Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

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:
KONO FUSHIRYO TEI O SHIRYO SEYO.

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

4 Comments:

Blogger SmoggyRob said...

Nishijima-sensei:

As always, thank you for your teaching. I am grateful for your effort.

I want to take up the practice of wearing the kasaya, and so my question today concerns an earlier lesson, where you spoke of this. My understanding is that we sit, place the folded kasaya on our head, put our hands together, and chant the “Chodai Kesa no Ge” three times. Then we stand up and put on the kasaya. From the context, I take this to mean that we do these things /before/ zazen. However, the quote from Shobogenzo you gave has Dogen saying that he saw a monk doing this /after/ zazen:

“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 kasaya and place it on his head...”

I am confused, and would appreciate your saying something about this. When should we chant the “Chodai Kesa no Ge?”

Sincerely,

SmoggyRob

8:31 AM, January 08, 2007  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

[Question]:
I am a little unclear as to how the four views apply to the shobogenzo, could you give me some more examples?

by scrapperfae San

[Answer]:
For scrapperfae San

Thank you very much for your question of the four views, because the four views are the fundamental structure, which pervades throughout the whole Shobogenzo, in sentece, in chapter, and in the whole book.

For example in the second chapter of Genjokoan, we can find the structure of four groups. Even though the chapter constructed by 8 sentences, each 2 sentences are making one group, and so the chapter is divided four groups.

The first group

Driving ourselves to practice and experience the Myriad Dharma is delusion. When the myriad dharmas actively practice and experience ourselves, that is the state of realization.

(This is the explanation of idealistic viewpoint, therefore the 1st sentence suggests that our idealistic efforts to pursue the so abstact, and so beautiful idea in the heaven is delusion.
Therefore in the second sentence insists that our practice and experience ourselves are just enlightenment.)

The second group

Those who greatly realize delusion are buddhas. Those who are greatly deluded about realization are ordinary beings.

(Those two sentences manifest the description of materialism. Because the sentences are explaining that if we identify delusion with buddhas relying upon materialistic viewpoint, those people are just ordinary people, who can not understand the difference between buddhas and ordinary people.)

The third group

There are people who further attain realization on the basis of realization. There are people who increase their delisionin the midst of delusion.

(This is the explanation on the basis of philosophy of act. When we are acting, we are realizing the act of the truth by act at the present moment. But there are actually so many people, who are realizing their own stupidity at the present.)

The fourth group

When buddhas are really buddhas, they do not need to recognize themselves as buddas. Nevertheless, they are buddhas in the state of experience, and they go on experiencing the state of buddha.

(The fourth group is the dirrect description of buddhas. Buddhas are people, who are keeping their own balanced state of the autonomic nervous system at the present moment. Therefore it is not necessary for buddhas to recognize they are buddhas, and they continue their state of buddhas continuously further.
In Shobogenzo Master Dogen describes all kinds of buddhist philosophy utilizing the method, which is called the Four Noble Truth, and so it is very important for us to find the structure of four views when we want to study Shobogenzo.)

4:10 PM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Jordan & The Tortoise said...

Master Nishijima,

I noticed that there are (veiled) hints to a lot of other scriptures within both versions of Fukan-zazengi, for example in the very begging of one such text “standing on Tipp toes.” I felt like I was intimately familiar with this piece the first time I read it. I am wondering if any effort had been given to the task of identifying the source of these, or going over Fukan-zazengi line by line and examining the phrases against other texts?

Gassho,
Jordan

4:42 AM, January 21, 2007  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Jordan & The Tortoise San

I think that your question is related with the words "standing on Tipp toes" in Fukan-zazen-gi. But I think that the original meaning of the words in Fukan-zazen-gi is "walking on Tipp toes." And it is said that Gautama Buddha usually walked on his Tipp toes in his daily life in Agama Sutras, and so Master Dogen used such a kind of legendary story to describe Gautama's so diligent daily life.

3:45 PM, February 17, 2007  

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