Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Three Philosophies, One Reality.

Dear Nishijima Roshi,

I hope you are keeping well.

Do you believe that Dogen Zenji had intellectually formalized his teachings in the way that you have interpreted them under your "3 Philosophies, One Reality" theory?

Allow me to develop my question a little: I am concerned that, in accepting the 3 Philosophies, One Reality theory, we can apply western philosophical ideas and values (i.e. 'materialism', 'idealism') restrospectively where they do not (did not) really apply (i.e. in Dogen's sino-Japanese Buddhist thought and view).

Besides, the process of reducing what Dogen Zenji said to a set formula as your theory does strikes me as somewhat out of context to what Dogen was imparting, it seems very much more of a Western Philosophical exercise than an inspired, poetic exercise. (I should add that I admire your theory very much...maybe it appeals to my Western wired brain!)

I raise this question because I found myself reading Shobogenzo and subconsciously trying to make passages 'fit' into your proposed theoretical formula; so that its was easier to comprehend for my questionable brain with its taste for simple, logical but unrealistic answers (**I should say that I think this should be seen solely as a reflection on my questionable intellect which thinks that it can 'acquire' an experience of something that is really beyond it**).

Gassho,

Harry.

3 Comments:

Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:29 PM, November 11, 2007  
Blogger HezB said...

Dear Nishijima Roshi,

Thank you very much for taking the time to consider and respond to my comments.

Please note that I did not say that your answer was unrealistic, but that my interpretation of your answer, and my approach to it, seems unrealistic.

A major contradiction within Dogen's work and methodology, to my mind, is in the complexity of how he says things sometimes set against his advocacy of Zazen. His use of language seems quite different to a Western philosophical trend of reducing things down as much as possible. And language universally expresses different beliefs, values and views.

There seems to be an element of inherent tension in Dogen's Shobogenzo: on one hand he talks at length in a way that he must have known to be fairly complex/obscure to most people (in places my 20th century mind thinks he is being obscure for no good reason), yet on the other hand he questions his own method in doing this (such as at the end of Bendowa where he wonders if he has just created more "flowers in space").

On one hand he advocates one-to-one transmission from a true teacher based on the direct action/experience of Zazen, on the other he expounds quite complex conceptual models via a non-one-to-one medium and then he questions doing this.

I greatly respect Dogen Zenji's questioning of his intellectual methods, and often wonder why he said things in the ways that he did (there is much that I can't understand about his use of language and the context of his era). I think I need to study his work more as best I can given the language restrictions.

Best Regards,

Harry.

12:50 AM, November 12, 2007  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Harry San,

Thank you very much for your questions and criticism to my "3 philosophies, One Reality." And my answers are as follows.

(Herry San) Do you believe that Dogen Zenji had intellectually formalized his teachings in the way that you have interpreted them under your "3 Philosophies, One Reality" theory?

(Gudo) I think that Master Dogen does not formalize his teachings in the way as I have interpreted, but I interpret that reading Shobogenzo, Master Dogen always describes Buddhist theory on the basis of the Four Noble Truth, which can be understood on the basis of "3 Philosophies, One Reality" theory.
And at the same time "3 Philosophies, One Reality" theory is the fundamental theory in Buddhism, which has been proclaimed by Gautama Buddha himself in his first lecture at Mrigadahva.
In other words "3 Philosophies, One Reality" is just the same as The Four Noble Truth in the original Buddhism.

(Harry San) Allow me to develop my question a little: I am concerned that, in accepting the 3 Philosophies, One Reality theory, we can apply western philosophical ideas and values (i.e. 'materialism', 'idealism') restrospectively where they do not (did not) really apply (i.e. in Dogen's sino-Japanese Buddhist thought and view).

(Gudo) I think that all philosophical problems should be discussed on the basis of international philosophical basis, and so I insist that even the Master Dogen's Buddhist thoughts should be also discussed on the basis of international philosophical basis too.

(Harry San) Besides, the process of reducing what Dogen Zenji said to a set formula as your theory does strikes me as somewhat out of context to what Dogen was imparting, it seems very much more of a Western Philosophical exercise than an inspired, poetic exercise. (I should add that I admire your theory very much...maybe it appeals to my Western wired brain!)

(Gudo) I believe in the existence of common basis between Western philosophies and Buddhist thoughts, and so it is very natural for me to think Master Dogen's philosophical thoughts on the basis of Western Philosophies.

(Harry San) I raise this question because I found myself reading Shobogenzo and subconsciously trying to make passages 'fit' into your proposed theoretical formula; so that its was easier to comprehend for my questionable brain with its taste for simple, logical but unrealistic answers.

(Gudo) I think that Master Dogen's Buddhist theory always arrives at his realistic conclusion and so I can not understand your insistence that my answer is unrealistic.
My answers to your questions are like above.

Gudo Wafu Nishijima

10:29 PM, November 11, 2007

1:08 PM, November 12, 2007  

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