Under the rose-apple tree

Under the rose-apple tree

Saturday, 13 May 2017

All Things Come to Those Who Wait...

On 24th March 2017 Christian Bennet published on Facebook the post copied below, with a link to bodhisvara.com.

I had been waiting for that announcement, somehow knowing that the next step forward for the MMK translation would follow from it 
Since then I have been parroting on a daily basis Kashinath Nyaupane's recitation of Nāgārjuna's Sanskrit -- but with emendations to the text as proposed by Anne Macdonald -- beginning with chapter 24, Investigation of the Noble Truths.
Having by now committed the forty verses of that chapter to memory (at least to short and medium term memory) and given them a chance of translating themselves into English, I will shortly post a work-in-progrress version of the text and translation of that chapter on this blog.

If I was tempted to ask myself, looking at the visitor numbers to this blog, "what is the bleeding point?," that question answered itself for me between 3 and 5 o'clock this Sunday morning, when I reviewed every post and realized that I, for one, am glad to be able to read the blog, even if nobody else appreciates it. 
The past year, as I look back on it, aided by the timeline of this blog, has been punctuated by three DIY disasters. 
In the second week of May 2016, I stupidly lopped down with an electric chain saw a tree that took down part of a power line, with the result that a massive surge of electricity blew up much of the electrical equipment at my bolt-hole in France, including my PC. I suppose I was lucky that the electricity didn't also surge through the chainsaw i was holding. The consequent lack of computer / internet connection then prompted me to return earlier than pllanned to England (where on 16 May I published the Ratnavali translation which, fortunately, had been saved to Dropbox). 
After I got back to England, my wife and I decided to move house to Norwich, where our younger son had won a place to study medicine... as a post-graduate, with what I feared might be dire financial consequences, for him and for us. 
While my wife attended to re-decorating the inside of the new house, I set to work building an out-building, which I initially conceived as a shed for storage, but which gradually evolved into an Alexander studio with v. small zendo. I never seem to work to any kind of a master plan. Rather, I tend to start, sit and look at what I have just done, and take it from there. The process of building the studio was one mistake after another, but the result is surprisingly good. 
On December 15th, however, after a long day in the garden, I foolishly got involved with shopping for an electrical wall light for the living room, and trying to wire the bloody thing up. The fitting was very badly designed. I was tired. The job was fiddly. I was no longer in my element, outside, alone in the garden, lugging things about. Suddenly unduly excited fear reflexes and emotions kicked in and, as if throwing toys out of a pram, I hurled the old light fitting down onto the floor, and generally behaved like a big baby....
No major damage was done to the new light fitting, for which Wickes gave me a refund. But emotionally it felt like another DIY disaster. 
The most recent DIY disaster took place yesterday, in process of tiling a small shower room. Confined in the small space, I got into a muck sweat and, knocking over one thing after another,  generally made a mess of the job. Again, no lasting damage was done on the outside -- it will just be a question of re-doing a few tiles. But on the inside it felt like another disaster, especially since in my blind end-gaining I exacerbated the pain in my right knee that has been bothering me recently. I felt a twinge there while laying paving slabs in the garden a couple of months ago, and sitting in full lotus probably prevented the knee from healing. 
So the pain in the knee might have been one thing that contributed to my insomnia, but the more likely cause was the emotional disturbance of the DIY faiil, compounded by an unduly large intake of sugar in its aftermath. 
I could do with a spell of solitude by the forest.

Having done the groundwork for a big crop of winter radishes, I wasn't able to get to France this winter to harvest them. By the time I do get back to France, hopefully in June, the grass will be waist-high and brambles and stinging nettles will be running riot. 
I like the relative lack of noise pollution in this part of Norwich (not so many light aircraft buzzing around). Air pollution is more of an issue -- due to too many people, like us, driving diesel cars. But I will happily choose Norwich's air pollution over the home counties' noise pollution any day, even if it kills me. 
Anyway, I am looking forward to a spell by the forest in France. Maybe my knee will heal there, as has happened before. Healing of the heart, of course, is another question.  And I suppose that that -- a heart and mind free from emotional pollutants -- is the ultimate criterion for whether the teaching of emptiness has truly been understood or not....

Dear friends,
We are very happy to announce the publication of our latest Bodhisvara project for the preservation of the tradition of reciting Classical Sanskrit Buddhist Literature.Please visit our Bodhisvara Website to listen to and read Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā in Sanskrit.
http://www.bodhisvara.com/The Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (‘Root Verses on the Middle Way’) is the magnum opus of the Indian master Nāgārjuna (c. 150 – 250 CE). Generally regarded as one of the most influential works in the history of Mahayana Buddhism, this text delves into a thorough investigation of ultimate reality that revolutionized Indian Buddhist thought.
As with our previous project, the entire text is recited by Prof. Kashinath Nyaupane from Nepal Sanskrit University.
We thank the International Buddhist Academy, and the Khenchen Appey Foundation along with its IT team for the support in realizing this project.
Please kindly share these news with your friends and colleagues.
With our best wishes,
Christian Bernert

Sunday, 16 April 2017

MMK24.14, Owning Everything, Making Everything Work

sarvaṃ ca yujyate tasya śūnyatā yasya yujyate |
sarvaṃ na yujyate tasya śūnyaṃ yasya na yujyate ||MMK24.14||

Everything belongs to whom emptiness belongs. 
Nothing belongs to whom emptiness does not belong. 

Everything works for whom emptiness works. 
Nothing works for whom emptiness does not work. 

Which translation is closer to hitting the target depends on how one understands in this context the passive verb yujyate:
[MW:]  to be yoked or harnessed or joined &c; belong to or suit any one (loc. or gen.). 

Either way, the most powerful teaching in the world, and a brilliant verse. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

anekartham ananartham - Not singular in its meaning, not plural.

Today in a comment to a friend's facebook post, I wrote the following: 

 there is no such thing as a connected thing -- because no thing exists as a thing unto itself. There are only interconnections. Such is the Buddha's teaching of emptiness.

Afterwards while tiling the floor I wondered whether I might better have written, "there is only interconnection," in the singular. 

Then the negations with which Nagarjuna begins MMK came back to me: 

anekartham ananartham
Not singular in its meaning, not plural.