Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Reality (4) God and the Universe

At the end of my introductory Buddhism, I would like to think about the relation of God and Buddhism. Many Buddhist scholars think that Buddhism is atheism. But in my case it can never be so simple for me to solve the problem between God and Buddhism. Because looking at Christianity the problem of God is so important and there are so many theories to solve the problem. And so I think that I should be very careful in thinking about the problem of God.

At the same time when we think about the Universe, it is also not so easy to understand it. For example, when we think about the Solar System, I usually wonder why those big heavenly bodies can be maintained in space. Our scientific knowledge has developed so much, and we can know the facts that everything in the universe has gravity. But when we think about what is the reason, why there is such a miraculous fact of gravity, it is not so easy to find the cause of existent gravity. Therefore it is necessary for us to think that the world, where we are just living now, is some times very mystical and miraculous in spite of our expectation.

And at the same time it is necessary for us to accept that the world (or the universe, I use the words interchangably) is regulated by some kind of order. It is necessary for us to confirm that the world is just governed by the Rule of the Universe. It is also a kind of systematized world, which is governed by a kind of the Universal Rule.

But the world is an area, where some kind of blind energy is full,too. Therefore we have to think that the world might be a kind of blind and mysterious space, and so it is necessary for the world to be regulated by some criteria. For whom is it possible to regulate such a blind world? And when I think about such a problem, it is impossible for me to find anoher being other than human beings to regulate such a kind of blind energy, which does not have any ability to regulate itself. I think that if human beings are not extremely diligent to regulate the blind energy to the true direction, it might be difficult for us to maintain the world in even as good a condition as it is in today. In such situations I think that human beings are working rather well to maintain the international relations among many independent countries, and organizing rather good economical systems in almost all countries in the world.

But in such a situation I think that the most serious problem in the world, might be the contradictory situation between Idealism and Materialism. Religious people are yearning for something spiritual following their Idealistic philosophy, and they disdain the material value. But people, who are standing on the basis of Materialism and do not recognize spiritual value at all, are very diligent to get the economical value, and laugh at the Idealistic viewpoint so much. However, if there were so unfortunate facts that people, who are belonging to the same societies, have completely opposite opinions having enormously hostile attitudes, is it possible for them to harmonize in a common adequate attitudes to the same problems? I think that it might be impossible for human beings to maitain the peaceful situations between the Idealistic front and the Materialistic front at all.

Therefore in such a situations if we permit to maintain the coexistence of two completely opposite philosophies, that is, Idealism and Materialism, the World can never be identified or unified at all. I think that it is completely impossible for human beings to have only one identified peaceful world at all if these two philosophies continue to fight one another. And in such situations there is a serious problem, that is, the Problem of God. Everyone knows well how strong the religious people's love God. If there were no solution in maintenance of God, how would it be possible for religious people to leave the Idealistic thoughts. There is possibility that they never leave the belief in Idealism. But if we consider the Materialistic hate against God, the hate is strong so much in the case of Materialists, and so it might be completely impossible for Materialists to accept the belief in God. And in such situations, if we do not solve the so difficult problem of God, it might be almost impossible for human beings to realize the belief in Reality at all.

Then how shall we think about God? As far as the modern scientific knowledge teaches us, it is said that the Universe is always expanding at every moment. If we accept the idea that the Universe is always expanding endlessly, it is very difficult for us to suppose the existence of another Universe other than this Universe at all. And in such situations, we have to think that God might exist inside the Universe. But in that case we can never permit that God is a part of the Universe. Because we should think that God is all, God is everywhere, God is almighty, and God is the Absolute.

Thinking like that I am afraid that God has been thought of as something much smaller than the actual fact. And I think that we should consider the Revolutionary Recovery of God sincerely. In such situations I thing that we should accept the idea that "God is the Universe, the Universe is God." God can never be smaller than the Universe, but at the same time God can never be bigger than the Unuverse. Therefore "God is the Universe, the Universe is God." And then the Fusion between God and the Universe is called Reality.

And when we sitting in Zazen, we can sit in God, we can sit in the Universe, we can sit in act, and we can sit in Reality. Therefore we can sit in Reality.

Now I have finished my introductory explanations of Buddhist Philosophy, and so I would like to begin to write about Zazen itself in the next theem.
(The End of the Introductory Buddhism)

28 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

I wish to extend my gratitude for this endeavor you have put forth the last few weeks.

I can't say that I grasp all the concepts that you have brought up, nor can I say that I agree with all I think I understood.

Your effort is very much appreciated.
Thank You.

3:52 AM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

Roshi, thank you for your explanation of Buddhist thinking. now I will go back and read it all again. Your English is very good but my understanding is not so good. Your closing statements on the idea of God mesh very well with mine. But I would like to ask you, if God did not create the universe, If God is considered the universe and the universe is God. Why then is it necessary to have the idea of God still? Why not just have the idea of the universe? Is it because of human attachment to the idea of God?

4:30 AM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger indifferent children said...

Roshi, in case you are interested: your God=Universe idea is often known as "Pantheism", and has been called that by various writers since the 1700s. Some people are Pantheists in an attempt to (as you pointed out) reconcile a Scientific and Religious outlook. The World Pantheist Movement www.pantheism.net has more information on this.

oxeye, many of us respond to the wonders of the Universe with a 'feeling' that is distinctly religious (some say spiritual). If you can avoid the problems that historically plague religions, is it necessary to try to be non-religious? The Universe isn't just 'big' and 'neat', it is 'sacred' and 'divine' (to some of us). Why should we go out of our way to avoid calling it God?

4:53 AM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

indifferent children, Avoiding the problems that historically plague religions is easier said than done. i feel the same sense of awe and wonder when considering the universe as you might. but terms like GOD are problematic. There is a lot of baggage that goes along with the word. You asked "Why should we go out of our way to avoid calling it God?" I ask, why go out of our way to call it God?

5:27 AM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger ryunin said...

Roshi, many many thanks, your commentaries to Shinji Shobogenzo made my life more realistic and my practice more realistic and your blog here has inspired my own writing and enabled me to understand more details of Buddhism. Although I don't want to imitate your explanation of Buddhism, I am very much inspired by your explanation in my own writing.
I hope I am not only a monkey.

I look forward to your answers to our questions.

6:18 AM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger earDRUM said...

I like this concept of "God". I can live comfortably with it.
Like Oxeye, I have difficulties with the word, "God". It conjures up such different thoughts for each person. So I usually avoid using the word.

But the world and universe is very mysterious. Life is mysterious, and miraculous. So I can see why some people feel the need to give the source of this mystery a name... "God".

Gudo Nishijima, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. And thank you for giving me a clear understanding of Dogen's Zen Buddhism. Your writings have changed my life. I feel indebted to you. But instead of trying to repay you, I will do what you do... I will pass on the things I know to others.
I look forward to your future posts here.

6:53 AM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

Thank you Gudo Nishijima Roshi. I have been enjoying all of your posts.

Would you say that God is the value aspect of the Universe?
I feel it might be difficult to put forth this understanding of God/Universe amogst the different minded people because people already have a preconcieved idea of who God is according to there idealistic religion wether Christian, Muslim, or whatever theistic veiw they may have. How would one go about creating harmony with the God/Universe idea when most theistic people have the idealistic habit of there current dogma?

Once again thank you so much for sharing your experience and long years of study on the "buddhist thought".

5:39 PM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Adrian said...

Could you please speak about Rebirth and life after death?

5:41 PM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

Lone Wolf said...
A man walks down a path. You see the action of walking. But if I examine more closely, action does not exist. Where the man has already walked, no action takes place. Where the man has yet to travel, no action takes place. You can't say action takes place in the present because soon as past is over future seems to begin. The present is just the unmoving point between the illusion of past and future. It seem you could divide this to zero. No matter if you say the present is as long as a finger snap you can divide it into a thousand, million, zillion, parts. You could divide it forever into zero. So I don't see where a past future or present exists at all. Therefore action seems to have no reality yet it still appears as in the case of the man walking. This leaves me with some difficult in the philosophy of action as being true reality. Could you explain the philosophy of action based upon what I have just mentioned?

Thank you Gudo Nishijima Roshi.

5:52 PM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Chris h San

Thank you very much.


For oxeye San,

Yes, I am afraid the confusion of the people, who love God, and at the same time I love Cod.


For indifferent children San,

Thank you very much for your kind information.


For Oxeye San

I think that the Universe is so great, so mystical, and so lovely, therefore I would like to maintain the name of God.


For ryunin San

Thank you very much. Anyone should not become a monkey.


For eardrum San

I agree with your idea so much.


For lone wolf San

I think that the Universe might be the mediator of all religions.


For adrian San

I am very sory, but I have to cofess that there is no Rebirth and life after death on the Earth.


For lone wolf San

I am afraid that you are thinking the problem on the basis of intellectual consideration. In the area of act, only act exist at the pressent moment. I am afraid that intellectual consierations and sense perceptions do never exist really at all.

1:56 PM, February 12, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

Thank you Gudo Nishijima Roshi for answering my questions.

Could you comment on Creativity and Zen? Particulary when it comes to the arts, such as writing books, music, painting etc.

5:13 AM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger cromanyak said...

I was wondering if you had any advice on what to do during daily life? What is practice when your not doing zazen? Thanks

5:51 AM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Ken said...

cromanyak, pay attention, ready?


Reading this line of text.



Did you miss it?

11:45 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger delphizealot said...

Sometimes this does make me uncomfortable. I say a lot of things in response to the beauty, wonder, and mystery of the universe and sometimes I even say God. See, I just did it again. Though, to be honest, I was much more preoccupied with God when I still thought myself an atheist. It was quite a comedy, defining myself in terms of the God I didn't believe in. The thing about God is that no matter how I move my lips, I can't help but speak the name.

11:19 AM, February 15, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

Roshi, I am looking forward to your next writing on zazen itself. thank you.

5:16 AM, February 21, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

This morning, as I was writing a comment on my own blog, some words addressed to James Cohen spontaneously emerged in me.

As James Cohen is a member of Dogen Sangha, I decided that I would like to post my accusation here too. Of course, if my accusation is false it is a very serious mistake by me. But my accusation is not false, so I will express it like this:

"You make me want to puke, you pretentious, pseudo-monk, who licks an old master's arse to get his own fame and profit."

7:48 PM, March 11, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

I have already expressed my thanks to James Cohen, whom I have never met in person at all, and I would like to do so again. Thank you, Jundo Jimbo, for holding up such a clear and accurate mirror -- a mirror which does not lie.

8:27 PM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger tena said...

I cannot say i am an expert
on buddhism but i think Dogen is a great TRUE teacher.But it seems to me after reading carefully what you are spreading some of the things you say is your own creation not his teachings.I have faith in dogen but i have great doubt in what you are spreading.How about sticking with his teachings ?
thanx.

4:56 PM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger tena said...

let me be more specific , for example your idea of
4 theory and action ...?

5:00 PM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

The relinquishing of all views:
The wonderful Reality he taught,
Using compassionate means.
I bow to Gautama.

In these words of Nagarjuna, the final verse of his Song of the Middle Way, Gudo's four philosophies are implicit but obvious -- (1) views, (2) Reality, (3) practical means, (4) real action of bowing to Gautama.

Gudo has gone quiet. Has he relinquished his own view, the view to which he has attached so strongly for so many years -- his view about the autonomic nervous system?

I do not know. If Gudo is still alive, I hope that, even in his very old age, he will wake up and relinquish this particular view. While there is life there is hope.

I can never know be sure that I am not still holding onto a view of my own, and thereby failing truly to realize the Buddha-Dharma; to others it may be obvious in the fixity of my attitude. But I cannot see it in myself. If I could see it, I wouldn't be so stupid as to do it.

Like father, like son.

3:15 AM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:42 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Grim said...

To Mike Cross:

It might be this idea that you must be correct or not correct that is just another wall clouding the real experience of the buddha-dharma.

1:37 PM, March 31, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

When one desires to be'right' and not 'wrong' then dualism exists. When one cares neither about being 'right' or 'wrong' then reality may be glimpsed. When all views are relinquished then reality will vanish for it too is just a view.

6:43 AM, April 15, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Chris H San (San is a polite Japanese title, which is common to both the male and the female.)

Thank you very much for you reading my blog. I hope that I have written the fundamental principles of Buddhist philosophy as short and precise as possible, and so if you repeat to read it again and again, you will grasp the outline of Buddhist philosophy in rather short time.


For Oxeve San

Thank very much for you reading my blog. Frankly speaking it is impossible for me to think that God has created this world, because it sounds too much fabulous and fantastic. And it is also impossible for me to think that God considered so. I love God, and I do not like to lose God. I think that God is all, and the Universe is all, therefore I think that God is perfectly the same as the Universe. I would like to maintain God. We are just living in the Universe. I do not think that it is a kind of attachment of human beings, but it is a fundamental tendency of human beings.


For indifferent children San

Thank you very much for your kind information of The World Pantheist Movement.


For Oxeye San

I would like to look at a beautiful scenery of shaking hands between religious people and schientific peopple on the Earth.


For ryunin San

Thank you very much for you reading my commentaries of Shinji Shobogenzo and my blog. I expect so much that you will write excellent and valuable Buddhist books in near future.
If you have any kind of questions on Buddhism, I would like to answer it with much joy.


For earDRUM San

Thank you very much for you to accept my concept of God.

I think that God is lovable and venevolent, and so even in the modern age we need to maintain God as the Universe.

Thank you very much for you reading my blog. I expect whole-heartedly for you to promote Buddhism relying upon your own methods.
I will write my blog on Zazen soon.


For Lone Wolf San

Thank you very much for you reading my blog.

I do not say that God is the value aspect of the Universe, but I say that there is something one here, which is called God sometimes, and which is called the Universe sometimes.

In the modern age, when airoplanes are flying in the sky through the world so enormoudly, I think that religious people should study science, and scientific people should leran religious thoughts.


For Adrian San

I think that it is impossible for Rebirth to occur in the Universe, and there is no life after death. Because in Buddhism we believe in the fusion between mind and body, and so it is impossible for human beings to consider that after physical death the soal will leave from the body, and survive in the another world, at all.


For Lone Wolf San

Thank you very much for your question, and my answer is as follows.
I think that when we are walking, our walk at the present moment exists only, and our walk does not exists at the past or the future.
And even the moment is so short, but Buddhism does not insist that the moment has no length. Therefore we should think that the present moment exists really, and the time, which does not exist really, is only the past and the future.

2:33 PM, April 16, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

Thanks Gudo Nishijima Roshi for answering my questions.

Could you comment on Creativity and Zen? Particulary when it comes to the arts, such as writing books, music, painting etc.

I'm looking forward to reading your blog on Zazen.

1:45 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

He discarded God and the Universe

With body, with mind, shedding body and mind:

Showing true compassion -- a practical means.

I bow to him, Gautama.

5:12 PM, April 27, 2006  
Blogger danne said...

Gassho

//danne

4:03 AM, May 02, 2006  
Blogger Homemade Zen said...

I do not know if there is a personified God looking out for us all, but I rather doubt it. Still, in an infinite universe of infinite duration, all things are possible -- even God. So I would be the last to say "there is no God."

And I have no opinion on whether we should call the universe "God." I don't suppose the universe cares a great deal what we call it.

I think the odds of us ever figuring it all out are ridiculously absurd, and so I just try to be comfortable with the mystery. Zazen helps me to do that.

So, I will just do zazen and try to live in the awesome mystery.

Thanks, Roshi, for sharing your thoughts.

2:40 PM, July 10, 2006  

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