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

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