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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Philosophy of act (1) Dimentional difference between theory and act

One of the most important characteristic of Buddhist Philosophy is just the dimentional difference between theory and act. When we think about a philosophical problem, we usually think the problem on the basis of concepts and we think about the problem on the basis of intellectual consideration. And even though the intellectual considerations are divided into the two bases, that is, the one is based on a mental consideration, and the other is based on a sense perception, those two kinds of considerations belong to the intellectual consideration.
But in Buddhism, we have two kinds of consideration, the one is the intellectual consideration, and the other is the practical consideration. And the existence of those two kinds of philosophies are very unique in Buddhism, and the existence of those two kinds of philosopies might be the main cause of Buddhist difficulty.
Therefore in Shobogenzo, the Chapter, entitled "SHOAKU-MAKUSA, or Not Doing Wrongs," includes a very skillful story, which describes the difference between consideration and practice so well.

Haku Kyo-i of Tang China is a lay disciple of Zen Master Bukko Nyoman, and a second-generation disciple of Zen Master Kozei Daijaku. When he was the governor of Hangzhou district he practiced in the order of Zen Master Choka Dorin. In the story, Kyo-i asks, "What is the Great Intention of Master Boddhi Dharma from the West?
Dorin said, "Not to commit wrongs. To practice the many kinds of right."
Kyo-i says, "If it is so, even a child of three can express it!"
Dorin says, "A child of three can speak the truth, but an old man of eighty cannot practice it."
Thus informed, Kyo-i makes at once a prostration of thanks, and then leaves.


Blogger Lone Wolf said...

Yes, I feel everyone knows has experienced the difference between thinking about doing something and actually doing it. The latter is always more difficulty,

4:35 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

The skillfulness and subtlety of the story lies in the fact that our wrong doing is mainly unconscious. What generally happens is that we try to stop our wrong doing by doing something unconsciously to suppress it. But unconscious doing can never liberate us from unconsciousness.

Therefore Gautama Buddha in his supreme wisdom gave us the practice of sitting in the full lotus posture as the concrete embodiment of the truth. Zazen is not the truth of doing something unconsciously. Zazen is the truth of consciously not doing something.

This is why Master Dogen said: “When something arises in the mind, just wake up.”
He did not say, “When something arises in the mind, suppress it by doing something unconsciously.” On the contrary, his instruction means “When something arises in the mind, make the conscious decision NOT TO DO anything unconsciously to suppress it, and thereby allow conscious awakening to take place.”

Gudo Nishijima’s understanding of the above principle is intuitive and vague. Therefore his teaching about how to sit in Zazen is unclear and easily prone to lead people astray. His teaching certainly led me astray, and it has taken more than ten years of Alexander work for me to get to the bottom of the problem.

Dubious Dharma-heirs such as Brad Warner, recommend their readers that when thoughts come up in Zazen, we should “fix our posture.” A misconception has thus become entrenched, and I guess it will take a lot of work to show up this misconception for what it is, but I have begun the job on my blog already.

More than 20 years ago, Gudo Nishijima told me his expectation that one day I would understand Buddhist theory more clearly than him. That expectation has now been realized. It is ironic that my clear realization of the essence of Zazen has coincided with Gudo Nishijima’s decision to exclude me from Dogen Sangha. But it is OK. If that is the way it must be, I will deal with the likes of Warner and Cohen from outside Dogen Sangha.

7:44 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger Justin said...


While your interpretation of Dogen seems about right to me, I don't see anything to contradict that in the standard practice of Soto Zazen - including that taught by Nishijima and Warner - of observing the arising of thoughts, letting them go and (if it helps) returning awareness to posture and breath. I don't see this as having anything to do with either suppression or unconscious fixing.

Will this axe-grinding go on forever? I don't know the whole story of the background to all this, but it seems that you are terribly emotionally attached to your views and to those of members of the Dogen Sangha in a harmful way. And yet you claim to understand Buddhism better than Gudo Nishijima...

8:06 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:21 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger Justin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:11 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger Chris said...


You don't really have to know what stations the trains were coming from to see the train wreck....

11:32 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger Justin said...

It's true that I don't know all the background - I only know of various allegations that you have made against Nishijima, Brad Warner and others. However, whatever the background is, you are very obviously harbouring a great deal of anger and resentment.

Take or leave my advice about not being attached to your anger about the past but I think its pretty compatible with Buddhism not to mention mental health. You have a right to express your opinion and people who want to hear your side of the story can do so at your blog. You don't have a right to post incessently antagonistic and insulting comments on Nishijima's and Brad's blogs. It's a violation of common courtesy, let alone the precept of 'Right Speech'.

The question was rhetorical Mike. I don't need you to respond.

11:51 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger youarehere said...

"I think a sequence of events happens," Bill said, "when a child has a need which doesn't get responded to appropriately. It could be a need for anything. When, for example, a boy lets his dad know of some need and dad doesn't understand or reacts badly, then the need begins to convert into a bad feeling. Since the father, as all parents, is seen as infallible by a child, the child begins to feel that he's bad. There's something wrong with *him* or else dad would have met his need."

"Then what happens?" I broke in.

"Well, let's say later that dad recognizes his son needed something. If father then approaches his boy, the child reacts with rage because he feels exposed. The interpersonal bridge is broken."

"What do you do when that happens?"

"You say something like 'I guess I was late, but I'm here now.'"

I became flooded with personal images - memories of my own growing up. Things I had never understood about myself suddenly came clear. Peculiar patterns of my own which always seemed to mysteriously "happen to me," became understandable and strangely somehow more manageable. The connection bewtween shame and rage had opened an inner door which left me flooded.

-Excerpt from "Shame, the Power of Caring" by Gershen Kaufman

12:06 AM, January 26, 2006  
Blogger Infernon said...


Are you Chodo Cross? Are you the one who worked with Master Nishijima on his translation of the Shobogenzo?

10:26 PM, January 26, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Lone Wolf San

It is the most important experience for us to experience the real difference between our intellectual area of consideration or sensuous perception, and the real act at the present moment, therefore if we have got such an experience, our Buddhist studies will progress so much.

For Mike Cross San

The first paragraph of your comments are true, because they all belong to Freudian theories.

But in the second paragraph I do not agree your opinion that "Zazen is the truth of consciously not doing something," but I insist that "Zazen is the truth of consciously doing something, that is sitting."

In the third paragraph your interpretation that "When something arises in the mind, make the conscious decision NOT TO DO anything unconsciously to suppress it, and thereby allow conscious awakening to take place" is different from Master Dogen's intention. At the time when Master Dogen lived, I think that the Freudian theory of unconsciousness was not known by anyone at that time, and so even though Master Dogen's ability was so enormously excellent, but I guess that even Master Dogen couldn't suppose the freudian theory. And so I interpret the meaning of Master Dogen's words exactly that "if any kind of mental images occur in your mind, make your consciousness clear again, and then your useless images in your mind will vanish at once."

It is very strange that you haven't understood my Buddhist theory at all, even though you have studied Buddhism under me for more than tens of years already. And I wonder whether you have so strong idea not to understand my Buddhist theory for criticizing my Buddhist viewpoints to get the same popularity as mine in future, or not.

I think that, what Brad Warner is teaching now, is just the true Buddhism, and so I am much afraid that your wrong Buddhist thoughts will disturve a part of the Buddhist English society actually.

I wonder, whether what you say as your memory of the relation between you and Brad twenty years ago, is true, or not, absolutely. Because I don't remember such a strange opinion of mine before the twenty years completely at all.

For Chris H San

I also have the same afraid as Chris H San.

For Mike Cross San (again)

I still esteem your sincere attitude of pursuing the truth so much, but I have a very strong duty to guard the true Buddhism in the world for ever.

For Justin San

Thank you very much for your kind advices. At the same time I have a strong duty to promote Buddhism through the world, and so it is completely impossible for me to compromise even with Mr Mike Cross in discussing Buddhist theory on my blog.

For Shame San

Thank you very much for your kind advices. At the same time I have a strong duty to promote Buddhism through the world, and so it is completely impossible for me to compromise even with Mr Mike Cross in discussing Buddhist theory on my blog.

4:36 PM, April 20, 2006  

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