Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

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Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Philosophy of act (1) Existentialisme

I guess that many people might feel strange reading words "philosophy of act." Because it is very rare for us to find such words usually in any book, or any article, and so forth, and when we think about the reason, it is very clear that the words were produced by myself.
In my study of Buddhism for more than 60 years I noticed the existence of special philosophy in it. In Buddhism, act is not only an idealistic concept, or a materialistic sense perception, but it is a very realistic fact just at the present moment, and the real act at the present moment is the fundamental basis of Buddhist philosophy.
But such a concept of "real act," can be found not only in Buddhism, but in Western philosophies I think that it can be seen.
For example I think that a Danish philosopher called Kierkegaard has such an idea. He was a very sincere Christian, but looking at so strong tendency of Materialistic Political idea, he was afraid that whether it was possible for Christianity to be maintaid, or not. Therefore he made his enormous efforts to establish his own new philosophy, which can be useful for him to guard Christianity. And he established a philosophy, which was based on human existence at the present moment. In such situations his philosophy does not belong to Idealistic philosophy, or materialistic philosophy.
And a german philosopher Nietsche followed Kierkegaard's tendency. Nietsche had much interest in the Ancient Greek Civilization, and he yearned the bright and human Greek Civilization so much. Therefore he revered the human freedom and human efforts so much, and wanted to transcend both the dualistic Idealism, and the dualistic Materialism by real act. In such situations I think that Nietsche was also a philosopher, who want to transcend Idealism and Materialism utilizing the philosophy, which is based on act.
And German Philosophers called Jaspers and Heidegger progressed such kinds of philosophy, which is based on human existence at the present moment, to explain human beings much more real on the basis of act. And Heidegger wrote his book entetled with "Sein und Zeit" or "Existence and Time", but the contents are very similar to the real time at the presnt moment.

49 Comments:

Blogger Mike Cross said...

Caution: The Philosophy of Action Can Seriously Damage Your Health

When Gudo Nishijima first preached to me the philosophy of action in the summer of 1982, the truth of it totally won me over. I thought that I would gladly like to give up everything to follow this teacher and this teaching.

So how did things go so badly wrong? Like this: I grasped the philosophy of action intellectually and, thinking it to be the truth, sought to identify myself with it.

My situation thus became exactly as described by Master Dogen in the second paragraph of Fukan-zazengi:

However, if there is a thousandth or a hundredth of a gap, heaven and earth are far apart, and if a trace of disagreement arises, we lose the mind in confusion. Even if, proud of our understanding and richly endowed with realizations, we obtain special states of insight, attain the truth, clarify the mind, manifest a zeal that pierces the sky, and ramble through those remote spheres that are entered with the head; we have almost completely lost the vigorous path of getting the body out.

The reason that I call FM Alexander a modern-day Buddha, the man who re-discovered the secret of Zen for our time, is that his work opened up a way for me to get back on the vigorous path of getting the body out.

The philosophy of action is true. It is so true it is dangerous. It is dynamite. Beware of it--or, more accurately, beware of your own deluded reactions to it.

6:38 PM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

mike: I think you think way too much. I am starting to picture you as this huge brain just floating in a tank with no body attached.

I am pretty sure that my pet cat had grasped "The Philosophy of Action" as unfortunately had the mouse it caught....

7:18 PM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Pierre Turlur said...

reallynotimportant, very good example of deluded reaction. Yes, we should be grateful to Nishijima Roshi for this amazing clarification of Buddha's teaching. At the same time, it is altogether so easy to fool ourselves and think we have caught the mouse of zazen when we are just playing old records, viewing old films and chewing old thoughts. Good old cats. I have seen too many zen zombies at it, nazi-like priests behaving like army guys, not really making the difference between reaction and action. The real question is :where does action come from? Is this action a byproduct of our favorite patterns or beliefs or is it this unknown springing and falling like blossoms, snow, blue mountains and rivers? True action is only possible if i am not in the way. How can I be sure I am not in the way? The more I sit, the more I am aware of fake action in this body-mind, and it does make you a bit more humble. At least, I become a bit more aware about the risk of becoming another military zen bloke.

7:39 PM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Pierre is spot on. The issue is action or reaction.

Receiving Master Dogen's stimulus "just sit upright," the phoney Zen masters of today react to the stimulus blindly, and they proclaim that this practice of blind reaction is just enlightenment itself.

Their Zen students imitate them and we have a perfect situation of the blind leading the blind.

Thus Brad Warner and Michael Luetchford expound their commentaries on Master Dogen's Treasury of the True Dharma Eye. And people who have no eyes of their own fail to see through the charade.

Michael Luetchford tells us that he experienced enlightenment already while climbing up a mountain. He just needed Nishijima Roshi's explanation of the philosophy of action, so that he could understand intellectually the real enlightenment he already experienced. What a joke. What Luetchford experienced climbing up a mountain was just his own deluded reaction to the stimulus of climbing up a mountain!

The dignified action of buddhas should not be confused with the animalistic reactions of a cat to the stimulus of a mouse. In the case of buddhas, the intention is to allow. In the case of mice and other animals, the intention is to get their dirty paws on something.

8:21 PM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

The dignified action of buddhas should not be confused with the animalistic reactions of a cat to the stimulus of a mouse. In the case of buddhas, the intention is to allow.

This is ture. I am being deliberately simplistic and provocative. The cat acts with the fullness of it's being. If it is hungry it will kill the mouse, if it is not it will play with the mouse. If it is tired it will ignore the mouse.

I think only when mind and body work together in harmony and dialogue can right action arise. The key is to be aware of when mind and body are or are not in harmony.

9:25 PM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger axel said...

Dear Mike:

A few years ago we shared a brief correspondance on the issue of 'practice' and 'intent'. I'm the guy from Argentina (you mentioned you stayed here a few months during the 70s). Anyway...

Your post about how the buddha's intent is to 'allow' has given me an interesting perspective on the whole thing.

Thanks

9:39 PM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

mike cross wrote: What a joke. What Luetchford experienced climbing up a mountain was just his own deluded reaction to the stimulus of climbing up a mountain!

If true, how unfortunate. It reminds me of something I read recently:

Gasan instructed his adherents one day: "Those who speak against killing and who desire to spare the lives of all conscious beings are right. It is good to protect even animals and insects. But what about those persons who kill time, what about those who are destroying wealth, and those who destroy political economy? We should not overlook them. Furthermore, what of the one who preaches without enlightenment? He is killing Buddhism."

11:56 PM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Hi Axel,

Thank God that we are both still here, asking the same old questions.

Jules' post is a sobering thought.
On reflection, how would I really know what the buddhas' intent is? The truth is that I am just one who is always intending to get his dirty paws on something, usually unconsciously.

The only thing I truly know about Nishijima Roshi's philosophy of action is that, when I met it, I reacted to it badly.

Thanks to you too.

1:52 AM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

It seems alot of the comments are striving for some kind of state or enlightment. But the philosophy of action is nothing to strive for or "grasp". It's just the awarness of this momment. Which is not something to grasp but to open the hand(grasp) of the thoughts and rest in direct awarness of now.The philosophy action is just seems to be explaining that, it's nothing special. It's not some futuristic experience you strive for but more of something falling away so you experience the truth directly. But there is no Idea of Gain. Any enlightment you think of striving for is just that, an idea about enlightment.

The thing that boggles me is the idea of action itself. I herd a teaching by a Tibetan Lama named Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso teaching on Nargajuna. He expained a chapeter called Coming and Going and how such a thing is impossible. Take for instance a man walking down the street. The path he has already traveled-there is no action. The path he has yet to travel-there is no action. Yet imbetween these two you can't say there is any action taking place. So there is no coming or going it is mere apparence based on causes and conditions which are also mere apparence.

4:13 AM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Pierre Turlur said...

Hi everybody,

We all remember the good old story of master Bodhidharma meeting the emperor WU, it goes roughly as follows:

"What is the highest meaning of the holy truths?" asks the emperor
Bodhidharma says: "Vast emptiness, nothing holy"
The angry monarch asks: "Who is facing me?"
Bodhidharma answers: "I don't know"

There is, in my limited opinion, nothing more relevant to the actual debate. These two voices can be heard now, in you-me-everybody. They arise in the same being. One is the voice eager to get a good catch, to fish a good answer or a good zen teacher, that voice is led by the sole agenda of comforting itself, it is looking for anything that will just legitimate it. The voice of blind reaction. Arrogant, and when challenged, angry. Sounds familiar to me.
The other voice is not trying to serve a plan, play a part,folllow a pre-established pattern, "nothing holy" means nothing can be taken for granted. Nothing to claim, no past to worship, no idol to carve in space and time, no posture cast in stone. The emptiness is also the space that allows reality to arise. This is the voice of action, humble, open, dynamic as opposed to the voice of reaction full of itself. And as soon as we hear and notice in our life-sitting the voice of Wu, the other voice is not far away. Quite close actually. But it is not up to us to decide, otherwise, we instantly kill its freedom, freeze its natural spring and flow. As soon as we think:" I am getting close" the patriarch crosses the river and sit without us.As long as we keep an eye on Wu (who), we don't have to worry about the other guy. true action takes place when these feet cross the Yangtse and this body-mind faces the wall.

4:18 AM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Michael said...

Interesting post, Pierre.

5:14 AM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Lone wolf writes of action as if it were something that he knows about and something that he can do. He writes of opening his hands.

My experience is that I can make a fist very easily. But the allowing of true openness in my hands is a very elusive act.

Similarly in Zazen, there is no problem in adopting a rigidly erect military-style posture. This is a kind of blind reaction that can be seen in army recruit.

The pursuit of true uprightness, I think, requires a quite different approach--a total giving up of all pretense of knowing and of being able to do. This is how I understand Master Bodhidharma’s response to the Emperor Wu.

When the meaning of action is explained to us clearly and lucidly, for example, by Master Nagarjuna or Master Dogen, or here and now by Nishijima Roshi, we are prone to think we have understood, and so we feel no need to question further what action is. This has been my experience. This is the mistake that I made, in extremis.

To recognize what a bloody fool one has been, to realize the necessity of going right back to the beginning and asking oneself what action is, is a humbling experience. Time and time again, I think I have put my dirty paws on it. And time and time again I have to retreat with my tail between my legs, whimpering, “I am sorry. I was wrong. After all, I do not know.”

5:56 AM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

All of what I was saying was just my intellectual understanding. I haven't experienced true self, no self, the truth of reality whatever you want to call "it". I was just pointing out that the philosophy of action is not something to strive for but something to maybe inspire one to sit zazen(which seems contradictory right) I mean when you sit Zazen you shouldn't think I want to reach that state of action taught in the philosophy of action or I want to reach that state of no self etc. Nope you just sit with no gain. But if there were no benefits one wouldn't have to sit or do anything right. Thats all.

The second part was actually me questioning action based on a teaching I herd and it makes some since to me. I mean there is no past, there is no future, and imbetween there is really not a spot you can say action is taking place because as soon as the past ends the future begins which I just said don't even exist. Yet things still appear like they are coming or going. You can see yourself make a fist very easily. Hmmm?
So your right I really don't no what action is, I only have ideas and can percieve it. I am a stupid about reality and I know this, but that doesn't mean what I say hasn't any value. As Nishijima said Idealism and Materialism both have value even though they are not Reality.

But...Mike Cross I see you hint around proclaiming Nishijima and his students as phoney. I don't understand what your trying to prove by saying that really? Are you trying to convert everyone from Buddhism to the Alexander Tech? I know someone who teaches Alexander Technique and I had some interest in it, but you have really turned me off about it. And if you think Brad is claiming some kind of enlightment or great high state of mind, you should read the October post called "Target Earth".It must take a High and Mighty Relized Being to point out all the Phoney's. With all due Respect.

4:48 PM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Jules, thank you for your comment. Thank you also Foolish Thing. Thank you also Lone Wolf.

When I encountered Nishijima Roshi’s teaching, I reacted to it in a blind, deluded, grasping way. In postural terms this reaction manifested itself in undue muscular tension: I fixed, stiffened, braced: held myself up.

When Alexander work demonstrated to me the non-necessity of this blind reaction, and the possibility of another approach, it was a huge “Ah hah!” moment for me, a kind of enlightenment. Not the supreme integral enlightenment of Gautama Buddha (anuttara-samyak-sambodhi), but still a kind of enlightenment.

Nowadays when I sit in Zazen, I do not intend to manifest a blind reaction. But it is stronger than that: it seems to me that I DO intend NOT to manifest a blind reaction. In other words, I intend to allow something other than blind reaction, and I suppose the other thing that I intend to allow is what the buddhas call “action.” So, yes, when I sit in Zazen I do think that I want to reach the state of action taught in the philosophy of action.

Is this how a buddha sits in Zazen? Is it true to say that when a buddha sits in Zazen, he or she has this intention, the intention to allow? I do not know. I have a strong conviction that it must be so. But so far Nishijima Roshi has never affirmed that this understanding of mine, which comes from experience in Alexander work, is true.

Nishijima Roshi teaches that intention and action belong to totally different dimensions, and that Zazen is just action itself. Therefore, we should never bring our intention to Zazen, but we should just sit.

For me, Buddhist action corresponds to what Alexander called “the plane of conscious control,” and intention is like a ladder which we have to use to reach that plane. So I bring to Zazen my intention not to follow old paths of habitual reaction but instead to allow the possibility of action.

The reason I continue to seek, with such desperation, the affirmation of Nishijima Roshi, is that I am very much afraid, as one who is not fully enlightened, of “killing Buddhism” in the manner that you describe.

I know that I have realized something that it is vitally important for other Zazen practitioners to realize. At the same time, I know that I don’t know. So should I preach or not? Without Nishijima Roshi’s affirmation, I find it difficult. And the stridency of tone which others such as Brad Warner observe in “Mr Angry” might be a manifestation of that struggle. If you hear a screeching sound, it might be because I am trying to drive with the hand-brake on.

Maybe I am like Galileo and Nishijima Roshi is like the Pope. On the other hand, I might not be Galileo, and he might not be the Pope.

4:54 PM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Marc WALUS (Paris) said...

Hello everyone... from Paris...
I must admit that I don't understand M.Cross position.. anyway, it's not important, because I'm here to here M.Nishijima, which I allway revered for a very long time. Sometimes, I would use different words just because of cultural differences, but I do agree with him.

7:39 PM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Marc WALUS (Paris) said...

Here in Paris, we never knew about M.Alexander's Technique, but
as we were teached by M.Nishijima, our sitting is alive, fluid,
dynamic and not fixed and rigid.

7:49 PM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Hello Marc. So you were taught by M. Nishijima, were you?

Then tell us: How old were you when you met him? For how many years did you serve him? How many meals did you eat with him? How many nights did you sleep next to him? How many prostrations have you done to his feet, in waking and in dreaming? How many hours have you spent sitting next to him in the Zazen Hall? How many thousands of pages of dictation of his words have you taken? How many tears have you shed in front of him?

I do not believe you. I think that possibly you are a pretender.

9:36 PM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger PA said...

You don't believe Marc from Paris?
Oh well.
As Lone Wolf said, if you're coming here to convert people or tell people not to follow Nishijima, I think you're going about it the wrong way:
I'm not going anywhere near the Alexendar Technique.

9:57 PM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

Mike,
I do understand your feelings about having grasped something valuable that you would like to share with others. I have had similar feelings, but I have become skeptical of my own judgement about any idea, concept, or technique that I believe has value. Those emphasized words are all warnings for me that I'm still grasping something, which still happens all the time, and will hopefully continue all my life. :-) My practice includes being mindful of when I am doing this. I just try, often unsuccessfully, to avoid putting any ideas I've grasped up on a pedestal and bowing before them.

12:26 AM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you, pa; thank you, Jules; thank you, foolish thing.

Let us all agree that Mike Cross is going about things the wrong way (not the Buddhist way, but his habitual way); that Mike Cross is out to achieve something at the end of this journey; and that Mike Cross is failing to exercise due skepticism in regard to his own judgement. It is agreed: Mike Cross is a bloody damn fool (who, at time of writing, is suffering from a stiff neck, doubtless due to all this intention to achieve).

Forget Mike Cross. When Zen Master Dogen says in Fukan Zazengi: "Think the concrete state of not thinking," what is he telling us to do?

According to Zen orthodoxy, these words are just a kind of foreplay before we get to the real business: [Action itself which is "Different from thinking."
But Master Dogen's original words are not like that. Master Dogen is actually telling us to think, to have an intention.

Just sitting is action itself. But the vital thing in practicing it is thinking, is intention.

Just sitting in the lotus posture is an intentional human activity. Without our intention, it never happens at all.

I don't expect to win a popularity contest by saying this, because it flies 180 degrees in the face of Zen orthodoxy. But I am convinced it is the essence of Fukan-zazengi.

I beg everybody, in all sincerity, please consider Master Dogen's words with an open mind. Don't be put off by the appearance of the messenger. Consider the message.

Don't take Nishijima Roshi's word for it. Still less take my word for it. Be a light unto yourself.

1:31 AM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Michael Tait said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:41 AM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

Mike- I don't see why you say you need Nishijima Roshi's affirmation. Affirmation about what?? If your "Mr. Angry" I can see why he said you can cure your problem by just leaving him. If you think Alexander benefits you then fine go out and teach it to people that want to learn it. But I am interested in Soto Zen which teaches the practice of Zazen with "No Gain". I question what Nishijima has wrote as well as Brad and I like the fact that they say"Question my teaching" as the Buddha said. I just feel people should have respect for other even if they differ in opinion, and though Nishijima is a Zen Master he is also a human. To start calling an 87 year old phoney and arguing with him just dosn't seem very respectful to me. Just my thoughts.

4:48 AM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Foolish Thing,
I prostrate myself whole-heartedly to you, whoever you are. You have expressed it much more beautifully than this foolish thing has been able to.
What kind of other name should I call you by?

4:56 AM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Lone Wolf,
I might have been able to solve my own problem by just leaving Nishijima Roshi. But in that case I would be like the old woman who swung her sleeves at Tozan, refusing to sell him rice cakes. No, the cooperation of Nishijima Roshi and I is one effort with two aspects: true practice of Zazen, and establishment of true Buddhist theory. The former is something to be allowed, the latter is something to be achieved or not achieved. It is important to me to try to achieve what can be achieved. What can't be achieved I have to accept.

5:04 AM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Atman Anatman said...

As I read the arguments, explanations and contradictions posted by various 'individuals' here I recognize the reflection of my own internal conflicts, egoic assertions, struggles, and moments of insight and clarity.

Thank you all.

6:05 AM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Pierre Turlur said...

Lone woolf,

I really like that name. As I like the monk's name of Ryokan: Tai gu, big idiot. The same Gu as in Gudo, our respected teacher. I call myself Kuma taigu, big stupid bear. I love putting my paws on honey pots.

What is true respect?
I think we all have a beautiful and yet embarassing heritage, it is part and parcel of being born in this Christian culture: we have to be good, don't we? And gentle, kind. Civilized. And even if we tell the world we don't care, punk or zen master or both, we are just after approval, aren't we? It is bad to loose it. Now, if Mike Cross appears to be mr angry to all of us, what can we say of the other close students? They don't even show up. Apart from Marc, nothing. Now, let me guess...it could be because they think Mike is just a psychotic guy with high paranoid tendencies, so it is irrational to even imagine talking to the barking bloke. You let mad dogs bark, don't you? Or they don't care because they know that they know, or they are shit scared, not liking confrontation. Whatever. i don't know. They don't show up.

Meanwhile Mike carries on and it is not about being right, it is about being utterly honest. I find the teaching of Mike Cross more inspiring and real that the sweety juice that many of you call Soto Zen. The tone of his posts may surprise, disturb or disgust you. And you might just as well start to wander why. That would be a very good Buddhist practice.

Mike is not and arse licker. His way to respect Nishijima roshi is to confront him, fully, stupidly. A kind of non ending Dharma combat. This is his way of communicating. And what he has to say is very important. And what Nishijima has to say is equally very important. Those two respect each other more than anybody else from the standpoint of Buddhist truth.

Now what is zen orthodoxy? Look at it! In Japan, a shu, a pure and simple family business. A company that now sees the wonderful opportunity to make good money in the West exploiting the sudden fame of Buddhism ( Abbots and roshis appear like flowers in space all over Europe and America to show us the way...)

In the West, Zen orthodoxy is promoted by a handful of ambitious and dedicated guys ready to sacrifice everything to become roshi, lead sesshins, and be approved by the japanese church.

Nishijima's heritage seems very different to me. His way has always been a real challenge to the traditional Soto sect. A kind of Mike Cross, far less provocative and angry, of course, but very unsual.

So was Sawaki roshi ( often very angry too)

Many of us have no idea about the real situation. We have, and I include myself, a very idealistic view of the whole thing.

Ever since I started zazen, I only met Zen orthodoxy. Until I met the teachings of Nishijima roshi and Mike.

The difficulty for Zen blokes to accept AT is understandable. They claim that they met THE WAY. Buddhism is THE PATH. Zazen, The MOST wonderful way of being. They met or made a religion ( Jules observation is spot on), and religions may respect but hardly ever agree with other views. They made zazen holy.

The problem again is not to say if zazen is this or that, the real problem is to answer the question: who is sitting? What kind of habit, uncounscious reactions arise as I sit? How much do I fool myself thinking I am in the balanced state?

The problem is not to choose between Nishijima or Mike, it is to learn the backward step of turning the light around and reflecting it. It is to allow zazen to be alive rather that using the automatic pilot of rigid habits. It is to go there by ourselves. And question, question, question, not the teacher, but the nature of the teaching, and more than anything else, question endlessly the way we sit.

8:03 AM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

pierre turlur wrote: The difficulty for Zen blokes to accept AT is understandable. They claim that they met THE WAY.

Took me a sec to figure out whether "They" meant the Zen blokes or the AT blokes. :-)

Reading further in the paragraph makes it clear though:
Buddhism is THE PATH. Zazen, The MOST wonderful way of being. They met or made a religion ( Jules observation is spot on), and religions may respect but hardly ever agree with other views. They made zazen holy.

Thanks for the spot-on remark. But I would hope that some of those teachers have understood more about the dangers of putting these teachings on a pedestal than little-ol-Zen-beginner-me. The Zen scriptures are completely littered with stuff saying, "it's not the doctrine, nothing pure, nothing holy," I could go on and on. How could they miss something like that?

I suspect many of those you accuse of making zazen "holy" are simply acting out of genuine gratitude for a teaching which has significantly improved their own lives. It's a subtle difference -- acting out of respect and gratitude for teachers who may not be physically present, versus acting from feelings of subservience to the Holy Ritual or the Holy Golden Buddha Statue or the Holy Deluded Grasping Of Whatever. You can't the difference just by looking.

Another paragraph that stood out:

In the West, Zen orthodoxy is promoted by a handful of ambitious and dedicated guys ready to sacrifice everything to become roshi, lead sesshins, and be approved by the japanese church.

Now I thought that was pretty unfair.

I'm not saying there's no McBuddha Houses out there (10,000,000 enlightened! Thanks for sharing that one, michael :-). But Pierre, if you're saying that this describes most of the teachers out there I think you're mistaken.

1:13 PM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

Pierre-When I talk about respect, I am not talking about being so nice for some kind of approval such as "Well if I say that he might not like me". I will give you an example of what I mean. I studied Tibetan Buddhism for around 5 years. I had a main teacher and other teacher also I would see. I was having trouble with the complexity of the practices which was also causing me alot of confusion. I slowly over a period of time decided it was not for me. I still respect my teacher. I learned alot from him and would have no problem seeing him again. He gave me alot of good advice. Though I have speculation about Tibetan Buddhism, I don't feel the need to go and prove him wrong or tell everyone he is phoney, or start converting everyone to Zazen( I still have a good friend that practices Tibetan Buddhism, He doesn't agree with me but he respects me and my decisions)That is my Idea of respect. It seems when people put thier teacher on a pedastal and think he is perfect or an enlightened being and thier idea of what that is doesn't fit with what the teacher is saying or how he is acting then people could be quite nasty to him. Thinking they have been betrayed or trust has been broken. I am not saying this is what is going on with Mike. I feel Brad explains respect well in the "Mr Angry" post.

I don't think Mike is an Arse Licker.

With the dharma combat, and striving for enlightment and all maybe you two would be more interested in Rinzai. I don't know. I mean that with respect. I would still like to meet the Rinzai teacher Shodo Harada Roshi some day. I lived with a student of his for awhile named Adam. (Great guy).

I'm not sure what you mean by honesty? is it what ever comes up in your head(or what you feel is the truth at the time) you have to blurt out to the world or is honesty say- I feel like punching the guy next to me so I will be honest with myself and punch him. Maybe honesty is having the thoughts:"Who is sitting? or "How do I fool myself when I think I am in a balanced state? and to just be aware of that thought as it comes and goes as just a thought.(I question the whole thought of thoughts coming or going. I'ts not as if thoughts were comming from outside you or going somewhere after they leave. I mean you could say they were coming if someone just put them there or something but that isn't the case. maybe appear and disappear is better)

I choose to sit zazen. My zazen is nothing special. My zazen is definatly not holy. My zazen is just sitting. Being honest and aware of what takes place momment by momment while sitting and not being caught or getting rid of anything.(though that happens quite a bit)

Kodo Sawaki said" Zazen is good for nothing?

What did he mean? I have my assumptions(No Gain) but I don't know.

3:16 PM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Marc WALUS (Paris) said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:27 PM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Pierre, I think it is possible that in trying to defend me while failing to respond to the teaching of Foolish Thing, you might be doubting the real dragon.

Again,I wholeheartedly prostrate myself to Foolish Thing. Reading the words of Foolish Thing, I feel that he, she, or it has got the marrow.

I wholeheartedly prostrate myself to Foolish Thing.

5:29 PM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Marc WALUS (Paris) said...

to Mike Cross

It seem that this Alexander's Technique made you very angry and agressive.
I never said I was someone else than a low leveled studient of M.Nishijima, I just said that I have no problem with his teaching and the way he teachs zazen.

Maybe you have some personal problem to solve and so you use this blog as a therapy.

5:41 PM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Pierre Turlur said...

Thank you Jules, Lone woolf and Mike,

It may sound unfair, but when I look in me, I see ambition. Zazen is good for nothing is a great shocking statement for hungry disciples, it is also a way for Kodo to remind himself that greed is growing on his own path.

Mike, you are a big guy, you can speak for yourself. I was expressing a point of view about the nature of your relationship to Nishijima roshi as well as thinking aloud about why AT appears so foreign to most zen guys.

And yes, I agree, the words of Foolish Thing are most rare, almost unheard. Indeed, the treasure house started to open naturally. Gassho.

6:10 PM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Alain LIENARD said...

Hi, Pierre TURLUR
are you the one who practiced zazen in Lille years ago? I'm Alin, do you remember?

8:07 PM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Marc,
Thank you for your comment.
If you wish to be a true student of Nishijima Roshi, you should make your effort to be reasonable. To notice that (a) my attitude is aggressive, and that (b) I practice the so-called “Alexander Technique,” and on that basis to deduce (c ), that Alexander Technique seems to have made me very angry and aggressive, is not reasonable. According to that logic, you have to deduce that Nishijima Roshi’s teaching made me angry and aggressive. Or that 13 years living in Japan made me angry and aggressive.

No, the truth is that I liked to practice aggression, for example in rugby and karate, long before I went to Japan, met Nishijima Roshi, and began Alexander work.
So my perceptions of you, so far, are as follows:
(1) You like to curry favour with Nishijima Roshi by flattering comments.
(2) You show disrespect to your senior, me.
(3) Your logic is flawed. You are not so intelligent.
According to Master Dogen’s teaching, even if a Buddhist saint tells you that 2 + 2 = 5, the Buddhist saint is not telling you the truth. And even if an angry demon tells you that 2 + 2 = 4, you should know that the angry demon is telling you the truth. There is no place in Shobogenzo where Master Dogen affirms unreasonable assertions--although the situation in France today may not necessarily be like that.

I think that Nishijima Roshi’s intention in establishing this Blog is related with his intention to clarify what Buddhist philosophy is. He has a very strong intention to achieve this as a definite end. To that end, our efforts to defeat each other in philosophical argument might not be totally in vain. I feel that Foolish Things last comment was so excellent that, in the processing of defeating me, it clarified the matter of intention in Zazen as clearly as the sound of golden bells. It was like being defeated in a contest by a very skilful fighter--a pleasure and a privilege. You, on the other hand, are more like a mosquito on an iron ox’s arse.

3:05 AM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

The Wolf in Lone Wolf is spelled with just one O. It would be funny though if someone asked whats your last name. "Woolf, that is with two O's"
It's funny to me because I use to have a friend that told people his name was "Brett, with two T's" We use to crack up at him. Guess you had to be there.

3:13 AM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

This is all quite interesting.

The difference between a belief and a fact in the modern era is a case of how much emotional energy people are willing to put into defending it. To question a belief is to question yourself. Defence of a belief is to defend who you are. Beliefs are always strongly defended. A belief needs no basis in reality.

I see a lot of emotion here. A lot of words, a lot of intellect and almost no simple, direct communicaiton. On any other site it would be normal, on a zen site it is just sad.

As for respect, I don't see much of that going on. It is hard for me to believe that this is not actually the Mike_Cross blog.

Gudo Nishijima deserves respect not because he is an old and experienced monk who probably knows more about buddhism than I will ever know in my lifetime.

No, he desrves respect because he tolerates people with all their flaws expressing their own 'supremely important' views on his blog. He deserves respect because he speaks with simplicity from the heart about matters of which he has experience.

A person gets my respect for what he says and what he does. Not who he says he is or what he claims to know or even if he has "Dharma Transmission" or whatever.

I would class myself I think as a reluctant Buddhist. I don't have any desire to belive in anything, I especially don't have any desire to classify myself as following in a particular path or adopting any particular teacher as the holder of "The Ultimate Truth" or any kind of stupid naive hero worship.
To me it seems that Buddhism just seems to be the closest most accurate match for both reality and the human condition.

I see a lot of intellectual arguments going on here. Perhaps I am naive and ignorant (and this may be true regardless) but I would have though that this level of intellectual discussion is just about as far away from zen buddhism as you could possibly get short of starting an actual war.

5:45 AM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger Marc WALUS (Paris) said...

M.Mike Cross, my purpose was not to defeat anybody ;-))),I don't know you, your theory, as you absolutly don't know me and what was my story.

Anyway I just can notice that an iron ox’s arse is very quickly annoyed by a small insect who just said he's happy with his small flight, no matter what oxes could think about it ;-)

Anyway, I'll stop here this supid personal conversation and I'll just read carefully texts of M.Nishijima and reactions of people here.

7:26 AM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger Jundo Jim said...

Hello,

I am Jundo Jim, another "Heir" of Nishijima Roshi. That means nothing. All that means anything is how someone lives their life, and the effect they have on others through their words and actions.

The sky was beautiful today, and the winter air fresh. I would just caution against too many words and debates, about discussions about the "right" way to practice Zen.

For, in my limited view, Nishijima's message is that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to practice Zen ... because the practice of Zen is just to sit Zazen beyond right and wrong. If you do that much, then you are doing it "right."

The "philosophy of action," for me, is living in the world, picking our direction and making choices about right and wrong while, hand-in-hand, knowing that there is no place other to go, nothing ultimately to choose. The way life actually "is" versus the way we wish life "could be," what it "should be" if only things were "right" … that chasm is the measure of our suffering.

For most of us, the gap between "is" and "is not" gives birth to despair or dreaming. Anger and frustration, or wishful longing, sprout when we cannot turn life our way. That crazy Buddhist Wisdom lets us be fully at home in the world "just-as-it-is," in circumstances just as we find them.

But, without a gap, Zen Buddhism is not a philosophy of passivity. We need not but sit in bliss upon our lotus leaf, watching life pass us by. Life is to live, hope, dream and desire, to select and move on - for otherwise it is death. We live our lives abundantly, moving forward … all the while knowing that we are always truly "here," that there is no place ultimately to "go."

Anyway, that is my understanding of the "Philosophy of Action," and what I teach my own students about Nishijima.

Already too many words. Time to return to that winter air.

Gassho, Jundo

1:34 PM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Marc,
Yes, I also reflected on the fact that the so-called "iron ox" reacted angrily to the small insect.
Another battle lost, I am afraid.I truly am a fool. But the fool fights on.

5:17 PM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

Who's a fool?

8:18 PM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Jules, The matter at hand is the Philosophy of Action. Let's try not to stray off topic.

10:34 PM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger Matt said...

holy god my fingers get tired scrolling through all of this...

10:20 AM, December 11, 2005  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Mike Cross San

I think that your opinion that "The Philosophy of Action Can Seriously Damage Your Health," doesn't occur on the earth, but only in your brain.

Your experience at that time seems to be that you have begun to enter into Buddhism.

Your idea to understand the philosophy of act on the basis of intellectual philosophy was completely wrong.

You have selected a completely wrong way, and so your situations have become so bad.

The description in Fukan-zazengi, which you quoted, indicates that generally we human beings are prone to live in the area of intellectual world, and it is very difficult for us to enter into the area of act leaving from the intellectual area.

The freedom for you to admire Alexander Techinic (from here I would like to use an abbreviation AT) belong to you perfectly.

The philosophy of act is the central point of the Buddhist philosophical system, and so if you are afraid of it, you can never enter into Buddhism.


For ReallyNotImportant San

I agree with your idea.


For Pierre Turlur San

Thank you very much for your praises for me, as an old cat, a zen zombie, a nazi-like priest, and so on.


For Mike Cross San

In what meaning the issue action or reaction is?

Thank you very much for your praise of me as a phoney Zen master.

Thank you very much for your praise of me as the blind.

If you do not know the philosophy of act, you can never understand Buddhist philosophy at all.

A climbing up a mountain, can never be an intellectual consideration, but act.

Your considerations are divided into the area of human beings and the area of animals, but both human beings and animals belong to the Universe in the Buddhist Philosophy.

Why is it possible for you to say that the intention is to allow in Buddhism? Isn't it too sweet?


For ReallyNotImportant

Unfortunately I can not understand the idea that in the case of buddha the intention is to allow. Because in Shobogenzo Bendowa Master Dogen wrote that "Regret the fact if you will, but from anciet times the Dharma has been dry." And

I completely agree with your idea that when mind and body work together in harmony and dialogue can right action arise.


For axel San

I think that the Rule of the Universe can never be so sweet.


For Jules San

I agree with your interpretations.

1:10 PM, March 01, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Mike Cross San

I think that your opinion that "The Philosophy of Action Can Seriously Damage Your Health," doesn't occur on the earth, but only in your brain.

Your experience at that time seems to be that you have begun to enter into Buddhism.

Your idea to understand the philosophy of act on the basis of intellectual philosophy was completely wrong.

You have selected a completely wrong way, and so your situations have become so bad.

The description in Fukan-zazengi, which you quoted, indicates that generally we human beings are prone to live in the area of intellectual world, and it is very difficult for us to enter into the area of act leaving from the intellectual area.

The freedom for you to admire Alexander Techinic (from here I would like to use an abbreviation AT) belong to you perfectly.

The philosophy of act is the central point of the Buddhist philosophical system, and so if you are afraid of it, you can never enter into Buddhism.


For ReallyNotImportant San

I agree with your idea.


For Pierre Turlur San

Thank you very much for your praises for me, as an old cat, a zen zombie, a nazi-like priest, and so on.


For Mike Cross San

In what meaning the issue action or reaction is?

Thank you very much for your praise of me as a phoney Zen master.

Thank you very much for your praise of me as the blind.

If you do not know the philosophy of act, you can never understand Buddhist philosophy at all.

A climbing up a mountain, can never be an intellectual consideration, but act.

Your considerations are divided into the area of human beings and the area of animals, but both human beings and animals belong to the Universe in the Buddhist Philosophy.

Why is it possible for you to say that the intention is to allow in Buddhism? Isn't it too sweet?


For ReallyNotImportant

Unfortunately I can not understand the idea that in the case of buddha the intention is to allow. Because in Shobogenzo Bendowa Master Dogen wrote that "Regret the fact if you will, but from anciet times the Dharma has been dry." And

I completely agree with your idea that when mind and body work together in harmony and dialogue can right action arise.


For axel San

I think that the Rule of the Universe can never be so sweet.


For Jules San

I agree with your interpretations.

1:14 PM, March 01, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Mike Cross San

As you write, listening to my teachings, you refused to listen to my teahings at once. Therefore how is it possible for you to study my Buddhism.


For Lone Wolf San

I am completely agreeable what you described in the former part.

And in the latter part, I am afraid that, what the Tibetan Master explains, incluses some mistakes. I suppose that what he reads might be Mulamadhyamaka-karika, or A song of the Fundamental Middle Way, by Nagarjuna, and the Tibetan Master talks about the Chapter 2. The Chapter 2. is entitled "Examination of 'Gone' and 'Not Gone'", and it is an explanation of the difference that a conceptual memory of "Gone", a conceptual supposition of "Not Gone", and a conceptual recognition "Is Going," are completely different from a Real Act just at the present moment.


For Pierre Turlur San

I interpret the story of Master Boddhi Dharma as follows.

The Emperor asked the central point of Gautama Buddha's teachings.

Master Boddhi Dharma answered that Gautama
Buddha taught us that it is just this World infront of us, and so it is not so Holy.

The Emperor asked Master Boddhi Dharma. "Who are you in the front of me?"

Master Boddhi Dharma said "I don't know."

The story indicates that the Buddhist Truth is just Reality itself in front of us, and even Master Boddhi Dharma can not know him who is he intellectually.

Even though your latter comments seem to be very beautiful, but unfortunately I can not understand them at all.


For Michael San

It is very great that you understand what he says.


For Mike Cross San

It is very difficult for me to understand that it is very elusive for you to open your hands.

The blind reaction can save us from our consideration and sensous perception.

I do not have the same interpretation as yours in Master Boddhi Dharma's behavior, because Master Boddhi Dharma always accepts Reality as it is.

Act can never be explained with words, and so it is just a simple fact at the present moment.

It is never necessary for you to be so whimpering, because Buddhism insists that everyone is the King of the Universe in act according to Buddhist principle.

12:00 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Lone Wolf San

I think your understanding act is true.

Your understanding the present moment is also true.

I think that a person, who can not grasp the Truth, like to criticize other's Truth.


For Mike Cross San

During Zazen, are you moving?

Have you refused Gautama Buddha's enlightenment?

Have you arrived at the balanced situations relying upon such a intellectual consideration?

What is the intention to allow? Is Buddhism really so sweet?

Intention is a mental function, but act is just a real act at the present moment.

Intention does never make us arrive at the plane, but act to walk or ride a car make us arrive at the plane.

If what you say were true, I would like to present you my bloody heart like in Shakespearean drama.

If you do not know anything as you say, why do you want to teach others?

What Galileo said is true even today, but I wonder whether what you say is true, or not. I am not the Pope, but I am just Gudo Nishijima.


For Marc Walus (Paris) San

Thank very much for your affirmations of me.


For Mike Cross San

Marc Walus San affirms my Buddhist thoughts, and so he is my student, but you refuse my Buddhist thoughts, therefore I wonder whether you are my student. or not.


For PA San

I do not know whether Mike Cross San teaches us is true AT, or not, but if it was truly AT, such AT can never be Buddhism.


For Jules San

I think that the cautious attitude like yours is necessary to pursue the Truth.

2:02 PM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Mike Cross San

Your confession that "Mike Cross is a bloody damn fool" sounds too much arrogant for you.

When Master Dogen says in Fukan Zazengi "Think the concrete state of not thinking," he taught us that "Just sit without thinking."

Master Dogen does never say to us "to think" or "to have an intention."

In Zazen there is no thinking, or no having intention.

Thinking or intention can never be vital.

Just sitting in the lotus posture can never be an intentional human activity, but it transcends the world of humanity. Having our intention, such a fact can never occur at all.

Don't worry about your win, because such a possibility can never occur on the Earth at all. Fukan Zazengi doesn't say anything, which you suppose.

Please don't misread Fukan Zazengi.

Please don't prefer your own understanding of Buddhism. It is just the way to select the non-Buddhist principle.


For Lone Wolf San

I think that what you say is true.


For Mike Cross San

I would like to ask you, "Please look for your own name."

For Mike Cross San

I would like to ask you "Please, don't mistake Master Tozan with a Buddhist monk Tokuzan."

Have you got what you can get it already?


For Atman Anatman San

Thank you very much for your understanding.


For Pierre Turlar San

You have bravely proclaimed what I am afraid it. What is your own honest opinion about it?

I think that before having got the Truth, he should never talk about the Truth.

A Buddhist Master has his responsibility to speak the Truth, just after he has got it actually.

What you says about the real situations of the Buddhist societies in the world are true, but we should never imitate them at all.

My efforts are never only unusual, but they are just stupid, or crazy, but without such stupid or crazy efforts the Buddhist situations today can never be changed into the true Buddhism. Therefore I have offered my whole life and every thing to accomplish such a stupid and crazy job totally. But even today it is not so clear, whether my stupid, or crazy job will be accomplished, or not. In such situations, I do not understand completely what is the meaning of Mike Cross San's one-sided attack against me.

Master Kodo Sawaki and Master Renpo Niwa also worried about the real situations of Buddhist societies at that time so much, and having understood their sincere and clear intentions to change the real situations of Buddhist societies in Japan and in the world, I have begun to follow their traces so sincerely.

The problem is never the difference between Buddhism and AT. Because when we had the Receiving the Buddhist Precepts Ceremony, we have clearly promised that we should never accept any other belief other than Buddhism.

Our belief in Zazen is not so skeptical as you describes.

The problem is very clear that whether everyone prefer me or Mike Cross San.

1:55 PM, March 04, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Lone Wolf San

I agree with your viewpoint to Pierre Turlur San's idea.

I interpret that Master Kodo Sawaki's words "Zazen is good for nothing" suggest that "Zazen is just Zazen," therefore it is never done for another purpose other than Zazen itself.


For Mike Cross San

Why do you wholeheartedly prostrate yourself to Foolish Thing? Aren't you too much lazy in pursuing the Truth?


For Harc Walus (Paris) San

Thank you very much for your comment.


For Pierre Turlar San

I think that Buddhism is just the ultimate Truth throughout the Human History, and so I think it is some kind of slander, or blame against Buddhism, if someone compares Buddhism with other teachings.


For Mike Cross San

It is true that the reason, why I have established this blog is just to clarify what Buddhist philosophy is, and so I can never make any compromise with anyone on that matter.


For ReallyNotImportany San

I think that what you say is true, therefore Gautama Buddha recommended us the belief in Reality.

I also feel very sad that our discussions are not so peaceful.

I think that this blog might be one of my wills to maintain the True Buddhism on the Earth, but unfortunately I have to worry about whether it is possible for me to maintain the true Buddhism on the Earth, or not. Therefore I would like to ask all people on the Earth to make your efforts to study the True Buddhism and maintain it on the Earth forever.

I agree completely with your idea that Buddhist just seems to be the closest most accurate match for both reality and the human condition.

I agree with your idea, because if we have noticed Reality itself, it will become very clear that how it is stupid for us to fight against each other.


For Marc WALUS (Paris) San

Thank you very much for your kindness to read my books.


For Jundo Jim San

I completely agree with your idea of Zazen.

I think that your interpretation of the philosophy of act is true.

I also agree that "just as it is" is the real situation of Reality.

Yes, Reality transcends both passivity and positive attitudes.


For Mike Cross San

To be a fool is not sinful, but to fight is wrong.


For Jules San

I have also the same question.


For Mike Cross San

I remember that you have denied the philosophy of act before.


For Matt San

I agree with your opinion too.

12:55 PM, March 05, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Lone Wolf San

I agree with your viewpoint to Pierre Turlur San's idea.

I interpret that Master Kodo Sawaki's words "Zazen is good for nothing" suggest that "Zazen is just Zazen," therefore it is never done for another purpose other than Zazen itself.


For Mike Cross San

Why do you wholeheartedly prostrate yourself to Foolish Thing? Aren't you too much lazy in pursuing the Truth?


For Harc Walus (Paris) San

Thank you very much for your comment.


For Pierre Turlar San

I think that Buddhism is just the ultimate Truth throughout the Human History, and so I think it is some kind of slander, or blame against Buddhism, if someone compares Buddhism with other teachings.


For Mike Cross San

It is true that the reason, why I have established this blog is just to clarify what Buddhist philosophy is, and so I can never make any compromise with anyone on that matter.


For ReallyNotImportany San

I think that what you say is true, therefore Gautama Buddha recommended us the belief in Reality.

I also feel very sad that our discussions are not so peaceful.

I think that this blog might be one of my wills to maintain the True Buddhism on the Earth, but unfortunately I have to worry about whether it is possible for me to maintain the true Buddhism on the Earth, or not. Therefore I would like to ask all people on the Earth to make your efforts to study the True Buddhism and maintain it on the Earth forever.

I agree completely with your idea that Buddhist just seems to be the closest most accurate match for both reality and the human condition.

I agree with your idea, because if we have noticed Reality itself, it will become very clear that how it is stupid for us to fight against each other.


For Marc WALUS (Paris) San

Thank you very much for your kindness to read my books.


For Jundo Jim San

I completely agree with your idea of Zazen.

I think that your interpretation of the philosophy of act is true.

I also agree that "just as it is" is the real situation of Reality.

Yes, Reality transcends both passivity and positive attitudes.


For Mike Cross San

To be a fool is not sinful, but to fight is wrong.


For Jules San

I have also the same question.


For Mike Cross San

I remember that you have denied the philosophy of act before.


For Matt San

I agree with your opinion too.

1:06 PM, March 05, 2006  

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