Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Monday, February 6, 2006

Reality (3) Act at the present moment and the Universe

In the former blogs I have explained Reality as Reason, which pervades throughout the Universe, and the External World, which exists in front of us as (1) and (2). But if I grasp Reality as much more practical and true meaning, the first interpretation that Reality is the Reason, which pervades throughout the Universe (1), is a kind of interpretation in intellectual consideration, and the second interpretation that Reality is the External World, which exists in front of us, is also a kind of interpretation in perceptible images, which have been grasped through our sense organs. Therefore in the absolutely realistic Buddhist Philosophy, we persue much more absolutely realistic viewpoint, that is, our Real Act at the present moment.
In Buddhism we understand our acts in the past as memories of acts, and we understand our acts in future as supposition of acts. And furthermore even recognitions of our acts at the present, if they are just recognitions in our mind at the present moment, it is also impossible for such recognitions to be Real Act at the present moment. Those truly Realistic Experiences of Buddhist Acts at the prsent moment, can be found in Mulamadhyamaka-karika by Mastor Nagarjna, and they are also the same realistic ideas in Shobogenzo by Master Dogen, especially in the Chapters, "GYOBUTSU-YUIGI, or The Dignified Behavior of Acting Buddha", or "SHINJIN-GAKUDO, or Learning the Truth with Body and Mind."
Such kinds of perfectly Real Acts can never exist in the past or the future. Because the memory of the past is a kind of image, or thoughts of the past, and the supposition in future is also a kind of image, or thoughts of the future.
Therefore we should clearly notice that only the Real Act at the present moment has its real entity just as a kind of substance. And we should think that this principle of the Real Act should be noticed by all Buddhists, because such a principle of the Real Act at the present moment is the fundamental criterion of the throughout Buddhism. If we do not experience of the Real Act at the present moment relying upon the practicing Zazen, and so forth, we can never grasp the Real Buddhism at all.
And in the 9th Verse of the 1st Chapter in Mulamadhyamaka-karika, it says as follows.
"When the rule of the universe has not yet manifested itself, our ability of self-regulation has not yet appeared.
When our ceaseless mental fuctions have not yet been regulated, the reliable facts are also very vague."
The verse suggests that before the Universe hasn't appeared really, our act, which is called self-regulation, does not appear at all, and before the mental conditions of ourselves are balanced, the Real Universe is not recognized clearly. And in the second line of the Verse, it is said that before our mental conditions haven't been regulated, the Universe is not so clear in front of us. In short it is said that without the appearance of the Universe, our act can never manifest itself, and when our mental situations are not regulated yet, the reliable facts, or Reality, is very vague.
And I interpret that this verse suggests the identity between the Universe and our act at the present moment. Buddhism insists that without the Universe, our act at the present moment can never exist, and without our act, the Universe does not appear clearly. And I think that this principle is very important in Buddhist Philosophical System. Because the identity between our act at the present moment and the Universe itself is the fundamental basis of Buddhist Realism.
When I read this Verse for the first time, it was impossible for me to understand the meaning of the Verse. But having read it many times again and again, I noticed that in Buddhism there is a fundamental principle that our Real Act at the present moment and the Real Universe as the stage of act, are just the face and the back of Reality itself. And, relying upon the princible, Buddhism can become a completely independent realistic philosophy in the area of philosophical area.
Therefore following the Buddhist philosophicl viewpoint, there is no valure at all even though we remember and yearn our gorgeous past, or there is no constractive substance even though we worry about our serious mistakes in the past again and again. At the same time it might not have any meaning even though we are much anxious about an serious conditions in future, or we have much time to dream so many fantastic happy dreams in future.
Gautama Buddha noticed that it was the most happy situations for all human beings to live and work sincerely in the balanced state just at the present moment. Such a teaching is just the most important principle, which Gautama Buddha taught us.
Our life is never only idea, or never sense stimuli, but our life is just to live and work sincerely for our favorite job in the balanced state.

4 Comments:

Blogger Jundo Jim said...

Hello,

I have to scatter words on this post.

Gudo Nishijima is my teacher for Zazen and Buddhist philosophy and many other aspects about living life with good grace. He is also an 87 year old grandfatherly man who grew up in a certain day and time. With all due respect to the teacher I love, I am completely comfortable with his teachings on Zazen and Buddhist philosophy and much else, but I never came to him for a political opinion. Gosh, I never came to him to fix my car either, or to remove my appendix. Gee whiz. Being a Zen teacher means being a True Human Being (not a Saint, not a God), and having some insight on the Universe. It does not mean that you are an expert on which movies deserve the Academy Award (see Brokeback Mountain, by the way).

I am an American, a political liberal, a pacifist as much as I can be in this violent world. Through Nishijima Roshi, I have attained a taste of something dropping all thought of American or French or Japanese, politics, war and peace. However, in the down and dirty world of Samsara, we can all have lots of very personal, quixotic ideas about how to fix this world, even if you aren't as much of an America-phile as old Gudo (as an American, I am certainly not an America-phile, and criticize as much as I love my culture).

All I know is that, if we are ever to get along in this world, we need to learn to communicate in a way in which we don't call each other names, think of ourselves as American, Japanese, French or whatever, act with anger or insult, yell at people who fail to accept our ideas, etc. etc. We need to learn to respfully agree to disagree.

Gudo Roshi, by the way, is a perfect example of that. He is a man of very strong personal opinions about various things (politics among them), and he has people who try to treat him with cruel and harsh words for little known reason, or even take advantage. For all the years I have known him as studemt and friend, I have never seen him react to all that. He takes it no more seriously than watching children fight over toys in the sandbox. He just goes on, in his little room, writing his words, sitting Zazen and treating everyone with a smile and dignity.

For me, that is what Buddhism is. In fact, if the Buddha himself showed up with definitive knowledge of the philosophy of Buddhism, how to sit and all that, but treated people with anger, harsh words, insults and such ... well, for me, the Buddha would not himself be a Buddhist.

And if I am completely wrong in my understanding of Buddhism, but I find myself as who I am - basically at peace with myself and the world, accepting, a good father to my kid (no saint or emotional robot, mind you ... far from it, but content with walking in my shoes, moment by moment, step-by-step) - I will take my wrong Buddhism over someone else's right one.

I like and respect my teacher, Gudo, even as I don't ask him for whom I should vote.

Peace, Jundo Cohen

5:34 AM, February 08, 2006  
Blogger 6billionghosts said...

thank you, i like this.

10:45 AM, February 09, 2006  
Blogger dhri said...

Thank you for another wonderful post.

10:48 PM, April 07, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Jundo Jim San

Thank you very much for your long and kind comment.


For 6billionghosts San

Thank you very much for reading my Blog.


For dhri San

Thank you you very much.

11:05 AM, April 17, 2006  

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