Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Translation of Fukan-Zazen-Gi

Recently I have met my necessity to translate "Fukan-Zazen-Gi, or The General Introduction of How to Pracice Zazen." "The Fukan-Zazen-Gi, or The General Introduction of How to Practice Zazen" was written by Master Dogen in 1227, but later it seems to be revised by Master Dogen himself, and so nowadays "Fukan-Zazen-Gi" is usually published in its revised one. Therefore in this case I also utilize the edition, which has been used as the authorized one for hundreds years continuously.

Fukan-Zazen-Gi

Generally speaking, when we research the Truth, the Truth are originally pervading through the Universe, and so how is it necessary for us to rely upon sometimes practice, or sometimes experience?

Furthermore, the methods, which are useful to arrive at the fundamental principle, are existing everywhere, and so how is it necessary for us to be exhausted by the enormous efforts to get them?

Enormously much more, we, Buddhist monks, totally have got rid of the secular garbage or dust already, and so who is it be necessary for us to believe in the necessity of methods brushing off or wipe off them?

Generally, we, Human Beings, are impossible to get rid of our adequate place, and so how is it necessary for us to utilize even a bit of part of our legs for that purpose?

However, if there were any kind of the slightest gap existing actually, the gap of the expanse will become much more wider as if it were the width between the Heaven and the Earth, and so if there occurs any kind of difference, because of the difference we have to lose our mental and physical serenity completely.

Even though we are proud of our clear understandings, being full of clever decision, getting further excellently different consideration, getting the Truth, clarifying the mind, encouraging the will excellently piercing the sky, and even though we are taking a walk to put our head into the area of considering Action, but actually speaking, we are totally losing for ourselves to put our body actually into the area of Real Action itself.

Furthermore, in the case of innate Genius at Jetavana Anathapindikarama, we can actually look at the historical remains, where Gautama Buddha himself authentically sit there for 6 years. And the historical person in Shao-Rin-Ssu, who has transmitted the Central Symbol of Buddhism into China, has been presenting his authorized dignity of facing the wall for 9 years even today. Even in the case of such ancient examples those Old Sacred Personalities have been already like this. How is it possible for us, the people today, to spend the time without practicing Zazen at all?

Therefore we should stop our efforts to looking for words and to understand verbal expressions at all. It is necessary for us to study our passive steps of turning light to ourselves for reflecting ourselves opposite. The consciousness of our body and mind might vanish in a few minites, and our original face and eyes will manifest themselves naturally. And if we want to get anything ineffable at once, just practice something ineffable, that is, Zazen, at once!

Generally speaking, if we want to practice Zazen authentically, it might be better for us to use a quiet room, and what we drink and eat, might be better to be moderate. Many kinds of miscellaneous circumstances must be thrown away, and many kinds of business should be stopped so far totally. Don't consider Good and Bad! Don't worry about Right and Wrong! Stop the motion of Mind, Will, or Consciousness! Stop the consideration of Consciousness, Thoughts, or Reflection. Never, never, intend to become Buddha! And such a kind of efforts can never be limited only inside sitting, or lying.

In general situations, we should spread a thick carpet on the floor, and on there we use a thick and round cushion for Zazen. Sometimes we practice a full lotus posture, and sometimes we practice a half lotus posture. In the case of the full lotus posture, first we put our right foot on our left thigh, and then we put our left foot on the right thigh (for example.) And in the case of a half lotus posure, we push over our right thigh with our left foot (for example.) We should put our clothes over the legs for making the situation of clothes orderly.

Then we put our right hand on the left foot, and put our left hand on the right hand to put the tops of both thumbs together supporting with each other.

Then regulate our posture into the authentic sitting, and don't incline our spine left or right. Don't slouch the spine forward, or lean backward. The line of ears must be parallel with the line of the shoulers horizontally, and the nose aligned with the navel. Hold the tongue against the palate, keep the lips and teeth closed, and keep the eyes open naturally.

Breathe softly through the nose, and after settled the physical posture already, make a deep
breath once, sway the body left and right. Sit immovably in the mountain-still state, and think the concrete state of not thinking. How is it possible for us to think the concrete state of not thinking? It is just different from thinking. This is just the abreviated technique of Zazen.

What is called Zazen, is different from learning Zazen, but it is just the Peaceful and Pleasant Gate into the Universe. It is the practice and experience to clarify the Truth. The Universal System has been realized already, but nets or cages for us have never arrived at us yet at all.

If we have arrived at what we intend to, the situations might be the same as if a Dragon has got the water, or a Tiger has got mountains as the guard behind. We should exactly notice that the True Dharma has manifested itself naturally, and both darkness and vagueness have been destroyed first.

When we stand up from sitting, move our body gradually first, and then stand up stably. Don't be hasty or violent. In the case of standing up still, first we should move our bodies slowly, and then stand up. We should never be hasty or violent.

Reflecting Ancient Times, transcending the common sense, overcoming the Sacred, dying in Zazen, or passing away in standing still, all have been relying upon the power, which has been trained by the practice.

Furthermore a turning point utilizing a finger, a pole, a needle, or a wooden block, and another usual experiences utilizing a hossu, a fist, a wooden stick, or a cry of 'Katsu!', are also the identified experiences, which are far beyond the decision by consideration, or judgement. How is it possible for any kind of mystical ability, practice, or experience, to be available to know? It might be some dignified form outside of voice or color. How is it possible for them not to be criteria before recognitions or perception?

Therfore, we should never select abilities between the clever or the stupid, discussing higher wisdom, or serious stupidity, or selecting a clever person or a sutupid person. If we sincerely consider problems, it must be just pursuing the Truth. Practice and experience should never naturally become tainted with each other, and what is aimed at, should be balanced and constant.

Generally, this world and the other land, or the western world and the eastern land, all are keeping Buddhist characteristics, and solely including the authodox behavior. Just we are diligent in practicing Zazen only, and we are just being caught inside the state without motion.
Even though our situations are so much different having so many differences, we should solely practice Zazen for pursuing the Truth. How is it possible for us throwing our own sitting seat for wandering in the foreign countries here and there without any criterion? If we make a mistake even only one in our step, we have to commit our mistake just at the present moment.

Fortunately we have got the excellently valuable human body already. Should never pass the valuable time without doing anything. We, human beings, have already got the very important faculty for Buddhist Morals. How is it possible for anyone to lose the so valuable Time in vain spending it for instantly fleeting joy?

Not only like that, the physical substances are so fragile like a due drop on grass leaves, and the flimsy life is very similar to a flash of lightning. They suddenly vanish completely, and they eraze themselves at once.

I would like to ask to elegant people of studying Buddhism that because of having accustomed to models of dragons, don't be afraid of the Real Dragon itself. Relying upon the direct and simple efforts of practicing Zazen diligntly, and revering the person of transcending theoretical learning and forgetting intention. We will have identified ourselves with the Ultimate Truth of many Buddhas, and receive directly the balanced Autonomic Nervous System of many Patriarches's Samadhi. If you will continue this Something Ineffable, the Warehouse of Treasures will open naturally, and it wil become easily possible for us to receive and utilize them as we like.

Fukan-Zazen-Gi The End

27 Comments:

Blogger Al said...

Roshi,

Thank you for doing this! I look forward to the remainder of the translation.

Regards,

Al

11:04 PM, May 09, 2009  
Blogger gentle said...

Thanks alot for your hard work of translation! It is definitely very valuable.
Is this section stating that although we can talk about a separation in our life between practice and everyday experience of living our lives, in actuality there is no separation and never could be? Please let me know sir if I am understanding this correctly or if i have missed something.
Regards and with deep respect,
gentle

11:24 PM, May 10, 2009  
Blogger gentle said...

Thanks alot for your hard work of translation! It is definitely very valuable.
Is this section stating that although we can talk about a separation in our life between practice and everyday experience of living our lives, in actuality there is no separation and never could be? Please let me know sir if I am understanding this correctly or if i have missed something.
Regards and with deep respect,
gentle

11:25 PM, May 10, 2009  
Blogger Al said...

Roshi,

I have a deep intuitive sense that the writings of Master Dogen and your expressions of those relay the truth about reality.

I wonder however, how we know exactly what it was that the Buddha taught as nothing he said was put in writing until hundreds of years after his death. Could you shed some light on what you consider to be the reasons Dogen's Buddhism and Nargajuna's Buddhism express the truth better than the Pali texts?

Regards,

Al

6:28 AM, May 11, 2009  
Blogger Harry said...

Dear Roshi,

Thank-you very much for this translation.

"And such a kind of efforts can never be limited only inside sitting, or lying."

What is your understanding of this line of fukan-zazen-gi?

Regards,

Harry.

8:34 PM, May 11, 2009  
Blogger Ran K. said...

I think the most important point is in the word "However" in the beginning of the second paragraph. And this Master Dogen doesn't explain. He just states that it's true and continues.

I think even if at the time Master Dogen lived it was generally too difficult for people to understand - today it may be more understandable since people are more awake.

So even if it was not so useful to explain it at the time - the situation may be different now.

3:45 AM, May 12, 2009  
Blogger Sai said...

Dear Master Nishijima,
Thank you for the fine translation. I have a question. Is it okay to practise Zazen after a heavy meal like lunch or dinner or should we wait for some time?

thank you
Sai

8:22 AM, May 12, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Al San,

Thank you very much.


Dear Gentle San,

Thank you very much for your important question. This paragraph does not say about the difference between practice and everyday experience of living our lives, but it insists the absolute difference between our mental activity and the Reality of our Action. And this distinction hasn't been discussed in Greco-Roman Civilization, but in the Ancient India only Buddhism insists the so clear difference between our human mental function of consideration and perception, and our human Action itself.

Therefore Human Beings have been discussing mainly consideration and perception in Greco-Roman Civilization, in the Ancient India, Buddhism was very dilligent to consider the much difference between both mental functions of concideration and perception, and Real Action itself.


Dear gentle San,

Therefore we can think that the pragraph insists so cinserely that our human beings should notice exactly the existence of Real Action at the present moment, which exists perfectly different from our mental consideration or sense perception.

2:13 PM, May 14, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Al San,

I agree that your opinion that Gautama Buddha, Master Dogen, and mine, are all relying upon Truth of Reality.

The reason, why Buddhism has been understood so nihilistic philosophy, comes from Kumarajiva's translation of Mulamadyamakakrika (MMK). Even though he tried to translate it into Chinese, unfortunately it is impossible for him to translate MMK into Chinese exactly, and so he has tried very unrelyable translation of MMK into Chinese. But such a kind of perfectly unreliable Chinese translation of MMK has been authorized by Chinese Government,and so the contents of translated MMK into Chinese has been accepted as reliable in CHina. Because of such situations MMK has been misunderstood as if MMK had been very nihilistic Buddhist philosophy.

Therefore I think that Master Dogen's Buddhist books express the true Buddhist philosophy exactly, but in the case of Kumarajiva I clearly notice that his Chinese translation of MMK is absolutely wrong.


Dear Harry San,

I think that the meaning of "And a such a kind of efforts can never be limited only inside sitting, or lying", suggests that the effects of practicing Zazen will become very useful, not only inside sitting, or lying", but become useful all areas of human life totally.


For Ran K. San,

I think that Master Dogen expressed the real situation in our daily life, and it suggests that what we hope in our daily life is so different from real facts, which we experience in our daily life exactly.

Therefore I think that if we compare the difference between the Ancient Time and today, the situations of Ancient Time and today are not so different.


Dear Sai San,

If you feel some uncomfortable feeling in your bady, please wait for a while, and if you do not feel any uncomfortable situations, please begin your practice at once.

4:41 PM, May 14, 2009  
Blogger rgn said...

Roshi, This question does not apply to this post but I hope you can answer it here. In reading Zen Mind Beginners Mind, in Transiency, Roshi says there is no abiding self but in another talk he says change can only be seen against an unchanging background. Is not this unchanging background ones self? I find this issue of no abiding self confusing as it seems clear to me that there is only abiding self.

10:48 PM, May 15, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear rgn San,

Thank you very much for your interesting question.

I think that your idea about abiding self is perfectly different from Master Dogen's thoughts. Because Master Dogen says that the time is always a moment at the present, and so all real time is always the moment of the present. And it such meaning we, Human Being, can never expect the continuity of time at all. Even though time can be seemed continuous, actually the real time is just existing at the present moment only.

1:24 PM, May 16, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear mattj San,

Thank you very much for your interesting question. Unfortunately I have lost your question in my machine, but I have maintained the copy of your question, and so relying upon your following question, I would like to answer my opinion as follows.

(your question)

I know this is a simple interpretation of this issue, but it just reflects what
the buddha says about attachments and aversions. Don't grasp onto anything, there is nothing to attach to or avert.
Just go with to flow, so to speak. That is what I have learned anyway. If you avert, it's because your not aware of your ultimate nature. Averting seems to be a form of attachment, because why would you avert if there were nothing to attach to in the first place? In the case of desire, we desire to attain something that is not attainable. Desire, as much as I understand it, is a
form of attachment. So let go and instead of searching somewhere for happiness, realize that it's right here in the presentmoment.

(Gudo's answer)

In an intellectual philosophy, there are only attachments and aversioms. But in Buddhist Realism, there are three kinds of criteria, that is, attachment, aversion, and no attachment or no aversion. And those three kinds of criteria are related with the stronger SNS, the stronger PNS, and the equality between SNS and PNS.

We, Human Beings, haven't understood the existence of equal situation between SNS and PNS for thousands of years, and so we haven't known the situation of ANS, in which the functions of SNS and PNS are equal, and so both attachment and aversion seems to be as if they were zero.

12:40 PM, May 20, 2009  
Blogger Rich said...

Dear Roshi,

I appreciate your consistent explanation of questions in relation to ANS. This has helped me find better my zazen habit and commitment.

Thank you,
Rich

8:33 PM, May 20, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Rich San,

Thank you very much for your opinion about ANS for explaining the theory of Zazen.

In my case also before I have arrived at the theory of ANS, it was perfectly impossible for me to understand the fundamental theory of Zazen at all.

But after I have understood the true meaning of Zazen relying upon the theory of ANS, I have clarified all philosophical problems of Buddhism totally, therefore since the 20th Century, Buddhism has become from Religion to Philosophy.

Therefore I revere the theory of ANS in Buddhism absolutely.

9:38 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Al said...

Roshi,

I was wondering if you have ever read any of Hee-Jin Kim's writings on Dogen. If you have, what are your thoughts?

Al

9:00 PM, May 23, 2009  
Blogger Al said...

Roshi,

I apologize, I have one more question I meant to ask.

I know through this blog that you and Mike Cross had your differences with regards to Alexander Technique being compared to Buddhism. For the record, I agree that the two are completely different.

What do you think of the Alexander Technique for the purpose of improving posture and health?

Regards,

Al

12:42 AM, May 24, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear AL San,

Thank you very much for your important questions.

First, on Hee-Jim Kim. Is he a professor of Arizona University? And if it is true, even though I have read his book on Master Dogen tens of years ago, I revere his interpretation of Master Dogen so enormously, and so I think that the book, which he wrote tens of years ago, is also excellent even today.

On Alexander Technique, I think that Gautama Buddha's Buddhism has been established 4, or 5th Centur B.C.

But Alexander Technic has been established only in 20th Century. Therefore the reliability on Alexander Techinic and Buddhism are so much different.

And I think that if we want to make our efforts to have better posture and health, it might be the best way for us to practice Zazen itself, and so there might be no necessity for us to rely upon Alexander Technic at all.

11:27 AM, May 24, 2009  
Blogger Al said...

Roshi,

Thank you deeply for your answers.

Regards,

Al

8:45 PM, May 24, 2009  
Blogger prg5002 said...

Hi,

I wondering if the meaning of "And a such a kind of efforts can never be limited only inside sitting, or lying" is that we should attempt to be in the state of zazen even when standing, walking, talking etc. Do you think that may be possible?

Many thanks, Paul

9:37 PM, May 24, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Al San,

Thank you very much.


Dear prg5002 San,

Thank you very much for your question.

The Master Dogen's words that "And a such a kind of efforts can never be limited only inside sitting, or lying" suggest that we, human beings, should always maintain our ANS balanced.

Because the balanced state of ANS is the human usual condition, and so it is necessary for us to keep our ANS balanced if we want to be happy as human ordinary conditions.

However, in the Euro-American Civilization, people usually do not have any common tendency to keep the ANS balanced, and so they do not have any efforts usually to keep their ANS balanced.

But in the Ancient Indian Civilisation Gautama Buddha has found that it is very natural tendency of all Human Beings to keep their ANS balanced, and so Gautama Buddha recommended us to keep our ANS balanced in our daily life.

1:36 PM, May 25, 2009  
Blogger Harry said...

Dear Roshi,

Master Dogen valued the relationship between master and student very highly. He seemed to consider this relationship as essential to Buddhism.

Why did Master Dogen see this relationship as essential even though he had clearly written exact instructions for zazen and his explanations of the entire Buddhist philosophy, and what exactly is the one-to-one transmission which Master Dogen often refers to?

Thanks & Regards,

Hanrei.

3:47 AM, May 26, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Harry San,

I think that Master Dogen does not revere only a Buddhist Master or a Buddhist student, but he revered a Buddhist Master, or Buddhist students, who have got the Truth.

Buddhism can never be only knowledge or perception, but our daily Action just at the present moment. Therefore we should think that what is transmitted from Buddhist Masters to Buddhist Students must be the total personality between the Master to a Stuent.

10:44 AM, May 27, 2009  
Blogger Harry said...

Roshi,

Yes, it seems very true that real actions cannot be expressed or fully transmitted using only words or philosophy.

Thank-you,

Harry.

10:52 AM, May 27, 2009  
Blogger Rich said...

Dear Roshi,
I don't know if the total personality of a Buddhist Master will ever be transmitted to me, but I am grateful that some of your ideas have been transmitted to me so that I may practice and be my daily Action just at the present moment.
This Action seems to include everything right now and I'll try and do the best I can.

Regards,
Rich

8:03 PM, May 27, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Harry San,

Our idea or perception can never be Reality, but Reality is just our Action at the present moment.


Dear Rich San,

It is true that our Action at the present moment is just the Universe itself.

10:10 AM, May 28, 2009  
Blogger Harry said...

"Our idea or perception can never be Reality, but Reality is just our Action at the present moment."

Dear Roshi,

Thank-you.

It seems Master Dogen described this fact in Shobogenzo Zanmai-o-zanmai as 'sitting as sitting' which is just the same as sitting as the Buddha-dharma or Reality.

Is it the case that our sitting action in the present moment is an established fact occurring before our ideas and perceptions?

This suggests that in zazen we need only sit and perform our sitting action with our body. But yet we know that we may have many thoughts and perceptions arising in zazen which distract us and which may cause us to intentionally think as is our habit. If the reality of our sitting is a fact which proceeds our unreal thoughts and perceptions why then should we be concerned with whether or not we are intentionally thinking while sitting zazen?

Thanks & Regards,

Harry.

10:31 AM, May 28, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Harry San,

It is true that 'sitting is just sitting.'

Therefore it is true that our sitting action at the present moment is an established fact occurring before our ideas and perceptions.

When our SNS is stronger than our PNS, we have to think some thing, and if our PNS is stronger than SNS, we have to perceive some sense stimuli. Therefore during Zazen, when some kinds of idea occurs, we have to come back to our balanced ANS, and when some kinds of sense perception occurres, we have to come back to our balanced ANS.

5:36 PM, May 29, 2009  

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