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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Difference between Buddhism and AT theory (3)

I have received the third email again from Mike Cross, and so I would like to write my opinion following his description one by one as before.

Dear Sensei,

Thank you very much for responding to my emails on Dogen Sangha Blog.

Firstly, I would like to contradict strongly your statement that I hope to identify Buddhist philosophy and AT.

Even though you deny your intention to identify Buddhism with AT theory, what you wrote seems to me as if you were making your efforts to identify Buddhism with AT theory.

My intention for the past 30 years has been to clarify how to practice sitting-meditation, firstly for myself, and secondly for others as my mission in life. Just that is my clear intention.

Unfortunately I think that there is no such a strange idea, which can be called sitting-meditation. Because in Buddhism sitting is just sitting, which does never include meditation.

You also have your mission in life, to clarify the whole of Buddhist philosophy exactly, in which I served you to the best of my ability -- until you perceived that I had another agenda.

I was your Master in Buddhism before, therefore at that time I taught you Buddhism so sincerely. At that time you were my student, and I was your teacher, and so I have clearly remember that I taught you well, but I don't have any memory that I was taught by you.

I think that whether you or I am right or wrong is not so important. But to clarify what can be clarified, as far as possible, might be very important. So let us get on with it, making our respective mistakes, and transcending the fear which usually holds human beings back (when they are controlled by the herd instinct) -- i.e., the fear of making a fool of themselves, the fear of being seen to be wrong.

Unfortunately I do not have any fear to be called stupid by others, and so I made my priest name "Gudo, or Stupid Way" actually by myself. If I was afraid of being called stupid, it might be impossible for me to select my name "Gudo, or Stupid Way" at all.

In Fukan-zazen-gi Shinpitsu-bon, Master Dogen expressed the vital art, or secret, of essential technique of Zazen as waking up, forgetting involvments forever, and JI-JO-IPPEN, naturally becoming one piece. So in the crucial part of his instructions he didn't discuss thinking.

Yes, it is true that Master Dogen does never affirm thinking in Zazen possitively, but you want to affirm thinking in Zazen possitively. I sincerely ask you not to mix to think and not to think as if they were the same at all. JI-JO-IPPEN means the state of Zazen, when we concentrate our efforts to keep our posture into the perfectly regular posture, and so we can feel our consciousness as if our posture had become only one piece.

But then in Fukan-zazen-gi Rufu-bon he revised the crucial part. He wrote: "Think that state beyond thinking." Traditionally this sentence is recited in Japanese as an imperative: KONO FUSHIRYO TEI O SHIRYO SEYO.

KONO FUSHIRYO TEI O SHIRYO SEYO means "think about the state of non-thinking." And the words "think about the state of non-thinking." does never suggest any kind of thinking.

It seems to me that, because of a prejudice against the whole idea of thinking, you are as if blind to the existence of this sentence.

I clearly notice the existence of the sentence, and so I clearly understand that Master Dogen insisted that Zazen is just action, which transcends both thinking and not thinking completely.

Master Dogen wrote:

What is your translation of this sentence, and how do you understand its intention?

I interpret the words that " KONO FUSHIRYO TEI O SHIRYO SEYO " suggests that we should think the state of not thinking, not during the practice of Zazen, but when we can think everything freely.

With best wishes,

Mike CrossDear Sensei,

Dear Mike Cross,

Thank you very much for your sincere questions, but unfortunately I think that your insistences are completely different from Buddhist philosophy, and so I hope sincerely that you will think about the total philosophical system of Buddhism, leaving AT theory perfectly.

With best wishes Gudo Wafu Nishijima

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The First Enlightenment : Zazen (1) Misunderstandings for so many ages

I have a memory that I have explained a short explanation of Zazen, which is the central method of practice in Buddhism in this blog before, but about such a theme, there is a problem, which is called 'Satori, or enlightenment', and on such a subject there are so many miscellaneous interpretations in Buddhist societies, and so here I would like to try my some a little profound interpretation on the problem, because I think that such a kind of profound interpretation of Buddhist explanations might be very useful to explain the true meaning of Buddhist philosophies.

Ton-go and Zen-go
In the interpretation of enlightenment in Buddhism, there are two kinds of oposite insistenses on the situation of enlightenment. And the one is called Ton-go, and the other is called Zen-go.
In Ton-go, Ton means sudden, and go means enlightenment. Therefore Ton-go means a sudden enlightenment, and it suggests that the Buddhist enlightenment always visit us suddenly, and so it is necessary for us to think that the Buddhist enlightenment always visit us suddnly.
But at the same time there is another idea that Buddhist enlightenment usually comes gradually, which is called Zen-go, or gradual enlightenment, because zen (different from Zen) means gradual and go means enlightenment. Therefore Zen-go means a gradual enlightenment, which gradually aproaches us usually utilizing rather long time.
In Japan there are three sects of Buddhism, which practice Zazen mainly, and among them Rinzai Sect and Soto Sect are rather bigger, but those two Sects have different ideas of getting enlightenment for many years. And generally speaking Rinzai Sect insists the idea of Ton-go, and Soto Sect believe in Zen-go.
Because in Rinzai Sect they usually think that the enlightenment comes suddenly at once after so hard practice of Zazen for many years, but in Soto Sect they think that the first enlighten- ment in Buddhism comes just at the first beginning of practicing Zazen, because they think that the first practice of Zazen includes the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system, and so we can think that by practicing Zazen everyday, we can get enlightenment day by day.
And when we think the reason why those two kinds of so big Buddhist Sects actually have the difference of situations to get enlightenment, such difference comes from their rather long historical processes of their situations.
Master Bodhi Dharma transmitted the practice of Zazen as the fundamental basis of Buddhist philosophy to China in 527, and then Master Taiso Eka, Master Kanchi Sosan, Master Dai-i Doshin, and Master Daiman Konin have succeeded the position of Patriarchs one by one, and arrived at the 6th Patriarch Master Daikan Eno.
And even though Master Daikan Eno had several excellent Patriarchs, among them the two Masters' lineages, that is, the one is Master Nangaku Ejo's lineage and the other is Master Seigen Gyoshi's lineage, have continued for rather long time. And later the lineage of Master Nangaku Ejo was called Rinzai Sect and the lineage of Master Seigen Gyoshi was called Soto Sect. And those two kinds of Buddhist Sects have been continued for rather long time, and even today they are working as powerful Buddhist Sects in Japan.
And generally speaking, in the case of Rinzai Sect they think that "Satori, or enlightenment" have to be got one day suddenly, but in Soto Sect we think that the "Satori, or the enlightenment" is just the balance of the autonomic nervous system, and so we think that the enlightenment occurs at every moment, when we begin Zazen, and so we can get enlightenment everyday, but at the same time such a kind of enlightenment occurs many times later, and so people usually suppose that in the case of Soto Sect, it might be Zen-go, or the gradual enlightenment.
Therefore, generally speaking, people usually have thought that in Rinzai Sect they believed in the idea of Ton-go, or the sudden enlightenment, and in Soto Sect they believed in the idea of Zen-go, or the gradual enlightenment, but it was very strange that even though both Rinzai Sect and Soto Sect belong to Buddhism, they have had fundamentally different ideas in those two Buddhist Sects.

The true meaning of the enlightenment

Fortunately, however, in the 20th, and the 21st century, we human beings have begun to understand the true substance of Buddhist enlightenment.
For example, I have written and published my first Buddhist book entitled "Bukkyo-dai san no Sekai-kan, or Buddhism-the third worldview" in Japanese for the first time in 1967, I wrote the explanation of relation between Zazen and human physical conditions in the book from p. 197~204, as follows.

[What is the meaning of Zazen, which is researched from the viewpoint of physiology?]
And the sentences explained the problem from the following four viewpoint; that is, (1) The true habits of muscles (2) Regulation of the brain, especially the interbrain (3) Regulation of the autonomic nervous system and (4) Normalization of internal secretion.
Therefore when I translate the article (3), it may be as follows.
[ (3) Regulation of the autonomic nervous system
The third article, which is related with the physical function of Zazen, is "Regulation of the autonomic nervous system." Our peripheral nervous system is divided into the two kinds, the one is the brain and nervous system, and the other is the autonomic nervous system. And between them the existence of the autonomic nervous system, which we can not control with our human will, or human physical function, should never be thought light at all. The autonomic nervous system is divided into two parts, the one is the sympathetic nervous system, which pervades through the brain, the internal organs, the limbs, and almost all parts of body, and the other is the parasympathetic nervous system, which also pervades almost throughout the body mixing with the brain and nervous system. And between those two kinds of nervous systems, that is, the sympathetic nervous sytem, and the parasympathetic nervous system. And, generally speaking, when the one system works as a promoting function, the other works as a supressing function. And when the those two kinds of the autonomic nervous system works well as the two kinds of contending nervous system equally, our mental and physical functions work well together, and our human body and mind work vigorously.
Therefore when the contending function of those two kinds of nervous systems are keeping well, our breathing, circulation, digestion, reproduction, are regularly maintained. However if the one kind of autonomic nervous system has become abnormally stronger than the other, the balance between the two nervous systems has broken, and then some kinds of physycal function has become abnormally promoted, or abnormally suppressed. For example, in the case of our digestive function, which is the fundamental basis of our healthy conditions, has so much familiar relations with our daily happiness and unhappiness, when the sympathetic nervous system has become abnormally stronger comparing with the parasympathetic nervous system, the digestive function has become enormously suppressed, and we have to fell down into the chronic indigestion. And in the case of this phenomenon, even though we promote our digestive function by utilizing a kind of medicine as a half-way solution, without recovering the mutual contending fuction between the two nervous systems, the fundamental solution is perfectly impossible, and at the same time because of the half-way solution of utilizing the same medicine, the condition of the disease will become much more worse. And when we find the cause of indigestion in the fact of too much eating, even though we make our efforts to decrease the volume of our meals, the real cause of indigestion is in the weak situation of the parasympathetic nervous system itself, and so it is impossible for us to make the sitations better by decreasing the volume of our meals at all, and in such a situation it is impossible for us to prevent making the bad situation worse any more.
As I described above, even though I have picked up only one example of digestion, when the balance between the sympahetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system has broken, and the normal contending function of the two kinds of nervous system, doesn't work well, some kinds of pathological symptom appears, and the symptom continue to become diseases. And when we look at a kind of continuous process, I am prone to think that the facts are similar to the situations, which are so straightforward as vibration is called sound, and oxidation of matter is called combustion. Therefore I think that it might be not wrong for us to say that the unequality between the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system, is just a kind of disease itself already. And at the same time we should clearly notice that those two kinds of nervous systems are both the autonomic nervous system, which can never be changed utilizing our human mental will. Even if we have read through tens of thousand volumes of Buddhist books, or if we have become some kinds of very great authorities in Buddhist research, it is perfectly impossible for us to overcome our autonomic nervous system with mind freely, and controle them under our own will. Because the autonomic nervous system works and moves having no relations with our own will.
In that situation, is it necessary for us to follow always only the situation of our autonomic nervous system as if we were slaves of our autonomic nervous system, and should we be governed by the autonomic nervous system throughout our life? If it were true, it would be so shameful for us as the human beings, which have the highest spirituality among all living beings. And if we, human beings, want to proud of ourselves as the highest spirituality among all living beings, it is necessary for us to maintain the real ability or method to control the autonomic nervous system for keeping the pride of human beings. And at that time what has emerged clearly and inevitably in my mind was the practice of Zazn as the method of controling the autonomic nervous system."

Following such a consideration, which I described above, I have got my proposition that the reason why we, human beings, have been attracted by the practice of Zazen since about 2,500 years ago, comes from the fact that the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system was just the Buddhist enlightenment iself. And at that time, when it was in 1967, my idea was only a kind of proposition, but since then I have checked for many years whether my proposition has been true, or not, and and even in 2007, it is not necessary for me to change my proposition at all.

Fusion between Ton-go and Zen-go

And after finding the proposition, I have begun to understand the miscellaneous Buddhist philosophical problems one by one by practicing Zazen, and at last I have arrived at the ultimate conclusion of the Buddhist philosophical system. Therefore I have clearly to proclaim that if it was impossible for me to arrive at the proposition that the Buddhist enlightenment is just the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system, I could never understand the total meaning of Buddhist philosophical system at all, and it might be true that I coudn't arrive at the ultimate conclusion of Buddhism for ever.

For example, the problem of discussion between Ton-go, or sudden enlightenment and Zen-go, or gradual enlightenment, can be solved by the theory that the Buddhist first enlightenment is just the balanced autonomic nervous system at once.
As I have explained before we can generally think that Rinzai Sect usually believes in Ton-go, or suden enlightenment, and Soto Sect usually believes in Zen-go, or gradual enlightenment, but it is very strange that even though both Rinzai Sect and Soto Sect are belonging to Buddhism, they have fighting for about more than 13 hundred years in different idea of Ton-go and Zen-go.

But fortunately in the 20th and 21st century, because of enormously developed psychology and physiology, we can arrive at the theory that the Buddhist enlightenment is just the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system, and utilizing such a theory, we can solve the fundamentally contradictory discussion between Rinzai Sect and Soto Sect completely.
Because even though it is insisted that in Rinzai Sect that the Buddhist enlightenment appears suddenly, but if we accept the theory that the first Buddhist enlightenment is just the balanced autonomic nervous system, such a kind of enlightenment can appear at once, when we begin the practice of Zazen keeping the authentic posture in Zazen, and so in the case of Rinzai Sect there is a simple fact that Zazen in Rinzai Sect has also a kind of Ton-go in its practice. But at the same time such kinds of practice should continue again and again , and so in Zinzai Sect Zazen also has the same situations of Zen-go too. Therefore we can think that even in Rinzai Sect the 1st enlightement of Zazen has also both the characteristics of Ton-go and Zengo.
And at the same time even in the case of the second enlitenment, Rinzai Sect insists that the second enlightenment comes suddenly at once, but before getting the second enlightenment there were so many times of practicing Zazen, and so it is necessary for us to say that even in the case of enlightenment, it is necessary for them to practice Zazen so many times before getting the second enlightenment, and so we can say that in the second enlightenment of Rinzai Sect, we have to say that it has both the two characteristics of Ton-go and Zengo too.
And in the case of Soto Sect we accept that when we begin the practice of Zazen folding our legs and keep our spine straight vertically, we can enter into the first enlightenment at once. Therefore even in the case of Soto Sect the first enlightenment is Tongo, but at the same time such a kind of practice of Zazen have to continue everyday for many years, and so Zazen in Soto Sect has also characteristics of Zen-go.
And in the case of the second enlightenment in Soto Sect can be experienced after so many years practice, and so it is just the case of Zen-go, but at the same time such a kind of the second enlightenment appear after for many years more than 30 years at least. And so even it appears suddenly at the present moment, therefore it can be called Ton-go, but at the same time the second enlightenment can be realized after everyday Zanzen for so many years, and so the case of the second enlightenment it is necessary for us to insist that even in the case of Soto Sect, we can say that the second enlightenment in Buddhism has also the two characteristics of Ton-go and Zen-go.

Relying upon the processes like this, if we accept the proposition that the first enlightenment in Buddhism is just the balance of the autonomic nervous system, we can solve all Buddhist philosophical problems completely and perfectly relying upon the proposition, and so we can throw away all philosophical problems, which have bothered us for thousands of years without fail. Therefore we should notice such an incredibly happy condition, which we have fortunately met in 21st century already, and relying upon such a kind of historical condition we should grasp the ultimate Buddhist philosophical conclusion exactly (the end).

Friday, December 29, 2006

Difference between Buddhism and AT theory (2)

After I received Mike Cross's first email about Buddhism and AT theory, I received his second email on the same subject, and so I would like to describe my opinion to the second email too.

Dear Sensei,

In short, the problem is this:

You describe that, when you notice that you are thinking something in Zazen, you bring your consciousness back to the state that you call "balance of the autonomic nervous system."

Yes, it is true. When I notice that I am thinking something while I am practicing Zazen, I usually regulate my sitting posture, for example, I make my efforts to keep my lower spine
straight vertically, stretch the backbone and the neck as far as possible, pulling the chin a little backward and downward, and pulling up the head toward the ceiling. And relying upon such a efforts, I regulate my posture in the authentic form to throw away consideration and perception.

You identify dhyana with the original state to which you wish to come back -- i.e. in your words, "balance of the autonomic nervous system."

I think that dhyana is the name of practice, and so it is different from the state of practice. Therefore when I want to describe the state of the practice, I usually use the word samadhi.

But true meaning of dhyana, within your own description, if we follow the literal meaning of the word as per the MW dictionary (=meditation/thought), is not our original state. Dhyana is rather the effort to "bring consciousness back," i.e. the effort to re-direct consciousness.

I wonder whether your interpretation is true, or not. Because I think that dhyana is the name of the practice, and so it might be doubtful for the word to indicate "bring consciousness back", or "the effort to re-direct consciousness."

This effort also is a kind of thinking. Therefore Master Dogen instructed us: Think that state beyond thinking.

Mike Cross

Therefore I wonder whether your supposition is true, or not.

With best wishes Gudo Wafu Nishijima

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Difference between Buddhism and AT theory (1)

As you know, I and Mike Cross have discussed for more than tens of years, whether Buddhist philosophy and Alexander Techinic (AT) are the same, or not.
I clearly notice that they are different, but Mike Cross strongly hope to identify them.
Originally I do not like to have such a stupid discussion, but recently I notice that if I were not diligent to deny his opinion, there might be possibility that after my death his wrong idea would survive unfortunately in future. Therefore I feel that it might be my responsibility for me to continue my efforts to deny his wrong idea until my death.
I do not have any criticism, because I do not know the True AT theory yet well, but if what Mike Cross insists is the True AT theory, I think that such a theory is different from Buddhism.
Therefore if Mike Cross will write me some article, which insists the identity between Buddhism and IT theory, I will write my criticism to Mike Cross's opinion in Dogen Sangha Blog for clarifing the difference between the two.
I do not have any expectation for Mike Cross to change his own opinion at all, but I expect that many intelligent readers will understand the difference between Buddhism and AT theories, and I think that such a kind of my efforts might be my dudy as a Buddhist monk.

I would like to copy his own insistence first, and then I would like to write my opinion to it one by one.

Dear Sensei,

Thank you for your email. My response to it is contained in the following post that I have written for my blog. It is the last part of 4 posts on the subject of "antagonistic action."

I do not have any interest to your article, but my aim is my duty to prevent a wrong idea against Buddhism.

Master Dogen instructed us, if we stand up after Zazen, SOTSUBO NARU BEKARA ZU. On this point, I am afraid, I am prone to disobey Master Dogen's instruction very easily.

I agree that you haven't become a Buddhist monk yet.

So I would like to delay posting up my conclusion in public for a while. (I wonder if anybody is interested in my conclusion anyway?) But I am going to send it to you straight away.

I think it might be good idea for you to delay posting your conclusion to all people for a while, but I would like to say thanks to your kindness to send it me a little earlier.

Thank you for worrying about my future. I also feel a little worried about your future. I hope that you will not die before having clarified Master Dogen's ultimate teaching in Zanmai-o-zanmai. Therefore, following the philosophy of action, I am continuing my effort to teach you, even though my persistence seems to others like the behavior of a madman.

It is not necessary for you to worry about my future, because it might be not so long than a few years. I hope that you will study not only Zanmai-o-zanmai, but the whole volume of Shobogenzo.

If it is not too early to say so, KOTOSHI MO YOROSHIKU ONEGAISHIMASU.

Thank you very much for your seculat greetings.

Antagonistic Action (4): Feeling vs Thinking

What is Zazen?

Zazen is sitting with folding the legs, and streaching the spine straight vertically.

Realized in unity, it is a whole which is greater than the sum of two parts -- two parts which are in antagonistic opposition to each other.

The whole does not includes the two parts, and so there is no antagonistic opposition.

The ZA part expresses the physical act of sitting, requiring a physical effort guided by the faculty of feeling.

The ZA is just an action, and so there is no
faculty of feeling.

The ZEN part expresses the mental act of meditating/thinking, requring an effort based on a faculty which is not a slave to feeling.

The action does not include thinking and feeling.

When ZA and ZEN truly become ZAZEN, it is not a physical or mental effort, but a Dharma-gate of effortless ease.

ZAZEN is just Dharma-gate of effortless ease from the beginning.

Bonnie Bainbridge-Cohen wrote an excellent book called Sensing, Feeling & Action. If I intended to write a book, which for the present I don’t, I might call it Feeling, Thinking & Action. For Master Dogen’s purposes, I think the latter title would be more to the point.

I feel that it is a little strange for me that he wrote Sensing, Feeling & Action, and so I prefer your Feeling, Thinking & Action, but if I express it more exactly, I prefer that Action transcending Feeling and Thinking.

Gudo Nishijima’s Zazen teaching, in a nutshell, is: not the parasympathetic-nervous-system-dominated state of feeling, not the sympathetic-nervous-system-dominated state of thinking, but just the balanced state of action. In short: Not Feeling, Not Thinking, Just Action.

This is Gudo’s Buddhist thesis.

Yes, your interpretation is true.

My anti-thesis is simply this: Feeling and Thinking and Action.

Buddhism found a dimentional diference between the two of Feeling and Thinking, and Action.

My Buddhist master’s understanding is based on nearly 70 years of sitting in lotus. My understanding is based on only 25 years of sitting in lotus. But my understanding is also based on 12 years in the Alexander work, whose true value is very difficult to suppose, for a person who has not experienced it deeply in practice.

I think that your mixture between Buddhism and AT theory are very serious mistakes.

People who think that Alexander work is a kind of bodywork, are wrong.

I think also that people who think that Alexander work is not a kind of bodywork, might be also wrong.

Alexander work begins with the recognition of what FM Alexander observed to be a universal defect: “unreliable sensory appreciation.” First he discovered it in himself; then he noticed that he wasn’t the only damn fool who felt himself to be right when the mirror showed him to be wrong. In civilized society, we are almost all like that -- misguided by unreliable body-feeling. Ray Evans, my Alexander head of training, was ahead of the game in seeing the connection with immature primitive reflexes.

It is true that if we lose our balanced state in our daily life, there may be so many mistakes.

Clearly understanding that body-feeling is unreliable, Alexander got himself going in the right direction by trusting something other than his feeling. What was it? Some kind of intuition? In his first book he called it “Man’s Supreme Inheritance.”

I think that the "Man's Supreme Inheritance" is just the balance of the autonomic nervous system.

The full title was Man’s Supreme Inheritance -- Conscious Guidance and Control in Relation to Human Evolution in Civlization.

The Man's Supreme Inheritance is not so superficial as Conscious Guidance and Control in Relation to Human Evolution in Civlization, but it is just the balance of the autonomic nervous system.

People are prone to think about Alexander work as all about posture -- which in a sense it is. But for FM Alexander himself, the work was primarily about consciousness and thinking and rationality. He described his work as an exercise is finding out what thinking is.

The human faculty is never only consciousness and thinking and rationality, but it includes much more miscellaneous factors.

Thus, in writing of psychophysical unity, in other words, unity of mind and body, Alexander put mind first.

There is no reason, why he prefered mind first.

Master Dogen, conversely, wrote of unity of body and mind, and dropping off of body and mind. Following the example of Master Tendo Nyojo, he always put body before mind. This is vital to understanding Master Dogen’s teaching, which is always rooted in regular physical practice of Zazen, with the body seated in the traditional full lotus posture.

The oneness between body and mind is the fundamental criterion of Buddhism from its beginning.

Although body-feeling is an unreliable guide, I rely on it, as a starting point. As a seeker of Gautama Buddha’s truth, irrespective of whether my feeling is right or wrong, primarily I put my trust in this physical sitting posture.

Gautama Buddha revered both body and mind from the beginning.

But because body-feeling is an unreliable guide, I also put my trust in another faculty, which -- even if it is not human reason per se -- is at least informed by rationality. Two and two, for all practical purposes, is always four. Reason is reliable. But on its own reason is powerless. Therefore in Zazen practice I put my trust not only in the physical posture, but also in rational intention, volition, thinking.

In Zazen we do not rely upon both body and mind, but we rely upon the folded legs and the spine, which is kept straight and vertical.

Originally dhyana just means thinking.

Originally dhyana just means sitting.

In a recent email to me, Gudo wrote as follows:

You wrote that "The original meaning of dhyana, as I understand it, is
just ‘thinking.’” But I can never agree with such an idea. After my more than 60 years of study, I would like to insist clearly that "The original meaning of dhyana is just the balance of the autonomic nervous system."

But according to my Monier-Williams Sanskrit dictionary (which Gudo himself presented to me nearly 20 years ago), the definition of dhyana is: meditation, thought, reflection, (especially) profound and abstract religious meditation... (with Buddhists, divided into four stages).

I would like to ask you to remember that Gautama Buddha has established Buddhism about 5oo years BC, and so we can expect that Gautama Buddha's philosophy has possibility to be much more profound than Professor Monier Williams.

The great value of Alexander work, to me at least, has been to clarify what kind of thinking dhyana is.

I think that your suppositional conclusion may be perfectly wrong.

Although the aim of Zazen, Sitting-Dhyana, is a state of effortless ease which is beyond thinking, I pursue this state through physical and mental effort. I make my one-sided effort on the unreliable basis of body-feeling, and make my opposite-sided effort on the impossible basis of mind-thinking.

I hope that you will not establish your own conclusion as Buddhist Truth.

In Fukan-zazen-gi Master Dogen instructs us:

Having regulated the physical posture, breathe out, sway left and right, and then, sitting still, think the state beyond thinking. How can the state beyond thinking be thought? Non-thinking. This is the vital art of sitting-dhyana. What is called sitting-dhyana is not a kind of dhyana to be learned. It is the Dharma-gate of peace and ease. It is the practice and experience that perfectly realizes the Buddha’s enlightenment. The laws of the Universe are realized, there being nothing with which a dragon or a tiger might be caught or caged.

I think that your quotation of Fukan-zazengi is not so exact, and our translation of that chapter is "When the physical posture is already settled, make one complete exhalation and sway left and right. Sitting immovably in the mountain-still state." "How can the state beyond thinking be thought about?" "It is not different from thinking."

Therefore Master Dogen clearly proclaimed that "It is different from thinking." But why can you change Master Dogen's intention so easily into your very subjective interpretations?

So what is Master Dogen saying about thinking? I understand that Master Dogen is saying, with Alexander, that, yes, because body-feeling is unreliable, we should rely in Zazen on the faculty that is opposed to body-feeling, that is, the mental effort of thinking. So he says: “THINK that state beyond thinking.”

Where is Master Dogen saying about thinking. Your interpretation of Master Dogen's thoughts are perfectly your own products.

This understanding that I am saying now is totally different from what Gudo Nishijima teaches. In my view, his teaching on this point is not accurate and not reliable. He is prejudiced against thinking.

Master Dogen didn't say anything about affirmation of thinking. You are insisting perfectly against Master Dogen's thoughts.

Master Dogen instructs us: “Think that state beyond thinking. How? Non-thinking.”

Master Dogen clearly denied the affirmation of thinking. Why don't you follow Master Dogen's intention. If you follow such a not scientific method, you can say everything, but your opinion is always unreliable.

With regard to HISHIRYO, “non-thinking,” Gudo Nishijima is adamant that this expresses action itself, sitting itself, which is different from thinking. But I am not convinced by that argument either.

I think that it is your duty to explain the reason why you deny my opinion.

I may be wrong on this, but my understanding now is that Master Dogen not only exhorts us to make a mental effort with the imperative “Think that state beyond thinking,” but also points us in the same direction with the words “Non-thinking.”

The words "Non-thinking" does never mean thinking.

My anti-thesis to Gudo’s thesis is this: HISHIRYO, “non-thinking,” expresses not action itself, but rather thinking itself, the mental effort which is antagonistically opposed to bodily effort based on feeling.

I think that your thinking method is typically idealistic, and so you can think everything freely, and so your thoughts are perfectly unreliable.

Master Dogen goes on to stress that IWAYURU ZAZEN WA SHUZEN NI WA ARAZU.
What is called ZAZEN “Sitting-dhyana” is not SHU-ZEN “learning-dhyana.”

The pronunciation of SHU-ZEN has a characteristic of misleading, and an actual pronunciation is SHUU-ZEN, which means "learning-dhyana." And the words of "learning-dhyana" suggests an idealistic efforts to arrive at something, and so the denial of such an idealistic efforts suggests action itself.

What is Master Dogen denying? I think that Master Dogen is stressing that the ZEN part of ZAZEN, the thinking part, the mental part, is not something that we have to learn.

Master Dogen's intention is just to indicate action itself, and so your interpretation is perfectly wrong.

His intention, as I understand it now, is that the kind of thinking he is exhorting us to practice is not sophisticated, not intellectual, not pretentious, not insincere, not unreal. It is not a faculty that we have to learn. It is a faculty we have had since our first voluntary movements and non-movements in our earliest infancy.

Your interpretation is perfectly wrong.

My original state is one of peace and ease, and I wish to come back to it. Just that. What should this wish be called? Volition? Clarity of intention? Thinking? Non-thinking?

The state is called Dhyana, or the practice to become balanced, or the state of balance, which is called Samadhi.

Alexander used to say: “This work is an exercise in finding out what thinking is.”

What kind of relation exsists in Alexander's words with Zazen?

This is subtly different from saying “This work is learning thinking” or “learning how to think.”

Both the two words "This work is learning thinking" and "learning how to think" are related with thinking, therefore they do not have any interesting problem with Buddhist philosophy of act.

The great difficulty that I encounter in Alexander work is not that I haven’t learned how to think: I know perfectly well how to think. I have known since I was a baby. The difficulty is that in my practice here and now, I do not trust the incredible tangible power that a thought has. Without the assurance of feeling something that feels right, I don’t feel secure, and so my hands are taken over by a grabbing response.

I think that your life is not so realistic, therefore Gautama Buddha recommended you to study Buddhism.

When my Alexander teacher works on me, I experience without any doubt the power of a thought. Her hands do absolutely nothing; they are just there. And yet something flows through her hands and seems to dig my head out from the depths of me, from the very soles of my feet. And she calls this something “a thought.”

I think that what you have received her might be different from "a thought."

“It is a kind of wish, isn’t it?” I ask her. “Yes,” she replies, “but it is a wish that won’t take No for an answer.”

I wander whether her answer was true, or not.

When I myself am in the teaching role, at the critical moment when I wish to cause the pupil to rise from the chair, I am prone to feel that I have to do something with my hands and so I do something with my hands -- instead of just leaving them open and allowing them to transmit a thought. When, with the teacher’s help, I am able to inhibit this doing/feeling response, then something truly magical happens.

I think that your thoughts are perfectly idealistic, and so your ideas are completely different from Buddhism.

The miraculous power of a thought, a wish that won’t take No for an answer. Whatever we call it, it is a kind of mental effort that goes against the body’s habitual stream of activity which is pulled along by unreliable feeling.

Sometimes feeling is reliable.

Finally, I come back to my favourite three sentences from Shobogenzo chapter 72, Zanmai-o-zanmai:

Practice bodily sitting in the full lotus posture.
Practice mentally sitting in the full lotus posture.
Practice body and mind dropping off sitting in the full lotus posture.

Master Dogen was so kind for all human beings.

It is like the Earth’s gravity pulling at a green leaf, which a tree won’t drop. The leaf turns golden and the tree pushes it out, but still the leaf won’t drop. When the wind blows, and the leaf floats free, we should not say that it wasn’t gravity, and should not say that it wasn’t the will of the tree. We should not say that it was only the wind. It was gravity and the tree and the wind, altogether and one after another.

If your life is so poetical, I am afraid that your life is sometimes so severely painful.

For 30 years I have been pursuing the truth without caring too much how many eggs I crack along the way. Yesterday was my 47th birthday. In retrospect, my 47th year was a veritable egg-cracking fest. Might it be a case of an antagonistic end justifying my antagonistic means? I fear that Zen Master Dogen might shake his head, and FM Alexander might say: No.

I sincerely expect for you to be much more happy than now.

If the end is true antagonism, the means should be true antagonism -- which does not necessarily entail hurling abuse at venerable old teachers. But, then again, maybe it does. I don’t know.

I think that it might be only one way to enter into Gautama Buddha's teachings, and enjoy the life of the Truth.

From a disgruntled Manchester crowd a thesis was called out: JUDAS!

Even the whole world has been governed by some kinds of economical power, I do not worry about such a situation at all. Throwing out all fame and profit, we can enjoy our happy life, because of the existence of the Truth.

Bob Dylan delivered his anti-thesis with a voice that, 40 years on, still rings as true and clear as golden bells: “I don’t believe you. You are a liar.”

I am never a liar.

Then he whispered to his band: “Play it, fucking loud.”

Human societies are just human societies, but Buddhism is just Buddhism.

I am not a connoisseur of music but Bob Dylan, in my humble opinion, is a true poet. “You’ve got a lot of nerve, to say you are my friend. When I was down, you just stood there grinning. You’ve got a lot of nerve, to say you’ve got a hand to lend. You just want to be on the side that’s winning.”

In a recent email Gudo wrote that as a translation of SHOBO in SHOBOGENZO, he prefers “true Dharma” to “right Dharma.” I agree with him. This Zazen practice is not about being right; it is more about being true. But beyond that, it is about being straight. Whisky with water can still taste right. Whisky on the rocks can still have the true taste of whisky. But I think Master Dogen liked his Dharma straight -- without anything superfluous.

A few days ago I found myself becoming very antagonistic, in an angry way, with a venerable Alexander teacher. She has said in the past that, despite the fact that I am, in her words “a pest,” she admires something in my pursuit of the truth that won’t be deflected. I admire the same thing in her, and also in that other primary target for my antagonistic attitude, Gudo Nishijima.

These teachers are not only my teachers. They are my mirrors. In them I see myself, a pursuer of the truth who doesn’t care too much about anything else, and I treat them as such.

In Gudo Nishijima I see a seeker who is off the middle way on the side of bodily feeling/form/doing. He deeply understands the importance of sitting in the traditional physical posture, but he is blind to the importance of thinking.

My way is always the middle, because it is the Truth.
I think that thinking is just the main cause of the absolute pain.

In my Alexander teacher I see a seeker who is off the middle way on the side of thinking. Her clarity in regard to the tangible power of a thought, which rifles from her inner depths through hands that remain in contact but do nothing... the power of a thought to dig my head out from its deepest connections into my feet so that I can rise out of a chair magically.... her clarity in regard to the tangible power of a thought is unsurpassed in my experience. But she doesn’t sit in the traditional physical posture, as a Buddhist. In that case, how can I devote myself to serving her?

Fortunately, however, I have met one eternal buddha, who, in Fukan-zazen-gi, clearly expresses himself as one who the target hit. For the present, I will continue my effort to serve him.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fu E-kou, or General Contribution of Virtue

Fu means general, and E-kou means contribution to. And even though the object of the contribution isn't clear in the words, it suggests Virtue, which is produced by Buddhist efforts. Therefore Fu E-kou means General Contribution of Virtue. For example, when we finish a Buddhist lecture, we recite the words of Fu E-kou loadly with joining hands by the lecturer and the audience together. And I think that such a habit seems to be very nice for promoting Buddhism, I would like to maitain such a habit in Dogen Sangha too.

Fu E-kou

negawakuwa kono Kudoku o motte amaneku issai ni oyoboshi

warera to shujoo to mina tomoni butsudoo o joozen koto o

jiihoo sanshi ishiifu shison busa mokosa mokohoja horomii


negawakuwa means hopefully, kono means this, and Kudoku means Virtue.

amaneku means universally, issai means everything, ni indicates the direction of contribution, and oyoboshi means to contribute.

Therefore the total meaning of the line is
"Hopefully, we want to contribute this Virtue to every beings,
And we and all beings, altogether, will accomplish Gautama Buddha's true teachings.
All Buddhas in the ten directions, past, present, and future,
Miscellaneous venerable Bodhisattva, Mahasattva,

I think that the Poem of Five Reflections, the Poem of putting Kashaya on the head, the Poem of opening Sutras, and the General Contribution of Venevolence, are not so long, but they are very important, and so we would like to maintain them in Dogen Sangha to recite in our daily life.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kai kyoo Ge, or the Poem of opening Sutra

Kai Kyoo Ge

Kai means to open, and Kyoo means Sutra, and Ge means a poem. Therefore Kai Kyoo Ge means the Poem of opening Sutra. And when we want to begin the Buddhist lecture, we usually recite the Poem of opening Sutra loudly by both the lecturer and the audience together with joining hands.

So we would like to maintain the same traditional habit in Dogen Sangha too.


mujoo jinshin mimyoohoo hyaku, sen, man goo nansoguu

ga kon kenmon toku juuji gan ge nyorai shinjitsu gi


mujoo means the highest, and jinshin means very profound. mimyoo means delicate and fine.
And hoo means originally Dharma, and so Gautama Buddha's teachings, or the Rule of the Universe.

hyaku means hundreds, sen means thousnds, man means tens of thousands, and goo means Kalpa, or a limitlessly long age, therefore hyaku, sen, man goo means hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of limitlessly long age. And nan means very difficult, and sooguu means to meet. Therefore the meaning of the whole line is it is very difficult for us to meet Buddhism even though we pass hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of limitlessly long time.

ga means we, and kon means now. kenmon means to look at and heard, and toku means have been able, and juuji means to have received and maintain. So the line means that now we have been able to meet them fortunately.

And gan means sincerely to hope, and ge means to understand. And nyorai means a person, to whom Reality has come, that is, Gautama Buddha, and shinjitsugi means the true meaning.

Therefore the meaning of the four lines are Gautama Buddha's teachings are the highest, profound, delicate and fine criterion, which is very difficult for us to meet. But we have met and listened to it fortunately, and so we sincerely beg to understand the Gautama Buddha's teachings wholeheartedly.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Chodai Kesa no Ge, or the Poem of praising Kashaya putting on the Head

I think that not only monks, but all human beings should wear Kashaya, when they practice Zazen. The reason, why I recommend to do so to my students, comes from that I actually experience that when I put on Kashaya on my body, I experience very sober and sincere consciousness without fail actually. Therefore in Shobogenzo, the 93th Chapter Doshin, Master Dogen insists that we should wear Kashaya, when we practice Zazen.
When we wear Kashaya, we usually sit on the floor streaching the waist, and putting the folded Kashaya on the head, with joining hands, and recite the Chodai Kesa no Ge, or the Poem of praising Kashaya three times. Then standing up, and we wear it.

Chodai Kesa no Ge


"Chodai" means to put on something on the head. "Kesa" means Kashaya. "no" means of. "Ge" means a poem. So "Chodai Kesa no Ge" means the Poem of praising Kashaya putting on the head.

(The Poem)

Daisai Gedaffuku Muso Fukuden-e Hibu Nyoraikyoo Koodo Shoshujoo


"Daisai" means it is so great. "Gedatsu" means to become free. "Fuku" means clothes. "Hibu" means to wear reverently. Nyoraikyoo means Gautama Buddha's teachings. Koodo means to save widely. Shoshujoo means miscellaneous living beings. Therefore the total meaning is:

How great is the clothing of liberation,
Formless, field of happiness, robe!
Devoutly wearing the Tathaagata's teaching,
Widely I will save living beings. (translated by Gudo Wafu & Chodo Cross)


At the end of the Chapter (12) Kesa-kudoku in Shobogenzo, we can find the following descripton.

During my stay in Sung China, when I was making efforts on the long platform, I saw that my neighbor at the end of every sitting would lift up his kashaaya and place it on his head; then holding the hands together in veneration, he would quietly recite a verse. The verse was:

Daisai-gedatsu-fuku How great is the clothing of liberation
Muso-fukuden-e Formless, field of happiness, robe!
Hibu-nyorai-kyo Devoutly wearing the Tathaagata's teaching.
KooDo-shoshujoo Widely I will save living beings.

At that time, there arose in me a feeling I have never before experienced. [My] body was overwhelmed with joy. The tears of gratitude secretly fell and soaked my lapels. The reason was that when I had read the Aagama sutra previously, I had noticed sentences about humbly receiving the kashaaya on the head, but I had not clarified the standards for his behavior. Seeing it done now, before my very eyes, I was overjoyed. I thought to myself, "It is a pity that when I was in my homeland there was no master to teach this, and no good friend to recommend it. How could I not regret, how could I not deplore, passing so much time in vain?
Now that I am seeing and hearing it, I can rejoice in past good conduct. If I had vainly stayed in my home country, how could I have sat next to this treasure of a monk, who has received the transmission of, and who wears, the Buddha's robe itself?" The sadness-and-joy was not one-sided. A thousand myriad tears of gratitude ran down. (translated by Gudo Wafu & Chodo Cross)

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Go Kan no Ge, or the Poem of the Five Reflections

In Buddhist societies, we have five kinds of reflections at the beginning of meals, and in the Buddhist temple we have the habit to recite them loadly at the beginning of meals. Recently those habits have been abbreviated many times, but I think that such a Buddhist habit is very important. Because Buddhism is philosophy which revere acts in our daily life so much, and so
it is very important for us to recite the fundamental viewpoints at the beginning of acts.
Therefore I would like to establish the fundamental principle to recite Go Kan no Ge, or the Poem of the Five Reflections, at the beginning of meals even in family lives, or single lives. Even though it is necessary for us to recite it in Japanese so far, but there is possibility that we can recite it in the translated form into a native language of each country in future.

Go Kan no Ge, or the Poem of Five Reflections

No. 1.


hitotsu ni wa, koo no tashoo o hakari, ka no raisho o hakaru


First, cosidering what I have done, I suppose the so enormous efforts of others, who have made their efforts for producing the stoff of meals and cooking.

No. 2.


futatsu ni wa, onore ga tokugyo no zenketsu o hakatte ku ni ozu


Second, thinking the perfctly lacking my moral behavior, I accept the meals with many thanks.

No. 3.


mitsu ni ha, shin o fusegi toga o hanaruru koto wa, ton to o shuu to su


Third, our efforts to prevent abstract considerations and leave from mistakes are mainly related with our efforts of regulating our desire, anger, and stupidities.

No. 4.


yotsu ni wa masani ryooyoku o koto to suru wa, gyooko o ryoo ze n ga tame nari


Fourth, the reason, why I receive meals as good medicine, is just to cure and prevent the withering and weakening.

No. 5.


itsutsu ni wa, joodoo no tame no yue ni, ima kono jiki o uku.


Fifth, I receive those meals just for accomplishment of getting the Truth.


 • aa suggests a long sound of a. 

 • ii suggests a long sound of i.

 • uu suggests a long sound of u.

 • oo suggests a long sound of o.