Under the rose-apple tree

Under the rose-apple tree

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

What I have been reciting recently (2): A note on sarva and artha.

If you review the text reproduced in the previous post, and search for sarva, which means all or every, you will find it occurs 12 times in the first 12 verses.

This is one of the things I have noticed over the past few months, when I have been reciting these verses every day.

The past few months have been a fallow period for translation work, due to moving house followed by building work. So I have been getting my daily fix of Sanskrit mainly by reciting this selection of verses of Shantideva, inspired by the reciting on bodhisvara.com.

One of the things I noticed, day by day, while reciting these verses, and witnessing people's divisive responses to Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, was the recurrence of the word sarva.

In the chapter on embracing or adopting the bodhi-mind, the word sarva appears seven times in the first six verses.

So we are reminded, especially in 3.3, that the teaching of buddhas in which the bodhisattva rejoices brings happiness to all and gives benefit to all.

Again, the bodhisattva vows to become for all living beings the allayer of all kinds of suffering (3.6).

All kinds of suffering include, for example, the suffering of sickness (3.7). I notice in passing that the bodhisattva doesn't express the hope that I will become a medicine. The bodhisattva recognizes that I already am medicine -- if I did but know how to take myself and let myself act as a remedy, not only for myself but also for every being with whom I am connected (which means all creatures everywhere).

Other kinds of suffering are the suffering of hunger and thirst (3.8), and the suffering of poverty (3.9). But the fourth and final category of suffering that Shantideva alludes to, is to be living a life without meaning.

As one of the aims of life, artha generally means wealth. But in 3.10 as I have translated that verse, artha means meaning, value, what makes life worth living.

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