Thursday, November 3, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.38: Realization of Happiness, In Proper Accordance with the Means-Whereby Principle

duḥkhaṃ na me syāt sukhameva me syād-
iti pravṛttaḥ satataṃ hi lokaḥ /
na vetti tac-caiva tathā yathā syāt
prāptaṃ tvayādyāsulabhaṃ yathāvat // 18.38 //

= = - = / = - - / = - = = // - = - = / = - - / = - = =
- = - = / = - - / = - = = / = = - = / = - - / = - = -
Upajāti (Māyā)

'There might be for me no hardship;
there might be for me just happiness....'

Thus is the world impelled ever forward:

And yet it does not know a means whereby
that happiness might come to be --

That rarely attained happiness
which you today have realized, properly."

Thus ends a series of seventeen verses from 18.22 in which the Buddha, booming like a thundercloud, heartily affirms where Nanda today (adya) is at. And the word with which the Buddha concludes this affirmation is yathāvat, which means "properly" or "in proper accordance with the means-whereby principle."

Bad teaching, it seems to me (and I should know because I do plenty of it), is intervention in which a teacher thinks he is teaching in accordance with a means-whereby principle, when in fact he is not, because he is blind to the end-gaining inherent in his approach. There tends to be a lot of intervention like that in, for example, psycho-therapy and Pilates and various forms of sports and life coaching. Any approach that does not take account of (a) the indivisible unity of the human organism, (b) the influence of a person's habitual manner of using himself, and (c) the problem of faulty sensory appreciation, is an end-gaining approach -- that is to say, it is not effort in proper accordance with the means-whereby principle, it is not yathāvat.

As a Zen teacher, one can woffle, based on study of Dogen's words, about learning the backward step, and dropping off body and mind. And nobody has done more of such woffling than me. But if one's habitual manner of sitting in lotus is such that the head is pulled back and down onto a stiff neck, and hyper-extension of the back is causing the pelvis to be misaligned with the head, the neck, and the rib-cage, so that the breathing is more or less held... then that, in my book, is not what the Buddha meant by yathāvat.

EH Johnston:
For mankind is ever working to avoid suffering and obtain happiness, nor do they understand how the happiness, so hard to reach, of which you have come into possession to-day, may duly come about. '

Linda Covill:
'May I have no suffering, just happiness!' With this aim, people are constantly busy, but how it might come about they do not know. You have today rightly obtained what is hard to obtain."

duHkham (nom. sg.): n. suffering, hardship
na: not
me (gen. sg.): of me
syaat (3rd pers. sg. optative as): there/it might be
sukham (nom. sg.): n. ease, comfort, happiness
eva: (emphatic)
me (gen. sg.): of me
syaat: there/it might be

iti: "....", thus
pravRttaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. 'rolled forth'; purposing or going to , bent upon (dat. loc. , or comp.) ; engaged in , occupied with , devoted to
satatam: constantly, always, ever
hi: for
lokaH (nom. sg.): m. the world, mankind, folk

na: not
vetti = 3rd pers. sg. vid: to know
tat (nom. sg. n.): that [happiness], it
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)
tathaa yathaa: in what way, how
syaat: it might be, happen, come about

praptam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. attained to , reached , arrived at , met with , found , incurred , got , acquired , gained
tvayaa (inst. sg.): by you
adya: today
a-sulabham (nom. sg. n.): mfn. difficult of attainment , rare
yathaavat: ind. duly , properly , rightly , suitably , exactly; as , like (= yathaa)
yathaa: ind. according to what is right , properly , correctly (= yathāvat)
- vat: an affix added to words to imply likeness or resemblance , and generally translatable by " as " , " like "

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