Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Mr. Mike Cross's Criticism

(Note) Dear Mr. Mike Cross. Even though you told me that you like to erase your criticism against me from my blog, I would like clearly request you should not to erase them for ever. Because the facts that you criticized against me are very important historical facts, and so the criticism is very important data for me to critisize your so-called Buddhism. So I think that you are responsible to maintain your criticism against me for ever. In such a meaning I would like to request you to maintain your criticism against me as a historical data for ever. And if you have erased them already, I think that you should recover them totally as your responsibility.

19 Comments:

Blogger Mike Cross said...

Dear Nishijima Roshi,

(1)The direction you gave me with your hands in the Zendo of Tookei-in temple in the early 1980s, pulling my chin and neck backwards, was utterly wrong and misleading.
(2)You have exhibited a fixed prejudice against the teaching of FM Alexander which, over the past 10 years, has proved to be utterly unsusceptible to reasoned argument.
You are only a human being, after all. And who am I to criticize others? A champion of greed, anger, and delusion.
But, since you ask me directly, these are my two main criticisms against you.

4:59 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

"Buddhism is Reality"

[I say this with the greatest of respect to both of you. This is my perception of reality]

What I see is an old angry bitter monk picking a fight with an even older and more venerated monk in the town square in front of a massive crowd.

I think they are fighting about monkish things but I am not sure. Mostly I just see two old monks fighting. It's not edifying.


Both:
You are jointly listed as authors of what is called the 'definitive' translation of Shobogenzo. That is one hell of a legacy.

Gudo Nishijima:
I have found your teachings to date on this blog truly valuable. I see a man preparing for his own death with dignity. I admired the way that you had not responded to MC to date. It showed restraint and dignity. Now, you have responded and made hime more 'real'.

Mike Cross: I still feel that your knowledge of Buddhism must be vast but all you ever post is anger and bitterness. I already know too much about both those topics myself and need no further education. Teach buddhism. Start your own lineage. Whatever.

Your Amazon listing is disingenuous since they appear to be your views alone.

7:56 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger Jundo Jim said...

Before we practice Zazen, we are human beings, with all the greed, anger, ignorance and general foolishness that the human condition entails.

And after we practice Zazen for year upon year, what do we become?

Perhaps a human being, with the same greed, anger, ignorance and general foolishness that being a human being entails.

It may be that the -only- differance is what we do with those human foibles.

Are we an elder who, in the face of an angry student, turns the other cheek, who refuses to yield to destructive emotions, who says with great grace that after a decade of silly chatter the conversation is over and the time for silence has come?

Or are we a student who, having certain obsessive-compulsive tendencies before Zazen, directed those tendencies into Zazen and, so many thousands of hours of sitting later, remains with the same baggage as before ... it is a 'control' thing? If one is going to obsess, Zazen is a fine object of obsession. Buddhism attracts so many of us seeking healing for deep wounds. Sometimes, the medicine feeds the disease. Now, you obsess over Zazen and your darn neck!

Pardon me for speaking out of turn, but I feel the need to speak up for a teacher who is much too gentle to play these games.

Gassho, Jundo

9:21 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger g said...

To an outsider, looking in the window,

It appears that two crafty monks are sparring.

What does it matter?

11:14 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger engu said...

Dear Dogen Sangha-
hearty congratulations, you are moving up with the frontrunners for the Steel Pillar 2005 Award- given to the most disfuntional sangha (the Steel Pillar will replace the now worn wooden one which poor old Gudo Nishijima Roshi must be banging his head against).
It may be more appropriate for you all to find some private forum to air out and hopefully resolve your grievances- just a suggestion.
In any case, I am grateful for all of Roshi's teachings in whatever form they come.

2:47 AM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

Four Noble Truths:

1. Life is filled with suffering
2. Suffering is caused by people's wants.
3. Suffering can be ended if people stop wanting things, like more pleasure or more power.
4. To stop wanting things, people must follow 8 basic laws, called the Eightfold Path.

Eightfold Path:
1.To know the truth
2.To intend to resist evil
3.To not say anything to hurt others
4.To respect life, property, and morality
5.To work at a job that does not injure others
6.To try to free one's mind from evil
7.To be in control of one's feelings and thoughts
8.To practice appropriate forms of concentration

The Middle Way is the name Buddhists call lives guided by the laws of the Eightfold Path.

Dont' both of you know this stuff?

6:38 AM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger J&J said...

We all have our Crosses to bear. _/_

12:35 PM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger J&J said...

We all have our Crosses to bear. _/_

12:35 PM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger J&J said...

Sorry, I crack myself up.
But reallynotimportant, you took the words right out of my mouth. Where is the love, y'all?
It reminds me of a t-shirt I saw which said "Jesus loves you but everyone else thinks you're an asshole."

12:46 PM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger Matt said...

i teach fencing, and every so often i'll get a person who comes in and insists that a katana or huge broadsword (or gun, WMD, etc..)would kick the crap out of our wussy rapier-style foils. I can't really disagree. I mean, yes it's all martial, but it's hardly the same thing. I usually have to say something like "look man, those are good points and questions and all, but this ain't kendo class, it's fencing..."

I also get questions why the way i teach something or some attack that is differnt from so and so's way, and I can only say "this is the way I learned it." and I point out that I've modified some things myself that fit me, but that yes there is an appropriate, "correct" way--that way being of course the most direct, simple thrust, the one that scores. The rest of the fight is finding the time and method to execute it.

If people are interested in techniques other than the ones I teach, I honestly tell them they're in the wrong school. If people want to know why we use these weapons instead of that, I ask them why they came to me to learn, and again, if they persist, they are in the wrong school.

Tibetan Buddhism doesn't rock my socks like it used to. In fact I can just about call myself an advocate of the Soto tradition--i'd say i've come a long way. You wont' find me up the road trying to break the concentration of chanters at the Tibetan style dharma center though. I'll be in my room staring at a wall or dropping by these blogs or talking to my fellows who are partaking of this tradition/style with me. The Dalai Lama is indeed wise but in terms of meditation I'm doing pretty well on my own I think.
Maybe His Holiness and I can do lunch when it comes time for a charity drive or something, but other than that, I think we both get on just fine.

Now, it would be foolish of me to go to the Dalai Lama and tell him to change his flag-waving, mandala-reading ways (jk! jk! I jest, I jest!!!), even though I gotta say right when I became enamored of Siddhartha Gautama's discoveries, I was expressly interested in the Tibetan tradition.
I've come to not believe in much of what my perception of Tibetan Buddhism entails, so I basically "left the practice." I did the same thing with Christianity a long time ago.

I consider myself wholly responsible for involving myself in that tradition, and to be honest, without it, I would never have come to Soto Zen, which to be honest, this isn't necessarily the last stop on my way.
But I am thankful for being where I was, and doing the things I did. I've had experiences, I've gained knowledge, I'm familiar with much of what goes on in these traditions simply by participating in one, etc...

I think there's a big difference between a quack and someone you dont' agree with. At any rate, signing up for the course is the student's decision.

I consider myself to teach a blend of "French and American" style fencing.

I'm quite biased against certain "styles" of fencing. Either because they don't seem right to me or I see better solutions elsewhere. At any rate, there are other stylists out there, and all I can really do is teach and use my style and prepare myself or borrow from others if need be.

If another student believes my teaching to be faulty, they should ask why, and then experiment. Believe it or not they should try to accept it. Not adopt it necessarily but understand what is being said and why. If it doesnt' check out after all that, that's great. In fact I would enjoy a student who doesn't take everything at face value, but thinks critically. However, they are learning from me, and if they dont' value that they are wasting their time. If they come to the realization that my teaching is not for them, or even if they believe it is flat out wrong, they should stop immediately, and be thankful for the realization, and go elsewhere. Who knows? they may be back. But staying and arguing with a teacher is not really acceptable. Not with the designation of teacher and student. Not even if the student considers himself a teacher.
It's not about promoting technique or learning then, it's about one-upping the other.

I've actaully had students who learned from other schools badger me lesson after lesson asking why we dont' do things this way or that, or telling me that the way they do it is better. I really really really wonder what they are doing being engaged in receiving my teaching if they dont' want to learn what I have to say?

Some even wonder what the relevance of the weapon is, "Why aren't we using real swords/bigger swords?" They are concerned with either fantasy or an activity outside of the one they are doing in real life.

These questions are not intended to learn anything, and these students, for one reason or another, bless them, are more of a distraction to the class than a help. I will be teaching 10 students how to do a proper lunge or footwork, and 1 will wonder why we can't swing from chandeliers while we fence. The other 10's lesson is harmed. It's not curiousity, it's selfishness.

So, to put the criticisms in perspective: Students who learn from me and feel like I lied, well that's too bad, sorry we wasted our time. I didn't mean to lie, but did you really mean to learn? (there's no right answer to that). And of course, I'm probably going to turn a highly prejudiced ear to the Hungarian style of fencing. I'll listen, but I have a heck of a lot of faith in my own ways.

Better to have a teacher who believes 110% in his own way than "meh" in every way, no?

Oh, and constant prodding in front of the class will eventually lead to being addressed in front of the class. Sometimes that's the only way. Kudos to the teacher who keeps his composure in such a situation.

peace

10:04 PM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger Jundo Jim said...

Hello,

A Sangha is made up of people, much like a family. People are people, and just as with any family, there is always that uncle or cousin who has some "issues," and causes a ruckus at family get-togethers.

Before we do years of Zazen, we are human beings with rough edges. After we do years of Zazen we are human being, perhaps with the rough edges a little smoothed over. But, if you believe that long time Zen folk, even the Buddha himself, are beyond humanity, that their feet don't sometimes stink and that they don't have bad breath, you fail to understand the first thing about Zen practice. Zen practice is to be a human being, not a machine, not a god.

Yes, we are a family. In any family, there is always an uncle or two with particulary bad breath some days.

By the way, what is to fault on Nishijima's part? He simply said that, after 10 years of going round and round, enough silly talk was enough. He also said not to hide any criticisms of him, not to delete them, but leave them for the world to see. What can be the fault in having such calm and grace?

Gassho, Jundo

6:27 AM, December 20, 2005  
Blogger soundchaser said...

What I don't understand is why Mike Cross continues to contact Gudo Nishijima. If he does not agree with Nishijima, then why not just let it be, and go somewhere else? Is this not the Buddhist thing to do?
I can imagine that Nishijima must feel like someone who is in a tent with a mosquito constantly buzzing around his ears.
I take offence to the anger expressed in MC's posts. MC, I suggest counseling. Sounds like you have "issues".

4:02 AM, December 22, 2005  
Blogger soundchaser said...

Another thing...
MC keeps saying that Nishijima is "only a human being" and Brad Warner is "only a human being". Well, the Buddha was only a human being. Hitler was only a human being. We are all only human beings.
But our actions in this world are not all equal, just becaiuse we are all humans. Some people act in ways that benefit humanity and possibly all life on earth. Others are destructive, and create misery and suffering.
The way I see it, Gudo Nishijima has provided the clearest version of Zen Buddhism that I have ever found. I have been on the path for 25 years. I have read a lot of so-called-Buddhist writings. But when I read Nishijima's Dogen-based writings, everything became clear and straightforward.
So MC, I propose that Nishijima is noy "just a human being". He is a human that has given the world a special gift. A gift thjat should be spread to every corner of the earth.
I have said my peace.

4:10 AM, December 22, 2005  
Blogger jilola said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:53 PM, December 31, 2005  
Blogger timbo said...

Well said soundchaser !!!!
Nishijima roshi is a great guy
who deserve great respect .It is
ok to disagree with him but regardless he deserves repect for
all he has done to spread zen.I fall in love with dogen's writtings after reading Bendowa about 10 yrs ago.Nishijima's contribution in bringing that amazing zen master's work is priceless.There are few areas I disagree with the Roshi and I donot expect to agree with him with everything either. so I thank the Roshi for all his help
in making our beloved zen master Dogen's work accessable to everyone !

4:08 PM, January 20, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Mike Cross San

(1) In the practice of Zazen, when anyone is inclining forward, holding his right and left shoulders with my both hands, I pull his body backward to make his line of the spine identified with the line of gravity.
When some one's neckbones are bent, pulling up his head and pushing his chin backward and downward to make the back of the neck should become more straight.
I have learned these methods in Master Kodo Sawaki's retreats, therefore this method is very common in training the Buddhist practice.
Your criticism is always your own proclamation like "utterly wrong and misleading", and usually you don't indicate any reason. But such a kind of one-sided explanation sounds so much strange to me.
(2) Actually speaking, I do not know about AT almost at all. But if someone identify Buddhism with another philosophy or practice, it might be some kind of slander or blame against Buddhism. You do not know such a kind of delicate feeling, which we usually keep in our mind and body.
Of course I am a human being, and Buddhists are always making their efforts to become true human beings.




(2) I do not know about AT almost at all, but listen

11:51 AM, March 16, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For ReallyNotImportant San

I think that Buddhism is a very philosophical religion, and so without discussion sometimes it is impossible for us arrive at the Truth.

I am only proclaiming the facts, which actually occured on the earth in the past. I do not like to permit for lies to be maintained on the Earth.


For Jundo Jim San

Frankly speaking, I wonder whether human beings are so greedy, angry, ignrant, or generally fool.

After we practice Zazen for year upon year, it will become difficult, or impossible for us to become greedy, angry, ignorant, or generally fool. I suppose that many people will doubt such a kind of too much happy conditions, but I think that such situations are just real facts on the Earth. Because when the autonomic nervous system is balanced it is impossible for everyone to become greedy, angry, ignorant, or generally fool.

I would like to ask you not to think human beings so light, because Buddhism thinks that everyone is just the King of the Universe. Buddhism believes in the dignity of human beings, and such ideas encourage us so much. But I think that many people do not like to accept such a fundamental priciple at all. Because human beings want to live easily. But Gautama Buddha taught us to grasp the holiness by making our autonomic nervous system balanced.

The reason, why I was atracted by Buddhism so much, is just the Buddhist exactness like that. I think that it is conpletely impossible for us to find such a kind of religion, which is so real and at the same time it is so holy. I revere it, and I feel so many thanks for it.

I agree with your idea so much.


For g San

I do not know whether we are crafty, or not, however, what we are doing, is never sparring, but our real life.


For engu San

Thank you very much for your enormously excellent praises, but at the same time I do not like to talk in a private forum, and so I am talking my idea by blog for everyone, who is living now on the Earth just now, if he or she likes to listen to my Buddhist thoughts actually.


For reallynotimportant San

Four Noble Truth

1. Idealism: Because ideal can never be arrived at at all, and so it is perfectly painful for us to pursue ideals.
2. Materialism: Matter is completely boring and unsatisfactory, but necessry.
3. Philosophy of Act: Only act can save us from the painful ideals and boring matter.
4. Reality: Only one happiness for human beings are to act following their own personalities at the the present moment.

Eightfold Path

1. True Viewpoint.
2. True Thinking Method.
3. True Words.
4. True Act.
5. True Livelihood
6. True Efforts
7. True Cosciousness
8. True Balance

The word "True" means "The Middle.
Those are fundamental Buddhist bases.

7:13 PM, March 16, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For J&J San

I also think that it is nice wisdom to bear.


For Matt San

I think that everyone has his or her perfect freedom to select his or her own way.


For Jundo Jim San

I agree with your idea.

11:54 AM, March 17, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For soundchaser San

I also think that why Mike Cross San does not leave Dogen Sangha.


For soundchaser San

Thank you very much for you understanding me. It is my best joy to promote Buddhism on the Earth.


For timbo San

Thank you very much for you understanding me.

8:54 PM, March 18, 2006  

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