Friday, December 2, 2011

Individual Use of the Head: Preamble

As a translation of ājñā-vyākaraṇa, I feel very happy to have arrived at "affirmation of full autonomy." Because this translation is both literal and, at least to me, totally meaningful, it feels right.

This feeling, due to the problem that FM Alexander identified as faulty sensory appreciation, is generally a bad sign. Again, if what felt right to me yesterday also feels right today, that probably only means I haven't grown...

This pre-amble is in danger of turning into a pre-ramble.

What is paramount for Aśvaghoṣa, we have heard, is liberation, mokṣa, the coming undone of all the bonds that tie us, so that we are free.

Following the noble eightfold path of cessation in this direction is no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise. Being required to let go of cherished ideas, beliefs, views, misconceptions, along with the familiarity and security of old habits and emotional attachments, is a bitter pill to have to swallow. But the more we succeed in this work, the more fully autonomous we are. And the more fully autonomous we are, not only in the abstract but in a real situation like sitting on a round black cushion or walking in the open air, the more truly upright the whole body is, centred upon use of the head. (But do not call it right posture!)

With this in mind, even before alighting upon "Affirmation of Full Autonomy" as a translation of the title of the final canto, I had thought to call the contributions that follow:

Individual Use of the Head (1): Jordan

Individual Use of the Head (2): Ian

and so on.

So now I will shut up for a while.

All being well, towards the end of this month or at the beginning of the New Year I will get going again on Aśvaghoṣa's other kāvya poem, Buddha-carita. But for the time being I intend to keep quiet and let a half dozen or so other individuals have their say, in the order they sent in their contributions, starting with Jordan.

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