Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dogen Sangha (6) In the case of Dogen Sangha Nishijima

After having experienced the compressed break of the second lumbar vertebra, I closed the dormitory of Dogen Sangha in Ichikawa City, and moved to Takashimadaira in Tokyo. Leaving from all kinds of job, I have begun a completely personal life. But I am still continuing Dogen Sangha life, and so I would like to describe the outline of it.
(1) Getting up: Nowadays I do not decide the time of getting up in the morning. Because of going to bed earlier than usual the night before, I get up for example 4 or 5 o'clock, and sometimes I get up at 7 o'clock because of going to bed late the night before.
(2) Massage: Because of becoming older, it is easy for my skin to get rough, and so I massage some parts of body with olive oil, if it is necessary. During that time I usually listen to a tape for learning a foreign lunguage.
(3) Washing the face: Before washing the face, I shave my head everymorning with electric razor. About washing the face, Master Dogen described many cares of it in Shobogenzo, and so I am careful to follow them, but at the same time nowadays we have so convenient things of toothbrush, and so forth, and so I think that if Master Dogen lived in the modern age today, he might be very happy to utilize those developed convenient things for washing the face.
(4) Learning foreign language: After moving to Takashimadaira, it is almost impossible for me to have a chance of having conversations with others, and so it seems to be necessary for me to listen to human voice in my daily life. Therefore a habit of learning foreign language has begun naturally, and now I read the beginner's course of "Teach Yourself" 2 pages a day every morning. Thinking about my age, it might be impossible for me to become skilful in speaking the foreign language, but it is rather pleasant for me to learn something itself. Now I am struggling with French.
(5) Gymnastics: The gymnastics, which I have practiced when I was a member of athletic sports, have been continued even today, and it is a common western rhythmic one. The gymnastics seem to be good for cure of the broken lumbar.
(6) Zazen: Before beginning the practice, I put a folded Kashaya on the head, and recite the poem of admiring it. In Shobogenzo, it is taught to recite silently in heart, but in my case after stopping my lecture, it has become much rare for me to speak loadly, and so I recite it loadly.
(The poem) Daisai Gedatsu-fuku Muso-fukuden-e Hibu Nyorai-kyo Kodo Shoshujo
(The meaning) How it is great, the clothes of emancipation! The field of happiness without rigid form Now I will wear it as Gautama Buddha's teachings And I will save all living beings widely.
Gautama Buddha's teachings are not only thoughts, or artificial mimic, but our real act in our dally life. Therefore when we do them really, we can realize them, but if we do not practice them actually, there is no Buddhism at all.
About the practice of Zazen itself, I have described it before, and so I do not explain it here again. However, it seems that to practice Zazen is much useful for curing the broken lower spine better.
(7) Blood suger test: Because of preventing a high blood suger, I measure a blood suger before breakfast every morning.
(8) Breakfast: Buying germinated brown rice, I boil it with an electric rice cooker. Side dishes are bought at shops, and I cut vegitables by myself.
Before beginning meals, I recite the five reflections for eating meals loadly.
Hitotsuniwa ko no tasho wo hakari, kano raisho o hakaru
(No. 1. Thinking the volume of my efforts, I suppose so much volume of enormous efforts, which has been used for producing and preparing meals in front of me.)
Futatsuniwa onore ga tokugyo no zennketsu o hakatsute, ku ni ozu
(No. 2. Thinking the facts that my moral behavior is completely lacking, I eat the meals.)
Mitsuniha shin o fusegi toga o hanaruru koto ha, ton to o shu tosu
(No. 3. Avoiding mental anxiety and shunning mistakes, the main causes are to guard ourselves from greed, anger, and stupidity.)
Yotsuniha masani ryoyaku o koto to suru wa, gyoko o ryo zen ga tame nari
(No. 4. The reason, why I eat meals as good medicine, comes from that I would like to guard myself from physical weakening.)
Itsutsuniha jodo no tame no yue ni, ima kono jiki o uku
(No. 5. Because of just accomplishing the Buddhist truth, I receive the meals now.)
(9) Posting blog: After reading newspaper, first I post Japanese blog, and then I post English blog.
The address of blogs: In the case of Enlish, < http://gudoblog-e.blogspot.com >.
In the case of Japanese, < http://gudoblog-j.blogspot.com >.
(10) Receipt and dispatch of emails: I receive and send emails.
(11) Walks: For avoiding scarcity of exercise, I take a walk about 3 km. everyday.
(12) Dinner: Because of keeping health, I eat meals 2 times a day, and the contents of dinner are almost the same as breakfast.
(13) Reading books: After reading newspaper, if there is a time I read books.
(14) Taking bath: On Monday and Thursday a helper will come every week for cleaning rooms, washing cloths and dishes, and prepare bath, and so then I take a bath.
(15) Going to bed: Following the volume of jobs everyday, I go to bed about from 9 to 11:30.

24 Comments:

Blogger MikeDoe said...

Gudo Nishijima:

It has been a pleasure for me to read about your life history. Through it I have learnt much more about what it is that you actually teach.

Theories about why the world is the way that it is are all fine but the world will keep spinning.

Reading about how you have been taught Buddhism and then interpreted it and merged it into your life has been very illuminating to me.

I sense (rightly or wrongly) in what you have written a sense of freedom and a sense of flexibility.

The freedom to live your life as you see fit within the path that you have chosen and the flexibility to look at Dogen's teachings and the teachings of your past masters and to fuse them into your life in a way that works for you.

From the loyalty of your many students I had realised that like all masters it was how you lived your life and interacted with them that was your teachings and not the words that were used.

However, in this Blog to date I had not been able to see what those teachings might be; I had only the words to work with.

Thank you for sharing a little of your life.

_/\_

4:31 PM, August 24, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

master nishijima, thank you for sharing some of the personal details of your life. while many Buddhists in the west seem to think they must embrace the ancient ways of living in all of their forms, you eagerly make use of new technologies and modern conveniences. I admire your practical attitude. it is a good teaching.

9:55 PM, August 24, 2006  
Blogger RepeatDose said...

'I massage some parts of body with olive oil, if it is necessary. During that time I usually listen to a tape for learning a foreign lunguage.'

It's ridiculous for me to say so because I do it all the time, but is this an example of multitasking?

A lot of Buddhist teachers emphasise complete focus on the task in hand, whilst the idea of doing two things at once is considered unconducive to mindfulness.

I suppose my questions is this: is it possible to be mindful whilst multitasking?

1:37 AM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:11 AM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Dear Repeat Dose,

May I try your question?

In many aspects of our Zen practice we experience the mindfulness of doing one thing as the only thing in the whole universe. So, when we drink a glass of tea, we only drink the tea and there is only the tea drinking. There is nothing else but the tea drinking, and we just do that. When we work in the garden, we just do that and are fully mindful of the activity. Our mind is not elsewhere.

This is a wonderful practice, and it teaches us how complete is every move of the hand, every motion of the body, if we are totally present with it.

But many times in this busy world, we must do the practice of three, four, five things at once. If you have ever been around a busy monastery, for example, when guests are coming and rooms need to be prepared and phones answered ... you will see monks working as hard as any businessman. Anyone who works in an office or has children to take care of at home must multitask these days. No way to avoid it. And what is more, no way to not be distracted sometimes and overwhelmed by it all.

Thus, I say this: When you do one thing, just do one thing. When you must do five things, just do the five things. When you are totally focused and mindful of every gesture, be focused and mindful. And, when you are distracted and overwhelmed, be distracted and overwhelmed.

Sometimes, when we do five things, we can be mindful like an acrobat who can balance a ball on his head and all five limbs. We can be mindful in that way. But at other times, the five things will just overwhelm us and we are too busy to be very mindful.

So, when mindful, be mindful. When not mindful, practice the Zen of not being mindful. Both are our practice.

I used a lot of words to make a simple point. Hope it is clear.

Gassho, Jundo Jim

8:14 AM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger cromanyak said...

I thought you did Zazen twice a day?

9:06 AM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

jundo, thanks for the lesson, but i didn't quite get what you are saying. it sounded a lot like..

when you are able to cope, great! but when you are not able to cope, you are just not able to cope..

i am probably missing a fine point here but this just seems like what we all do anyway..

by the way, i love your new website. i use the timer thingy everyday now when i sit at home. thanks..

1:18 PM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

oxeye:
I think the point that Jundo is making is that if there is one thing that needs to be done focus on just that one thing. If two then just those two things.

It's a case of walking and chewing gum. Do both fully.

When you have learnt to be mindful/focus completely on one thing then you have learnt how to be mindful. Once you have done that the number of things that you focus on does not matter.

I am typing and simultaneously I am aware of all of my body and the office noise around me. How many things am I focussed on? One or Many?

In reality there is always perhaps just one thing - the six senses.

5:08 PM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:08 PM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:12 PM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

Hi Oxeye,

i didn't quite get what you are saying. it sounded a lot like..

when you are able to cope, great! but when you are not able to cope, you are just not able to cope..

i am probably missing a fine point here but this just seems like what we all do anyway.


For me, there is all the difference in the world:

When we practice Zen, we embrace the world just-as-it-is and do not wish to change a thing about it, not one hair on life's little head. We accept our human nature too, because we are just human. Sometimes, humans are overwhelmed and can't cope. We cannot always be mindful. It is just the way our brains are made, and we cannot change it in this lifetime anymore than we can stop our stomach from growling or our heart from beating.

Before I practiced Zen, I was overwhelmed, and could not cope, with my being overwhelmed and not coping. I suffered. Now, in practicing Zen, I am not overwhelmed, and fully cope, with sometimes being overwhelmed and not coping. Before, I was not-at-peace and unhappy about not always being at peace and happy. Now, I am at peace and happy with not always being at peace and with sometimes being unhappy. I am mindful of the fact that I am not mindful in all situations, and never can be. I think that is a great difference. If I am practicing Zen wrong, I think I will keep my way anyway because it is a good way of life!

Before, if my day were hectic and the news on tv is bad, I would get tired and stressed and a bit fed up ... I did not like my life. Now, when my day is hectic, I get tired and stressed and my life is good. It is not the same stress at all. Also, the news on the tv is just the news. I may not like it and may be fed up with it sometimes, but it is not at all the same "I hate this crazy world" fed up as before. (Am I making sense??)

I often think that, if we could travel back in time to actually meet the Buddha and all the other great Teachers, we would find just human beings with human nature. They would not be like in the story books written about them, where they are idealized and said to float on clouds and walk on water, they are not statues made of gold, but people made of flesh and blood. They would just be human beings, although perhaps human beings who are at home in their humaness. All the difference in the world.

If you practice Zazen to ALWAYS be peaceful, always mindful, always coping, always happy ... you are trying to dip yourself in gold and make yourself a stone statue, not a person. You are trying to make every day sunshine and never have it rain. However, be at peace with not always being at peace and you have true peace, cope with the human condition of not always coping, and the result is ultimate coping. Then, you will know the sun that is shining even as it rains. Things, the world and I are exactly the same as before, but completely different.

At least, I think so.

Peace(amid Tumult), Jundo

5:12 PM, August 25, 2006
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5:13 PM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger Reckless said...

Gudo Nishijima, from your writings its seems that you are a trully geniuine person and not somebody who tries to act in a certain way to attract attention.
Thank you for inspiring our lives.

5:21 PM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger mindwaves said...

For Jundo. loving your 'Treeleaf' site. when is it up an running properly?

10:13 PM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:58 PM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger JundoCohen said...

mindwaves said...

For Jundo. loving your 'Treeleaf' site. when is it up an running properly?

Thank you for looking at it.

All things come when they come, and no need to rush life ...

Anyway, as the designer and I are already multitasked to the hilt, the project sure is taking its time! :-)

I hope that it is just a matter of weeks until we have it going.

Peace, J

11:15 PM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

For learning European languages such as French and Spanish, I strongly recommend the tapes and CDs of Michel Thomas. In the field of language learning, one gets the impression listening to Michel Thomas that he really is an outstanding master of his art. I found his method to be not only much more effective than the French teaching I experienced at school, but also inspiring and stimulating. Within only a few minutes of listening to his tape I was able to form long sentences of French words quite fluently. It was a kind of revelation. I hope you will have a chance to try it.

The tapes also inspired me to read his biography “The Test of Courage,” which also I would recommend.

11:55 PM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

Jundo, I have heard that Shunryu Suzuki was famous for being extremely mindful when acting. He was also known for being very absent minded. I have often wondered how these two qualities could have been so prominent in the same person. I guess I wanted to believe he was either one or the other when he was both.

Mikedoe, Chewing gum is something that I have gotten very skilled at over the years so it does not require much attention. So I might just forget about it to more fully concentrate on my walking. Do you think I should I try to be more mindful of where I am walking at the expense of totally mindful gum chewing or should I try and give equal attention to both activities and possibly forget where I am going?

1:13 AM, August 26, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

"Do you think I should I try to be more mindful of where I am walking at the expense of totally mindful gum chewing or should I try and give equal attention to both activities and possibly forget where I am going? "

I think you should pay attention inproportion to whatever comes naturally to you and not worry what that proportion should be.

Remembering where you are going is also important - but perhaps does not require as much attention as you think. A lot of this remembering is often taken up by thoughts of "I must remember...." or "I must not forget..." instead of trusting yourself.

All of that being said, on one long distance journey that I took this year I was so wrapped up in enjoying the driving (fast car, winding roads) that I forgot about the navigation and ended up adding an hour to a five hour journey.

Ultimately it didn't matter because the drive was part of the holiday and part of the fun but yes I did feel silly for not paying sufficient attention to navigation.

4:00 AM, August 26, 2006  
Blogger Michael said...

Dear Nishijima-sensei,

I'm enthralled at the accounts you have posted of your childhood, young adulthood and current routine. I wish I would have known this about you on the few occasions we met at the Dogen Sangha in Moto-Yawata about 10 years ago (on one of those occasions, you made me a present of a zafu from the zendojo). Had I known these things, I would have had so many questions to ask you.
Thank you for sharing.
Mata yoroshiku onegaitashimasu.

4:12 AM, August 26, 2006  
Blogger Gilles Rivest said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:21 AM, August 27, 2006  
Blogger Gilles Rivest said...

Gudo Nishijima

Permettez-moi de vous offrir une gerbe d'instants présents pour faciliter votre apprentissage de la langue française.

Peace be with all seekers of thruth.

6:27 AM, August 27, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

Thank you for sharing your life stories Gudo Nishijma. I found them very interesting, as well as inspiring. Your day to day schedule of activities has me wanting to create my own scedule so my life won't be so scattered. Sometimes I don't know what to do with myself lol.

11:43 AM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger yamakoa said...

Sensei,
Thank you very much for leaving us an account of your being here on earth.

3:07 AM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For RepeatDose San

Thank you very much for your indication and question.

When I have begun to listen to the tapes for learning a foreign language, I had also the same doubt as yours. But after moving to Takashimadaira my daily life has become too busy, and so I have tried the compromising way. But atfer reading your indication, I checked my real situation, and I found that it was not good for me to violate the Buddhist rule, and so since yesterday I have begun to listen to the tape solely just after waking up in the morning, and then I wash the face.

Therefore my answer to your question is that it is better for us to follow the traditional rule in Buddhism.

4:51 PM, September 15, 2006  

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