Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Philosophy of Act (4) Pragmatism

On the other hand a philosophy, which is called Pragmatism, was established in the United State. For example, one of the leader of Pragmatism, Dewey criticized that generally philosophies concentrate their efforts to discuss abstract philosophical problems leaving from our daily life, and so he made his efforts to study miscellaneous things and phenomena on the basis of our common daily life. And he also realized that the most important matter in our dayly life is just our act, which is done at the present momwent, and whether it is the most suitable for our act at the present moment to meet with the circomsances. And I think that the Pragmatism in the United State is also a kind of philosophy of act in the 20th Century.

26 Comments:

Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you, Nishijima Roshi, I have been waiting for this post.

John Dewey was NOT a champion of philosophy of action.

John Dewey was a champion of philosophy IN action.

John Dewey's own phrase was "thinking IN activity."

I prostrate myself wholeheartedly to John Dewey, a truly enlightened being.

6:44 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:28 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Marc WALUS (Paris) said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:51 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Marc WALUS (Paris) said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:39 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Ken said...

Yes yes Mike, we know. One who knows he has cloudy eyes really has clear eyes, right? Recognizing delusion for delusion is enlightenment, right? My grandfather used to give some good advice now and then, something to the effect of "Go fly a kite." Wise words from someone with cloudy eyes who did not even know his eyes were cloudy, how bout that, huh!? So in actualtiy were his eyes cloudy or clear, who the hell cares, imagine all the kites you could be flying while sitting here posting on blogs that a speck of dust's worth of the world's population will read and even fewer will learn something from. Granted, I'm sure face to face you can offer some valuable insight. With the highest regards, Mike, go fly a kite...and bring your visine, not that you need it.

12:43 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Virtual Ain't Reality said...

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1:01 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Virtual Ain't Reality said...

mike cross: relax. and please get a hobby. please, please get a hobby.

1:05 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Nishijima Roshi wrote: "Dewey realized that the most important matter in our life is whether our act is the most suitable at the present moment to meet with the circumstances."

As I sit in this chair, looking at this computer screen, I am making my effort to meet that criterion.

Just before I was practicing Zazen. Zazen is my hobby. I've got the best hobby in the world already, thank you very much.

Hasn't anybody got a comment on Pragmatism?

2:08 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

Mike you got affirmation. Now you may relax and bask in the glory. Enjoy. I still relate better to the teachings of Brad. Thats just me.

4:18 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

You who so nobly wish to protect true Buddhist teaching from my effort to infiltrate it with Alexander theory: surely, this is the time for you to act.


I feel that True Buddhist Teaching is an Oxymoron at worst and Tautology at best.

Zazen is my hobby
Have you considered any other hobbies? This one seems rather stressful for you.

Hasn't anybody got a comment on Pragmatism?
I am thankful to both Brad and Nishijimi _/\_ that they have decided that an unmoderated forum will generate more good postings than bad.

5:24 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Virtual Ain't Reality said...

"Zazen is my hobby."

No, Mike -- and I say this as someone who sits zazen two or three hours a day (it's my job) -- you need a HOBBY. Away from the cushion; away from your computer. If nothing else, go for a walk, or maybe just help with the groceries next time. You keep talking about this person being enlightened and that person being enlightened. How's this: enlightened people help their wives with the groceries.

8:07 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger SmoggyRob said...

Nishijima Roshi:

I just found your blog, and appreciate the opportunity to address you.

Thank you.

I ran across your teachings after reading Hardcore Zen, and I've scoured the internet looking for your talks since.

I'm currently reading Shobogenzo, and what you've said and written elsewhere makes that surprisingly difficult task easier.

I like how my thinking has changed since I started reading your teachings and so, again, I appreciate this opportunity to thank you for teaching.

Sincerely,

Rob Robbins

1:15 PM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Massimo Barbaro said...

Dear Sensei,
I want to express my gladness for your blog opening. Curiously enough – but not indeed, seeing nearer – your first posts started from an epistemological point of view, the same path we undertook in a Buddhist Theological Seminar at the Shobozan Fudenji in Salsomaggiore, Italy (www.fudenji.it).
Your blog will reveal and be very precious and witness about your broad-minded vision on the net community. May your teachings give strength to the possibility for Buddhism to be a philosophical and spiritual way up for the West.
Many thanks and in Dharma

Massimo Barbaro
Tuscany, Italy
massimo@barbaro.biz
www.system-error.splinder.com

7:19 PM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Nishijima Roshi wrote: "Dewey realized that the most important matter in our life is whether our act is the most suitable at the present moment to meet with the circumstances."

Dewey himself did not hesitate to acknowledge that he was helped towards this realization by lessons with FM Alexander, each of which Dewey described as "a laboratory experimental demonstration.... And so I verified in personal experience all that Mr Alexander says about the unity of the physical and psychical in the psycho-physical; about our habitually wrong use of ourselves; and the part this wrong use plays in generating all kinds of unnecessary tensions and wastes of energy."

Here are some other quotes taken from John Dewey's introduction to FM Alexander's books:

"In re-affirming my conviction as to the scientific character of Mr Alexander's discoveries and technique, I do so then not as one who has experienced a 'cure,' but as one who has brought whatever intellectual capacity he has to the study of a problem. In the study I found things which I had 'known'-- in the sense of theoretical belief -- in philosophy and psychology, changed into vital experiences which gave a new meaning to knowledge of them."

"Mr Alexander has demonstrated a new scientific principle with respect to the control of human behaviour, as important as any principle which has ever been discovered in the domain of external nature."

"The technique of Mr Alexander bears the same relation to education that education itself bears to all other human activities."

10:06 PM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

mc:

Are you a sociopath?

We all get that you are a strong believer of the Alexander technique.

You have a blog. You have a web site. You google high on Alexander. If anyone at all wants to find out about Alexander they can go to your site and worship at the alter provided by his holy prophet Mike Cross.

Weaving Alexander into I think every post that you make is rather tedious.

If Alexander is supposed to be a science, why are you treating it like a religion and seeking converts? Why do you believe so little in what you preach that you need to hijack several other blogs? Why do you care what Brad or Nishjima think about you? Why do you care what any of us think about you?

11:51 PM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Nishijima Roshi wrote: "Dewey realized that the most important matter in our life is whether our act is the most suitable at the present moment to meet with the circumstances."

12:20 AM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger Friend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:55 AM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

Nishijima Roshi wrote: "Dewey realized that the most important matter in our life is whether our act is the most suitable at the present moment to meet with the circumstances."

Indeed.

The issue arises when the Ego/Self is involved in deciding the action. An 'incorrect' action may then arise as a result of the distortions of the perception of reality caused by the Self's filtering.

Likewise the Ego/Self of an observer may deem the action correct or incorrect based on their own perceptual distortions.

Truly correct action can only consistently arise when the Ego/Self has been eliminated.

One would naievely expect that decades of correct Zazen practice would achieve something close to this state.

1:54 AM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Curious,
Nishijima Roshi, probably very wisely, seems to be resisting any temptation to be sucked into the mire of discussion in these comments pages. But his teaching has always been that there is no Zen Buddhism and no Theravada Buddhism, there is just one true Buddhism, the promotion of which is the one true purpose that we should comprehend.

So I think that he would whole-heartedly welcome your comment, as also the comment of Kim Tak on the Phenomenology post, as also any other comment from anybody from the Theravada tradition or any other Buddhist tradition.

Last year I briefly met an Associate Professor of Philosophy at St Norbert College called John Holder, who said that he was researching similarities between Pragmatic philosophy and early Buddhist thought as recorded in the Pali texts. It was at a meeting of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies (www.ocbs.org). Typically, I began to jabber with great excitement about Dewey’s connection with FM Alexander. I’m afraid Mr Holder may have thought that I was mad.

What is the purpose of the Dogen Sangha Blog? What kind of stage can it provide for us Buddhists to act pragmatically, in accordance with our one true purpose? These are questions that I have been struggling with these past few days. Am I a fool to be sitting here on a chair in front of a computer when, right now, I could be sitting in lotus instead? I probably am. And yet something tells me that this kind of struggle is also important, despite the difficulties inherent in it. Shall we agree to struggle together?

4:58 AM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger Friend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:38 AM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger Virtual Ain't Reality said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:31 AM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger Virtual Ain't Reality said...

Mike wrote: . . . to act pragmatically, in accordance with our one true purpose?

Act is the key word, and you seem to keep missing it. I don't understand, exactly, how spending all of your time on the computer trying to convince everyone that at every other moment you're actually-I-swear-guys practicing zazen (correctly, of course), is action at all. It seems the very definition of passivity to me. I'm sorry to be harassing you like this (and I'll stop after this post), but, again, please get off your arse and maybe help your wife carry in the groceries from time to time.

& I suspect the reason Nishijima isn't responding isn't so much due to wisdom as it is the plain fatigue of an old man spending ten years being worshipped and now denigrated by a much younger man who from beginning to end clearly wants more than anything the old man's approval.

I don't even know you, spend very little time reading blogs, and you've already exhausted me.

[Since you so enjoy what you take to be Dharma combat, here's a koan for you: If you sit zazen, but don't post photos of yourself doing so on your blog, does it count?]

7:52 AM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

mike_cross:

[I think this will be my last post of this nature]

Am I a fool to be sitting here on a chair in front of a computer when, right now, I could be sitting in lotus instead?

I keep getting this feeling that you could have something of great value to contribute to these discussion. There are however a few things that I think are stopping this from happening.

1. You seem to crave the approval of others. All your responses seem to be wrapped around this premise.

2. You seem to want to establish yourself as some uber-spiritual person who because you practice so hard therefore deserves praise and adulation.

This week I have spent precisely 0 minutes in Zazen but many, many hours in mindfulness. Does that make me more or less 'spiritual' than you in your mind and does it matter?

I am disappointed in myself that I have chosen to respond to your posts at all and drift so far of topic. Whether you choose to rant on someone elses blog is really of no concern of mine. I monitor several blogs because I desire to learn something (no idea what).

I apologise to Gujo Nishijima for being dragged into your world view and wasting his blog space. I'll attempt to refain in future.

5:43 PM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Mike Cross San

I feel very happy that I have arrived at a chance to explain Mike Cross San what he wants to know so seriously.

I am not discussing philosophy of action, but I am discussing philosophy of act. Because in Buddhist philosophy we discuss every thing on the basis of dialectic thinking method, and so in the case of discussing act, we usually use three kinds of concepts. The first one is a concept, which is based on our abstract consideration, that is action, and the second one is a concept, which is based on
our concret consideration, that is behavior, and the last one is a concept, which is based on our real consideration. Therefore we distinguish the real concept "act" from the abstract concept "action."

I do not have any interest in philosophy IN action, because the philosophy IN action just belongs to intellectual philosophy, which is completely different from the real act in Buddhism.

I think that "thinking IN activity" also belong to intellectual philosophy.

Because of such a prostration, it is completely impossible for you to become a Buddhist. Don't you remember that you have promised that you would never devote yourself to any philosophy other than Buddhism?


For Ken San

I do not think that human life is not so easy to spend a valuable time to fly a kite.


For Virtual Ain't Reality San

Is Mike Cross San always so tense?


For Mike Cross San

Have you begun to enjoy Zazen?


For Lone Wolf San

I think that anyone does not give an affirmation to Mike Cross San other than his students.

11:53 AM, March 11, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For ReallyNotImportant San

When we filter oil with net, what is valuable is not the net, but oil itself.

If you think that buddhism is an Oxymoron, or Tautology, I think it is better for you not to study Buddhism.

Zazen is just my only one favorite hobby.

I feel so many thanks for unmoderated forums by blog.


For Virtual Ain't Reality San

I think that enlightened people can help their wives with the groceries.


For Rob Robbins San

Thank you very much for your kind encouragements. I feel very happy.


For Massimo Barbaro San

Thank you very much for your kind encouragements. I feel very happy.

10:31 AM, March 12, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Mike Cross San

Why are you so attached to AT, or John Dewey? We are just talking about Buddhism, and so it is rather difficult for me to have the time to talk about AT.


For ReallyNotImportant San

I agree with your opinion not to discuss AT here.


For Mike Cross San

I do not think that it is important for us to discuss AT here and now.

I think that it is not necessary for us to struggle with each other, but it is necessary for us to struggle by ourselves, and after getting a true conclusion, we should teach it to others.


For Virtual Ain't Reality San

The reason, why I was late to write my comments, come from the one, that I was too much busy to write them, and the other reason is that it is necessary for me to know the outline of total situations first.


For ReallyNotImportant San

Thank you very much for your cooperations.
I think that Buddhism is the ultimate truth for everyone, and I hope you will come back to Buddhism again.

10:25 AM, March 13, 2006  

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