seal of approval from a truly Enlightened Buddha.

But for those of us for whom finality is not in sight, and is therefore only an unhelpful idea, the wise course might be to heed the teaching of Canto 15 and resort as a counter-measure to mindfulness of breathing.

So for the giving up, in short, of all these ideas, / Mindfulness of inward and outward breathing, my friend, you should make into your own possession. // 15.64 // Using this device you should take in good time / Counter-measures against ideas, like remedies against illnesses. //15.65//

If one allowed the possibility that the Buddha countenanced the idea of re-incarnation, then the second half of today's verse might be better translated, "And in that, henceforward, my gentle friend, you will not again be confined in the unready and ungentle bed which is a womb."

For me, the fact that the Buddha did not countenance such a whacky idea as reincarnation, which goes totally against the principle of the indivisible unity of the individual practitioner (= one whole being), is again evidenced in Canto 15:

Any idea you might have, then, that has to do with not dying, / Is, with an effort of will, to be obliterated as a disorder of your whole being.//15.52//

I prefer to understand the Buddha as affirming in today's verse that Nanda was fully awake to the Buddha's teaching, as distilled in the four noble truths; so that the Buddha is saying that, having fully woken up to these truths, Nanda will not slumber again in ignorance.

EH Johnston:
To-day you have reached the highest purity in that your voice, body and thoughts are pure, and in that henceforward, my friend, you will not experience again the impure and unholy abode of the womb.

Linda Covill:
Today you are joined to supreme purity, since your speech, body and mind are clean, and because after this you will not again enter that impure, ungentle bed that is the womb.

adya: today
asi: you are
shaucena = inst. sg. shauca: n. (from shuci) cleanness , purity , purification (esp. from defilement caused by the death of a relation) n. cleanness , purity, integrity ; n. purity of mind , integrity , honesty (esp. in money-matters) ; n. (with Buddhists) self-purification (both external and internal) ; n. evacuation of excrement
pareNa = inst. sg. para: mfn. highest, supreme
yuktaH (nom. sg. m.): joined to (inst.); furnished or endowed or filled or supplied or provided with , accompanied by , possessed of (instr.); come in contact with (instr.)

vaak-kaaya-cetaaMsi (nom. pl. n.): voice, body, and mind
shuciini = nom. pl. n. mfn. shuci: shining , glowing , gleaming , radiant , bright; clear , clean , pure (lit. and fig.) , holy , unsullied , undefiled , innocent , honest , virtuous
yat: (relative pronound) that
te (gen. sg.): your

ataH: ind. from this, hence
punar: ind. again, further
ca: and
a-prayataam (acc. sg. f.): mfn. not intent (on devotion) , not prepared (in mind) for any important action or performance
prayata: mfn. outstretched , far-extended ; placed upon (loc.) ; offered , presented , given , granted , bestowed ; piously disposed , intent on devotion , well prepared for a solemn rite (with loc. or ifc.) , ritually pure (also applied to a vessel and a place),
a-saumyaam (acc. sg. f.): mfn. unlovely , disagreeable , displeasing ; unpropitious
saumya: mfn. relating or belonging to soma (the juice or the sacrifice or the moon-god); cool and moist (opp. to agneya , " hot and dry "); " resembling the moon " , placid , gentle , mild ; happy , pleasant , cheerful

yat (relative pronoun): that
saumya (voc. sg. m.): my friend! o gentle one!
no: ind. and not
vekShyasi = 3rd pers. sg. future (1) vish: to enter , enter in or settle down on, go into (acc.)
(2) viSh: to be contained in (acc.)
garbha-shayyaam (acc. sg.): a womb-bed, the bed which is a womb
garbha: m. the womb
shayyaa: f. a bed, couch, sofa; lying , reposing , sleeping ; resort , refuge (» comp.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.23: Towards Sovereignty Over the Self (& True Politics)

adyāsi supravrajito jitātmann
aiśvaryam-apy-ātmani yena labdham /
jitātmanaḥ pravrajanaṃ hi sādhu
calātmano na tv-ajitendriyasya //18.23 //

= = - = / = - - / = - = = // = = - = / = - - / = - = =
- = - = / = - - / = - = = // - = - = / = - - / = - = -

Today, conqueror of yourself, you have truly gone forth,

Since you have thereby gained sovereignty
over yourself.

For in a person who has conquered himself,
going forth has worked;

Whereas in an impulsive person
whose senses remain unconquered, it has not.

The IIUU metric scheme for a verse in Upajāti metre is known as Rāmā.

A bloke with an imperfectly integrated Moro reflex is not fooling anybody, except maybe himself, if he claims to be a conqueror of himself (jitātman), or a conqueror of the senses (jitendriyaḥ).

On the other hand, if I can truly direct my whole self upward, even if only for a moment, in that moment I have got round the problem that FM Alexander identified as faulty sensory appreciation. Or, in the terminology of Saundara-nanda, I have conquered or thwarted the power of the senses -- as in the title of Canto 13, śīlendriya-jayaḥ, Thwarting the Power of the Senses through Practice of Integrity.

"If I can truly direct my whole self up": that is a big if.

So I sit (in a dubious imitation of a half lotus, with my left lower leg dangling off the end of my sitting platform) and, like a not very well coordinated golfer teeing off at a par 3 hole, I know what I am aiming for without harbouring any great expectation of success.

What I am aiming for in aiming myself upward, I venture to assert, is sovereignty over myself as an individual, which is something totally different from totalitarianism, whether of the left or of the right.

Last night I watched a BBC documentary on Spain's stolen children (niños robados). The programme featured a certain ultra-Catholic operator of a maternity clinic. His name was Vela Vela -- or Dr Vela Vela to show him the respect that a person of his social standing is thought to warrant. Dr Vela Vela was in the habit of showing less worthy mothers (in his ultra-Catholic judgement) a frozen still-born baby and telling them their own child had died. The healthy baby would then be sold on to parents who were, from an ultra-Catholic viewpoint, more deserving. The reasons that Vela Vela and others like him were able to perform this kind of intervention for so long, evidently, were all tied up with Franco's attempt to establish a fascist totalitarian state, one of the pillars of which was the Catholic church. And the fact that the likes of Vela Vela have yet to be brought to justice and thrown in prison might be a sad reflection of the fact that many individual Spaniards have yet to get their whole body out of Franco's brand of totalitarianism/Catholicism.

When I lived in Japan through the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, there was something about the way Japanese society worked that was anathema to me -- a kind of cultural arrogance that the powers that be in Japan had seemed to hang onto despite defeat in WWII. In trying to understand exactly what it was that I hated, I found two books in particular helpful. One was "The Informed Heart" by Bruno Bettelheim, a Jewish survivor of Nazi concentration camps, in which he outlined how Nazi totalitarianism worked and argued that "men are not ants." The other book was "The Enigma of Japanese Power" by a Dutch journalist and latterly academic named Karel von Wolferen, which was a brilliant expose of how the Japanese "System" works, and how the System was not undermined but was actually strengthened in the aftermath of defeat in WWII. As a graduate of the Law Department of Tokyo University and scion of the Japanese Ministry of Finance, I might add, my own teacher Gudo Nishijima had quite a privileged place at the heart of the Japanese System. Ironically, this privileged position, along with the teaching of Kodo Sawaki, allowed and encouraged Gudo to exercise a much larger degree of individual autonomy than most Japanese of his generation were able to exercise. Hence his reputation for being ippiki ookami, a lone wolf.

When I became a student of Gudo, at the age of 22, there was no such thing as Dogen Samgha. There was no formal group. The emphasis, in line with Kodo Sawaki's teaching, was on people sitting every day at home -- by themselves, for themselves, on their own -- and coming together to sit from time to time for lectures and retreats. But there was always something about Gudo's own attitude that was culturally arrogant, patriarchal, and interventionist. There was something in there that was anathema to me, and it troubled me that (even after reading the aforementioned two books) I couldn't understand what it was -- until I sought out the teaching of FM Alexander.

Certain aspects of Gudo Nishijima's teaching, I then began to realize, were not compatible with the teaching of FM Alexander. Specifically, what was not compatible was Gudo's wrong interventionist teaching around right posture.

The point I am driving at, stimulated by last night's documentary, is that how a person sits and the politics of that individual are somehow tied up with each other. Totalitarianism, whether of the left or of the right, is top-down hierarchical and interventionist. True practice of non-doing, by individuals who are making the teaching their own, aiming to gain sovereignty over themselves, is always more or less in the middle way.

Aiming for sovereignty over the self, it seems to me, is a bit of a different kettle of fish from patriarchal Buddhism. In Shobogenzo, Dogen lists Aśvaghoṣa as one of the Buddhist Patriarchs whom we are to honour by reciting their names out loud, doing prostrations, and the like. But when we go back to the writings of Aśvaghoṣa himself, Aśvaghoṣa seems to be emphasizing that the way to honour the Buddha is less by prostrations and the like than by making the teaching our own, as an individual.

EH Johnston:
To-day by conquest of yourself your abandonment of home life is successful, since you have obtained mastery over yourself. For it is fruitful for him who has conquered himself to take up the wandering life, but not for him whose senses are unsubdued and self unstable.

Linda Covill:
Self-conqueror, today your departure from home is successful, since you have thereby won sovereignty over yourself. Departure from home is perfected in someone who has conquered himself, but not in a flighty man of unconquered senses.

adya: today
asi: you are
su-pravrajitaH (nom. sg. m.) mfn. wandering well about (as a mendicant) i.e. a good or proper monk
su: well
pravrajita: mfn. gone astray or abroad ; run away (said of horses) ; one who has left home to become a religious mendicant or (with jainas) to become a monk
pra- √ vraj: to go forth
pra: forth, forward, in front, on
vraj: to go , walk , proceed , travel , wander , move
jit'-aatman (voc. sg. m.): o conquered self!
jita: mfn. won , acquired , conquered , subdued
aatman: m. self ; essence , nature , character , peculiarity (often ifc.)

aishvaryam (acc. sg.): n. the state of being a mighty lord , sovereignty , supremacy , power , sway
api: ind. and , also , moreover , besides , assuredly , surely; (for emphasis) even, very
aatmani (loc. sg.): over yourself
yena (inst. sg.): by which means, because of which reason
labdham (acc. sg. n.): got, won, found, obtained etc.

jit'-aatmanaH (gen. sg.): for/of/in/to one of conquered self
pravrajanam (nom. sg.): n. going forth
hi: for
saadhu (nom sg. n.): mfn. straight , right ; leading straight to a goal , hitting the mark , unerring (as an arrow or thunderbolt) ; straightened , not entangled (as threads) ; well-disposed , kind , willing , obedient ; successful , effective ; fit, proper

cal'-aatmanaH (gen. sg.): for/of/to one of impulsive self
cal'-aatman: mfn. fickle-minded
cala: mfn. moving , trembling , shaking , loose, unsteady
na: not
tu: but
a-jit'-endriyasya (gen. sg.): for/of/to one of unconquered sense-power
a-jita: unconquered
indriya: n. bodily power , power of the senses

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.22: How to Honour the Buddha

uttiṣṭha dharme sthita śiṣya-juṣṭe
kiṃ pādayor-me patito 'si murdhnā /
abhyarcanaṃ me na tathā praṇāmo
dharme yathaiṣā pratipattir-eva //18.22 //

= = - = / = - - / = - = = // = = - = / = - - / = - = =
= = - = / = - - / = - = = // = = - = / = - - / = - = -

"You who stands firm
in the dharma loved by those who study it,
stand up!

Why are you fallen with your head at my feet?

The prostration does not honour me so much

As this surefootedness in the dharma.

As maybe befits a booming voice of Buddha, each pāda in today's verse begins with a heavy syllable. In other words, each pāda is Indravajrā (I). An 11-syllable Upajāti verse in which each of the four pādas is Indravajrā (IIII) is itself classified as Indravajrā. It is the most frequently occuring form of Upajāti verse in Aśvaghoṣa's writing.

Line 1, as I read it, brings to mind Dogen's words that mountains belong to those who love mountains.

With regard in line 4 to surefootedness in the dharma (dharme pratipatti), it might be the kind of assurance in the dharma that is manifested primarily via feet on the ground -- i.e. not primarily by stridently talking the talk but primarily by quietly walking the walk.

EH Johnston:
'Rise up, for you stand in the Law beloved of My followers. Do not lay your head at My feet; you do not do Me so much reverence by obeisance as by this acceptance of the Law.

Linda Covill:
"O you who abide in the dharma so cherished in a pupil, stand up! Why do you lie with your head at my feet? Your prostration does not honour me as much as your entry into the dharma."

uttiShTha = 2nd pers. imperative utthaa: (ud- √sthaa) to stand up , spring up , rise
dharme (log. sg.): in the Dharma
sthita: mfn. standing, standing firm ; standing , staying , situated , resting or abiding or remaining in (loc.)
sthita (voc. sg. m.): O you who stand!
shiShya-juShTe (loc. sg.): pupil-served, served/loved by those who study it
shiShya: mfn. to be taught; to be instructed; m. a pupil , scholar , disciple;
śiṣ: weak form of √śās: to chastise , correct , censure , punish ; to restrain , control , rule , govern ; to teach, instruct
juShTa: mfn. pleased ; liked , wished , loved , welcome , agreeable ; frequented , visited , inhabited ; served , obliged , worshipped ; practised; furnished with , possessed of (instr. or in comp.)
juṣ: to be pleased or satisfied or favourable; to devote one's self to (acc.) , practise , undergo , suffer; to delight in visiting , frequent , visit , inhabit , enter (a carriage &c )

kim: what? how? whence? wherefore? why?
paadayoH (loc./gen. dual): feet
me (gen. sg.): of me, my
patitaH (nom. sg m.): mfn. fallen , dropped , descended
asi: you are
muurdhnaa = inst. sg. muurdhan: m. the forehead , head in general ,

abhyarcanam (nom. sg.): n. worship , reverence
arcana: ifc. honouring , praising ; nf. (am , ā ) homage paid to deities and to superiors
arc: to shine; to praise , sing ; to honour or treat with respect
me (dat./gen. sg.): to/of me
na: not
tathaa: so
praNaamaH (nom. sg.): m. bending , bowing , a bow , respectful salutation , prostration , obeisance

dharme (loc. sg.): in the Dharma
yathaa: as
eShaa (nom. sg. f.): this, this here, here (especially as pointing to what is nearest to the speaker)
pratipattiH (nom. sg.): f. gaining , obtaining , acquiring ; giving , granting , bestowing on (loc. or comp) ; causing , effecting ; beginning , action , procedure in or with (loc.); confidence , assurance , determination ; resource , means for (loc.) , expedient against (gen.)
prati: towards, in the direction of
patti: f. (fr. √ pad, to stand fast or fixed) going , moving , walking
eva: (emphatic)

Monday, October 17, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.21: Getting the Body Out of Heedlessness

tataḥ pramādāt[1] prasṛtasya pūrvaṁ
śrutvā[2] dhṛtiṁ vyākaraṇaṁ ca tasya /
dharmānvayaṁ cānugataṁ prasādaṁ
meghasvaras-taṁ munir-ābabhāṣe //18.21//

- = - = / = - - / = - = = // = = - = / = - - / = - = -
= = - = / = - - / = - = = // = = - = / = - - / = - = =

[1] UoW: pramādat
[2] UoW: śruvā

Then, after listening to him
who had emerged already out of heedlessness,

After hearing his firmness and his testimony

And a clarity consistent with the gist of dharma,

The Sage boomed at him like a thundercloud:

The UIII metric scheme for a verse in Upajāti metre is known as Kīrti.

Dogen wrote of 出身の活路 SHUSSHIN NO KATSU-RO, "the vigorous road of getting the body out." That Nanda is now securely on that road, in possession of an effective means of working, was evidenced in yesterday's verse by the words sarveṇa kāyena, "with the whole body," and is evidenced in today's verse by the words pramādāt prasṛta, "out from heedlessness."

Speaking for myself, if my efforts in the way of working on the self have ever caused me to get the whole body out from heedlessness, it has only been for fleeting moments.

Yesterday Jordan asked me "Was the rant in your post today consciously controlled or not?"

Implicit in Jordan's question there seems to be an assumption about me that is wildly optimistic. I don't go through life on the plane of conscious control. I spend my life more or less deeply sunk in heedlessness. On a good day, there might be one or two moments when I see it. And recently, with an injured left knee preventing me from sitting for long in full lotus, I haven't had too many of those.

Dogen's master, Tendo Nyojo, said that we should sternly guard against becoming deluded by a twirling flower.

In the 2nd line vyākaraṇam is as per the title of this canto, ājñā-vyākaraṇaH, which can be understood as "[the Buddha's] declaration of [Nanda's] mission," or as "[Nanda's] testimony with regard to [his own] insight" or as "[the Buddha and Nanda] bearing witness [to each other]."

Implicit in the 3rd line as I read it is Aśvaghoṣa's recognition that the gist of the Buddha's teaching is in the direction of clarity, simplicity, transparency. The writing of Aśvaghoṣa himself, it seems to me, is uniquely consistent with this gist. There is nothing esoteric about it, and no muddying of waters. When Bodhidharma arrived in China from India to cut the roots of confusion, he did so primarily by the non-verbal means of just sitting. Aśvaghoṣa seems to me to be equally concerned with cutting the roots of confusion, by clarifying as clearly as possible in words what can be clarified in words.

Thus in Canto 17 we have possibly the clearest description anywhere of a progression, or regression, through the four stages of sitting-meditation. The first two dhyānas seem to me to correspond in Alexander work to (1) inhibition of grimly determined end-gaining so that sitting becomes enjoyable, and (2) giving of directions until those directions become a unitary awareness of an integrated whole, just sitting, which is a still deeper joy. The 3rd and 4th dhyānas entail a giving up of joy and ease in favour of the clarity and simplicity of pure awareness and indifference -- the kind of clarity and simplicity that Dogen hints at by describing water that is clear, right down to the bottom, so that fishes are swimming like fishes.

And then what?

Then, it seems to me, a couple of observations of FM Alexander are very pertinent, viz:

"Don't you see that if you get perfection today, you will be farther away from perfection than you have ever been?"

"The experience you want is in the process of getting it. If you have something, give it up. Getting it, not having it, is what you want."

As a footnote to yesterday's comment, by the way, the International Rugby Board showed their support for Alian Rolland by giving Sam Warburton a 3-week ban, which means he will miss the play-off for 3rd place. Thus it ever was. Who cares whether justice is served, as long as face is saved, and as long as positions of authority are respected? That's one of the problems with international team sports. They can make for a great stage on which human dramas can be played out and observed by millions of people. But they require organizational hierarchies, which invariably spell trouble. It is a problem to which sitting-dhyāna, at least as I practise it, as one individual, is happily immune.

The point of the 4th line might be that the Buddha had, when he wanted to use it, a very loud and resonant voice.

EH Johnston:
Then the Seer, listening to his declaration and hearing of the steadfastness of him who had previously emerged from heedlessness and of his faith in following the Law, spoke to him with a voice like a thundercloud: --

Linda Covill:
The sage heard of the constancy of Nanda, who had recently come forth from carelessness, and of his discriminating analysis, and of his clarity concerning the logic of dharma, and when he had listened to this, he spoke in a voice like the clouds:

tataH: ind. from that, then
pramaadaat (abl. sg.): m. intoxication ; madness , insanity ; negligence , carelessness about (abl. or comp.) ; an error , mistake
prasRtasya = gen. sg. m. prasRta: mfn. come forth , issued from (abl. or comp.)
puurvam: ind. before, formerly , hitherto , previously

shrutvaa = abs. shrut: to hear, listen
dhRtim (acc. sg.): f. firmness , constancy , resolution , will
vyaakaraNam (acc. sg.): n. separation , distinction , discrimination ; explanation , detailed description ; manifestation , revelation ; (with Buddhists) prediction , prophecy (one of the nine divisions of scriptures)
vy-aa-vkR: to undo , sever , divide , separate from (instr.) ;
to expound , explain , declare ; (with Buddhists) to predict (esp. future births)
ca: and
tasya (gen. sg. m.): of him

dharm'-aanvayam (acc. sg. m.): the purport of the Dharma
anvaya: m. following , succession ; connection , association , being linked to or concerned with ; the natural order or connection of words in a sentence , syntax , construing ; logical connection of words ; logical connection of cause and effect , or proposition and conclusion ; drift , tenor , purport
ca: and
anugatam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. followed by; following
prasaadam (acc. sg.); m. clearness , brightness , pellucidness , purity; perspicuity; calmness , tranquillity , absence of excitement ; serenity of disposition , good humour ; graciousness , kindness

megha-svaraH (nom. sg. m.): a cloud-noise, thunderclap
m. (fr. √ migh ) " sprinkler " , a cloud
svara: m. sound , noise
tam (acc. sg. m.): to him
muniH (nom. sg.): m. the sage
aababhaase = 3rd pers. perfect aa -v bhaas: to appear , look like

Sunday, October 16, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.20: Real Appreciation

ity-evam-uktvā guru-bāhumānyāt
sarveṇa kāyena sa gāṃ nipannaḥ /
praverito lohita-candanākto
haimo mahā-stambha ivābabhāse //18.20 //

= = - = / = - - / = - = = // = = - = / = - - / = - = =
- = - = / = - - / = - = = // = = - = / = - - / = - = =

After speaking thus,
out of deep appreciation of the Guru

He prostrated himself on the ground
with his whole body.

He looked like a great fallen column

Of gold tinged with red sandalwood.

The IIUI metric scheme for a verse in Upajāti metre is known as Sālā.

Yesterday in preparing today's comment I was moved by a lingering sense of outrage. Nothing new there, then.

A man to whom the highest status had been accorded, when called upon on a big stage to exercise wisdom, conspicuously failed to exercise wisdom. Instead Alain Rolland, refereeing the Rugby World Cup semi-final match between Wales and France, reached impetuously for the red card, only 20 minutes into the game, thereby killing the enjoyment of millions of rugby fans around the world.

It is customary in rugby for players to show respect to the referee. Hence when the Welsh skipper Sam Warburton was shown the red card he did not make a song and dance of complaining to the referee, but simply walked off the pitch.

But showing respect to a person in a position that commands respect, and really appreciating a person as an individual, are not necessarily the same thing. An obvious example that springs to mind of a person who commanded respect but who was truly deserving of nobody's great appreciation, is Harold Shipman. To give him his proper title he was Dr. Harold Shipman. In Japanese he would be called Shipman Sensei, "Shipman who stands out in front," and would be accorded the respect due to a Japanese Sensei, even though he was an arrogant scum-bag who used his position to murder hundreds of people.

What I am striving, through my anger, to express has been expressed much more eloquently and intelligently by Richard Feynman, for example, in this Youtube clip.

One of the thing that Feynman expresses, aside from his disrespect for honours, epaulettes, uniforms, and the like, is his genuine appreciation of his father. So he illustrates well my point that showing of respect and real appreciation are not necessarily the same thing at all. Showing of respect is cheap. Real appreciation costs more.

Scholars who discuss whether Aśvaghoṣa was primarily a poet or a monk, or who discuss what school of Buddhism Aśvaghoṣa belonged to, seem to me to be totally failing to appreciate Aśvaghoṣa, which is a shame.

Coming back to today's verse, the point is that Nanda's action of bowing as Aśvaghoṣa describes it was not done out of respect for the Buddha's uniform, or out of respect for the Buddha's position as top dog in a brotherhood of monks. It was done out of great, deep, real appreciation, because the Buddha had taught Nanda a way of working that Nanda found in his own experience had actually worked for him.

That is why Nanda was able to bow to the Buddha sarveṇa kāyena, with his whole body -- because there were not two Nandas. There wasn't a spiritual Nanda in conflict with a material Nanda. There wasn't a religious Nanda in conflict with an ordinary Nanda. There wasn't an emotional Nanda in conflict with a rational Nanda. There wasn't a mental Nanda in conflict with a physical Nanda. Following the Buddha's teaching had caused Nanda to allow himself to be totally himself.

The second half of today's verse alludes to Nanda's robe, whose colour was yellowish red.

People in the past like Aśvaghoṣa who were able genuinely to appreciate the Buddha and his Dharma, invariably also appreciated, in its traditional form, the Buddha's insignia, which primarily means a traditionally sewn robe dyed a traditional colour.

That being so, in this as in several other verses in Saundara-nanda, Aśvaghoṣa seems to wish to clarify that the colour of Nanda's robe was yellowish red.

Alternatively, one could understand Aśvaghoṣa's intention to be that Nanda's skin was golden or yellow in appearance, and the colour of his robe was a yellowish red colour like sandalwood. In that case, "smeared" rather than "tinged" might be a better translation of aktaḥ.

Either way, the main colours in Aśvaghoṣa's frame for describing the colour of the robe as worn at the time of the Buddha would seem to be yellow and red.

Speaking for myself, I put on a traditionally-sewn robe every morning. Its colour is yellow, and I wear it to sit when I am at home in Aylesbury. In France I have an old robe that I sewed more than 20 years ago and which is quite tattered now, whose colour is brown. So I wear a robe to sit in in the morning, but I don't go overboard on worshipping the robe in a big religious way. I don't believe in the robe as a religious object.

If a robe has great merit as a religious symbol, maybe I am failing to appreciate it. The first I ever heard of a kaṣāya, which the MW dictionary gives as "a dull or yellowish red garment or robe," was in Gudo Nishijima's translation of Shobogenzo. Gudo's favoured translation was "the ritual robe." Fuck that, I say, for a terrible translation. Gudo's idea was that "the ritual robe" combines something religious ("ritual") with something material ("robe"). But what the fuck is religious about a yellowish red robe?

If a yellowish red robe is religious, then maybe the Pope, or a Buddhist Patriarch, or a rugby referee is always right. And maybe as a result of using foul language in a Buddhist commentary this so-called "stream of consciousness," which is really a big fat bloke called Mike Cross, will be reborn in some lower realm, as a dung beetle or something. But I much prefer the kind of skeptical doubt championed by Richard Feynman.

The first dhyāna as Aśvaghoṣa describes it in Canto 17 is something really to be enjoyed, like diving into a cool pool on a hot day -- something far removed from grim ascetic striving and suffocating religious belief. The first dhyāna is full of all sorts of thoughts, random ones buzzing around, and more directed ones pointing the way to the second dhyāna. This second dhyāna is a zone of unitary awareness in which thoughts do not intrude. It is a zone which might be very difficult to enter for a practitioner who is pulling his head back and down onto his spine while thrusting his lower back forward due to a perverted sense, apparently imported from the military parade ground, of what uprightness is. To sit like this is the antithesis of sitting sarveṇa kāyena, with the whole body. Quad Erat Demonstrandum.

So speaking for myself, I think that (a) Alain Rolland made a very bad call yesterday and if he is a true person he will acknowledge it, (b) the teaching of my teacher Gudo Nishijima around right posture in Zazen was totally wrong, and I don't appreciate it, (c) the teaching of Aśvaghoṣa and FM Alexander around sitting posture is not wrong and I deeply appreciate that. On a good day I deeply appreciate it not with the stream of my consciousness but sarveṇa kāyena, with the whole body.

EH Johnston:
With these words he prostrated himself with his entire body on the ground out of respect for the Guru, appearing like a mighty fallen column of gold smeared with red sandalwood.

Linda Covill:
So saying he laid his whole body on the ground out of reverence for the guru, seeming like a great fallen column of gold tinged with saffron.

iti: ..." [close quotation]
evam: thus
uktvaa = abs. vac: to speak, say
guru-baahumaanyaat (abl. sg.): out of great respect for the guru
guru: m. any venerable or respectable person, teacher
baahumaanya = bahumaanya: mfn. to be thought much of , to be highly esteemed , estimable
baahu: vRddhi form in comp. of bahu: much
maanya: mfn. to be respected or honoured , worthy of honour , respectable , venerable

sarvena (inst. sg.): all
kaayena (inst. sg.): with the body
saH (nom. sg. m.): he
gaam (acc. sg.): f. the earth
nipannaH = nom. sg. m. past part. ni-√pat: to fall down , fall upon or into (lit. and fig. , with upari , acc. or loc. ; with pAdayoH , to throw one's self at a person's [gen.] feet )

praveritaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. cast , hurled
lohita-candana-aktaH (nom. sg. m.): smeared with red sandalwood
lohita: mfn. red , red-coloured , reddish ; made of copper , copper , metal; m. red (the colour) , redness
candana: mn. sandal (Sirium myrtifolium , either the tree , wood , or the unctuous preparation of the wood held in high estimation as perfumes ; hence ifc. a term for anything which is the most excellent of its kind)
akta: mfn. ( √ aJj) , smeared over , diffused , bedaubed , tinged , characterized. Often ifc. (cf. raktaakta mfn. dyed red ; sprinkled or besmeared with blood)

haimaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. (fr. heman) golden , consisting or made of gold
mahaa-stambhaH (nom. sg. m.): a great post, pillar , column
iva: like
aababhaase = 3rd pers. perfect aa -√ bhaas: to appear , look like