Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.16: Seeing for Oneself

yasmāc-ca paśyāmy-udayaṁ vyayaṁ ca
sarvāsv-avasthāsv-aham-indriyāṇāṁ /
tasmād-anityeṣu nirātmakeṣu
duḥkheṣu me teṣv-api nāsti saṁgaḥ //18.16 //

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

Since I see for myself an arising and a vanishing

In all situations in the realms of the senses,

Therefore, again, there is in me no clinging

To those aforementioned elements which are
impermanent, impersonal, and unsatisfactory.

Today's verse is the sort of Upajāti verse that is known in the Classical prosodies as Indravajrā; as in 18.12, all four pādas begin with a heavy syllable (IIII), which is the most frequently occuring pattern among the Upajāti verses in Buddha-carita.

I lost a bit of sleep last night trying to figure out what the locative teṣu in the 4th pāda refers to -- Nanda is saying that he is not clinging to what objects? If he were referring to the arising and vanishing,udayaṁ vyayaṁ ca, I think the pronoun would be dual masculine tayoḥ. If he were referring to all situations, sarvāsv-avasthāsu, it would be plural feminine tāsu. Is he saying that he is not clinging to the senses, indriyāṇām? My tentative conclusion is that he is referring back to the earth and other elements, urvyādikān dhātūn, which he mentions in 18.14 and refers to in that verse as teṣu.

In any event, the key words in this verse, as I read it, are paśyāmi ("I see") in the 1st pāda and aham("I") in the 2nd pāda.

As explained by Michael Coulson in Teach Yourself Sanskrit, "the finite verb forms in themselves distinguish person and number. The use of the nominative of the personal pronouns is therefore optional with finite verbs and is normally dispensed with unless at least a slight degree of emphasis is called for."

Speaking of cliches, as I was doing yesterday, every Buddhist and his dog knows that the three characteristics of conditioned things are impermanence (anitya), non-self (nirātmaka) and suffering or unsatisfactoriness (duḥkha) -- or if they don't know, they can soon find out by checking on Wikipedia.

In Sanskrit these three marks of existence are known as tri-lakṣaṇa, "the three marks/characteristics"; in Chinese/Japanese they are 三法印 SAMBO-IN, "the three marks/seals of reality."

What Nanda is saying in this verse, as I read it, is that he has seen, experienced, or realized these three characteristics for himself -- not by walking a mile in the Buddha's mocassins, but by sitting on his own backside.

After writing my comment on yesterday's post, I found myself asking myself, "What was Dogen's view on reincarnation?" And I found myself answering to myself, "I don't give a fuck what Dogen's view on reincaration was. If Dogen had a view on re-incarnation, that was just a view for Dogen to drop off."

The reason I report my inner thoughts verbatim like this, at the risk of offending readers of a delicate disposition, is I think mainly out of the wish to express anger at my shallow imitative self, for having spent such a large chunk of my life striving to understand and to translate into English what I conceived to be a true view -- "the viewpoint of true Buddhism" as my teacher called it.

That kind of effort, the kind of effort to align oneself with a view that one thinks is true, is essentially driven by vanity and pride. Whereas the virtuous circle whereby real work on the self causes one to see for oneself, and seeing for oneself causes one to work on the self, is a totally different kettle of fish.

If I saw more clearly than I do, I would doubtless spend more hours of the day working on the self, and less hours forgetting the self in a limited way in front of the telly.

EH Johnston:
And since I perceive the rise and disappearance in all states of the organs of sense, therefore I am not attached to them too, as they are impermanent, without personality and full of suffering.

Linda Covill:
And since I behold a rising up and falling away in all aspects of the senses, impermanent, without self, and unsatisfactory as they are, I have no attachment for them either.

yasmaat: ind. since
ca: and
pashyaami: I see
ud-ayam (acc. sg.): m. (fr. ud + √ i) going up , rising
vy-ayam (acc. sg.): m. (fr. vi + √ i) disappearance , decay
ca: and

sarvaasv-avasthaasu (loc. pl. f.): in all conditions
sarva: mfn. all
avasthaa: f. state , condition , situation
aham (nom. sg.): I
indriyaaNaam = gen. pl. indriya: n. power of the senses ; n. faculty of sense , sense , organ of sense

tasmaat: ind. (correlative of yasmaat) therefore
a-nityeShu = loc. pl. mn. anitya: mfn. impermanent
nir-aatmakeShu = loc. pl. mn. nir-aatmaka: mfn. having no separate soul or no individual existence

duHkheShu = loc. pl. mn. duHkha: mfn. uneasy , uncomfortable , unpleasant , difficult
me (gen. sg.): of me
teShu (loc. pl. mn.): toward them
api: also
n'aasti: there is not
saMgaH: m. sticking , clinging to ; addiction or devotion to , propensity for , (esp.) worldly or selfish attachment or affection , desire , wish , cupidity

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