Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Rule of Cause and Effect (1) Profound Belief in Cause and Effect

In the last blog, I discussed about the Four Philosophies. And the Four Philosophies are the fundamental principle of the Buddhist thoughts, and so we should think that the Theory of the Four Philosophies pervades throughout the whole Buddhism. Therefore in such a meaning the next theme have to belong to the Philosophy of accumulation. When we think that the external world as an accumulation of materialistic molecules relying upon our scientific knowledge, we can think that the external world is completely governed by Materialistic cause and effect. But in the case of Buddhism, we have idea that the world, where just we are living now, is a fusion of mind and matter, and so if we accept the idea of cause and effect on the basis of Buddhism, we should think that the Buddhist theory of cause and effects, should pervade the fusion of mind and matter together. Therefore we should think that the Rule of Cause and Effect in Buddhism have to work in the fusion of mind and matter, and this point is rather important for us to think about the Rule of Cause and Effect in Buddhism.
And the belief in the Rule of the Cause and Effect in Buddhism is very strong. For example, in the Chapter entitled "SHINJIN-INGA," or "Deep Belief in Cause and Effect", Master Dogen writes as follows.
"In learning in the practice the Buddha Dharma, the first priority is to clarify cause and effect. Those, who negate cause and effect are likely to beget the false view that craves profit, and to become a cutter of good. In general, the truth of cause and effect is vividly apparent and is not personal matter: those who commit evil fall down, and those who practice good rise up, without a thousandth or a hundredth of a discrepancy."
Therefore Master Dogen said, "Generally speaking, when we study Buddhism, the most important matter for us is to clarify the situations of cause and effect. People, who negate cause and effect, are prone to get a wrong idea to crave profit, and to cut good roots. Generally speaking, the truth of cause and effect is very clearly apparent, and it does not belong to a pesonal decision: those who comit evil fall down, and those who practice good rise up, without a thouzandth or a hundredth of a discrepancy." Therefore in the world of Buddhism on the relation of cause and effect, not only matter like in natural science, but the Rule of the Cause and Effect in Buddhim pervade in the both of mind and matter of the Universe. And in the accuracy of cause and effect Buddhism does never recognize even a thousandth or a hundredth discrepancy.

7 Comments:

Blogger Justin said...

Thanks for your explanations of Buddhism in terms of 'Four Philosophies' - this is very interesting. I've also read your essay on 'Understanding the Shobogenzo', although I've only just started the Shobogenzo itself.

Although I'm familiar with the use of alternating conventional and absolute viewpoints in Buddhist literature and talk, one thing which I'm not clear about is whether the use of four viewpoints (corresponding to the Four Philosophies/Three Philosophies and One Reality) is widespread through Buddhist literature or whether it is unique to Dogen or to the Shobogenzo. Is this the widely accepted interpretation of the Shobogenzo?

Many thanks

2:50 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

I was wondering if to commit a bad action, which will lead to bad result, must be done with both mind and matter. Say for instance I have an intentionly bad thought but I don;t commit any physical action is there bad results? Plus say I commit a bad action physically, like killing, but I did not have the bad intention as in the case of an accident, whats the result?

2:54 PM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

The Lotus Sutra teaches us that the Universe in which we are living, and our living in it, are good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end.

Experience shows, however, that our efforts to do good can never be successful. Why not? Because good is not something we do.

The good things in life take care of themselves. (Have you ever watched a woman grow and a child being born, for example?)

What is very easy for us to do is our bad habits. So the primary intention which Gautama Buddha recommended us to have is not the intention to practice good. The primary intention in Buddhism is rather the intention NOT TO DO what is so easy for us to do--our wrong unconscious habits.

So-called Zen teachers who recommend in regard to Zazen that we should "do it right," or who proclaim "proper posture required," fail to understand this most fundamental point in Buddhism. What they are teaching is not true Buddhism.

For people who profoundly believe in cause and effect, I would like to try again to express in English the fundamental teaching of Gautama Buddha, perhaps more accurately than it was expressed in our original translation of Shobogenzo chap. 10, like this:

Not to do bad habits,

To let all the good things happen,

Naturally causes this very intention to become clear;

This is the teaching of the buddhas.

8:48 PM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Rick said...

Mike C.

While I find nothing in your comments disagreeable in your comments, I also see no correlation to what is brought up in the post. Am I missing something?

2:30 AM, January 19, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:43 PM, January 19, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Trying to be right, trying to do good, is, for a Zazen practitioner, the most pernicious of unconscious bad habits.

Anything one does to break this habit just increases ones entanglement in it, like a fly increasing its entanglement in a spider's web. The solution is not to do something but just to wake up, to become conscious.

To become conscious does not mean to recognize something intellectually; it means to let the whole body be liberated from unconsciousness.

A clever fly does not struggle in the spider's web. It simply wakes up to the sticky situation in which it finds itself. Then, if it is a fly blessed with good karma, there may be a chance that its body and mind will drop off. Otherwise, as the fly watches hungry spiders close in, probably the wisest thing that the fly can do is not to doubt cause and effect.

5:20 AM, January 20, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Justin San

Thank you very much for your important question on the four philosophies. And my answer is as follows.

I have begun to read Shobogenzo when I was 17 years old. First it was incredibly difficult for me to understand at all. Therefore I read it almost everyday and repeated readings hundreds of times. And I gradually found strange facts that in Shobogenzo even in a single paragraph, in a relation between the first sentence and the second sentence, there was a strange fact that what the first sentence insists, is completely opposite to what the second sentence insists, and the meaning of the second sentece is completely different from the meanig of the third sentence. And furthermore the meaning of the fourth sentence is different from the first, secnd, or third sentence, and what the fourth sentence proclaimes is dimentionally different from the former three sentences at all.
First I couldn't understand such a kind of strange struture of sentences in Shobogenzo at all. But one day I remembered that in the first Buddhist lecture by Gautama Buddha, it is said that the main theme of his lecture was the Four Noble Truth. Therefore I began to check the identification of the Four Noble Truth of Gautama Buddha with the four philosophies in Shobogenzo. And I found clearly that it was impossible for me to doubt the identity between the Four Noble Truth by Gautama Buddha and the four philosophies by Master Dogen.


For Lone Wolf San

In Buddhism, it does not belong to our bad act for thinking bad in our brain, because such a kind of consideration does not belong to the real entity, but it is only our mental function in our brain cells, and so it is different from real facts.


For Mike Cross San

Good is just something we do. Why isn't good or bad what we do?

Facts that a woman grows and a child is born belong to natural processes, and so they do not belong to the matter, which is related with moral estimation.

Master Dogen proclaimed that in Shoaku-makusa in Shobogenzo, that it is not difficult for us to do good, or not to do bad. Because when we think the problems in our brain, it is impossible for us to decide whether it is easy, or not. But in the area of our act, it is very easy for us just to do good, and it is very easy for us just not to do bad, because in the area of act, our autonomic nervous system is usually balanced because of act, or the self-regulation in act itself.

It is never Buddhism for us to give up being moral in our daily life.

Therefore I criticize the each line of your poem as follows.

"Not to do bad habit,"

Don't move our moral responsibility to habit.

"To let all the good things happen,"

Good things do never happen without our actual efforts.

"Naturally causes this very intention to become clear,"

Our intention does never have such a miraculous power.

"This is the teaching of the buddhas."

Our Gautama Buddha has never said so at all.


For Rick San

If you do not have anything disagreeable in Mike Cross San's comments, I am afraid that it is completely difficult for you to find any kind of Buddhism on the surface of the Earth at all.


For Mike Cross San

Without trying to be right, or without trying to do good, is it possible for you to be right or to do good in your daily life actually?

Without breaking entanglement relying upon our act, is there any possibility for us to breake the entanglement actually?

We should never separate body and mind in Buddhism.

Buddhism can never be such a kind of fatalism at all.

2:47 PM, April 25, 2006  

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