Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Friday, January 6, 2006

The Four Philosophies (2) The First Paragraph of "Genjo Koan"

The first paragraph of "Genjo Koan" in Shobogenzo, is as follows.
"When all dharmas are [seen as] the Buddha Dharma, then there is delusion and realization, there are practice and act, there is life and death, and there are buddhas and ordinary people. (1)
When the myriad dharmas are each not of the self, there is no delusion and no realization, no buddhas and no ordinary people, and no life and no death. (2)
The Buddha's truth is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, and there are ordinary people and buddhas. (3)
And though it is like this, it is only that flowers, while loved, fall; and weeds while hated, flourish. (4)
And by reading them, we can notice that those four stentences are manifesting the four kinds of different thinking methods separately. For example, in the case of (1), it proclaims that when all things and phenomena (all dharma) are considered on the basis of idealistic Buddhist thinking method (Buddha Dharma), there can be the distinctions between delusion and realization, between practice and act, between life and death, and between buddhas and ordinary people.
But in the second case of (2), when we perceive everything on the basis of a perfectly materialistic viewopint ("each are not of the self), there is no distinction between delusion and realization, buddhas and ordinary people, or life and death at all. In other words when we do not have any subjective criteria of meaning, delusion and realization, buddhas and ordinary people, or life and death can not have any difference between them on the basis of material substance alone.
Cases (1) and (2) are representative of Idealistic philosophies and Materialistic philosophies, both belonging to the category of intellectual philosophies, and such, they are very common types of philosophies which are meant to be understood by words. But at the same time, the intellectual philosophy of (1) and (2) are completely, and dimentionally, different from the practical philosophies of (3) and (4).
I think that when we research the many kinds of philosophies in the world, perhaps Buddhism is the only philosophy that includes the two kinds of dimentionally different basis, might be only Buddhism. And I think that only such a kind of philosophy, which includes dimensionally different bases, has been successful at hitting the target of the Truth. In other words, if Buddhism did not have the theory of the four philosophies, not even Buddhism could ever have the power to hit the target of the Truth for the first time in human history. And Gautama Buddha found the Truth in the 5th or 4th Century BC. Someone might insist that the theory of the four philosophies were found by Master Dogen. But thinking about the historical situations, it is impossible for us to think of the existence of Nagarjuna without Gautama Buddha, and it is impossible for us to think about the existence of Master Dogen without the prior existence of Gautama Buddha.
Therefore Master Dogen proclaimed that "The Buddha's truth is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity," which suggests that the Buddhist Truth transcends the relative comparison of mental strength or material volume, and the expression of (3) belongs to the area of act, or reality. In such situations Master Dogen could proclaim that the real existence can exists really, the real extinction can exist really, the real delusion can exist really, the real enlightenment can exist really, the real common people can exsist really, and the real Buddhas, who has got the Truth, can exist really. And this is the basis of Buddhist Realism.
Therefore in the phase of (4), leaving from the phase of philosophy, the Reality itself is described directly. That is the description of "And though it is like this, it is only that flowers, while loved, fall; and weeds while hated, flourish." This sentence suggests that Reality is just Reality. Furthermore, Master Dogen used the structure of the Four Philosophies in the four nouns, which are arranged by the Four Philosophies, and he arrainged four sentences in the order of the Four Philosophies. And even paragraghs are arranged following the order of Four Philosophies in Shobogenzo. Therefore we have to think that the system of the Four Philosophies is just the structure of the Universe, and it is completely impossible for us to think about the Rule of the Universe without the Four Philosophies.
At the same time even in the Euro-American Civilization, there is a special method of consideration, called Dialectic, in the Modern Age, called the Dialectic. The Dialectic is relevant to the structure of the Four Philosophies, and I think that this historical fact in the Euro-American suggests that even in the Euro-American Civilization, the Age of Realism has already begun.
It is said that when Gautama Buddha wanted to have his first Buddhist lecture, he first planned to have the lecture of the Four Philosophies. But at the same time, he hesitated so much to give the lecture of the Four Philosophies, because the Four Philosophies in Buddhism seemed to be too difficult to understand even to Gautama Buddha himself.
Therefore we, the people in the 21 st Century, having begun to understand the meaning of the Four Philosophies by relying upon the benevolence of Gautama Buddha's benevolence, and relying upon the existence of the Four Philosophies, may experience the very happy condition of the excellent Euro-American Civilization meeting with Buddhism.

11 Comments:

Blogger Lone Wolf said...

I am really interested to see how the rule of cause and effect work with reality and how it's incorporated into the four philosphies. Now when Dogen says "Flowers, while loved, fall; weeds, while hated, flourish" he seems to be saying there is nothing you can do it's completely out of your control. But Karma seems to say it's all up to you, you cause your suffering and happines. I am really interested in how action in the present,present action being reality, causes a similar reaction when the present of the action has passed. Even so I do suppose no matter what kind of action, whether good or bad, I am still going to die. But there seems to be something wrong in the idea of doing whatever I want, treating people terrible, and commiting bad actions through out my whole life. I suppose that will be discussed when we get to the real existance of morals. Why have morals if one is going to die whether one is good or bad?

4:52 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Adrian said...

Reading this and your previous post I can't understand what exactly you consider to be Buddha's four noble truths ("Philosophies"?).
First you seem to reject the four Noble truths and then you speak about something from the Shobogenzo, but your explications are as clear for the beginner Buddhist just like the words from the Shobogenzo (which means: very unclear!).

5:25 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

"Flowers, while loved, fall; weeds, while hated, flourish"

I think it is the case that we love flowers and hate weeds. Our love or hate does not affect what will happen. It is irrelevent.

A weed in one country is a flower in another. Same plant.

The problem is not with the plant. The problem is with our desire.

6:54 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Chris said...

lone wolf- Flowers and weeds- Stuff happens. We live, we die, we fall, we flourish.
My thinking on what Dogen is trying to say is that no matter all the philosophies we discuss, it simply comes down to flowers falling and weeds flourishing- the reality we all have to live with.
Yes, good or bad, we all die. Yet what I love about Buddhism is that we can be good for no other reason than good itself. No rewards of heaven, paradise, or being reborn as a king. Just goodness for goodness sake- a selfless good, something that flows naturally. To be able to see that flowers falling is no different from weeds flourishing. To see that life AND death are the universe's manifestation and we can fear and loathe or rejoice and love but as JZD said "It is irrelevant". Yet our fear, loathing, rejoicing and loving is also part of that manifestation. We need not try to live without it.
Irrelevant as my feelings may be, I will still love the flowers and damn the weeds...

8:54 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Justin said...

For those you who aren't aware of it, can I just draw your attention to this great overview of Gudo Nishijima's interpretation of the Shobogenzo here:

Understanding the Shobogenzo

I hope you don't mind me doing that Gudo Nishijima.

9:51 PM, January 08, 2006  
Blogger Ken said...

Hi Adrian, thought I would chime in here...I have read some of Master Gudo's complete works so I have a pretty good idea of where he's coming from...and the direction the blog will be going, so stay tuned, it gets good!

In very short summation, the 4 philosiphies (or 3 phil. and one reality) are idealism, materialism, the philosophy of action and reality itself. The best analogy I ever heard to sum up this long and complicated topic was this (from Master Gudo):
Consider idealism (subjectivity) and materialism (objectivity) existing at opposite points on a single line. The normal human mode is to bounce back and forth between the two of these...basically going back and forth and checking between the way our thoughts tell us the world should be and what our senses are actually conveying to us. Obviously, this is where suffering arises...in the contrast between these two. Now, if we draw an apex up from these two points, we form a traingle, and at the tip of the triangle is the philosophy of action, the philosophy of Buddhism. However, at this point, it is still 2 dimensional philosophy in the realm of thought. Buddhism, when it ceases to be even "Buddhism" , turns this triangle into a 3-dimensional pyramid, which is reality itself....flowers fall and weeds flourish.

This is a tip of the iceberg description, but I hope it helped.

11:08 PM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger timbo said...

the very 4 sentences in the openning text of the genjokoan
sound too complicated to grasp.I belive Dogen is a great master and I have no doubt that the man is trying to say something very important but I doubt if any one
of the people who claim to understood it really do.

3:21 PM, January 20, 2006  
Blogger Justin said...

Apologies

My previous link to Nishijima's article doesn't seem to work now. Here's a new link:

Understanding the Shobogenzo

9:18 PM, January 24, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Lone Wolf San

When we think about the Four Philosophies, we have to always think absolutely the dimenssional differehce among the four philosophies. For example, when we think about cause and effect, because the rule of cause and effect belongs to the materialistic dimension, we should never mix the problem of cause and effect with the problem of the real act at the present moment. Of course we can think about the problem of an abstract concept of action together with abstract concepts of cause and effect in the common dimension of intellectual consideration.
But in the case of Buddhism we think everything on the bases of dimensionally different philosophical viewpoints. In the western philosophies it is completely impossible for us to permit such a kind of strange thinking method at all. For example if we believe in idealism, we can never permit to believe in materialism. However in Buddhism we permit the coexistence of four dimensionally different philosophies together, and at the same time it is never be permited the mixture of dimensionally different philosophies at all.


For Adrian San

First, when I read the traditional interpretation of the Four Noble Truth in Hina-yana Buddhism, I didn't accept such a strange interpretation at all.
Second, when I read the four philosophies in Shobogenzo, I accept that the interpretation of four philosophies in Shobogenzo are just the Truth.
Third, I understood that the Four Noble Truth in Hina-yana Buddhism should be understood on the basis of Master Dogen's interpretations in Shobogenzo.
Fourth, I interpret the meaning of the Four Noble Truth in the Hina-yana Buddhism as the same meaning of the four philosophies in Shobogenzo.


For JohnZenDoe San

What you says that "Our love or hate does not affect what will happen. It is irrelevent," belong to the same viewpoint of materialism, which is described in the second sentence of the first pragraph of Genjo-koan in Shobogenzo as "When the myriad dharmas are each not of the self, there is no delusion and no realization, no buddhas and no ordinary beings, no life and no death."
What you says that "A weed in one country is a flower in another. Same plant," is expression in the subjectivism, that is idealism.
Therefore, you have come back to your original basis, that "The problem is not with the plant. The problem is with your desire," and so you has come back to your original basis of idealism at last again.


For Chris H San

I think that what you have desribed here is just Buddhist Realism.

Excuse me, but are you Miss Chris Homer, who lived in Dogen Sangha in Ichikawa at the begining term of it?


For Justin San

Thank you very much for you having used "Understanding the Shobogenzo."


For Ken San

Thank you very much for your beautiful and exact explanation of fundamental Buddhist philosophy relying upon my original explanation. Your explanation is much more beautiful than mine.


For timbo San

It is true that Reality can never be described with words, and it is true. But the great thinker of Buddhism Master Dogen fortunately had so srong intention to describe the Buddhist realistic philosophy with words for all human beings, who would live in future, and I think that he has perfectly succeeded in such a superhuman job at last because of his enormously excellent ability and incredibly hard efforts. Therefore I would like to prostrate myself in front of him wholeheartedly so many times to express my so deep thanks until my death.


For Justin San

Thank very much for your kindness to utilize my "Understanding the Shobogenzo", again.

2:35 PM, April 27, 2006  
Blogger mario said...

Many people know the importance of self confidence and try to boost their own by using many different personal development models. Self confidence to most people is the ability to feel at ease in most situations but low self confidence in many areas may be due to a lack of self esteem. Low self esteem takes a more subtle form that low self confidence. So if you are tired of feeling not good enough, afraid of moving towards your desires and goals, feel that no matter what you do it is just never good enough, then your self esteem could do with a boost.
Every day we make decisions based on our level of self-esteem. We also exhibit that level of self esteem to those around us through our behaviour. 90% of all communication is non-verbal - it is not what you say but ho you say it that matters! Your body language, tonality and facial gestures can all tell a completely different story to your words. It is our behaviour which influences others and people react to us by reading our non-verbal communications. Have you ever met someone you just didn't like although on the surface they seemed polite and courteous, or you met someone who seemed to speak confidently yet you knew they were really frightened underneath and just displaying bravado?
Parental and peer influences play a major part in moulding our level of self-esteem when we are children and in our early years of adolescence. The opinions of the people closest to us and how they reacted to us as individuals or part of the group was a dominant factor in the processes involved in forming our self esteem.
As adults we tend to perpetuate these beliefs about ourselves and in the vast majority of cases they are ridiculously erroneous. It is time to re-evaluate our opinion of ourselves and come to some new conclusions about these old belief patterns.
Ask yourself some serious question:
Is your long-held view about yourself accurate? Do we respect the sources from which we derived these beliefs? Most of the negative feedback we bought into as we were growing up actually came from people we have little or no respect for and as adults we would probably laugh their comments away! Yet the damage to your self esteem was done when you were very young and you still carry it with you to this day.
Is it possible that even those people you respected, who influenced your self-worth, were wrong? Perhaps they had low self esteem also.
As adults we have the opportunity to reshape our self-esteem. Try to judge accurately the feedback you receive from people you respect. This process will allow you to deepen your understanding of yourself and expand your self-image. It will also show you were you actually need to change things about yourself and were you don't. Many people are striving to better themselves in areas where they are just fine or actually excelling and it is only because they have an inaccurate picture of themselves in their minds due to low self esteem!
Setting small goals and achieving them will greatly boost your self-esteem. Identify your real weakness and strengths and begin a training program to better your inter-personal or professional skills. This will support you in your future big life goals and boost your self-esteem and self confidence to high levels you didn't existed!
Learn to recognise what makes you feel good about yourself and do more of it. Everyone has certain things that they do which makes them feel worthwhile but people with low self esteem tend to belittle these feelings or ignore them.
Take inventory of all the things that you have already accomplished in your life no matter how small they may seem. Recognise that you have made achievements in your life and remember all the positive things that you have done for yourself and others. Take a note of your failures and don't make excuses like "I'm just not good enough" or "I just knew that would happen to me", analyse the situation and prepare yourself better for the next time. If someone else created success, regardless of the obstacles, then you are capable of doing the same! Remember everyone has different strengths and weakness so do not judge your own performance against that of another just use them as inspiration and know that what one human being has achieved so can another!
Surround yourself with people who respect you and want what is best for you - people who are honest about your strengths and will help you work through your weakness. Give the same level of support to them!
Avoid people who continually undermine you or make you feel small. These people are just displaying very low self esteem. As your own self esteem grows you will find that you are no longer intimidated by another's self confidence or success and you can actually be joyful for them! Do things you love to do and that make you happy. A truly happy person never has low self esteem they are too busy enjoying life! By getting busy living your life with passion and joy you will not be able to be self-consciousness.
If you find yourself feeling self-conscious in any situation focus on the fact that others can tell and many of them will be feeling the same. Be honest. People respond to someone better if they openly say "To tell you the truth I'm a bit nervous" rather than displaying bravo or fake confidence that they can see right through. Their reactions to you, will show your mind at a deep level, that there was actually nothing to be frightened of and everything is great. If someone reacts to this negatively they are just displaying low self esteem and very quickly you will find others noticing this! Really listen to people when they talk to you instead of running through all the negative things that could happen in your head or focusing on your lack of confidence. People respond to someone who is truly with them in the moment..
Breath deeply and slow down. Don't rush to do things.
Stop the negative talk! 'I'm no good at that' or "I couldn't possibly do that" are affirmations that support your lack of self esteem. Instead say "I have never done that before but I am willing to try" or "how best can I do that?". Which leads us to the last point - the quality of the questions you ask yourself s very important.
When you ask a question it almost always has a preposition in it. For example, "How did I mess that up?" presumes that something was messed up, a better way of phrasing the question would be "what way can I fix this quickly?", as this presumes you can and will fix it. Or "How am I ever going to reach my goal?" could be rephrased as "what way will lead me to my goal quicker" presumes that you are going to reach your goal! Get the picture? Change the quality of your questions and your results will change!
Practise these techniques and watch your self esteem rise day by day. subliminal messages

4:38 AM, June 13, 2006  
Blogger Weight Watcher said...

Six Steps to Success
Throughout the centuries history tells of men and women with the midas touch, who achieved greatness against what seemed insurmountable odds. To some their successes appeared to be the result of blind luck, to others the reward for hard work, but the truth about the successes of men such as Andrew Carnagie and Henry Ford is much more interesting.

Success is a state of mind to which all people should aspire. Like many others you can unlock te gate to achievement and the fulfilment of yor personal desires. With the six steps outlined below anyone can arrive at a set destination, with the added advantage of renewed self-confidence and secure in the knowledge that every goal is attainable.
Step 1. Desire
The key factor involved in the process of achieving any desire lies in the response of one's mind to the objective. If a complacent attitude is apparent then there will be a lack of enthusiasm leading to failure or only half-success.
If a goal is to be reached determination is needed to carry set plans through to a successful conclusion. This determination must have enough mental 'weight' behind it to propel you forward onto the road of achievement. This mental state can only be instilled by one thing - desire!
As can be easily seen, when we look around us, it is this desire-force that has launched mankind on his frenzied zest for ever-new knowledge and has enabled him to push back the boundaries of science to never dreamed of achievement.

It is this same desire-force that must be used in our business and personal affairs if the success we seek is to materialize. It is not very hard to develop this kind of desire for all you have to do is go after what you really want - its that simple. With this desire you will have all the persistence you need to accomplish your goal. There is a great saying "you never fail until you give up"!
Take heed of what Napoleon Bonaparte said "What we ardently and constantly desire, we always get".

Step 2. Goals
If success is to come your must realise what is expected to materialize. This statement may seem obvious at first but if careful thought is given its meaning takes on deeper significance.
Many people fail to gain satisfactory results from their endeavours because they did not know what they wanted to accomplish in the first place. Your objective must not be hazy or incomplete. Before you reach your goal you must be able to identify how your life will be different when you achieve it. You must know exactly what it is that you want to achieve. How will your life be better/different? How will you feel? What way will you look? What situations will you find yourself in? Will other people in your life be effected and if so how will they react? You need a clear definite picture in your mind of what the attainment of your goal will mean to you.

Step 3. Belief
Belief is the back-up system of desire. It keep the fires of enthusiasm burning and makes us continually strive to get nearer the goal attainment. Faith can truly move mountains; the mountains of fear, inferiority, worry and low self esteem - 'the success killers'!
Once a goal is firmly fixed in mind and our desire-force is hurtling us toward seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the firm belief that we can gain a favourable outcome can spur us on to victory. When the mind has been manipulated to reflect this state, wonderful physical results can ensue, producing symptoms of success in our lives in every area imaginable.
Although many can attest to the power of belief and to the wondrous accomplishments that were achieved through nothing else except faith, it still remains that many individuals find it hard to believe that a positive outcome will be forthcoming when they are faced with momentous opposition. Whether the opposition is mental or physical the fact that nothing seems to be going right and everything seems to be wrong is enough for even the strongest of us to 'throw in the towel'. But it is in these very situations that faith can conquer all. Faith in yourself, what you are doing and belief that that your objective will be reached.
There are some who bemoan "easier said than done". This is exactly the kind of mental attitude that sustains the problems that they are trying to eradicate. If your belief power is not apparent, take hope for it can be acquired.
Each morning and night recite your intentions from a written list of your goals. Voice your belief in your own abilities. Tell yourself that in due course you will be successful. As you go about your daily affairs reflect as often as possible on your goals and affirm that they are yours now. Fool your mind into believing it and you will see your world reflect it!

Step 4. Plan
Having decided upon your goal and being determined to build your faith you need to give your desire-force a 'vehicle' through which it may materialize. This 'vehicle' will take the form of a definite plan of action.
Do you need to acquire certain skills? Do you need to know certain people or be in certain places to help you achieve your goal? Make a plan that will help you get closer to your end objective. Research your desires and get clear on what you need to do. Then do it!
Ensure that your plan is workable and realistic for you. Although your plan should remain flexible so that changes can be made when appropriate only make changes after careful consideration. Trial and error will eventually show the way to a good plan although you should be open to intuition also.
However, I should point out that, it is very likely your goal will materialize in a most unexpected way. The fact that you have set a plan for its accomplishment tends to set things in motion and like a chain reaction (or the butterfly effect) subtle changes made by you may cause dramatic changes elsewhere and your goal may come before your plan is completed.

Step 5. Visualization
Visualization is the art of creating mental movies of your completed goal. This has many beneficial effects upon your consciousness. Without going into the deeper esoteric benefits of using this art let me just say that you are truly designing your life when you use it. It has one other major benefit - it strengthens your desire and persistence because you momentarily experience the thrill of having achieved your goal!
Just form a mental picture of having achieved your goal. See what you will see. Feel how wonderful it will be. See how it effects everyone around you. Hear people congratulate you. When this state is experienced nothing will stop you in your quest for your objective and thus your belief-power will also be reinforced.

Step 6. The Subconscious Mind
It is within the subconscious part of your mind that you hold all th positive and negative beliefs about yourself - your self-image. These beliefs are reflected back to you in the form of attitudes. Therefore it is from the subconscious mind that the thought of failure or success comes.

Attitudes are just mental programs and so is your self-image. They can easily be changed (yes I said 'easily'). Any attitude or belief can be changed by using the formula outlined in this article - by combining affirmations with visualization. Henry Ford used it, as did Ralph Waldo Emerson and even Arnold Swatzeneger. It is reported in some circles that a similar technique was employed by Bill Gates to build his global empire. Andrew Carnegie used it exactly as described to attain and give away multi-millions even though he was an unschooled manual worker when he started it. Carnegie's legacy can still be seen today when you freely borrow a book from any Carnegie library of which there are thousands.
If you use these six steps there is nothing you cannot achieve. Luckily we have the advantage of living in the Twentieth Century with all its new technology and innovations such as hypnosis and subliminal programming. Use these steps in conjunction with your favourite personal development system and you are assured success. personal development plan

9:06 PM, July 13, 2006  

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