Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Philosophy of Act (3) Phenomenology

A German philosopher called Edmund Husserl also noticed that Idealistic philosophy and Materialistic philosophy belong to intellectual consideration, and he also wanted to have much more realistic philosophy, and so he had much interest in the real phenomena, which is the point of contact between the subjective person and the objectine circumstances. And in such meaning, Husserl was very diligent to reserch miscellaneous phenomena, and I think that such an attitude for him to combine the subject person and the objective circumstances by utilizing real entity called phenomena, is also one example of the realistic philosophy of act.

30 Comments:

Blogger Mike Cross said...

On this point, I would like to say a word about the sixth sense in Buddhism.

Usually in the west, when we think about phenomena, we are thinking about what is perceived through seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. But FM Alexander discovered, to express it crudely, that all human delusion is rooted in what he called "faulty sensory appreciation."

The key to understanding the problem of sensory appreciation is the vestibular system, which not only processes information about our balance within the gravitational field, but also processes and integrates other sensory information at brainstem level.

5:52 PM, December 11, 2005  
Blogger Jundo Jim said...

Howdy,

I will drop more words on top of words ...

In my many years of "non-doing" this "Zen", I've found it much like riding a bicycle, no harder or easier than that. Not a "Lance Armstrong" type, hard and competitive bike ride. Just a regular 'ol kid's bike on a sunny afternoon. I just pick up my legs and ride, keeping balance as best I can even when the road gets bumpy. I do fall off sometimes on life's bumpiest moments, then try to get back on!

That's all there is to it, I feel.

I don't think about if I am sitting on the seat right.

I don't think about where the trail is going, even as I turn left and right. It is just a summer ride on a silly, winding road.

I don't think which leg goes first or second ... One can't ride a bike thinking how to move the legs, commanding them to turn. I don't worry about whether I am riding with "intention," or "without intention," or with the right kind of "intention." I just pick up my legs and ride!

And so long as I am doing that, I don't worry one drop about whether I am riding my little bike "right" or not, nor whether I am a "phony" rider ... I just stumble along, avoiding the trees and potholes, enjoying the fresh breeze.

For me, the one and only test for whether somebody is a "real" Zen fellow is if they seem pretty balanced in their approach to life, taking the road as it comes, just as it is. If someone is cranky, tense, complaining, overly analytical, angry in the face of little perturbations ... well, that is not a good sign. On the other hand, if one is gentle, calm and rare to anger ... that, I think, is what we shoot for. You can sit on a Zafu 20 hours a day, and if you can't be like that, then what's the point?

That is how I have come to know that Nishijima is "real." He just rides on calmly, trying to express the traditional teachings with a fresh voice, as best he can as one ordinary/extraordinary human being.

How do I know if I am doing Zen right? Recently my mother died. I cried when I cried, smiled when I smiled... sadness, joy, celebration and peace. Why do we celebrate birth, but mourn death? It is all life's passing scenery.

When you cry, cry ... when you laugh, laugh. That's life ride, moment by moment.

Chill out ... be at peace. Even allow yourself to enjoy it all.

Gassho, Jimdo

2:15 AM, December 12, 2005  
Blogger Chris said...

Very well said, JIm..Keep ridin'!

5:12 AM, December 12, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

Nicely said Jundo Jim.

Or more succintly "Just Be".

When you can just Be then doing the right thing follows 'naturally'.

To ride a bike well on a poor road or to ride a bike fast requires that you be in the present moment and in harmony with the bike. It is not so much that you feel how the tyres are gripping the road it is more a case that you are the tyres gripping the road. Words don't help :-)

7:00 AM, December 12, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

The sixth sense in Buddhism is the compound sense of "proprioception," centred on the vestibular system.

Even though my sensory appreciation of the proprioceptive phenomenon of sitting, is faulty, 2 + 2 = 4.

Even though my sensory appreciation of the proprioceptive phenomenon of sitting, is faulty, the intention just to sit is the intention just to sit.

In order to teach to others the true meaning of "non-doing," or "just sitting," it is necessary to have understanding like this.

5:10 PM, December 12, 2005  
Blogger Pierre Turlur said...

Reallynotimportant,

I would like to make a distinction here. You write that words don't help. You invite us to just be. Even better, you invite us to be the tyres gripping the road. It does sound as if you reject intellectual expression, words, and prefer the pure realm of being.

I was a scholar for many years, busy teaching in Uni and climbing the ladder of knowledge. This was pure arrogance. I ended up burning my library, trashing my books and giving up the idea of getting somewhere being drunk with words of power. If you talk about these words, I agree. I should say that it is not about words but where they come from. Words in good poetry, words of the beloved ones, the lover and the friend, words of Dogen, Hongzhi, Nishijima, Cross, are all precious to me. They help me, carry me, direct me, inspire me. Words also bloom in presence. My favorite poems, Sufi or short in their form, are flowers of emptiness. Words may come from the open world of allowing, reminding us where we belong and that we always belong, words will take us to silence, and from silence words may arise. These words are true. As I sit, sometimes the intention is expressed in words, sometimes in images, sometimes the pure singing of birds is my call. The chapter Bukkyo in Shobogenzo is very clear about this. Thw word and world are one, not two.

Just being is a nice direction. In order to allow ourselves to just be, they are many obstacles to just see. Noticing tensions, delusions, intention to grasp is my practice. Fooling myself thinking, be cool, it is OK, is misleading. What means being in harmony? If you know, teach me, because I don't know. I am too happy to laugh at my own mess ( and cry sometimes too).

I humbly think that what we guys do ( Mike and a few others) is to be increasingly aware of our shortcomings so we don't practice them over and over again.

Just be sounds nice. What is the meaning of "just"? What is extra? What has to be dropped and taken away? What has to be inhibited?

Gassho

Tetsuten

PS: Tonight, I will be playing my flute in London in St James Church for the poems of Rumi and Hafiz. Praise to the beloved and his words!...

7:32 PM, December 12, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:19 PM, December 12, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

pierre: It does sound as if you reject intellectual expression, words, and prefer the pure realm of being.

Not at all. I have an extensive personal library and hold several high level qualifications. I am neither pro nor anti intellectual expression.

What I have however come to accept is that somethings do not fit into words either particularily well or at all.

What means being in harmony? If you know, teach me, because I don't know. I am too happy to laugh at my own mess ( and cry sometimes too)..... is to be increasingly aware of our shortcomings so we don't practice them over and over again.


It would be nice if I could teach it. It would be even nicer if I knew for certain how I had learnt it - I guess it was necessity. I think I started from two different directions.

The first direction was not to put value/emotional judgements on everything. When I sit I don't worry about whether it is right or wrong, good or bad, too short, too long, too frequent, too infrequent or whtaver. I just sit. My sitting feels better as time goes on.

The second direction was in learning to be. There was a time for a few years in my youth where I completely annexed all my emotions. I put them in a box and they never resurfaced. After a fwe years I decided that feeling nothing was worse than feeling both pleasant and unpleasant emotions. So I made myself a promise that no matter what, I would always choose to feel everything. In more recent years, that has proven to be both the wisest and the toughest decision that I ever made.

Just be sounds nice. What is the meaning of "just"? What is extra? What has to be dropped and taken away? What has to be inhibited?

Nothing! You are not trying to get someonewhere. You are not trying to become someone else. You are not trying to 'fix' yourself. Whatever you are doing, where-ever you are, whatever you are thinking, don't mentally run away from it. Acknowledge it. All the mess, all the ugliness, all the stress, all the frustration, all of it. If you are 'stuck' in traffic then so what. You cannot do anything about it, so why worry. Listen to the radio instead.

I sense anger and frustation in your posting as if you think I am being flippant or trivialising something profound. I am not. Much of my blog is really about how I have learnt to 'Just Be'. It is not always pleasant reading.

8:20 PM, December 12, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:09 PM, December 12, 2005  
Blogger Ken said...

I'm so zen.

11:19 PM, December 12, 2005  
Blogger Ken said...

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in fact, it rhymes with my name!
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11:21 PM, December 12, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

Identifying someone as an enemy is always just creating more flowers in space. Stinky skunk cabbage flowers. Enemies can't be found in phenomena.

5:32 AM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Jules,
What clear eyes see as flowers in space and what clouded eyes see as flowers in space are not the same. When I look at flowers in space I do so as a man of clouded eyes. I don't advertize myself as a man of clear eyes.

I worked like a slave on the Shobogenzo translation. Like a bloody slave. Then posers like Brad come along years later, adding their crappy comments on the translation at the same time as they insult the translator, and it irritates me a lot. Brad created a post in his own blog entitled "Mr Angry" in which he held me up as an example of how not to behave. Reading it, I notice that Brad is my enemy. I can't see it any other way. What do you want me to be, a Christian saint or something?

6:28 AM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

Mike,
Response posted on your blog.

9:42 AM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Ken said...

Mike, coming forward as a man with clouded eyes is better?

http://www.wwzc.org/translations/kuge.htm

...just a thought, oops, there it goes again.

9:56 AM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

I actually thought Brad was quite respectable in the Mr. Angry post.
I took it as some good advice especially the part of saying a good teacher never tries to draw you in or convince you of anything. I agree. Mike to say he is your enemy is going a bit far. It might make for a good soap opera if your into drama. Forget the drama, practice the Dharma. lol(I should make a T-shirt). If you could look at the Mr. Angry post from a different angle than using you as an example of how not to behave. I sense compassion underlying the post like he is doing his damnest to help(almost like confronting a friend who is hurting themselves Dr. Phil style but indirectly) and I definatly don't sense he feels you are the enemy. I see the truth of Kicking the rock that won't move(presuming the rock is Nishijima). But also see how you can chip and break part of the rock by kicking it over and over and way to hard.(I know how it feels to want to kick the rock though from my past teacher/student relationships and my parents) Calling Nishijima a senile old man seems far more insulting but thats just me. Maybe by writing this I am actually perticipating in the drama which I guess makes me a phoney according to my t-shirt idea. Ohh well I am human. ......I just came to the relization that this comment might not bring much benefit but that is my intention so I will post it.
Just my thoughts. With all due respect.

5:01 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Matt said...

"2+2=5 for exceptionally large values of 2..."

mike, if i may toss in my $0.03 (inflation, don'cha know), if i weren't knee deep in all of this buddha b.s. already, and read your posts, I'd probably tuck tail and run. there's friendly debate for the purpose of understand as per your examples and then there is outright duking it out;if name calling were involved the cyber-term is "flaming."

I'll admit that i get a little lost with the psychobabble that occurs in any blog like this, and i'm just as guilty with some of my postings on my own blog(s!) and by the way mike I don't intend to single you out, but I'm not seeing any postings that's helping anyone.

It's like everyone says "yeah yeah yeah Nishijima that's nice so like phenomenology blah blah blah..."

I dont' mean to jump on any side of the dualistic fence, but Brad Warner does tell a funny story about "Farting Man" in his book, where he uses the example of the guy asking you what your favorite color is, and when you reply "blue" he goes on for an hour about red. That's what so many of these responses seem like to me.

When I read the responses to both Nishijima's and Brad's blog entries, my eyes just kind of glaze over. It feels like everyone's vieing for position. Like it's some big Buddhist poetry slam. I have a friend who went through this with another kung fu school, where both insisted their technique was "correct" or "legit." What it boiled down to was a bunch of angry poo-heads where nobody was altogether concerned with being a martial artist. One thing that attracted me to Buddhism was the concept of detachment (remember that?) and the commentaries throughout on the destructive power of the ego. I'm seeing loads of that ego thing here (deep, deep apologies if that sounds like I'm preaching).

I'm pretty sure I've never heard of anyone insisting on taking credit for translating the Bible, or taking issue with a pastor for using a specific translation. I have heard of Church officials being 10 kinds of pissed when a translation of the Bible is used in a way not to their liking (like say, gay marriage, or the mechanics of a water baptism).

I can understand wanting to be appreciated for your work, and speaking as someone who hasnt' read that specific work, I am appreciative of your efforts to bring some understanding of Dogen's work our way.

But as for right now I'm going to talk to my Buddhist friend and the best I can say is "Yeah apparently some dude is cheezed off on Nishijima's blog because I guess Brad is using his translation of Shobogenzo." He will probably ask me why he would be pissed, and I would have to respond "I guess he wants credit for the translation. He also doesn't seem to see eye to eye with Nishijima, even though he's been his student for about 20 years." He will then ask me what he doesn't see eye to eye about, and I will say something like "Well, everything I've seen is some discourse on metaphysics, everyone gets in on that and they all end it with something like 'just be here/now.' I guess the guy takes issue with the way those metaphysics are being touted. I'm sure Dogen's intent or commentaries will be worked in eventually, but we haven't really gotten to that part. Oh, yeah I guess he's really got it in for Brad Warner too. Brad wrote what could be construed as a passive-aggressive post about people blowing up on a blog, and guess what happened? He blew up..."
I'd be sure to throw a "Statute of Limitations" crack in there and how I'm pretty sure Dogen's copyright is expired.

I really enjoy Brad Warner's writings, having found them very helpful and timely at a weird point in my life. And when I read someone calling him their enemy, I sit up a little straighter and try to discern what the heck is going on, especially when it comes to those who come from an institution we subscribe to. Buddhism has taught me to perk up whenever someone uses the word "enemy" or "conflict" or "fight" because it's derived from that ego business.

I'm trying to be PC about all of this but I think i'll just chuck this out:

Prosyletizing is lame.
Metaphysics is for Star Trek
Arguing is for kids.

peace (seriously)
matt

5:21 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

Dharma not Drama

If a guy wants to kick a rock that's fine. If he hurts his foot the first time and is surprised then it might be funny.

If the same guy keeps kicking the same rock again and again. Well, you kinda feel sorry for the rock and the guy. In the end you might decide the guy likes having sore toes. Maybe he thinks that he is "Mr Sore Toe" (Kinda Japanese sounding innit)

9:25 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Nishijima Roshi wrote: "real phenomena is the point of contact between the subjective person and the objective circumstances."

I studied the meaning of these words intensively in practice under Nishijima Roshi for many years (during which time I suppose Brad was still living with his mummy). Then, as a result of this learning, I understood the importance of FM Alexander's discoveries regarding proprioceptive phenomena--especially the contact between a subjective person and the Earth and its gravitational field. So I moved to England to train and work as an Alexander teacher.

It seems to me that no-one takes a blind bit of notice of Nishijima Roshi's philosophical teaching, or my response to it. But my angry response to Brad's insults gets everybody tapping away furiously at their keyboards.

If you all weren't so bloody lazy and stupid, you would try to understand why Nishijima Roshi thinks it important to discuss phenomenology, and why my response to his teaching on phenomenology was to decide that I should devote myself to Alexander work.

But it is easier for us to switch off and lose ourselves in the soap opera. I know. I do it too.

10:31 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:36 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Ken said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:38 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger lkjlkjlkj said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:40 AM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger lkjlkjlkj said...

Intresting stuff:

Buddhist Phenomenology I

Buddhist Phenomenology II

3:43 AM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Mike Cross San

It is true that Buddhism has discussed the sixth sense since more than 2000 years ago.

I am not sure whether FM Alexander's proposition is true, or not.

I think that the function of the vestibular system might be true as the science teaches us.


For Jundo Jim San

It is a very poetical and beautiful expression of act.


For Chris H San

I agree with you.


ReallyNotImportant San

I agree with your ideas.


For Mike Cross San

I think that it is a little more necessary for us to research the meaning of the sixth sense in Buddhism.

Do you think that our intellectual consideration is much more reliable than our intuition?

Frankly speaking, I wonder whether such an intention the real entity is, or not.

Do you think that "non-doing" and "just sitting" are the same?


For Pierre Turlur San

In "Bukkyo, or The Buddha's Teaching" in Shobogenzo, the perfect identity between intelectual consideration and reality is not insisted, therefore Master Gensa said that "The three vehicles and the twelve divisions of the teaching completely being unnecessary" in his conclusion.

1:52 PM, March 08, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For ReallyNotImportant San

I agree with your idea.

Intellectual consideration should not be thought light, but at the same time intellectual consideration is not real.

Words have their limitations.

I think that being in harmony means keeping the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system.

When we think the balance, it is necessary for us to think the two extremes.

Just to sit may be all. Just means "only."

The balanced state is not so confused.


For Ken San

What is zen?

Is zen a sheet of white paper?


For Jules San

Yes, there is no enemy in phenomena.


For Mike Cross San

Therefore do you think that you are great?


For Ken San

I have the same question as yours to Mike Cross San.

9:12 AM, March 09, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Lone Wolf San

Unfortunately I haven't a chance to read Mr. Angry post yet, but of course I know Brad Warner San so well. And actually speaking I haven't seen him angry yet at all. I think that he has ability to regulate his emortion completely, and it is a usual situation of a Buddhist monk.

11:24 AM, March 09, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Lone Wolf San

Unfortunately I haven't a chance to read Mr. Angry post yet, but of course I know Brad Warner San so well. And actually speaking I haven't seen him angry yet at all. I think that he has ability to regulate his emortion completely, and it is a usual situation of a Buddhist monk.

11:24 AM, March 09, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Lone Wolf San

Unfortunately I haven't a chance to read Mr. Angry post yet, but of course I know Brad Warner San so well. And actually speaking I haven't seen him angry yet at all. I think that he has ability to regulate his emortion completely, and it is a usual situation of a Buddhist monk.

11:24 AM, March 09, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Lone Wolf San (again.)

I like your simili that I am like a person, who seems to be a rock, which is kicked again and again (for promoting Buddhism.)


For Matt San

I also think that such an exceptional consideration might sometimes be true in the real situations.

I am sorry, but I can not understand your verbal expression of "there is outright duking it out."

I understand your attitudes affirmatively.

Thank you very much for your wide-minded attitudes.

It is very interesting that your and Brad's opinions are very realistic.

Is it egoistic for us to live in Reality?

Thank you very much for your broad-minded attitudes to permit us to translate Shobogenzo into English.

Wasn't it better for us not to have translated Shobogenzo into English?

If it were true, I would have never lived for my life for 86 years actually.

I am very sorry that I have had you lose your so valuable time in vain.


Prosyletizing is always never perfect.
Metaphysics is harmful for Human Beings
Arguing is sometimes useful for adults.


peace (seriously)

3:44 PM, March 10, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For ReallyNotImportant San

Yes, Dharma is never Drama.


For Mike Cross San

I think that you have thrown away Bugghism just at that time.

I would like to read Brad San's blog as soon as possible.

I do not have any intention to teach phenomenology to others, but I am insisting that the human civilization has entered into the Age of Reality already.

I think that our life is not so easy to run away into the soap opera.

9:49 AM, March 11, 2006  

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