Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Rule of Cause and Effect (2)

In the Theory of the Four Philosophies, the second one is the Rule of Cause and Effect. In the second parts of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha taught us the materialistic side of this world. He affirmed the real existence of real world, which suggests the real external world, where we are just living even today.

Even nowadays, we are always living in the materialistic external world too, and in the materialistic world we are governed by the Rule of Cause and Effect. And the establisher of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, also affirmed that this world had been governed by the natural Rule of Cause and Effect from the eternal past to the limitlessly long future.

In the case of usual religions, usually they believe in the eternity of God, but it is not sure whether they believe in the natural Rule of this world perfectly, or not.
But in the case of Buddhist Thoughts we believe that this world, where we are just living now,
is just following the Rule of the Cause and Effect absolutely. Therefore we can think that we, living beings, and all things and phenomena, are always governed totally by the Rule of Cause and Effect absolutely.

But at the same time, when we believe in the absolutely governed Universe by the Rule of Cause and Effect, it is perfectly impossible for us to affirm the perfect freedom of human beings in the Universe at all. Because if we accept the perfectly governed situations of human beings by the cause and effect, it will become perfectly impossible for human beings to enjoy their human freedom. Because if human beings have been govered their future by the present, and if the present of them have been governed by their past, then the fate of human beings have been governed by the eternal past, and so there might be no chance for human beings to be free from the eternal past, and so our human life has been governed by the eternal past, and so it might become true that we, human being, since the eternal past, could never have any human freedom at all.
And if we accept the conclusion that we, human being, can never have any freedom since the eternal past, it might be perfectly impossible for us to be moral at all. Because when we, human beings, do not have any freedom to behave ourselves, it might be perfectly impossible for us to behave ourselves morally. Because without the freedom of our human behavior, it might be perfectly impossible for us to behave ourselves morally.

18 Comments:

Blogger Harry said...

Dear Roshi,

You advised me before to consider karma from the point of view of 3 Philosophies, One Reality. I'd like to try this and maybe you could correct it and expand on it?

1. Idealism: Our good acts are the cause of our being happy while our bad acts are the cause of our being unhappy. As far as our own conduct is concerned this can be verified to a small degree, but often 'good people' may suffer for no obvious reason and 'bad people' may seem to thrive.

2. Materialism: There is no law of karma or anything existing like karma in the universe although there are observable processes which explain the transfer of matter and measurable physical energies. Material existence though becomes obscure and unpredictable at subatomic level and so outcomes of complex situations retain a high level of unpredictability.

3. Action: Every action is subject to causes and has effects and, although our conditioning may seem to dictate otherwise, we have free will and may choose our mode of conduct within a large range of possibility. The effects of, and causes of, actions are very often not obvious though.

4. Reality: Good, bad and neutral things happen, but very often we cannot determine obvious reasons for these happenings beyond the most immediate circumstances.

Thanks & Regards,

Hanrei.

11:06 AM, March 19, 2009  
Blogger WiseWanderer said...

Hello Roshi,

Do you not think that the law of cause and effect continues inside the human mind? So if someone studies the teachings of Buddha, the cause of right view will still have the effect of right action, allowing the person to behave morally. I think that the absolute laws of cause and effect still allow for people to behave morally. I would be interested to hear your views on this.

- WW

1:10 PM, March 19, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Ven. Harry Hanrei San,

Thank you very much for your trial to consider cause and effect on the basis of the Four Philosophical basis.

1. Idealism: I agree with your idea absolutely.

2. Materialism: I believe in the scientific reserch and conclusion absolutely. But unfortunate in the case scientific researches there are so many and so wide areas, which haven't been researched yet, and so it is inevitable for us to follow only the scientific area, which has been clarified already.

3. Action: In the case of Action, we should change our atittude of research absolutely. Because in the area of Action the criteria of Action is absolutely different from both Idealism and Materialism. In the case of Idealism and Materialism they belong both to the intellectual consideration, even though in the case of Materialism it belong to the intellectual consideration in the phase of perception.

However in the case of Action, it does never be included in the mental cosideration, but the Real Action does never belong to intellectual consideration.

Gautama Buddha has found this important characteristics of Action exactly, therefore he noticed clearly the dimentionally difference of Action from the intelectual consideration of Idealism and Materialism, and so he established the philosophy of Action, which is absolutely different from Idealism and Materialism.

He clearly noticed that Action is completely different from the two intellectual philosophies, and so he established the Philosophy of Action newly, and this facts are very important for us to understand the Gautama Buddha's philosophy.

Real Action does never exists in the past, Real Action does never exists in the future, and Real Action does never exist even in the concept of present, but Real Action exists inevitably just at the Real Preasent only.

Therefore when we want to understand Gautama Buddha's Philosophy of Action, we should never forget this important dimentional difference between Real Philosophy of Action, which is perfectly differnt from other primitively simple philosophies at all.

4. Reality: When we want to know the true meaning of Gautama Buddha's Truth,
we should never forget such a simple fact. And we should notice why Gautama Buddha was necessary for him to utilize the Theory of Four Philosophies, the Theory of Cause and Effect, the Philophy of Action, and Reality itself.

I think that we, human beings, have arrived at the ultimate Truth relying upon Gautama Buddha's Truth for the first time in the 21st Century.

We need not worry about the Truth. We need not worry about Reaty. The Truth exists really in front of us. Reality exist in front of us actually.

3:45 PM, March 19, 2009  
Blogger Harry said...

Dear Roshi,

Thank-you for clarifying the third and forth points of action/acting and the experience of action, the experience of reality, in the present moment which reminds me of our recent discussion of the Buddhist elements of samatha and vipassana respectively.

Regards,

Hanrei.

9:06 PM, March 19, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear WiseWanderer San,

Thank you very much for your opinion.

Generally speaking, in Euro-American civilization, we usually think that our human mind is perfectly free, but in our physical body is perfectly restricted.

But in the Buddhist philosophy we think that our human Real Act is always done at the present moment, and the each present moment, when our Action is done, is always short as a width of an edge of a razer, and so our Action is like a piece of pearl on the absolutely narrow edge of a razer, we can think that our human Action at the present moment is always free as a piece of pearl on a edge of a razer, which can fall down sometimes to a right side, and sometimes to a left side.

Therefore we, Buddhists, think that the human possibility of freedom comes from the real structure of the present moment, which is so short as a width of an edge of a razor.

1:45 PM, March 20, 2009  
Blogger Lone Oak said...

"...our Action is like a piece of pearl on the absolutely narrow edge of a razer, we can think that our human Action at the present moment is always free as a piece of pearl on a edge of a razer, which can fall down sometimes to a right side, and sometimes to a left side."

I can find no other words but "thank you", Roshi, for sharing this observation.

David

5:57 AM, March 21, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Lone Oak San,

Thank you very much for your understanding.

11:28 AM, March 21, 2009  
Blogger Harry said...

Nishijima Roshi: "Therefore we, Buddhists, think that the human possibility of freedom comes from the real structure of the present moment, which is so short as a width of an edge of a razor."

Dear Roshi,

Although we can say that 'dropping off body and mind' is freedom, yet it seems this freedom itself relies on 'using the self', or using the body and mind, in balanced action.

Can we say that Buddhist freedom then is never seperate from body and mind? Is it also inherently 'unfree'?

Also, can you explain the difference between an action that is free and an action that is not free?

Is the difference between a 'free' and an 'unfree' action just a matter of how we act, or just a matter how we experience our action?

Thanks & Regards,

Hanrei.

5:29 AM, March 22, 2009  
Blogger jiblet said...

Dear Roshi,

I have read your analogy of the pearl and the razor's edge before. But I am still confused.

In the real world, the pearl must surely fall to the right, or to the left. The weight of the pearl, distributed to one side or other of the razor's edge, determines which way it will fall. To me, this is a perfect example of cause and effect. How is the pearl "free"?

Thank you.

10:11 AM, March 22, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Ven. Harry Hanrei San,

Thank you very much for your opinion on the human freedom. However, I think that our human freedom does not belong to our body and mind, but it belong to a short characteristic of the present moment, which is as short as the width of the edge of a razor, and so the pearl can have possibility to fall to the right side, or the left side, without using almost any efforts at all.

Therefore in Master Dogen's theory, or Master Nagarjna's theory, they insist that human freedom comes from the enormously short situation of the present moment itself.

So Buddhist philosophy insists that it is absolutely impossible for us to say that the human freedom comes from our body and mind, but our human freedom comes from so mechanically short length of a Real Present Moment.

Therefore we can never say that our human body and mind can be free in Buddhism. We can say that we, human beings, are absolutely free in Idealistic philosophy, and we can say that we, human beings, have never keep any freedom in Materialistic philosophy.

But Gautama Buddha taught us that we, human beings, can be only free just at the absolutely short Real Preesent Moment.

Therefore we can say that we, human beings, can have freedom only at the present moment in Real Action, only because of the phsysical structure of the Present Moment, or the Real Action itself.

So we should say that Our Human Action can be free because it is always done just at the present moment, which is always so short because of the Present Moment.


Dear Blogger jiblet San,

Thank you very much for your question.

I think that the weight of pearl does never distribute to one side or other of the razor's edge, determines which way it will fall.

But I think whether the pearl will fall down to the right side, or the left side, will be decided by the Real Actor's decision just at the Present Moment.

Because the length of the Present Moment is as short as the width of a rasor's edge, and so the Actor can easily decide to which side he will put the pearl fall down.

Therefore we can say that the Actor's decision can be realized relying upon so short length of the Present Moment solely, but it is not realized because of other physical conditions.

1:33 PM, March 22, 2009  
Blogger Harry said...

Dear Roshi,

Thank-you for these clarifications.

Regards,

Hanrei.

6:32 PM, March 22, 2009  
Blogger jiblet said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:12 PM, March 22, 2009  
Blogger jiblet said...

Dear Roshi,

Thank you for your answer. I now understand that your analogy includes not only a pearl and a razor, but also - very importantly - an actor, who is required to decide which way the pearl will fall; to push it one way or the other. In which case, I previously misunderstood.


I have also read your answer to Harry, and if I now understand correctly, your analogy suggests that events (which way the pearl falls) can be influenced by human free will (the actor) in the present moment just because the moment is so very short (like a razor's edge). From the point of view of the Philosophy of Action, the present moment is discrete; it is always 'undecided'. As action can only take place in this undecided instant, a human being is able to act freely.

Is this what you mean by your analogy?

9:17 AM, March 23, 2009  
Blogger Joshua B. said...

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2:21 PM, March 23, 2009  
Blogger Joshua B. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:24 PM, March 23, 2009  
Blogger Joshua B. said...

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2:24 PM, March 23, 2009  
Blogger Joshua B. said...

Dearest Roshi,
I have recently begun sitting Zazen. I am not currently a Buddhist, but I am considering taking the vows. I have been seeking truth most of my life via one path or another and after many years it would seem that Buddhism 'speaks' to me on a very deep level. Unfortunately, the area where I live in the U.S. does not have a sangah that observes the Soto Zen tradition. Being that this is so, I have no one to turn to, as of yet with questions. Please forgive me for using this medium to ask your advice, but it would seem to be the only way to communicate with you as your email address is not posted. So if you would be so kind as to answer this question for me I would be very grateful.
I have been sitting for only a very short period of time, one month, and my only real guide has been your book, as well as the writings of Brad Warner. In these writings you instruct that when sitting Zazen one must face a wall. I understand on s certain level why this functions, but if you could explain the thinking behind this practice I would be very grateful. Also, I was wondering what your opinion on sitting Zazen in a natural setting is. This might seem to be a frivolous question so I think you in advance for your patients and generosity. The reason that I ask, is that I am about to move to an house that is in front of a large creek and I feel that I would like to sit Zazen on the bank of this creek. Thank you in advance.
Peace,
Joshua

2:26 PM, March 23, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear jiblet San,

I agree that your interpretation, which includes an actor, who is required to decide which way the pearl will fall.

I agree also that your understanding, which you can get from my answer to Harry San. is also true. In Buddhist philosophy we think that each moment has been sepated from each other similar to the relation between each points and a line, and our Action is always done each independent moment.


Dear Joshua B. San,

Thank you very much for your questions. I am always joyful for me to answer many kinds of Buddhist questions, and so there is no reason for you to worry about my efforts. It is my best pleasure for me to have Q&A on Buddhism with others, and so there is no reason for you to worry about it.

The reason, why we are facing the wall when we are practicing Zazen comes from that the wall can never be human being. If you practicing Zazen facing with each other, the situation might be very different from the case that you are
sitting facing the wall. Because the wall does not have any personality, the practioner feel much more easy than facing another person.

The reason why we do not use miscellaneous circumstances, comes from that miscellaneous circumstances are usually much more exciting than a common situations in a room. Therefore I think that if you compare the two cases with each other, actually I suppose that you will prefer the case in a room at last than on the bank of the creek.

8:55 PM, March 23, 2009  

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