Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Human Relations in Dogen Sangha

I remember that the words "human relations" have been heard in Japan since the end of the World War 2, and the words have become so popular here since then. And nowadays the meaning of the words has become so popular and acquainted, therefore I would like to use the words in the meaning of "the meathod of our human behavior when we have contact with each other in human societies." Therefore I would like to think it as relationship among human beings, which should be reflected carefully, when we have contact with others in Dogen Sangha and in human societies.
There have been so many criterea in human societies since the ancient time, for example, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Marxism, and so forth, but at the same time because there have been so many kinds of those moral insistences for a long history, it has become very difficult for us to arrive at the ultimate conclusion even today.
But in my case, however, I have followed the teachings, which Master Dogen manifested the Buddhist criteria of human relations in the Chapter 45. Bodaisatta-shishobo, or Four Elements of a Bodhisattva's Social Relations in Shobogenzo. Of course, it is not necessary for us to say that the world of Buddhism is fundamentally different from the world of secular societies, which are goverened by fame and profit. But at the same time if we revere the absolute value of fame or profit in the secular societies, it is usually impossible for us to believe in the real existence of the Truth on the earth. This is very surprising fact for us, who are usually thinking and feeling that we are just living in the secular societies, but as Gakudo-yujin-shu actually teaches us, if we believe in the real existence of fame or profit, it is impossible for us to believe in the real existence of the Truth in the Universe, because the Truth usually replaced by fame or profit, and so people are prone usually not to notice the existence of the Truth. And I think that this viewpoint is very important for us when we pursue the Truth.

Therefore when we want to know Master Dogen's true interpretation of human relations in Buddhism, we have to read his teachings in Shobogenzo on the basis that there exists really the world of the Truth, which is different from the fantastic or figurative worlds based on idealism or materialism. And in Shobogenzo Master Dogen taught us the following four criteria.

(1) Free giving : On free giving, Master Dogen says that it means "not to be greedy." And the meaning of "not to be greedy" is not teachings that we should give anything, which is very valuable for ourselves neglecting our own desire, but when someone is wanting to get anything, which is not so important for ourselves, we should willingly give it to the person, who wants to have it so much. At the same time we should not give others anything intentionally expecting to get their favors or contributions as the reward of our present for them. And Master Dogen wrote that "Even if we rule the four continents, if we want to bestow the teachings of the right truth, we simply must not to be greedy," and so he said that even only one word, or even only one poem, we should give it to others. And also he said that even our efforts to work for our own life are also kinds of free giving, and our jobs for our any kind of production are also our free giving. Therefore he said also that our work for our daily life is free giving, and our work for supporting our family is also free giving.

(2) Kind speech : Kind speach means berval expression, which includes love. And Master Dogen said that we should say words, which include love, to everyone, and in other words we should never say any violent or rude words to others at all. Therefore if anyone, who is always proclaiming that he is a Buddhist, commits to say any kind of violent or rude words, those kinds of expessions clearly show that he can never be a Buddhist at that time at all. Master Dogen says that when we can have enemies defeated, or when we can be successful in having a harmonious reconciliation between venerable enemies with each other, such kinds of hopeful results come from the fundamental basis of kind speech. And he said that "Kind speach has power to turn the Universe around actually."

(3) Helpful conduct : Helpful conduct means to help all people, whether they belong to higher class, or lower class, without any distinction. A stupid people, who can not notice the real existence of the universal rule, usually think that if we preferentially help others neglecting ourselves, our own merit might be sacrifice naturally. But the real situations of the Universe can never be like that. A Chinese officer, who was a governor of Chinese colony, when he had a visitor of people in the colony, even though he was taking a bath, or eating meals, it is said that he stopped taking a bath, or eating meals at once, for meeting the guests. And this is just an example that the man is making his efforts to do his helpful conduct actually. Therefore Master Dogen said that we should present our benevolence both to our enemies and to our allies without distinction at all. Master Dogen's intention of his words maight be that in Buddhism we should give our benevolence both to ourselve and to others too. It suggests that if we human beings do not have our absolutely strong equality to save both ourselves and enemies, it might be impossible for us to enjoy the perfectly peaceful world for ever.

(4) Cooperation : Master Dogen interprets that the word, cooperation, means that we should not contrary to ourselves, and at the same time we should not cotrary to others too. He insists that we, human beings, should agree with the social world, and at the same time we should agree with the universal world. He also says that there might be possibility that if we could perfectly identify the external world with ourselves, there might be possibile for us to identify ourselves with the external world. And those words indicate that if we realized the identity between the external world and ourselves relying upon a practice of Zazen, it will become impossible for us to separate ourselves from the external world actually. Master Dogen describes that the sea does not dislike water, which comes into the sea, and the water does not dislike to enter into the sea, and because of such a situation the sea can exist really, the water can exist really. A mountain does not dislike the mountain, and so the mountain is able to exist rising highly. Therefore Master Dogen recommended us that all people in the world should face everything with gentle faces and gentle attitudes.

As I have explained above, Master Dogen has observed the real world and human societies from the very realistic viewpoint, and he has explained the human relations on the basis of Buddhist Realism. We, human beings, today, however, have not accustomed with Buddhist Realism well already. Therefore if we want grasp the true meanings of Gautama Buddha's teachings, we should continue our efforts to study them, as if we ere just beginners of Buddhist research.

4 Comments:

Blogger Gregor said...

Master Nishijima,

Thank you so much for this powerful teaching about the four frameworks of Buddhist human relations.

How should one go about cultivating this approach to human relations?

I understand that it is a question of cultivating mindfulness and ethical conduct in life. However, I sometimes get confused as where to apply me efforts. I suppose concentration on each moment in and of itself is a good start.

1:50 PM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Gregor San

Thank you very much for your comments, but at the same time I wonder whether we, human beings, are so strong for controling ourslves.

Therefore Gautama Buddha recommended us to make our autonomic nervous system balanced.

Then we can do what we want to do, and we can stop what we do not like to do.

I think that we, human beings, are so weak without keeping the balance of the autonomic nervous system.

12:08 PM, April 25, 2007  
Blogger Gregor said...

Thank you for the wise teaching.

I suppose it is impossible to truly control ourselves without finding such a balance.

This must be why Zen Buddhism focus so much attention on Zazen practice.

12:37 PM, April 26, 2007  
Blogger Hamza said...

Thank you Master Nishijima.

7:47 AM, April 30, 2007  

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