Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Fukan-Zazen-Gi (3) Interpretations

Generally speaking we can say that, what is necessary to write about Zazen, was written by Master Dogen in Fukan-Zazen-Gi, and what is not necessary to be written is not written in Fukan-Zazen-Gi. Therefore, what is written in Fukan-Zazen-Gi, has always inevitably had important value, and so I would like to trace through all of its sentences again according to my interpretations.

(1) Affirmation of the Real World

In general, a person, who absolutely believes in an idealistic philosophy, usually thinks that what they think in their brain is the highest criteria in the world. Therefore, they think that the real world, which is different from their ldeal, is always imperfect, that it is always unsatisfactory.

But at the same time, there are people who believe in a materialistic philosophy, who think that it is very clear that this world is made of matter. To them, the world strictly made of matter, is never satisfactory, but it is the one and only world in which we can live. And so, they think, if we want to make this world better, it is necessary for us to destroy the world.

In Buddhism, however, the world, where we are living now, is only one world, which really exists. So it is necessary for us to affirm the real situation of the world. It is inevitable for us to live in the world and to make the world a little better as much as possible. Master Dogen proclaimed that, generally speaking, human beings believe they are living usually in an adequate situation, and so to them it seems to be unnecessary to pursue the truth relying upon practice and experience.

(2) Real Situations of Human Life

When, however, we actually examine the real life of human beings, we find that our situations are not so adequate and easy. For example, when a very small problem occurs in our daily life, that small problem oftens becomes bigger and bigger, and it will usually grow so big that it will usually become very difficult for us to solve the problem at all. With a sharp mind and an excellent intuitive ability, we seem to acquire great understanding of our particular problems. This apparant understanding of the problem gives rise to a very strong confidence in our mental ability. This confidence is so strong that it becomes impossible for us to enter into the area of real act, the area that is beyond our mental function.

(3) Real Excellency of the Ancient Masters

Looking at the excellent Masters of the ancient past, we find that Gautama Buddha practiced Zazen at Jetanava Anathapindikarama for 6 years, and the Great Master Bodhi Dharma in Shorin Temple, practiced Zazen for 9 years. Those excellent Masters have practiced Zazen enormously, and so it is inevitable for us to practice Zazen as well.

(4) Real Contents of Zazen

The real contents of practicing Zazen is never the same as researching words, or pursuing the meaning of sentences. It is to turn the direction of the light inside to illuminate ourselves for reflection. Then our consciousness of our body and mind vanishes naturally, and our original eyes and faces manifest themselves actually. Therefore, if we want to experience such a kind of reality, which cannot be described with words, it is necessary for us to realize it by the act of Zazen.

(5) Circumstances of Zazen

Originally, it is better for us to utilize a quiet room, and drinking and eating should be moderate. Throwing away all circumstances, and stopping all of our jobs for a little while, we should never have any consideration of good and bad, and we should never have any interest in the true or the false. Stopping the functions of mind, will, and consciousness, and stopping the consideration of images, verbal and other types of consideration, intuition, and so forth, we should never even intend to become Buddhas. The situation of Zazen is completely different from the usual types of sitting and lying down in our daily lives.

(6) The Concrete Methods of Zazen

We usually spread a thick mat at the place of sitting. At the time when Master Dogen lived, even in Japanese houses, mats were not used so much. So when they practiced Zazen, they needed to use a mat on the wooden floors. And on the mat they used a special round cushion called Zafu.

In Zazen, sometimes we use the full-lotus posture, and sometime we use the half-lotus posture. In the case of the full-lotus posture, first we place the right foot on the left thigh, and then we place the left foot on the left thigh. In the case of the half-lotus posture, we push the right thigh with the left foot. In the case of the half-lotus posture the description Master Dogen used the phrase "to push." Such a description might suggest a little looser folding of the legs.

There is a problem concerning whether it is permissible for us to change the legs right and left. Master Kodo Sawaki clearly explained that, "Master Dogen has given only one example." So we can interpret that it is permissible for us to change the legs right and left during Zazen, if it is necessary.

The clothes should be placed over the legs and the feet softly and neatly. Then the right hand should be placed over the left leg, and the left hand should be placed on the right hand. When the positions of feet are opposite, the position of hands also should be opposite. The two tops of thumbs should be put together, and they should be placed in front of the navel.

Then just sit in the regular posture, without leaning to the left, without inclining to the right, without slouching forward, and without leaning backward. The horizontal line of the shoulders and the horizontal line of the ears should be parallel and the nose and the navel should be constrasted vertically.

Hold the tongue against the palate, and the lips and teeth should be closed. The eyes should always be kept open. Breathe softly through the nose, and after having regulated the posture truly, take a deep breath once, and swing the trunk right and left. Then sit stably without motion, similar to a mountain, and think the state without thinking. How can we think the state without thinking? It is decisively different from thinking. This is just the summarized method of Zazen. Therefore we should never think that "to think about not thinking" is a kind of thinking at all.

(7) The real substance of Zazen

The practice of Zazen is never an effort to become balanced, but it is just the state, which has realized the balanced state of body and mind in the universe already. It is just the perfectly realized truth, and the fusion between practice and experience. The rule of the universe has been realized already, and any hindrance, or any restriction, hasn't appeared at all. If we have begun to recognize such a situation, we are like Dragons, which have become very vigorous getting water, and we are like tigers, which were guarding themselves in front of a big mountain. First of all, the rule of the universe has been realized in front of us, and both the gloomy darkness, which comes from the stronger sympathetic nervous system, and the flimsy easiness, which comes from the stronger parasympathetic nervous system, have vanished already, and we should experience such real situations directly and exactly.

(8) Finishing Zazen

After finishing Zazen, when we stand up from the sitting, we should stand up slowly, keeping our stable condition peacefully. We should never be hasty or violent.

(9) Effects of Zazen

When we look at the real effects of Zazen, the state, which has transcended both ordinary people and the saints, has appeared from the practicing of Zazen, and an example of death during Zazen, or an example of death standing still, comes from the effect of practicing Zazen. Furthermore, Master Gutei in China, always held up his forefinger to answer all questions of Buddhist philosophy. In the case of Master Ananda, he realized the truth, when he was putting flagpoles down in order. Master Nagarjuna threw a steel needle into water to simbolize a becoming monk. Bhodhisattva Manjusri utilized a hard wooden clapper. These examples have always come from practicing Zazen. And when Buddhist Masters teach their students, they use a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout. Such explanations can never be understood by the mental ability of thinking, or distinction. It might be perhaps a dignifided form, which transcends verbal expressions and external form. How is it possible for us to deny that they belong to the criteria, which are beyond intellectual consideration, or sense perception. Of course, when Master Dogen lived, human beings had no knowledge of the autonomic nervous system. But we can think that Master Dogen clearly noticed that the effects of Zazen could never be related with intellectual consideration or sense perception at all.

(10) No Relation with Cleverness or Foolishness

Therefore it is not necessary for us to discuss whether people are clever or foolish, or whether they are preferable, or not. If someone practices Zazen sincerely, it might be just the pursuit of the truth. The practice and experience are originally the perfect fusion of the two, and so they are never separated from each other. The direction of going is always identified into one, and they are always balanced and eternal.

(11) Universality of Buddhism

Generally speaking, in the area where we are living, and in the different areas, where others are living, or in India, or in the West, or in China, or Japan in the East, Buddhism has common characteristics, which Gautama Buddha has taught us. It has occupied the fundamental attitudes exclusively, and because we practice Zazen so sincerely, we are just self-regulated in the perfectly stable situation. Therefore even though there are so many differences among us, relying upon the balanced state of Zazen, we should make our efforts to pursue the truth. How could there be any kind of necessity for us to have to throw away the place, where we should keep for our practicing Zazen, in order to run about in confusion? If we make even one mistake at the present moment, we have to commit the mistake just at the moment. Fortunately we have got the valuable life as a human being, and have been given the important ability to practice Zazen. So we should never spend our valuable time doing useless hobbies in vain. We have already kept the valuable practice, which Gautama Buddha has presented us. How is it possible for us to spend such valuable time for any kind of useless pleasure at all?

(12) Entreaties to All Buddhists Through the World

Furthermore, our physical substance is so transitory like a dewdrop on a leaf, and the changeable condition of our human life is very similar to a momentary flash of lightning. They vanish suddenly, and they are lost in a moment. Therefore Master Dogen entreated to all Buddhists through the world whole-heartedly that, "Because of having been accustomed to the artificial images of dragons for a long time, you do not doubt the truly real dragon, that is, Zazen." I would like to ask you to make your efforts to do Zazen, which is just the truth, that can be shown by itself as it is. Please revere the person, who has transcended scientific knowledge and forgotten intentional efforts. Please identify your truth with the truth, which many traditional Masters have kept, and please succeed the balanced state of the authonomic nervous system, which many traditional Buddhist patriarchs have succeeded authentically. If those kinds of efforts are practiced for a long time, those efforts might be something which can never be described with words. The door of the gorgeous jewelry warehouse will be opened, and it will be possible for you to utilize the jewels of the warehouse well in your perfect freedom.

94 Comments:

Blogger Lone Wolf said...

This seems to suggest that idea or thoughts are fine as long as you don't take them for reality, because reality will contradict what one believes is true intellectually. If one, by practicing zazen, has the experience of body and mind dropping off and experiences true reality directly, then one will cease to attach to thoughts or take them to be reality.

One can still utilize thought in the real world, but not be fooled by thought as being the real world, thus ending the suffering of contradiction between thought and the real world.

3:00 PM, July 09, 2006  
Blogger swan flies by said...

So far my interpretation is in total agreement with your interpretation. There is nothing more important than clarifying what was necessary to write in Fukan-Zazen-Gi and what was not necessary to write in Fukan-Zazen-Gi.
(1) Master Dogen's attitude is not perfectionistic but realistic; he affirms the real world as perfect already.

6:23 PM, July 09, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Dear Mike Doe,

Nishijima Roshi has written the following here ... that a person with an idealistic view point will always think that their ideals (the way they selfishly want the world to be, personally judge things "good" or "bad," think the universe should be if they were king) as the highest criteria, and thus the world we face as-it-is is experienced as imperfect and unsatisfactory (Nishijima Roshi, please correct me if my description is unsatisfactory).

Mike, I wrote you: Mountains are mountains again, emotions and conflicts are emotions and conflicts again ... fully the same yet completely something other.

May I briefly give an example? You and I and everybody live in a world with many things that displease us. Personally, I live in a world where there is a war I am not crazy about, where my mother had cancer, where my 3 year old son did something dangerous I told him not to do, where someone cuts me off and steals a space in a parking lot, etc.

Before practicing Zazen, all those things would bother me, make me sad, annoy me to one degree or another.

Practicing Zazen, I taste something profound in which wars are just a passing breeze, where life and death are just life and death, where my son is my son doing what babies do, where there is no "other" to steal a parking space and no "parking space" to be stolen.

After practicing Zazen, I live in a world in which both faces of reality are true, two inseperable faces of a faceless coin (to cite Nargarjuna, Samsara is Nirvana too) ... there are still wars, cancers, disobedient children and ugly adult conflicts. How is it different? Should I just fail to protest the war, stop my mother buying my mother cancer medicine, let my son go unscolded, say nothing about the parking space? How am I to live, actively live, in such a world (assuming I do not wish to live in a cave or run from the world)?

For me, this is what I do: I protest the war knowing that it is like a dream, encourage my mother (if she wishes) to fight the good fight against her cancer (simultaneously sensing that life is just as long as it is long, that death is not to be resisted), and punish my child with love so that he learns and grows. I will probably say nothing about the stolen parking space and move on. When feelings of anger and resentment well up from the most ancient parts of my brain, I just observe those feelings. Usually these days (not always, I am no machine or saint) the anger and resentment fade as Wisdom and Compassion arise. I accept, I yield, I am fine with life just-as-it-is, with the weeds that grow where I wish they did not (I still get out there and water the flowers, pluck the weeds however).

Anyway, that is what I do.

By the way, I am not insisting that my way is the only way to practice Buddhism, although I think it is a good way (I may also think that it is such a successful way for me, that it may be what the Buddha meant). Please have your own way if it works for you in your life. However, my way seems to work very well in my life, making me feel most content with my life in this complex world, making me feel at home in this world. So, I recommend it to others highly.

Gassho, Jundo

12:10 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger Homemade Zen said...

Jundocohen: Your explanation here seems to mirror my own experience. The world is still the world, but I have found that when I practice zazen I am able to accept that world more effectively. It doesn't mean I don't live in the world anymore, or that all the annoyances and problems go away, it merely means that I cope with it all much better. Anger, disappointment, worry ... they used to rule me. Now, they are still there, but they do not rule me (most of the time, anyway, I am still a Zen neophyte).

Thanks for stating your experiences so eloquently.

-- HZ

1:55 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

jc:
What you describe in your life looks to me (within my understanding) as Buddhism in action. It is nice to read.

"Please have your own way if it works for you in your life"

It may or may not be different - and if it is it does not matter. It might be that what you think of as my way becomes your way or vice versa as time moves on.

3:14 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

jc:
You may also like to think again about where your anger arises from. It will rarely be the ancient mind. It is more often the case that anger arises when we find the world to be not how we want it to be and it is the difference between reality and our wants/desires that is the cause of much anger.

3:41 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Hi Mike Doe,

You may also like to think again about where your anger arises from. It will rarely be the ancient mind.

If I may offer, I have been involved these last few years in supporting brain scan studies (frmi, pet) on destructive human emotions, and on the brains of experienced meditators, etc. Lots of these studies going on now.

http://www.emory.edu/EMORY_REPORT/
erarchive/2004/July/
er%20july%206/7_6_04zen.html

and it seems that anger, although having complex triggers, does usually arise deep within the brain in the more primitive sections (such as the amygdala), and may be regulated and moderated by higher, later evolved parts of the brain (such as the pre-frontal cortex). I greatly simplify. Here is a sample of such research.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-07/niom-sun062905.php

But, in an nutshell (and although the results are far from clear), it appears that there is little we can do to control an initial shot of anger, fear, anxiety from the more primitive parts of the "monkey" brain. We can, however, become pretty good at redirecting it, moderating it etc. using the higher parts of the brain. Meditation is very effective in this regard.

Gassho, Jundo

5:41 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

jc:
Thank you for correcting me. I have learnt something. I'd also be interested if you can point me to other studies.

The point I was trying to make is that nger has many triggers and some of them can be addressed by examining their roots and like you eloquently say, we may not always be able to prevent the anger arising but what we do with it can be within our conscious control.

Mike.

6:24 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger Homemade Zen said...

Jundo: Very interesting comment on anger. I have no empirical data to match yours (thanks for sharing it), but I do have anecdotal evidence that mirrors your point.

The studies you worked on indicate people seemingly are unable to control the initial "flash" of anger or other emotions, and I think that is quite true. I also think it quite true that meditation can help a person redirect or moderate that emotion.

This is what zazen does in my life. I have a temper, and a high stress job, and i the past have let job tensions and anger almost "define" me ... everything seemed to be ruled by my own negative emotions.

Since I resumed zazen (I did it in college, got away from it and came back) I have found that those negative feelings of anger are still there, but I no longer fly off the handle when they arise. Co-workers annoy me, the job situation angers me, or whatever ... and I flash a temper internally for a brief moment, then recognize that fact, make myself look at it for what it is (the failure of the world to measure up to my unfair, illusory expectations). Then I respond to the world in a calm, measured and effective way.

I could not do this regularly without zazen.

12:45 AM, July 11, 2006  
Blogger swan flies by said...

With warm regards to Master Nishijima, with respect to section (2), Real Situations of Human Life, I would like to say my interpretation of what Master Dogen meant by the occurence of a gap.

The truth of liberation, of undoing, of spontaneous release, of salvation (vimukti), of body and mind dropping off, is a tendency that is inherent in the real world at every moment.

In the natural world, this tendency is always conspicuously apparent -- in the formation of clouds, the falling of rain, the flowing downstream of a river, the burning of a log, the movement of a leaf in the wind, the withering of a flower and the bathing in sunshine of a weed. In the warble of a songbird. In the natural world, such human traits as artificiality, false pretenses, arrogance, hidden agendae, failure to act in accordance with one’s true nature, never exist.

But sometimes, in the real situation of human life, these kind of unnatural human traits give rise to a gap.

For example, sometimes in the Buddhist world we can notice a gap between: (i) genuinely sincere pursuit of the truth of Gautama Buddha, which means total devotion of oneself to this truth in Zazen, so that one might partake in this truth, practicing and experiencing the spontaneous process of body and mind dropping off, just for its own sake, just for the joy of practicing it, experiencing it, and sharing it with others, and (ii) fake pretense -- for example, the attitude of someone who is pretending to be a Zen Master for his own fame and profit.

If we understand that a gap means a worry about a small problem, and that the solution always lies in our own action, then we are liable to become very diligent in doing.

But another line of understanding is that the solution to many problems is already inherent in the real world. In that case, the solution might not always be to do something. In some cases the solution might be just to allow a process to unfold spontaneously. (Easier said than done of course.)

Belief in the primacy of our own doing is a kind of human arrogance. Awestruck realization of the principle that is inherent everywhere in the real world, inside us and outside, is a totally different attitude. Any difference between these two attitudes is not a relative matter, not a problem that becomes bigger and bigger, but an absolute difference.

For example, if our pursuit of Gautama Buddha’s truth turns into anything other than sincere pursuit of Gautama Buddha’s truth -- even if our will to fame and profit is almost imperceptibly small -- then it is not that our pursuit of the truth has become a little weaker than before. No. In that situation, in our pursuit of a little bit of fame and profit, we are not pursuing the truth at all, but only pursuing a little bit of fame and profit. It is not a question of a gap that grows wider and wider.

I think that, to express this principle, Master Dogen used the metaphor of heaven and earth. If heaven and earth become separate, it is not a matter of inches or miles. If heaven and earth have become even slightly separate, they are already absolutely separate.

But in reality they are not separate at all....

Oaks and willows tend to grow
Where summer breezes softly blow
Like mind and body letting go
All as one spontaneous flow.

A swan flies by

5:37 AM, July 11, 2006  
Blogger cowgoesmu said...

dear gudo nishijima I am deeply grateful to you for your blog as I am to mike luechford whom I have only met on a couple of occasions but whose words are so clear. I see now the meaning of lineage. Your postings on fukan zazengi embody the confidence and love I am sure is the only true reality that zazen expresses. I remain confused and uncertain about the many descriptions of zazen but completely sure of its reality and joyfullness. thankyou.

6:36 AM, July 11, 2006  
Blogger cromanyak said...

Is there anyone here who doesn't realize that swanfliesby is actually Mike Cross? Hope not.

Anyways I finally understand the meaning of idealism. That an idealist takes his own thoughts/beliefs to be ultimate reality, but I still don't understand what a materialist is. Can anyone clarify what Nishsijima means by this?

12:37 PM, July 11, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Dear Cromanyak,

I finally understand the meaning of idealism. ... but I still don't understand what a materialist is. Can anyone clarify what Nishsijima means by this?

If I may take a stab at this too (Roshi, please correct me if I am in error), "materialism" is the belief that the universe is nothing but cold, dead, meaningless atoms of matter, and that that is all life is too at its core. It is a common perspective these days, for example, to see human life as 100% reducible to atoms and DNA as the ‘be all’ and ‘end all’ perspective for what we are ultimately, that nothing is ‘true’ except as it has a basis in the material universe, seemingly harsh, cold and blindly operating, that, perhaps, the universe is nothing more than an equation that spit us out.

Get the bleak picture?

In contrast to materialism and idealism (which may look to some ideal "God" to give life meaning), Nishijima Roshi presents Buddhism as an existential philosophy of acting, being, living here and now ... (Something I translated by him said the following):

[Buddhism calls] for us to ‘be,’ to ‘live’ and ‘act’ here and now, while simultaneously accepting this world ‘as it is,’ just ‘as it is’ here and now ... without appeal to some ‘other world’ that is somehow better, more ‘ideal.’ ... On the other hand, although Buddhism calls upon us to fully accept, to merely observe without judgment this world in which we are living ... still, Buddhism need no be thereby a philosophy of passivity [for while] fully accepting the world, while fully not wishing that the world were any other way than just the way it is ... simultaneously and from yet another perspective, we are most free to act, to live and choose as we think best. We need not be passive, but can live our lives abundantly, moving forward ... all the while as we know that we are always just ‘here,’ that there is no place ultimately to go other than where we are ...In this way, it is a ‘philosophy of action.’ ... And again, equally important is the further perspective that in our acting, in our living ... it is but the world which acts and lives as we act and live, for we are each but a facet of the world, but an expression of the whole of Reality without separation. In this stance, all concepts of ‘subject’ and ‘object’ are put aside, and our lives and the functioning of all Reality constitute a single Great Activity, one Great Functioning. Thus, because we view the world as acting by and through each of us without separation or division ... for this reason as well, it is a ‘philosophy of action.’ So, just ‘being,’ ‘living’ and ‘acting’ is sacred, a sacred act, in and of itself. ... Thereupon, if we then ask what is the real centerpiece of the teachings of Buddhism, it is not the ideal, not the material, but in reality its central focus is the actions of human beings, of being and doing here and now.

Gassho, Jundo

2:07 PM, July 11, 2006  
Blogger swan flies by said...

Dear Mater Nishijima,

On section (6), Concrete Method of Zazen, with regard to the controversy about thinking, it might be very useful if you could clarify the absolute distinction between thinking about and thinking itself. In other words, the distinction between intellectual thought and a (so-called ‘mental’) act of thinking.

For example, if we use your four-phased system, can we say as follows:

Thinking about belongs to idealistic and materialistic thought. But in the practical phase, thinking can be a kind of action -- a means of consciously directing our energy. And thus, in the ultimate phase, thinking can be a bridge to the Reality which is utterly beyond thinking.

Gods that can be thought
Can be thought as nought
But what old Yakusan taught
Was to think, not thought

A swan flies by

5:24 PM, July 11, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Since coming back to England 12 years ago I have had lessons in the FM Alexander used to say, “This work is an exercise in finding out what thinking is.”

* * *

When a monk asked Zen Master Yakusan what he was thinking in Zazen, Yakusan replied “Thinking this state beyond thinking.”

The monk asked, “How can we think the state beyond thinking.”

Master Yakusan said, “It is non-thinking.”

* * *

“Non-thinking” is HI-SHIRYO.

When I began to understand the power of what FM Alexander called “thinking” my understanding of the above story inevitably changed. And noticing that change, Gudo Nishijiima decided to call a halt to our Shobogenzo translation partnership.

This is why I say that, despite how things might look, the central disagreement between Gudo Nishijima and myself has not been a personal matter, but a philosophical one. The personal stuff has been an unfortunate distraction -- mainly arising from my own imperfections.

So I have been trying, and I have not given up trying, to solve the problem through philosophical discussion.

The Master and I had a huge correspondence on the true meaning of HI-SHIRYO. During that discussion, one of the things I suggested (and this was something the Master objected to very vehemently) was that the HI of HI-SHIRYO might be like the HI of HI-BUTSU in Shobogenzo chap.28, Butsu-kojo-no-ji [58]. In that context HI-BUTSU means “a non-buddha,” i.e., a real buddha, not what you think of as a buddha.

In the same way, HI-SHIRYO, I suggested could be understood as “non-thinking” -- real thinking, the kind of thining that FM Alexander taught, not what people understand by thinking.

Master Nishijima could not have been clearer in his refutation of this suggestion by me. HI-SHIRYO, he strongly insisted, should never be understood as in any way affirmative of thinking.

But there again, Master Nishijima does not understand what FM Alexander meant by thinking. This point is crystal clear to me from my experience of the Master’s attempts to correct my posture using direct physical manipulation.

What it means to sit in the full lotus posture with the body is not in doubt. We can all agree on this, fortunately. It means to sit upright on a cushion, with right foot on left thigh and left foot on right thigh (or vice versa). We can all be grateful for this conspicuous teaching of Gautama Buddha, which is not in doubt.

What it means to sit in the full lotus posture with the mind, in contrast, cannot be decided conclusively. At least, looking at my two old Alexander teachers, I notice that after their combined 120 years, they are still asking the question of what thinking is.

In the end, Gudo Nishijma and I probably will never be able to present a united front on this matter of thinking. It would have been wonderful if we could. But the reality is different. In reality, because I have taken a view and insisted an opinion on thinking, the Master has not annointed me as his true successor but has dismissed me as a non-Buddhist.

That is the real situation. But out of our disagreement, and out of our personal suffering, some greater good may still come.

Everybody should be able to see, by reading our respective blogs, that Master Nishijima and I are totally as one in seeing that clarification of the true meaning of Fukan-zazen-gi is the most important matter, and that clarification of the true meaning of the above koan is the most important matter within the most important matter.

The Master’s interpretation of the koan, and my interpretation of the koan, are different. The Master does not affirm thinking. I do. In conclusion, who is right and who is wrong? Who is true and who is false? Why not defer that decision, and investigate it for yourself?

7:18 PM, July 11, 2006  
Blogger Jules said...

Generally speaking we can say that, what is necessary to write on Zazen, is inevitably written by Master Dogen in Fukan-Zazen-Gi, and what is not necessary to write is never written at all in Fukan-Zazen-Gi.

I think it's interesting that the Buddha seemed to feel it was necessary to go into greater detail. For example, in the Anapanasati Sutra, the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing, he spent a lot of time on the idea that being aware of your breathing is important. Why didn't Dogen say anything about this in Fukan-Zazengi?

6:03 AM, July 12, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

The answer to your question, Jules, is in the opening sentence of Fukan-zazeng-gi.

Natural breathing is a spontaneous process, and Master Dogen very clearly understood the fundamental law of the Universe which is nowadays called the 2nd law of thermodynamics. As he said, when we investigate it, it is all-pervasive, without and within.

Oxidation, whether by a human breathing, by iron rusting, or by wood burning, is a "downhill" process -- unless it is prevented from doing so, it tends to happen spontaneously, by itself, like water flowing downstream or a ball rolling down a hill.

Master Dogen's instructed us at the beginning of Zazen to make one full exhalation. This is to set the ball rolling. After that, the ball rolls on its own, as long as we don't prevent it from doing so. The breath passes softly through the nostrils. That is all.

7:07 AM, July 12, 2006  
Blogger sekishin said...

First of all, I would like to say a sincere thank you to Nishijima Roshi for his profound and moving interpretation of Fukan-Zazen-Gi. I think that there will be many many people in future who truly appreciate this interpretation, even if there are not so many today.

Concerning Mike Cross’s problem about thinking, I would like to ask the following question.

Nishijima Roshi is evidently very clear and decisive in his teaching that HI SHIRYO means “It [action/reality] is different from thinking.”

But it is not clear to me whether Mike Cross is also saying that
(1) HI SHIRYO means “It is different from thinking.”
Or is he saying
(2) [The how is] “Non-thinking” -- that is, the means to go beyond thinking is thinking, but not what we usually understand by thinking.

If Mike Cross wishes us to choose between Nishijima Roshi’s interpretation of the koan and his another interpretation, it might be necessary first for Mike Cross to be clear about what this other interpretation is.

So I would like to ask Mike Cross if he has decided conclusively which one he is saying: (1) or (2)?

Mike: if in fact you haven’t decided conclusively yet, might it not have been more wise for you to have kept your doubts to yourself, and thereby avoided such an ugly rift with your teacher?

4:34 PM, July 12, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Your question, Sekishin, is a good one. My answer is this:

The end is realization of the Law, which is utterly beyond thinking. The means is non-thinking. With the words HI-SHIRYO, Master Yakusan expressed both the means and the end.

This is my decisive conclusion.

In answer to your final point, I clearly understood from my years in Japan that Nishijima Roshi’s fundamental aim was nothing other than to truly clarifiy the true meaning of Fukan-Zazen-Gi, for all people in the world. I also have devoted myself just to that fundamental aim, and I will continue to do so. Lesser matters are all as nothing.

5:03 PM, July 12, 2006  
Blogger sekishin said...

OK, I will set aside the problem of thinking for the time being.

I have another question, and this time I would like to ask it not to the Zen bastard Mike Cross, but instead to Nishijima Roshi’s legal Dharma-heir, Jundo Cohen.

Nishijima Roshi wrote: “Master Nagarjuna threw a steel needle into water to simbolize a becoming monk.”

But isn’t this the wrong way round? Wasn’t it Kanadeva who threw in the needle?

It seems that that the real intention of a Buddhist patriarch like Nagarjuna is sometimes very very difficult for an ordinary person like me to understand.

Cohen Roshi, I wonder if it might be possible for you to clarify for us all the story of Nagarjuna and Kanadeva and the water and the needle?

8:14 PM, July 12, 2006  
Blogger swan flies by said...

What do buddhas wish to get?
Something sharp or someone wet?

A swan flies by

8:16 PM, July 12, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Dear Sekishin,

Thank you for your question.

(Allow me to consider for a moment, from the tone of the writing, that you may be another persona of Michael Cross, as is "Swans Fly By." If a misperception, I apologize. In any event, I will answer as best I can.) ... Sekishin asked ...

Nishijima Roshi wrote: “Master Nagarjuna threw a steel needle into water to simbolize a becoming monk.”

But isn’t this the wrong way round? Wasn’t it Kanadeva who threw in the needle?


I wonder if Dogen might say something in this way: when Kandeva threw the needle, Nagarjuna threw the needle (as did Sekishin and Jundo). In fact, Nagarjuna threw Sekishin, pierced the matter threw and threw, and Kanadeva drowned old Nagarjuna in his bowl.

I have nothing to add or take away from Nishijima Roshi's comment ... such turning phrases "can never be understood at all by mental consideration or intellectual distinction." A moment of Zazen, and the needle's point swallows the sea.

Perhaps Sekishin is just needling Jundo, and Jundo is all wet in his answer?

Gassho, Jundo

4:18 AM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger sekishin said...

Thank you, Jundo.

Your answer sounds very good. It sounds like the Zen answer of a Zen Master.

I am afraid that my viewpoint is too mundane, like that of a low-paid proofreader, not an original Zen thinker. I cannot understand the meaning of your turning words that "the needle's point swallows the sea."

Probably I have never understood yet the transcendent intention of a true Buddhist Patriarch.

Sekishin only has the simple question of a non-Zen proofreader: Wasn't it in fact Nagarjuna who threw in the needle?

Therefore, isn't the simple fact that Nishijima Roshi made a simple mistake when writing down his interpretation in English, and so there is a mistake which should be corrected?

5:02 AM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger sekishin said...

I meant to say: Wasn't it in fact Kanadeva who threw in the needle?

My mistake.

5:05 AM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger swan flies by said...

One side seems sharp, the other wet.
Has either found the middle yet?

A swan flies by

6:06 AM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Hi Sekishin,

Sorry if I misunderstood your question. I was just trying to have a little fun with Master Dogen's writing style in Shobogenzo. If you ever have read it, you will see that he does that with various old stories.

As to Nishijima Roshi's possible typo, or calling "Kanadeva" as "Kandeva" or your typo in pointing out Roshi's typo ... I think Nishijima Roshi would just say it is all just reality, all stuff that happened, another little weed that grows though we wish it did not. Correct it or not, pluck the weed or not, it is still what happened.

Your answer sounds very good. It sounds like the Zen answer of a Zen Master.

You are right, my answer was pretty stinky. How about this: Just sit Zazen and drop thoughts of needles, bowls, sharp or dull, wet or dry, Nishijima, Nargajuna, Sekishin, Jundo, both Kandeva and Kandeva, typos versus correct spelling. Let it all fade from mind ... like that needle vanished in the clear water, vanished but was still there ... get the image?

When your mind is that clear and settled, maybe you will get what the whole needle story is about.

Does that help?

Gassho, Jundo

6:06 AM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

To sit in the full lotus posture with the body is the primary matter.

To sit in the full lotus posture with the mind is to sit on the basis of the totally opposite conception.

In the middle way there is sitting in the full lotus posture dropping off body and mind, a spontaneous process just as predicted by the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Body and mind. Not only clarity, fluidity, wetness. Not only fixity, solidity, sharpness. Not only water. Not only needle. Water and needle.

Two mirrors, three reflections.

To tell you straight, Jundo Jim, you have never heard Nagarjuna's Song of the Middle Way, even in a dream.

You are a fame-seeking phoney.

6:18 AM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger sekishin said...

Yes, thank you, Jundo. Your contribution to the above discussion really helped to clarify the meaning of the needle and the water for me.

From what I understand of Nagarjuna's teaching, what he points towards is the letting go of all views -- even the viewpoint of the Middle Way.

So maybe even Mike Cross's view of who you are might also be a view to be given up.

Anyway, thank you for answering my question.

6:57 AM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger sekishin said...

“First of all, the rule of the universe has been realized in front of us, and both the gloomy darkness, which comes from the stronger sympathetic nervous system, and the flimsy easiness, which comes from the stronger parasympathetic nervous system, have vanished already” (from the end of Section (7), The Real Substance of Zazen).

If I understand Nishijima Roshi’s interpretation correctly:

(1) Gloomy darkness and flimsy easiness are opposite states of the autonomic nervous system, that is, physiological states.

An alternative (dialectically opposite) interpretation might be like this:

(2) Gloomy darkness and flimsy easiness are the characteristic mood swings of someone who is mentally unbalanced, for example, a “manic depressive.” They are psychological states.

Is it that both viewpoints, (1) and (2) are equally valid?

Furthermore, if I understand his teaching correctly, Nishijima Roshi recommends us, when we want to enjoy our original state of physiological balance, we can do so by enjoying some physical practice or sport, and especially Zazen. I have never read any writing of Nishijima Roshi in which he affirmed psychological therapies.

On the other hand, I noticed on another blog (http://the-middle-way.blogspot.com/2006_03_01_the-middle-way_archive.html) that Nishijima Roshi’s Dharma-heir Jundo Cohen Roshi recommended that a person he judged to be mentally unbalanced should rely (not upon a Zazen) but upon psychological therapy.

Is there a contradiction here? If not, is there any particular kind of psychological therapy that Nishijima Roshi recommends?

11:03 PM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger swan flies by said...

The body is inherently material, deterministic, heavy, dull.

Mind is inherently empty, infinite, light, free to wander anywhere.

Because the fundamental Law of the universe (which might be the 2nd law of thermodynamics) is foremost, undue muscular tension in Zazen comes undone spontaneously, unless we prevent it from doing so. In other words, unless we obstruct it, the action of just sitting upright tends to do itself. This Law of the universe is foremost and, in its realization, efforts based on the conceptions of body and mind have already become redundant.

Never gloomy, never gay
A buddha’s Zazen flows all day,
Like a river, like true play,
Mind and body dropped away.

A swan flies by

11:04 PM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger swan flies by said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:35 PM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

I say this not only for Sekishin but for all people who are interested in the teaching of Master Nishijima on Fukan-Zazen-Gi.

Master Dogen taught us to sit in the lotus posture (1) with body, (2) with mind, (3) dropping off body and mind.

In the teaching of Master Nishijima (1) is explicit, (2) has been transmitted non-verbally, from mind to mind by mind, and (3) is explained as balance of the autonomic nervous system -- which is, in my view, the Master’s big mistake; because discussion of the autonomic nervous system belongs not to (3) but to (1).

There are several Dharma-heirs who, relying on Nishijima Roshi’s teaching, have understood the above teaching of Master Dogen partially -- for example, Jeremy Pearson, Denis Le Grand, the monk Taijun, Gabriele Linnebach, et cetera. But because the understanding of these genuine students is only partial they do not have strong confidence to speak out against the charlatan James Cohen. We do not hear any kind of lion’s roar from them.

Brad Warner and Michael Luetchford also are not enlightened. They are not such outright frauds as James Cohen, but they have showed sufficient confidence to publish their own books on Buddhism independently, et cetera.

On the problem of enlightenment, they have adopted the strategy of “enlightenment doesn’t matter.” But this is a false teaching. Enlightenment does matter. Before getting enlightenment, we shouldn’t mislead others. As bodhisattvas we aim to get enlightenment, not for ourselves but just in order to lead others. To deny the aim of getting enlightenment, as Brad Warner has done explicitly on his blog, is a seriously wrong teaching.

When I see James Cohen, Brad Warner and Michael Luetchford giving themselves airs of having understood Master Dogen’s teaching, it makes me angry. Why does it make me angry? Probably because it feeds into my own self-doubt. I strongly do not want to go down that path myself, and I know that I could easily do so. I am very worried that to mislead others in Buddhism is such a seriously wrong matter, and I have been wobbling for several years about this problem.

Anyway, I shall continue to make my efforts to clarify the true meaning of Fukan-Zazen-Gi. As part of that effort, to highlight the wrong teaching of James Cohen, Brad Warner, and Michael Luetchford, is one job.

11:37 PM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger gniz said...

Mike,

The only job any of us has is to pay attention right now. To be as aware as we can at this second.
Thats my view, albeit perhaps an incorrect view.
Why carry the weight of the world on your shoulders?
When I criticize Brad for what I perceive to be his inconsistencies, I do it in a relatively lighthearted spirit. Its the internet, I am bored at work, let's play.
For you, there appears to be a lot of bad feelings around the politics of Dogen Sangha.
I can't speak to it, but I do sense that you put in a lot of work and are now ridiculed by some of your former sangha members.
This is highly unfortunate.
However, you also ridicule them.
Forget about Brad's bullshit teachings.
Forget about Gudo's bullshit teachings.
Forget about your translation.
The only weight on our shoulders is the weight to pay attention to the moment. For you, that may mean releasing this very moment.
But you have to release the next moment as well, Mike.
Keep releasing.
Every moment.
As AT suggests.
And forget about what we are saying and doing.

Sincerely

Aaron

11:56 PM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Hi Sekishin,

You wrote ...

I have never read any writing of Nishijima Roshi in which he affirmed psychological therapies. ... Jundo Cohen ... recommended that a person he judged to be mentally unbalanced should rely (not upon a Zazen) but upon psychological therapy. ... Is there a contradiction here? If not, is there any particular kind of psychological therapy that Nishijima Roshi recommends?

I cannot answer for Roshi, except to say that psycho-therapy has always been frowned upon socially in Japan, especially among people of Roshi's generation. However, Zazen is not a cure for all human disease or problems, and never has been thought of as so ... it does not cure cancer, it does not fix the dent in your car, it does not bring your lost love back, it does not even bring total peace to the most experienced meditator every second or every day.

In addition, there is something known for centuries in China and Japan as "Zen Byo" (Zen Sickness) ... If you make Zazen an obsession, becomes the zealot, sit until the sweet fruit turns bitter and dry, confuse passion and conviction with anger and jealousy, sit 4 times a day for 20 years as if one were fighting a jihad ... Is not that much the same as all the other religious zealotry we see in the world today, in Christianity, Islam, Judaism?

Many people are drawn to Zen because they have personal problems. Zen does not cure all those problems. In some cases, it can make them worse. Many Zen centers around America have dealt with this reality ... Maezumi Roshi, one of the most famous teachers in the United States, was plagues by alcoholism and had to turn to a treatment program. Zazen alone was not enough.

Here is a wonderful article from a Buddhadharma magazine that I read recently ...

More and more American sanghas are turning to new and creative approaches to address interpersonal conflicts in their communities. ...

http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/issues/2005/fall/embracing_conflict.html

Psychological counseling is definately a part of it for cases that so require.

I may be dating myself, but in the 60's there was a famous book, film and song called "I never promised you a rose garden." In that story, a woman longed for a single cure in psychiatric treatment for all her problems. I could say much the same about Zazen ... As the lyrics go:

I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, There's gotta be a little rain sometimes. When you take, you gotta give, so live and let live, Or let go. I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.

Gassho, Jundo

1:41 AM, July 14, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Releasing, releasing every moment, being aware as we can at this second, as AT suggests and as Gniz suggests, is a true instruction, but it is only one side of the story, like Nagarjuna’s bowl of water.

Physically sitting in the full lotus posture 4 times a day for 20 years, with or without anger and jealousy, making Zazen into an obsession in order to become a very sharp expert in Zazen, is the other side of the story, like Kanadeva’s needle.

Gnitz’s view is one-sided; he has not yet realized the true meaning of the Middle Way, even in a dream.

But Jundo Cohen view is much worse than Gnitz’s view. Jundo Cohen’s view is not only negating Kanadeva’s needle but is also positively advocating a non-Buddhist bowl of water, that is, psychotherapy.

Nishijima Roshi wrote:
“The practing Zazen is never efforts to become balanced, but it is just the state, which has realized the balanced state of body and mind in the universe already. It is just the perfectly realized truth, and the fusion between practice and experience. The rule of the universe has been realized already, and any hindrance, or any restriction, hasn't appeared at all.”

Jundo James Cohen, you are a kind of animal that has attached itself to Nishijima Roshi for the purpose of getting your own fame and profit. You slander Zazen. You insult the Buddha-Dharma. You have not yet understood Nishijima Roshi’s fundamental teaching at all. Nevertheless, you have no attitude to wish to deepen your understanding of Fukan-Zazen-Gi, because the meager and wrong understanding which you have got already seems to have been sufficient already for you to get the kind of things you want -- e.g. an impressive-looking Zen photo of you and Nishijima Roshi together, your own book to which you hold the sole copyright, a certificate of Dharma-transmission, et cetera, et cetera. Being a stupid oaf, you do not realize that, without true understanding of Fukan-Zazen-Gi, those things are all utterly as nothing.

2:35 AM, July 14, 2006  
Blogger gniz said...

Mike,

I admire your dedication. Anyone who does anything with the kind of discipline you've shown, day in and day out for over a decade, perhaps two decades, is worthy of admiration.

I would like it (if you would be so kind) if you'd perhaps list some of the personal benefits you have recieved from all of this intense practice you've done over the years.

I am not going to beat around the bush, Mike. The main criticism against you from the people on this website is NOT that you are lazy.

The criticism is that somehow you have gone off track from a true practice, and as a result, you are not actually getting much benefit from your discipline.

Are you more clear thinking, less judgemental, has your anger lessened over the years, are you happier, do you laugh more easily, what, I ask, are the benefits of your unique method?

I dont see the point in a practice which leaves me more angry, more unhappy, at odds with my teachers and fellow sangha members.

Mike, is the goal of AT and Shobogenzo that everyone else become perfect so that they will be nice to Mike Cross? That seems to be what you are after. Do you think Buddha had only nice disciples? You think since time imemorial there have not been imposters (perhaps Brad Warner types), bullshitters like me, you name it?
But the idea of a Master is that they are a light unto themselves and require nothing of anyone else. A master does not require others to buy into their beliefs. A master does not require that others become less fraudulent.

There will always be frauds, imposters, jokesters, and more.

Sincerely
Aaron
A bulshitter, lost in the dream, know nothing lazyman (just so you dont bother calling me any more names!)

3:07 AM, July 14, 2006  
Blogger Western Zen said...

Mike:

If psychotherapy is a non-Buddhist bowl of water, how about AT?

3:20 AM, July 14, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

For Aaron:

For example, I very much enjoy watching my sons play cricket: whereas other parents bring folding chairs to sit on, I am very comfortable sitting cross-legged on the grass.

For Western Zen:

Buddhist means devoted to anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, the supreme integral awakening that we believe Gautama practiced and experienced sitting in the full lotus posture under the bodhi tree.

The discoveries and teaching of FM Alexander have to do with the integrated acceptance and use of the self (the whole human being), in any activity, including sitting. So AT, in its essence, does not go against the fundamental principle of Buddhism. As FM Alexander said in his own words, “Change is the ultimate Reality.”

Psychotherapy is not concerned with the integrated use of the whole human being, but only with one side of human functioning, that is, the mental side. It may be because Buddhist habit is so deeply pervaded into Japanese society that Japanese people intuitively recognize this shortcoming of psychotherapy and so, wisely, they have preferred to embrace other aspects of Western culture which have to do with the whole human being in action -- for example, golf, football, baseball, basketball, marathon running, ski jumping, gymnastics, et cetera.

4:03 AM, July 14, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:06 PM, July 14, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

"Psychotherapy is not concerned with the integrated use of the whole human being, but only with one side of human functioning, that is, the mental side."

This is untrue. Jungian and Gestalt methods are interested in the whole person not just the mental side.

Jung invented something (Individuation) that looks supiciously like a path to enlightenment and full integration of the person (albeit billable) and Gestalt therapy is particularily interested in how the status of the body relates to and reveals the status of the mind.

Many buddhists I meet seem to in contrast be quite interested in denyiny and 'throwing away' their bodies at every opportunity rather than integrating with it - probably due to a misunderstanding of Buddhism.

4:08 PM, July 14, 2006  
Blogger swan flies by said...

Truly, Jundo Cohen has not understood, along with miscellaneous others. Psychotherapy solves nothing. Budddha's realization of the 2nd law solves everything. How?

Time has an arrow;
We oppose it, with a smile.
The arrow’s tip points downward;
We sit upright, for a while.

A swan flies by

4:42 PM, July 14, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

SFB:
Psychotherapy solves nothing.

This is wrong.

Time has an arrow;
We oppose it, with a smile.
The arrow’s tip points downward;
We sit upright, for a while.


Time has no arrow
There is nothing to oppose
An arrow points in two directions
What other way is there to sit?

6:19 PM, July 14, 2006  
Blogger SteveP said...

Psychotherapy solves nothing.

This statement assumes that there are 'answers' to 'things' when in fact there is only ever this moment and one choice to be made.

That choice is skillful or unskillful, leading towards or away from suffering.

Psychotherapy is a technique that cultivates a more consious awareness of suffering for onesself and others.

Ignorance of suffering in the moment conditions choices based on aversion to pain and greed for pleasure.

Unexamined choices perpetuate samsara.

The psychotherapist I visit has been a meditator for thirty years.

I don't think I'm wasting my time :-)

2:49 AM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Element said...

I sing zazen is the king
I sit on my head
it hurts so good
what should the hell i do
instead of posting here too

4:22 AM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Whether or not psychotherapy solves anything, I do not know, because I don't have any experience of it. I only have 25 years experience as a miner, striving to excavate the original meaning of Fukan-Zazen-Gi.

Perhaps I should apologize to Jundo James Cohen and others for my laziness so far not to have made my efforts to use psychotherapy to change myself from an angry person into a compassionate Zen Master like Jundo James Cohen. But unfortunately I have been too busy practicing Zazen, so far.

However, because of my so aggressive and obsessive attitude to study Fukan-Zazen-Gi sharply, I clearly understand that Master Dogen emphasized to us in several places in Fukan-Zazen-Gi that we should just sit in Zazen, and not be distracted by other matters, such as psychotherapy.

Thus “if we want to experience such a kind of reality, which cannot be described with words, it is necessary for us to realize it by the act of Zazen”... “keeping the valuable practice which Gautama Buddha has presented us,” not “running about in confusion” and not “spending our valuable time doing useless hobby in vain.” In short, “identifying your truth with the truth which many traditional Masters have kept.”

That truth that many traditional masters have kept is just the truth of Zazen, not of psychotherapy. It is the truth of Gautama Buddha, not of Freud, Jung, or Morita.

Moreover, I have two objections to psycho-therapy on the grounds of Buddhist philosophy. One objection is the concept “psycho.” The other objection is the concept “therapy.” Both are false conceptions in Buddhism.

The unit of individual investigation in Buddhism is not the psyche but the self -- Buddhist practice is the investigation of the self, and the forgetting of the self.

Also, Buddhist practice is not intended to be therapeutic. Benefits are not sought directly. They follow indirectly. Hence “we never even intend to become Buddhas” and “it is never efforts to become balanced.”

If you want to understand the fundamental meaning of Fukan-Zazen-Gi, I do not know whether psycho-therapy can help you or not. But I strongly doubt it.

I know that the teaching of FM Alexander helped me, personally, to understand Fukan-Zazen-Gi. Because Alexander work, like Buddhism, is concerned not with the psyche but with the self, and it is not therapy, but work. But this is only a personal matter, related to my own experience but not related to Fukan-Zazen-Gi itself.

Observing my advocacy of AT, Nishijima Roshi has felt and has expressed his strong doubt and criticism of me. But that is only because he has never understood, from the beginning, what AT is truly about.

The closest we have come in the west to the practice and theory of Gautama Buddha is not the practice and theory of Freud, Jung et cetera, but the practice and theory of Alexander, Dewey, et cetera.

When I read Jundo James Cohen’s advocacy of psychotherapy, my strong intuition is that he is never “identifying his truth with the truth which many traditional Masters have kept.” It seems very evident to me that he has another agenda, which is his own fame and profit.

By the way, Nishijma Roshi, you have been silent for a while. Are you still obstructing the 2nd law of thermodynamics?

5:53 AM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Homemade Zen said...

It seems to me Jundo is not advocating psychotherapy INSTEAD of zazen, but only to do things that zazen does not do.

If I need to drive a nail, I can sit in zazen all day and the nail will not be driven. So I'll get a hammer and drive it.

Similarly, those in need of psychotherapy would do well to avail themselves of it. I don't see that it has a lot to do with the quality of their zazen if they also attend psychotherapy.

-- HZ

12:02 PM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Jundo advocated psychotherapy to a person he has never met -- me.

Actually his attitude was not so much advocacy as coercion.

If one reflects deeply on what Master Dogen's teaching is in Fukan-Zazen-Gi, as interpreted on this blog, is such advocacy from a so-called Zen Master in Master Dogen's lineage, true or not? Is such advocacy traditional or not? Has Nishijima Roshi ever expressed one word advocating psychotherapy?

I think most definitely not.

If your aim is to hammer a nail, you can hammer your thumb all day and still the nail will not be driven. If your aim is to hammer a nail, you should aim at the nail, not at your thumb. You should aim at the nail and you should hammer the bloody nail, right on the head.

To sit in the full lotus posture four times a day is just to hammer the bloody nail, right on the head. I know, because I did it, for 20 years already, and counting.

Reading Fukan-Zazen-Gi, we can know Master Dogen's most fundamental aim. Reading Nishijima Roshi's effort to translate it again, by himself, at the age of 86, and to interpret its meaning afresh, we can know what is Master Nishijima's most fundamental aim.

Looking at Jundo Cohen's words, we can suppose also what his aim might be -- getting fame and profit. His audience likes psycho-babble and Zen-sounding nonsense, so that is what he gives them.

He does not hit the nail on the head, because he has never aimed to hit the nail on the head. His aim is a different aim.

5:38 PM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

Outside of Cross-world and the cross avatars there does now seem to be a consensus among Buddhist practicioners and professional psychologists that psychotherapy can compliment Buddhism quite well.

I have several books on my shelf written by Buddhists who are also psychologists or psychotherapists.

Meditation and contemplation will uncover lots of material that has previously been hidden. Zen and Buddhism is very good at uncovering material (with a view to getting rid of it) but it is not always so good at dealing with that material.

When I uncover stuff in my own mind I will choose how best to deal with it by using a combination of Buddhist techniques and psychotherapy techniques. I do this with a view to accepting and then letting go.

If I uncover a screw I reach for a screwdriver, if I uncover a nail then I reach for the hammer. If I uncover an old wound then I reach for some antiseptic and bandages and not a hammer.

What I find most unhelpful is to constrain myself by either attempting to deny anything that is uncovered or to attempt to deal with it using some method that someone else has decided that I 'must' use and is the 'only' way.

At one point some months ago I had an Email from a monk who said that based on postings at the time I had clearly become dangerously deluded about reality and I should immediately seek help. My response back to him among other things said "given the nature of these delusions who do you think it is best for me to seek help from - a Monk or a Shrink?"

The goal of Buddhism is to remove ALL delusions including the existence of self. In order to remove a delusion you first have to recognise it. Then accept it and finally pick it up and throw it away. Psychotherapists are good at spotting delusions.

Psychotherapy stops when they have allowed a person to become reasonanly well integrated with a 'healthy' sense of self.

Buddism aims to throw what the psychologists would call a sense of self away completely.

There is a big catch. In order to do such a thing you would have to be both mentally strong and psychologically stable - you are kicking away the foundations on which you believe your life is built.

I would consider psychotherapy to be important as expedient means for helping on the path.

To consciously rule out or dismiss something which is known to be effective (for some) is to in fact deny Buddhism and to reduce it to a set of rigid beliefs.

In Buddhist terms if you exhibit a strong aversion to say psychotherapy then that indicates something about your own state of mind since the middle way is neither attachment nor aversion.

If at one day in one moment I thought attending a session of Psychotherapy was approriate for me then I would do it. In the same way as if I felt a walk in the park or going to a football match was approriate.

6:15 PM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Western Zen said...

Mike: I still can’t see why Jundo’s advocacy of psychotherapy is different from your advocacy of AT.

Aren’t you just using Jundo as a mirror for what you hate in yourself?

Aren’t you the one seeking to make a name for yourself by connecting Zen and AT?

Aren’t you the one who gives himself the airs of a Zen Master who understood Fukan-Zazen-Gi already, when really you are a Zen reject who hasn’t understood its true meaning at all?

7:30 PM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Alexander work is not something that compliments Zazen, or something one does instead of Zazen; Alexander work is a tool that can help us understand the true meaning of Zazen. It is a tool like a needle or like a mirror -- something that can help Zazen, not a rival of Zazen.

In practice, Alexander teachers have taught me about how I use myself in such actions as sitting and standing. That teaching has been very useful to me in seeing how I use myself, and seeing the possibility of forgetting myself, in the Buddhist practice of sitting in the full lotus posture.

My attitude is utterly different from Jundo’s attitude and utterly different from the attitude of Brad Warner and Michael Luetchford. Those guys think they are right. Thanks to Alexander work, I know that I can never be right. Because there is no such thing as being right. What I know, at least partially, is my own wrongness. For example I am aware, at least partially, of the tendency to pull each ear and shoulder-blade in towards its diagonal opposite.

There is time’s arrow, always pointing in the right direction, downhill, and there is the life-force, always pointing in the right direction, uphill. Down is down. Up is up. These directions, being utterly right, are also utterly disinterested in our human preoccupations with right and wrong. A bodhisattva who sees this inevitably strives to demonstrate it to others, one way or another. An ordinary person who has not yet seen this, even in a dream, and yet gives himself the airs of being a Zen Master, is truly a very ordinary person.

8:11 PM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Element said...

I don't need a tool for zazen.
I do some yoga thats enough.
I correct my posture sometimes
after some time everything works naturally.
Upright and relaxed posture takes a long time (years).
I trust the Masters who are real!
For me Mater Dogen's teaching is right and enough. Do it or leave it.
Many have practiced it without doubt
and are thankful for that.
Dropping body and mind is nontechnically. There is no shortcut. Yeah, I know you will say I haven't understand AT....
Zen isn't only sitting, watch your Karma. I like your translation, I don't know but I feel sorry for you.
I feel there is a deep resentment in everything you write and thats the problem. What does it bring to work with AT when you still can't let go
your resentments/hate/ego.
I know that real Zen Masters do not care about what you say. And forget about the fame thing and other crap.
Look at your action first, that changes the world.
If you don't care, I do not care.
Everything has been said enough.

3:25 AM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger gniz said...

One thing I can gaurantee you is that Mike Cross will never stop writing on these blogs unless somehow he is banned or if he moves to iceland and is away from the internet.
Why? Why won't Mike Cross stop writing?
Because MC wants to be a TEACHER, he wants authority.
It is something that a lot of us (myself included) struggle with, wanting to teach so that we can feel we have learned something and can have our egos stroked.
But MC, being a teacher is useless.
Utterly useless.
If you cannot teach yourself, if you need outside recognition, you've gone NOWHERE.
And because you've put in so much work over the years, MC, you are determined to prove to somebody that you've gotten something.
So now you want to teach.
And so the blog postings continue.

Aaron

5:27 AM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger gniz said...

BTW i like that MC posts and probably would never even visit this blog if he didnt.

-aaron

5:30 AM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

A point to reflect on is that, even though in Shobogenzo Master Dogen emphasized the primacy of the one-to-one transmission from teacher to student, which he described as I-SHIN DEN-SHIN, "transmission of the mind by means of the mind," he also took trouble to write and to revise Fukan-Zazen-Gi.

Master Dogen did not have the idea of doing the impossible, that is, to meet everyone face-to-face and teach them I-SHIN DEN-SHIN. But he had the idea to write an exhortation to Zazen that everybody could read, that would be meaningful to everybody.

FUKAN means "recommended universally" or "recommended for everybody."

So I think that if Master Dogen were alive today, there is no question that he would endeavor to use the internet to disseminate as widely as possible his translation and interpretation of Fukan-Zazen-Gi in English.

As Nishijima Roshi wrote:
"Generally speaking we can say that, what is necessary to write on Zazen, is inevitably written by Master Dogen in Fukan-Zazen-Gi..."

People who haven't understood yet what is written in Fukan-Zazen-Gi should read it and read it and read it, and ask about it, and ask about it, and ask about it. For people who have understood it already, it is inevitable to try to explain what they understood -- sometimes waiting to be asked, sometimes not waiting to be asked.

7:12 AM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Dan said...

"BTW i like that MC posts and probably would never even visit this blog if he didnt."


well it is not a question of liking mike's posts it is the fact that they are not appropriate on this blog. they are appropriate in HIS blog. when nishijima roshi finally does block him (and i for one hope that it will be sooner rather than later) you and anyone else who is interested in mike's opinions can read them on his blog where they belong. on a blog about american football it is not appropriate for a rugby fan to come along and loudly proclaim how much better rugby is than american football or that really american football IS rugby etc etc. let the football fans talk about football on football blogs and the rugby fans talk about rugby rugby blogs. that's fair isn't it?

7:57 AM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger gniz said...

Dan,
I dont care whats fair for Gudo's blog. I dont know Gudo, I hold no respect for him, I could care less about him. What got me on here was people talking about the tremendous insanity that was taking place, and i for one, wanted to join in!
So i would feel bad if my favorite traffic accident went away...but it will, sooner or later...thats impermanence for ya!!
Look, this is what the internet is. If Gudo and Brad and whomever else wants, they can moderate or block comments, and 99 percent of their traffic will go away. Which is fine.
They dont need people like me and MC around muddying things up.
I am just saying, the major reason i visit this particular blog every so often is because of the nuttiness and i'll miss it when its gone.

Love (and i mean that)

Aaron

8:09 AM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:19 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Element said...

"Criticism is a misconception: we must read not to understand others but to understand ourselves.

If we could see ourselves as others see us, we would vanish on the spot.

The more we try to rest ourselves from our Egos, the deeper we sink into it.

To want fame is to prefer dying scorned than forgotten."

4:24 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Element said...

“Speech and silence. We feel safer with a madman who talks than with one who cannot open his mouth.

In every man sleeps a prophet, and when he wakes there is a little more evil in the world.”

4:27 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

[formatting went awry on deleted comment]

gniz:

Everyone suffers in their own way. For instance some might be Masochists.

If you 'enjoy' seeing others suffer then that is merely the mirror of a masochist; a Sadist.

The difficult thing on this particular blog with many of thee postings is how to read past the suffering expressed to see what the person is trying to say (if anything other than "I am Suffering").

Your postings seem to have become quite confrontational recently but without apparent purpose so I wonder if this is merely you working though some stuff (or it may be your posts have always been like this and I have only know recognised it [feeel free to shout 'Mirror']).

As for the teaching thing I would go with the Taoist principle that if someone wants to teach then they are not ready and you do not want them as a teacher.

Instead, the healthier option might well be that teachers are created because someone else (a 'student') requests that they share their knowledge/understanding.

At the heart of this teaching thing is I think that the desire to share with the world your 'special' or 'deep' knowledge merely shows a need to convince yourself by convincing others.

The particular problem with Buddhism is that the whole desire to teach thing (arising from the Ego) can be wrapped up in the Bodhisattva's vows and so it can feel very 'spiritual' when really it is nothing more than the Ego. The Boddhisattva's vows can be egoless but it is rare to see.

Naturally, you can see these themes played out in the words I write here and on my own Blog. You could accurately read what I write over there as one aspect of me teaching myself [ or leading myself astray, depending on your viewpoint].

4:28 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Element said...

"So I think that if Master Dogen were alive today, there is no question that he would endeavor to use the internet to disseminate as widely as possible his translation and interpretation of Fukan-Zazen-Gi in English."

Anyone who speaks in the name of others is always an imposter.

4:30 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Element said...

“Skepticism is the sadism of embittered souls.”

4:32 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Hi Gniz,

Please take this to heart ---

What got me on here was people talking about the tremendous insanity that was taking place ... i would feel bad if my favorite traffic accident went away

Life is filled with traffic accidents, insanity, human problems, cruelity, suffering. To hope for life or a world free of accidents, insanity, human problems, cruelty and suffering is what Roshi means by "Idealism." To hope for Zen practice and Zen students to be free of accidents, insanity, problems, ugly people and suffering is an overly idealistic view of Buddhism too ... you might as well dream of a Buddhist Heaven, where we all sit on Lotus Leaves playing our Golden Harps.

In Roshi's view, this world of accidents, problems, ugliness, etc., is just this world as-it-is. Dig it.

Now, however, sit a moment of Zazen, drop all thought of accidents, problems, good and bad, right and wrong, beautiful or ugly, heaven and hell ... and, in that instant, all are gone, suffering has vanished too.

What comes then? What encompasses this, like a single mirror reflecting all the world effortlessy (if I may borrow that all Zen cliche)?

In Roshi's view, this world just-as-it-is. Dig it.

In a sense, it is a world of good and bad without good and bad, problems without problems, suffering without suffering ....

I guess that what I am saying is this: If you are looking for a Zen or any religion or philosophy that promises you Heaven, Utopia, ideal people acting ever ideally in an ideal world, well, keep on searching and good luck. Perhaps, when the Revolution or the Messiah comes we will all be free!

This little messy Blog of Nishijima Roshi may not be the prettiest things to look at ... but it may be the Truth, the Truth of all Truth, Zen of all Zen.

Embrace that fact, and you can be Truly Free!

Gassho, Jundo

P.S. - None of this means that it is okay for people, Zen students especially, to be cruel to other people ... merely because, at some point, they think that they have attained some grand perspective where cruelty or no-cruelty are transcended, that they are above such things. This is why we have the Precepts.

5:25 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

The teaching of Gautama Buddha, Master Dogen, and Master Nishijima is just this: WAKE UP TO REALITY!

Now I have wrote those words, does that make me a buddha too?

It all depends on whether I am just repeating the words for the sake of sounding good, or whether I am expressing out of my own experience what was realized by the Buddha under the bodhi tree.

In the former case there is a gap. In the latter case there is no gap.

On this blog we can find very many manifestations of the gap, some slight, and some not so slight. But Jundo Jim Cohen is out there in a league of his own.

11:31 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger gniz said...

Mike,
You make some interesting points. I have been called a sadist in an earlier part of my life, that is, i get off on seeing others suffer. I wont deny that. Obviously there is suffering on this blog and i am enjoying it, i am taking part in it, whatever.
We can make of that what we will. I view it as relatively harmless because i believe that everyone sort of "gets" the fact that people spout nonsense on the internet. So maybe i just view this as a safe place to air my dirty laundry.
Or maybe its a cop out. I am doing it cuz i feel like it--sort of like the way you do with stuff.
In my life, my personal life that is, i am fairly conscientous of how i treat others-although i am not perfect. I just dont consider this internet stuff to be the same because it is kind of a playground.

Jundo Jim Cohen or whatever your name is, nothing you said in that post really relates to my view. I am not looking for some utopian buddhist whatever. I think buddhists are just like everyone else. Problem is, i dont think Jundo Jim Cohen realizes he is just like everyone else. he thinks he is wise apparently.

The wise people i know do not say things the way jundo jim cohen is saying things. Mike Doe seems to have some wisdom. I say this based on his fairly down to earth comments and that he is open and honest in his words.

Maybe i am wrong. These judgements are meaningless. But when you are sitting in a half assed buddhist masturbation clinic, that is what you do.

My main point is still that anyone, including myself, mike cross, jundo jim, mike doe, dan, etc etc....everyone is "getting off" on these silly comments. If we weren't we wouldnt be here. C'mon, there is no "teaching" going on here at all. This is just bickering, bantering, and nonsense.

At least i acknowledge it. If we all got a little more open and honest we could begin to discuss what we are all running away from and why we feel the need to engage in petty BS. But that wont happen because everyone has an important self-image to protect.

Oh please, someone write something that is so profound it pierces my soul and makes me see the light (sarcasm of course)...

Aaron

12:47 AM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

gniz:

There is much truth in what you write.

Addessing that truth is something that I am earnestly working on.

2:06 AM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Dan said...

" C'mon, there is no "teaching" going on here at all. This is just bickering, bantering, and nonsense."

that's the thing though. there should be teaching going on here. the internet is a useful way to teach people all over the world. when i read nishijima roshi's postings i often feel like they contain very useful teachings. for example before nishijima roshi mentioned it i was not sitting with my teeth touching. now that i am i have noticed that this makes it much easier to sit in the present for some reason.

it is only the comments that are full of crap but they shouldnt be. it lowers the tone for everyone involved. i agree with you that i 'get off' on these blogs but at the same time i would 'get off' on this one much more if it wasn't constantly interrupted by personal attacks on jim cohen and rantings about the second law of thermodynamics.

7:57 AM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger gniz said...

Okay. Here's my bet. Lets stop with the confrontational blog postings on Gudos webpage. Just nice questions and answers, okay Mike Cross? Okay everyone?

I bet you in two weeks no one even visits the web site anymore. 2 weeks tops.

Because mostly the only reason anyone visits the page is to see the sparks fly. Thats why tabloid news sells, thats why we have paparazzi, thats why blah blah blah.

I dont have a problem with it. If someone says something which elucidates the muck and the madness, I am happy to hear it.

I so rarely hear it. Fake PC Zenbots dont do it for me anymore.

But oh so occasionally the real stuff still gets through...god only knows how.

Aaron

9:14 AM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Hello Gniz, Dan, Mike Doe, Others,

Some of your comments seem a little, well, hostile and ill tempered. Here is another fortune cookie teaching. Take it or leave it, completely up to you:

When the mind is disturbed, hostile, broken in pieces, the world is experienced as disturbed, full of hostility, broken in pieces.

When the mind is made still, peaceful, whole, the entire world (hey, this messy Blog too) appears still, peaceful, whole, aflow with endless supplies of Wisdom and Compassion.

Hey fella, it is YOU, not anybody else, who creates how you experience things, anything (this silly Blog among all the rest of the universe).

Experience stuff as you will, do what the hell you please. Stop pointing fingers at any other culprit but yourself. Learn to turn the mind in an instant of Zazen, and the whole world turns in an instant.

Take it or leave it, buddy boy, mock it or not, but that is the Heart of Buddhism.

Gassho, Jundo

4:32 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

jc:

"Some of your comments seem a little, well, hostile and ill tempered."

That is merely how you are seeing it. It may or may not be so for any or all of the bloggers here.

To quote JC:
"When the mind is disturbed, hostile, broken in pieces, the world is experienced as disturbed, full of hostility, broken in pieces."

5:23 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Jim Cohen wrote:

"When the mind is made still, peaceful, whole, the entire world (hey, this messy Blog too) appears still, peaceful, whole, aflow with endless supplies of Wisdom and Compassion."

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Nagarjuna offers a bowl of pure water.

How does Jundo Jim respond? Looking eagerly into the water, Jundo Jim sees what he wishes to see: the reflection of a Wise and Compassionate Zen Master. Sometimes water can be very wet, too wet for words.

5:30 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Hi Mike Doe,

That is merely how you are seeing it.

Exactly.

By the way, there is a corollary to what I was saying ...

If someone is seemingly hostile, ill-tempered, disturbed and broken in their words ... or hostile, ill-tempered, disturbed and broken in their actions ... it is a pretty good indicator (to me, anyway) that they are hostile, ill-tempered, disturbed and broken in their mind. (Anyway, Mike Doe, it is a pretty good indicator unless one is misreading the person, or in the exceptional case where a balanced teacher acts imbalanced to make a point. However, if consistently, time after time, a person acts and speaks without balance ... well, chances are that their mind is without balance and disturbed).

The reason I have stayed a student of Nishijima Roshi is only distantly related to any of his philosophical writings (although I have come to appreciate those deeply over time). It is merely that this 87 year old Zen teacher consistently, time after time I have witnessed, is in words and outside actions still while moving, peaceful amid conflict, whole and balanced. This is my indicator that his mind is still while moving, peaceful, whole and balanced.

On the other hand, one can be the greatest meditator or debator in the world, turning your legs or tongue into pretzels, but if one then acts and speaks with hostility, ill-temper, disturbance and imbalance ... it is a sign to me of the true state of their mind. I do not know what reality the person has awoken to, or what Buddhist Truth the person has to preach, but it is nothing I wish. Please keep your Truth, please keep those teachings. What good are they?

Whether it is the right Buddhism, whether it is the wrong Buddhism, Nishijima Roshi has helped me bring greater balance into my words, acts and mind. That is what I wished from Zazen, and though perhaps misguided (I do not really think so), I will stay with it.

Gassho, Jundo

7:14 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

JC:
there is some hostility in what you write and so I thought I would respond.

We all see the world through our delusions. That is the nature of things. When we see the world we see nothing more than ourelves staring back. This is basic stuff.

"On the other hand, one can be the greatest meditator or debator in the world, turning your legs or tongue into pretzels, but if one then acts and speaks with hostility, ill-temper, disturbance and imbalance ... it is a sign to me of the true state of their mind."

It might well be such a sign. It might also be an dindicator of previous Karma. As always I will be honest. (It is no secret, I am writing about it on my own blog). At the moment I am working through some of my delusions concerning things such as hostility. That these delusions exist and that I am aware of them I. I am working through them. Until those delusions are gone then everything I say and do will be coloured by them. [The delusions I am not yet aware of I cannot work on]. That is basic Buddhism. It is more honest for me to acknowledge them than suppress them or deny them or write in such a way (with artificial care and consideration) so that there is virtually no trace in what I write. But where is the reality in that?

I do not know whether or not my mind is what you would consider to be 'balanced'. I do not care. I meditate. I contemplate. I acknowledge what is there. I accept what is there. I do not try to force my mind into an artificial box of 'correct' behaviour or 'correct' thinking. Instead I do what I believe Buddha did. I earnestly investigate the root causes of my delusions and seek to erradicate the roots. In this way the delusions and behaviours arising from them will eventually fade. This is the heart of the "Four foundations of Mindfulness".

"I do not know what reality the person has awoken to, or what Buddhist Truth the person has to preach, but it is nothing I wish. Please keep your Truth, please keep those teachings. What good are they? "
That is fine. I do not have anything to teach. I do not claim to have any special knowledge or anything. I do not even claim to be a Buddhist (or non Buddhist). I am quite explicit in my profile. I read Buddh's teachings, attend a Sangha and apply my understanding of those teachings to my life.

If you do not like what you see in my doing that or do not recognise it as Buddhism, then that is fine.
I am not seeking to fit myself into any mould or behave in any way merely because someone or some scriptures think that this is something I 'should' do. Instead, what I am endeavouring to do is to discover truly who it is that I am in this present moment. I know that I have no contiguous self. I know that from momemt to moment I am effectively recreated. From momement to moment I choose to allow myself to 'be' whatever that means. In some moments I have no thoughts, in some moments I have 'virtuous' thoughts in some momements I have 'non-virtuous' thoughts. So what. In some moments my mind is restless and in some it is calm. When the wind blows there are ripples.

A swallow can be in flight and look quite unstable as it flies - but it can also be in perfect balance - or more accurately (given the aerodynamics) it can harness and work with the inherrent instablitiy that it finds to achieve its purpose - catching bugs typically. This is a dynamic form of balance.

I am not using this as an analogy to claim that my mind is balanced; that would be too much for you to [ahem] swallow.

"Whether it is the right Buddhism, whether it is the wrong Buddhism, Nishijima Roshi has helped me bring greater balance into my words, acts and mind. That is what I wished from Zazen, and though perhaps misguided (I do not really think so), I will stay with it."

That is fine. Why do you feel the need to defend it? [rhetorical]

If you believe that in some way I am mentally unbalanced then feel free to believe that. You may even be right. I do not care. I will continue to do momemnt-to-moment whatever I feel is approriate. I do not rely on anyone to 'validate' my state of mind, my haircut or anything else.

Of course, if you could be more honest in your communication it might have been just easier just to say "Mike Doe, I think you are dangerously deluded and unbalanced". You could then have saved yourself some typing.

In the mean time you might contemplate on how quickly you seem to react to me with strong emotion. Is that merely an authentic response arising out of the moment or a reaction to something in yourself that you are denying.

Gniz has been hostile in some of his postings and has admitted that this is so and admitted that it is arising from who he currently is. He is aware of his own delusions and limitations and honest about them. That is authentic.

8:48 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Element said...

"Gniz has been hostile in some of his postings and has admitted that this is so and admitted that it is arising from who he currently is. He is aware of his own delusions and limitations and honest about them. That is authentic."

and cynic

9:49 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Hi Mike,

You wrote ...

Of course, if you could be more honest in your communication it might have been just easier just to say "Mike Doe, I think you are dangerously deluded and unbalanced".

I was not talking about you, and certainly not particularly. You see how the mind plays tricks? (If I had anyone on this blog in mind ... well, let's leave it at that).

My point was merely that, when the mind (any human mind) is peaceful and whole, the universe is peaceful and whole, and vica versa.

May I add a personal view on a couple of things you said ...

At the moment I am working through some of my delusions concerning things such as hostility. ... Until those delusions are gone then everything I say and do will be coloured by them. ... I do what I believe Buddha did. I earnestly investigate the root causes of my delusions and seek to erradicate the roots. In this way the delusions and behaviours arising from them will eventually fade. This is the heart of the "Four foundations of Mindfulness".

It may just be my understanding, but the technique of investigating the "root causes" of "delusions," and trying to erradicate them, is a different technique of meditation from Zen Zazen, something more in the tradition of Vipassana traditions. As you know, in Zazen (at least in the Soto tradition), we rather just stop thinking "delusion" or "not delusion," do not seek to erradicate anything, do not investigate anything. Certainly, we do not seek to "surpress" or "deny" delusions, as you phrased it. We just let them be ...

And if that leads to so-called "delusions" (or hostility, anger, whatever) being experienced in a very different way or "fading away," well, there ya go ... getting to the same place perhaps by another road!

Now, unlike my teacher, Nishijima, who is pretty much a through-and-through "just sitting" Zazen teacher, I am willing to encourage you to practice other types of meditation if it is working for you (Roshi may be wagging his finger at me). "Don't fix it if it works," my dad from Brooklyn used to say. So when you write this:

If you do not like what you see in my doing that or do not recognise it as Buddhism, then that is fine.
I am not seeking to fit myself into any mould or behave in any way merely because someone or some scriptures think that this is something I 'should' do.


I agree, and would even encourage you. I would never try to force my way on you, or even claim my way as the only way. However, in my life, Zazen as I describe it has had tremendous personal effect in my life. So, I recommend it.

Gassho, Jundo

10:05 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:28 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

jc:
No tricks of the mind.

"Hello Gniz, Dan, Mike Doe, Others,

Some of your comments seem a little, well, hostile and ill tempered. Here is another fortune cookie teaching. Take it or leave it, completely up to you:
"


It would be difficult for me to not conclude that this was not in some way directed at me.

In the later post:
"Hi Mike Doe....Anyway, Mike Doe, it is a pretty good indicator unless one is misreading the person, or in the exceptional case where a balanced teacher acts imbalanced to make a point.
...On the other hand, one can be the greatest meditator or debator in the world, turning your legs or tongue into pretzels, but if one then acts and speaks with hostility, ill-temper, disturbance and imbalance ... it is a sign to me of the true state of their mind. I do not know what reality the person has awoken to, or what Buddhist Truth the person has to preach, but it is nothing I wish. Please keep your Truth, please keep those teachings. What good are they?
"


It would be easy to read the above in context as if at least some of the first and a chunck of the latter message were directed at me. It would be more difficult to read it otherwise.

Not a complaint or a protest, merely an observation.

...

Vipassana is the formal name for some of what I do yes.

10:58 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Dan said...

"Okay. Here's my bet. Lets stop with the confrontational blog postings on Gudos webpage. Just nice questions and answers, okay Mike Cross? Okay everyone?
bet you in two weeks no one even visits the web site anymore. 2 weeks tops."

Yep I pretty much agree. But it wouldn't be no one. A few people who are genuinely interested in what Nishijima Roshi has to say would still read it and ask questions.
All I'm saying is that I would personally enjoy the comments section of this blog much more if it was largely comprised of respectful questions and answers.

Actually maybe enjoy is the wrong word. It's more like right now this arguing etc is like candy for the mind. It's enjoyably sweet and addictive but ultimately it rots your teeth and gives you diabetes.
Respectful questions and answers would be like eating raw greens. Doesn't taste so great at all and the taste would surely drive many people away but ultimately you know deep down that it's much better to eat raw greens than it is to eat candy.

11:03 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Dan said...

JC:

"Hello Gniz, Dan, Mike Doe, Others,

Some of your comments seem a little, well, hostile and ill tempered."

I don't feel I've been hostile towards you. i hope I haven't come across like that. You've got to remember it's incredibly easy to misread emotion into text. Honestly, when I write my comments I rarely feel much in the way of any strong emotion simply because of the impersonality (is that a word?) that results from using the internet as a form of communication.

Looking back I think maybe you misread something i worte when i said,

" i would 'get off' on this one much more if it wasn't constantly interrupted by personal attacks ON jim cohen"

maybe you read 'on' as 'by'?

11:17 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:40 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Hello Gniz, Dan, Mike Doe, Others,

Some of your comments seem a little, well, hostile and ill tempered."


Just poorly phrased by me, and not what I intended. My apologies for the misunderstanding caused.

Peace, J

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1:30 PM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:20 PM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Master Dogen wrote:
SO-SO NO ZANMAI TEKISHI SE YO

“Authentically succeed to the samadhi of the ancestors.”

Setting aside Jundo Jim’s Bowl of Wisdom and Compassion, along with miscellaneous clutter from other people who are not sincere, how should we understand the meaning of the word “samadhi.”

Samadhi is described at the very beginning of Shobogenzo as the criterion for the transmission of the Buddha-Dharma. Master Dogen calls it “the samadhi of receving/accepting and using the self.”

So true understanding of what samadhi is, might be the most vital matter in Buddhism.

To guide people towards real understanding of what samadhi is, Nishijima Roshi has put forward a hypothesis which is not vague and poetic but very exact and definite -- like Kanadeva’s use of a needle to symbolize the concrete form of a monk, sitting in the full lotus posture.

Nishijima Roshi’s hypothesis, like a needle, is that samadhi just means balance between the parasympathetic nervous and sympathetic nervous systems.

Hence:
“Please succeed the balanced state of the authonomic nervous system, which many traditional Buddhist patriarchs have succeeded authentically.”

My response to this needle is not my own idea that came out of my own state of emptiness: my response is the response of my whole body-mind in Zazen to my Buddhist Master’s needle. Therefore it belongs just on this Dogen Sangha Blog. And it is this:

Accepting/receiving the self includes not only the unconscious function of the parasympathetic nervous system but all “downhill” processes predicted by the 2nd law of thermodynamics, including conscious processes such as the conscious release of the energy necessary to maintain undue muscular contraction.

Using the self includes not only the unconscious function of the sympathetic nervous system but all “uphill” processes which temporarily obstruct the 2nd law of thermodynamics, including conscious processes such as the direction for the spine to lengthen upwards.

Even though my response above is a kind of negation of my Master’s teaching, without my Master’s teaching my response like this never exists. Therefore my response is just the repayment of my Master’s benevolence in teaching me. And it belongs just here on this blog.

Unlike Brad Warner and Michael Luetchford, I have not written my own book to garner my own fame and profit. I express what I realized here, on my Master’s blog, under his copyright. Because what I realized does not belong to me.

12:58 AM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger swan flies by said...

Jim’s pretense is quite outrageous:
In that there is a gap.
Genuine laughter is contagious:
No gap, no map, no trap.



Big wings flapping forcefully,
Long neck stretching purposefully.
While onward flows the river, lazily...

A swan flies by.

1:01 AM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

Big wings flapping comically,
Long wind blowing forcefully.
While onward flows the river, eternally...

A big yellow bird drops his gift.

2:49 AM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Master Dogen said that sitting in the full lotus posture is the king of samadhis.

That is why I can't accept that samadhi is a purely unconscious state. Sitting in the full lotus posture as dropping off body and mind may be described as a state without self-conciousness, but it is not a state without consciousness.

Experiencing a conflict between my teacher's teaching (teaching that arose from his desire to connect the Buddhist and Scientific quests for the truth), and my own experience/intuition, I have endeavored to solve the problem as expressed above, with reference to the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

If Jundo James Cohen, or any other of Nishijima Roshi's Dharma-heirs,or any other Zazen practitioner, has a clearer understanding of samadhi than me, please let them speak up. I don't mind being shown to be a fool, as long as I can learn something in the process. The problem is how to understand samadhi, how to practice and experience samadhi, how to succeed authentically to the samadhi of the ancestors, and how to transmit that authentic succession to others, both non-verbally and verbally.

Talk of wisdom and compassion is so much verbage. Nishijima Roshi says that samadhi is just balance of the autonomic nervous system. That is a very daring hypothesis.

His Dharma-heirs keep silent about it. Why?

If my arguments are wrong, why doesn't any Dharma-heir defeat my argument on the basis of their own experience, or on the basis of their own reasoned argument, or on the basis of Master Dogen's teaching in Shobogenzo?

6:25 AM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Dan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:26 AM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

mike cross:
I can only speak for myself.

"If my arguments are wrong, why doesn't any Dharma-heir defeat my argument on the basis of their own experience.."

On some things there is no point in argument. With some people there is no point in argument. For an argument to occur their must first be a way of communicating through words and second there must be a shared understanding of what those words mean.

In this area [of mind and body dropping off] these two conditions cannot be met.

You are forever looking for an argument with someone, anyone. Join a debating society.

You are forever looking to reach some intellectual understanding of something of which you do not appear to know.

You are forever looking to 'prove' that you are 'right' and someone else is 'wrong'.

It is all pointless. It is dualistic and it shows that your practice has not resulted in anything that is genuine.

You claim to have experience of "Mind and Body dropping off" and instead of your Ego diminishing it seems to have increased massively. This is far from what _I_ would expect. It looks like you have managed to increase and feed your delusions.

After these claims you seem even more angry and aggressive than you were before. You seem more determined to distance yourself from everyone and bring dischord. I cannot see how this is possible unless you have not had the experiences that you claim or have 'forced' them when you were not ready and so have caused yourself harm.

Jim Cohen is less direct than me. I will be more direct. There is no need to meet you in order to determine whether or not you need to get non-Buddhist help with the mind. It seeps through in everything you write and how you interact with everyone here.

You say you want to discuss and argue and are open to these things but when I have posted mesages on your blog you veto them. Your words and your actions just do not match.

Your random burblings about the 2nd law of thermodynamics and time's arror are simplistic nonsense that arise from your poor understanding of physics and in particular time (in the proper context of special and general relativity and quantum mechanics).

In both SR/GR and QM, Time is symmetrical - but with some exceptions where particular processes are either not symmetrical and/or are less probable in one direction.

The 2nd Law of thermodynamics is not a law in the true physical sense, it is in fact a statement of probability. There is nothing in physics to stop all the molecules of air in this room rushing to the topmost left corner of the room. It is just improbable.

[I have a BSc Hons in Physics]

I do not always agree with what is written by various Dharam heirs of Gudo Nishijima or even Gudo Nishijima himself. But it does not matter. I see a group of people who are sincerely practicing and like me doing so with the knowledge that they have delusions and must work within them. What more could I expect or ask for from anyone who claims to be a Buddhist? No-one is flawless, least of all me.

Whenever anyone writes anything then naturally they are doing nothing more than showing to the world where their own particular delusions are. Basic Buddhism.

Your words write to decieve and confuse. I see nothing in your writings that show any signs of health.

You 'renounced' anger on one of your blog postings as if anger can be cured by a magic word. Your anger persists. So no magic there.

I would seriously reccommend that you stop doing Zazen. It would be hard for me not to conclude that it is causing you harm.

This nonsense of using another avatar to tell your story is stupid. It fools no-one. Who you are is in everything you write.

In order that you may dengirate me and call me an inexperienced little lickspittle or whatever else you may wish to say I will stres to you that I have only been 'practicing' for about 4 years. Nothing in comparison to yourself. I know that I know very little about a lot of things and that you could use your 'knowledge' to run rings around me in an intellectual discussion. And yet here we are...

Gudo Nishijima: I respect your hospitality in allow unmoderated comments on this blog.

8:06 AM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Michael Tait said...

To state the belief that ‘Hi-shiryo’ / ‘not thinking’ / non-thinking and Chodo’s interpretation of Alexander’s ‘thinking’ are all pointing to the same truth.

As a real act, it is different from all these assertions and something we can only do not write or read about. Discussion of this real activity is futile, only practise can reveal it and only one individual can reveal it for her/himself and it belongs to no-one. Proprietary truths are truths for no-one.

It is only in the doing, that it can be truly discovered and nothing that can be written can ever adequately describe it. It is not ‘thinking’ in the way we traditionally describe it because we do not generate thoughts, we do not manufacture new imaginative vistas to feed on. It is not ‘not thinking’ because it is ‘done’ with the apparatus that thinks and we usually call that ‘thinking.’ In this description here, it is ‘non-thinking’ – an activity that conversely allows the true self to express itself, thinking that dissolves itself, thinking that dissolves accumulations of tension in all its forms – different both from ‘thinking’ and ‘not-thinking’ but also related to both – the approach to a zero point that sometimes is reached but never intentionally. It is a point that we pass through in this balancing.

It’s only afterwards we can notice that we have passed through the zero point and release that awareness too into practise. As Chodo Cross describes ‘you cannot do an undoing’ but you can provide the conditions for an undoing to take place and that is to pass through the zero point as the quietening mind wobbles between what we inadequately term the ‘physical’ and the ‘mental’, back and forth, back and forth……..( I can see how this might be termed the balance of the autonomic nervous system as easily as the practical evidence of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics - neither however actually describes anything real – that is impossible – all language (except that perceived directly) is representation, even the clarity of Master Dogen is only a dirty mirror through which we see things murkily.)

Thinking, not-thinking and non-thinking – what hits the nail on the head? None? All? ………different from these……? This question cannot be answered here in blogland, it can only be answered in person by someone experiencing the state and all of these answers may very well be correct, individually, together, inside out and upside down. In the real world they will be real however and therefore different from all descriptions here. A person experiencing the truth cannot do other than express the truth. They actually are the truth.

The zero point, the ‘something’ here cannot be described, it can only be freed. We can open the cage, that’s all we can do. Opening the cage is the posture of zazen, it is thinking non-thinking, it is diligence in practise. In opening in this way, consistently, the ‘something’ is permitted to happen, it emerges as a new experience of reality, something we can for the first time with conviction call real.

Something profoundly free, light, unencumbered by itself, expressing itself without mediation, without inhibition but not irresponsible, the opposite of that – totally engaged in every beat of life, truly connected to our experience. We might, inadequately again, call it unimpeded consciousness. We are fully born into each moment, an ageless and eternal consciousness in its element.

More often than not, in this case, it is consciousness of wobbling, sometimes the wobbling is much more profound than the sense of balance.

Your equation, Chodo of a human being with ‘energy’ – the 2nd law of thermodynamics seems reductive to apply to us in our manifest temporal and psychological fullness. The kind of dispersal, the kind of diffusing into and meeting-of experience that we encounter in zazen seems diminished by this application of a scientific law – it doesn’t ‘feel’ right. It may be however, less to do with the logic of the assertion which appears to be as sound as any other, than the sense that we are accumulating more knowledge, more description to a state which requires none.

Far from relinquishing views as Nagarjuna reminded us so eloquently and my master Michael Eido Luetchford communicated to me, we are accumulating more (He continues to communicate this to me and I am obviously not listening well enough or I would simply practise zazen, live my life and forget about reading and writing these blogs.)

For free men and women, we seem intent on bricking ourselves up behind our digressions on the state of being without anything. If we were truly free we would not engage in this activity.

As Nishijima Roshi rightly points out here, I assert and in my droning-on contradict over and over:

'Generally speaking we can say that, what is necessary to write about Zazen, was written by Master Dogen in Fukan-Zazen-Gi, and what is not necessary to be written is not written in Fukan-Zazen-Gi.’

I shall now off to where none of this stuff matters a jot.

12:35 AM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Master Dogen, writing what is necessary to write, wrote:

“Authentically succeed to the samadhi of the ancestors.”

So what is samadhi?

Sensing an atagonistic balance of opposing forces, sensing this in Zazen, non-verbally, intuitively, not only within himself but also in the external world, Gudo Nishijima searched for a scientific explanation that matched his experience. The explanation Nishijima Roshi selected was balance of the autonomic nervous system.

For 25 years that explanation has been both an inspiration and a stumbling block for me. Then, this spring, following the hint of an American scientist who left a comment on my blog, I found a scientific explanation which seems to me to hit the target more completely. The explanation can be found in the writings of the professor of chemistry Frank Lambert. (See for exampe www.secondlaw.com)

In 1925 the physicist Arthur Eddington said:
“The second law of thermodynamics is time’s arrow.”

The second law is time’s arrow because, for example, over time, water flows downhill, flowers wilt and fall, kesa-strings break, mirror’s crack, energy tends to dissipate. This is not only a scientific theory; it is the real experience of every one of us. We do never see fallen flowers returning to the branches of trees or cracked mirrors repairing themselves.

So Arthur Eddington said:
“The second law of thermodynamics is time’s arrow.”

It is also the real experience of every one of us that, for short or long periods of time, water may not flow. Instead, in the heat of the summer sun, it may evaporate. Flowers may not wilt and fall but grow. Kesa-strings and mirrors may remain unbroken. Energy may remain concentrated in a tree or (with the input of extra external energy), it may become even more concentrated -- one plum flower, two plum flowers, three, four, five... limitlessly many plum flowers!

To express this, in 1998 Frank Lambert modified Eddington’s statement, as follows:
“Chemical kinetics firmly restrains time’s arrow in the taut bow of thermodynamics for milliseconds to millenia.”

Sitting in the full lotus posture is called in Shobogenzo “the king of samadhis.” Why? I think because it is the supreme way for a Buddhist monk to practice and experience the antagonistic balance between:

the ‘downhill’ tendency of time’s arrow

vs

the opposing ‘uphill’ work done via chemical kinetics.

Each person can verify for themself, inductively and deductively, in their own Zazen, the presence of ‘downhill’ flows such as release of energy from unduly tense muscles, passing of suppressed thoughts, and oxidation of food; and also the presence (inductively) of ‘uphill’ work such as effort to keep sitting upright in spite of tiredness, pain, distractions, et cetera, as well as (deductively) synthesis of essential biological compounds such as calcium and the ingredients of bone marrow.

Speaking from my own experience of sitting in the full lotus posture four times a day for 20 years, sitting in the full lotus posture with the body is a kind of ‘uphill’ work which we should do; sitting in the full lotus posture with the mind has to do with allowing ‘downhill’ flows; and sitting in the full lotus posture as body and mind dropping off is just an expression of spontaneous flow itself.

I think that this explanation accords with what Nishijima Roshi knows already, and what he taught me already -- deeply, intuitively, non-verbally.

I could not care less whether people of scant Zazen experience such as Michael Tait agree with me or not. My hope is that Nishijima Roshi will notice what an extremely powerful weapon the 2nd law of thermodynamics might be for promoting true Buddhism. Nishijima Roshi has been searching for such a powerful weapon for many years. So I guess that his recent silence might represent the process of his coming to a conclusion about it.

Now for a few weeks I am going to a small house in France, where there will be nature in tremendous abundance but no Broadband. So I shall stop posting on this blog for a while.

3:01 AM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

Michael Tait:
That was an admirable attempt to put into words that which cannot be put into words.

Mike Cross:
Our perception of time is not accurate.

Flowers do not decay, they are eaten.

Water does not flow downhill. The actions of two bodies with non-zero mass (i.e. The earth and the water) causes a distortion of space-time such that the two bodies move towards each other.

Sometimes our perceptions are just not accurate reflecections of reality.

When a leaf falls off a tree the earth will be drawn to the leaf and the leaf to the earth. If the leaf was the size of the earth it would be an equal match. Since the leaf is much smaller than the earth the earth tends to stay put.
That is the physics. The rest is our intepretation of what we perceive. It is workable but it is not accurate.

Enjoy france and the beauty of nature.

3:46 AM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger swan flies by said...

When a king calls ‘saindhava’
Then shows his mistake,
A servant corrects it.
Thus kesa ties break.

The swan is gone.

2:16 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger sekishin said...

“Sitting in the full lotus posture as body and mind dropping off is just an expression of spontaneous flow itself.”

I do not understand how it works.

Within the physical‘doing’ of some activity (i.e. sitting upright), we mentally allow a process of ‘undoing’ -- which includes release of both muscle tension and suppressed thoughts. Then something happens which is called “spontaneous flow”?

I do not understand. What flows? Flow of what?

3:36 PM, July 20, 2006  

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