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//

- = - = / = - - / = - = = // - = - = / = - - / = - = =
= = - = / = - - / = - = - // - = - = / = - - / = - = -
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)

No comments: