Dogen Sangha Blog

  by Gudo NISHIJIMA

Japanese / German

Thursday, September 24, 2009

[9] Examination of the Moment Just Before the Present (12 verses)

1. Function to see something, function to listen to something, and so forth,

Those miscellaneous sense perceptions just exist at the present moment.

And proceeding such a perception, it is said that something concrete exists really,

Just as some momentary accident, which appears only once.


2. Because there is nothing, which does not exist,

The perceptive function to see, and so forth, will be possible to exist even in future.

Therefore even the moment just before can exist,

And so the existence of the moment just before actually exists in the very stable
conditions.


3. Relying upon seeing, hearing, and so forth,

And furthermore relying upon knowledge, and so forth,

The moment just before, exists in the very harmonized situations,

And then with what kind of method, is it possible for Reality to be found actually?


4. In the case when there were no way to see, and so forth,

The situation here and now might continue to exist in the state of completely
harmonized situation.

And those kinds of stuation, might exist even in future.

And without such situations, the moment just before the present would never be
continuing even in future.


5. Relying upon some kind of method, something goes ahead.

And something might be driven by something perhaps.

In the case of there is nothing, where is it possible for something to exist somewhere?

How is it possible for anything to exist anywhere when there is no existent possibility?


6. Even though relying upon all kinds of sense perceptions, for example vision,

It is completely impossible for us to see anything before the time of present moment.

But because being driven by seeing and so forth,

Because of relying upon the time of different before, there is another time.


7. Relying upon all kinds of function to see, and so forth,

It is impossible for us to recognize the moment just before the present.

Leaving from one by one, how is it possible the moment just before the present to exist?

Relying upon only total oneness of all sense perceptions, the moment just before the
moment can be perceived.


8. A person, who looks at something, is real, and at the same time a person, who listen to,
was also real.

And then such situations become real relying upon information.

Leaving from the method of one by one, it is possible for the moment just before the
moment to exist,

But just at that time this Real World is never be harnessed at all.


9. Not a person, who look at things well, or not a person, who listen to sounds well,

And a person, who is not skillful to tell informations to others.

Therefore perhaps it might be related with listening to something, but at the same time it
is related with looking at, too.

And so because of both much volume and individual personality might exist.


10. Action to look at something, or action to listen to something, and so forth,

Announcing, and so forth, is just at the present moment,

And many kinds of pursuits are totally possible to exist just in front of us.

However, it is perfectly impossible for what has past to exist really at all.


11. Action to look at something, or action to listen to something, and so forth,

Announcing, and so forth, is just at the present moment,

And if such a kind of scenery hasn't been seen yet actually,

It is completely impossible for everyone to look at the excellent effect of Buddhist
monk training in their behavior at all.


12. And such a kind of scenery has existed before it has been influenced by
seeing, and so forth,

So the sceneries exist as the situations, which has been established by the
harmony with the time.

Even though it is impossible for us to know the distinction whether such situations
exist, or not,

The very vague scenery exists there, which might be perhaps a product by human
conjectures probably.

15 Comments:

Blogger Al said...

Hi Roshi,

Would you mind commenting on the importance of the cosmic mudra in the zazen posture? It seems that it is a an indicator of what is going on in our heads. I find that if I am sleepy my thumbs collapse and if I'm thinking too much my thumbs press together too hard.

What is your experience/thoughts?

Regards,

Al

9:11 PM, September 24, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Ven. Al San,

Thank you very much for your question.

I think that the effect of meaning to keep the cosmic mudra is (1) to make our Zazen posture symmetrical, (2) to make the right and left shoulders symmetrical and relaxed, (3) to make the both hands stable, and so forth.

I think that even the posture of the cosmic mudra is also a part of Zazen posture, and so it is also related with the whole posture of Zazen.

In my case I make my efforts to avoid thinking and feeling in Zazen, and so the cosmic mudra does not have any connection with thinking and feeling.

10:11 AM, September 25, 2009  
Blogger Al said...

Roshi,

That was very helpful. Thank you.

Regards,

Al

11:05 AM, September 25, 2009  
Blogger Ran K. said...

In what way does the fact that "there is nothing which does not exist" cause "the perceptive function to see, and so forth" to be able to exist (even) in future?

I don't see any connection. I don't understand what is he (- Nagarjuna) talking about.

Best wishes, (and so forth)
Ran.

3:31 AM, September 26, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Ven. Ran K. San,

In Greco-Roman Civilization, or in Euro-American Civilization, the idea of 'existence' is very important concept, because those philosophies are usually based on the idea of 'existence.'

But in the case of Buddhism, the philosophy is based on, not on the 'existence', but on the 'reality' directly.

Therefore in Buddhist philosophy, the concept of 'existence' is usually neglected, and Buddhist philosophy is usually considered on the basis of Reality itself.

12:05 PM, September 26, 2009  
Blogger Ran K. said...

I don't so much understand the difference between 'reality' and 'existence'.
- 'Existence' depends on here and now and 'reality' does not depend on here and now? - i.e. - existence exists within time and space and reality is prior to time and space?
Roughly speaking - 'existence' and 'reality' seem to be two words for the same thing.

..., (…)

[- And it seems not only roughly speaking, though "reality" seems to be less dualistic.]

Ran

7:11 PM, September 26, 2009  
Blogger Max said...

Dear Ven. Gudo Roshi,

I jsut finished reading your book, 'To Meet the Real Dragon,' and I found it extremely helpful (especially your theory of materialistic and idealistic world views). In any case, I understand that daily Zazen is key to the practice. However, I have also ready many Zen masters endorsing the use of Koans in meditation (such as Zen master Bassui). I was wondering why there is a difference and if the practice of using koans can further one along the path to Truth? I thought it fitting however that there are two main practices due to the oppositional thinking that thought creates!

9:50 AM, September 27, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Ven. Ran K. San,

Thank you very much for your interesting question.

I think that 'Reality is a simple fact, which manifest itself as the Universe in front of us,' but 'Existence' is only our idea, to suppose that 'Something exists.'

Existence is our supposition that 'Something exists,' and 'Reality' is just 'the real existence of ourselves, and the whole Universe at the present moment.'

Therefore we can think that 'existence' is just our supposition, or expectation,
but 'Reality' is just the whole ourselves and the whole Universe, which just really exists here and now at the present moment.

Therefore we should think that 'existence' and 'Reality' are perfectly different with each othr.

Because of our simple affirmation of 'Reality', we can have only one 'Truth'
in our philosophical system.


Dear Ven. Max San,

Thank you very much for your question about 'Koan.'

'Koan' is a short Buddhist story, which discribes the Buddhist fundamental philosophical System, utilizing a short parable.

But 'Koan' should never be considered during Zazen. However many people, who practice Zazen following shallaw interpretations, sometimes follow very wrong method to think the meaning of 'Koan Stories' during Zazen.

But this method is very wrong. Originally speaking, Zazen is never any kind of consideration, but keeping the lower spine, the back-bones and the neck-bones staight virtically.

Therefore we should never consider the meaning of 'Koan' during Zazen. The 'Koan' should be read during we are never practicing Zazen.

'Koan' has usually its fundamental strucure of Four Philosophies.
(1) First a monk asks his idealistic question to the Master,
and (2) the Master indicates usually concrete example of matter. But usually the monk does not understand the Master's materialistic answer.
(3) So the monk asks his own question, which is wobbling between ideas and matter, again.
(4) Then the Master proclaims his own Realistic answer as the conclusion.

3:50 PM, September 27, 2009  
Blogger Ran K. said...

Dear Sensei,


We can only think thoughts.


I understand the distinguishment you made, but even if we want to think about reality itself regardless of some dualistic possibility of it not existing - it is not possible.


So even if we are (suppose to be) thinking or speaking of some Reality we are actually thinking or speaking of some 'existence'. - Because it is 'existence' by which we distinguish 'Reality' from what is not 'Reality'.


Also - in learning or studying we are unavoidably distinguishing what is right and what is wrong, or you might say what is real and what is not.

We want to know something right, or real, - which we do not now prior to the study.

- So unavoidably we distinguish what is right from what is not, or what is real from what is not.


So fundamentally 'Reality' and 'existence' would still be the same. It is that Buddhist philosophy recognizes the deterioration of thought (and views, or understanding) caused by abstraction, while the western might quite stupidly - one might say - indulge in it.


- So I think the difference is not necessarily in the philosophical structure but in the spirit.


Western philosophy basically assumes intellect is all. A hypothesis basically never acknowledged and therefore never examined. Buddhist Philosophy - [ -and here perhaps it might - and should - be said it is not philosophy alone] sees value in the deepening of one’s personality and in an exceeding of one's perceptive abilities - direct mental ones, - mainly.


- i.e. - Buddhist philosophy arises from Zazen and aims at Reality. While western philosophy sees no other side - actually - to dualism, and considers it an unavoidable, not ever seeming to have any comprehension of what might the other side - i.e. - possibility - be, - and aims at exploring it, and only it, - [- dualism, - since it does not reckon the existence of anything else] going deeper and deeper, - through narrow pipes - one might say - where there is no depth.


The stupid will never die.


However - Buddhism is not everything.

We live in reality - not in Buddhism.

Buddhism arises from reality.

Reality does not arise from Buddhism.


So far,

I’ve been very long this time, Sensei, but it all seems right,

Best wishes, [so to speak]


Ran

9:00 PM, September 27, 2009  
Blogger skatemurai said...

Dear Roshi,

after many days of practicing zazen now I feel deep peace and silence in my heart. There is no needless emotions and thoughts. Is this balanced ANS?

Regards,
Skatemurai

12:41 AM, September 28, 2009  
Blogger Max said...

Dear Gudo Roshi,

Thank you very much for your response.

I think what I was referring to earlier must not be a 'Koan' in the traditional sense. I think it will be clearer if I just quote some of Bassui Tokusho's letter to the Abbess of Shinryu-Ji:
"In your Zazen think in terms of neither good nor evil. Don't try to stop thoughts from arising, only ask yourself: "What is my own Mind?" Now even though your questioning goes deep, you will get no answer, and eventually you will reach a cul-de-sac, your thinking totally checked. You won't find anything within that can be called "I" or "Mind."...." It goes on like that for a bit.

When I first began practicing Zazen I single mindedly pursued this question in all my activities (from morning until night) for a period of 4 days. I had a few experiences where my mind felt like empty space but still full of vibrancy at the same time and joyful (one actually occurred when I was read an excerpt on Dogen’s “Being-Time”). I remember thinking at the time, "this must be getting it, I cannot let go." Of course the experience was temporary. I stopped practicing that because while I felt that I was 'getting somewhere,' (or maybe it was just some kind of illusion?) I found the whole process extremely traumatic, like my bowels where turning in my stomach, it was emotionally tough on me and on the people who I love around me.
So, I am now practicing Zazen in the simplest manner and I feel much more at peace... But I still have a nagging feeling that I am missing something. My experience of life doesn't correspond to the philosophies of Buddhism. Why do I still have this sense of 'Me?' Etc.

Lastly! (Sorry this is quite long but it's a synthesis of my experience the past few months) I read in "The Compass of Zen" by Seung Sahn, that enlightenment can be equated to a kind of 'stamp,' i.e the consciousness is indelibly marked by the experience. However, if all things are impermanent then even that experience of 'enlightenment' is also impermanent so how can there be a permanent 'stamping' of the consciousness?!

I am hoping that you may be able to shed some light on my experience!

Once again thank you so much for your time.

Max

3:33 AM, September 28, 2009  
Blogger Max said...

Dear Gudo Roshi,

Thank you very much for your response.

I think what I was referring to earlier must not be a 'Koan' in the traditional sense. I think it will be clearer if I just quote some of Bassui Tokusho's letter to the Abbess of Shinryu-Ji: "In your Zazen think in terms of neither good nor evil. Don't try to stop thoughts from arising, only ask yourself: "What is my own Mind?" Now even though your questioning goes deep, you will get no answer, and eventually you will reach a cul-de-sac, your thinking totally checked. You won't find anything within that can be called "I" or "Mind."...." It goes on like that for a bit.

When I first began practicing Zazen I single mindedly pursued this question in all my activities (from morning until night) for a period of 4 days. I had a few experiences where my mind felt like empty space but still full of vibrancy at the same time and joyful (one actually occurred when I was read an excerpt on Dogen’s “Being-Time”). I remember thinking at the time, "this must be getting it, I cannot let go." Of course the experience was temporary. I stopped practicing that because while I felt that I was 'getting somewhere,' (or maybe it was just some kind of illusion?) I found the whole process extremely traumatic, like my bowels where turning in my stomach, it was emotionally tough on me and on the people who I love around me.

So, I am now practicing Zazen in the simplest manner and I feel much more at peace... But I still have a nagging feeling that I am missing something. My experience of life doesn't correspond to the philosophies of Buddhism. Why do I still have this sense of 'Me?' Etc.

Lastly! (Sorry this is quite long but it's a synthesis of my experience the past few months) I read in "The Compass of Zen" by Seung Sahn, that enlightenment can be equated to a kind of 'stamp,' i.e the consciousness is indelibly marked by the experience. However, if all things are impermanent then even that experience of 'enlightenment' is also impermanent so how can there be a permanent 'stamping' of the consciousness?!

I am hoping that you may be able to shed some light on my experience and I think I have too many questions!

Once again thank you so much for your time.

Max

3:37 AM, September 28, 2009  
Blogger Lauren said...

Roshi,

When you say you make efforts to avoid thinking and feeling in zazen, do you mean "feelings" such as emotions?

"Feelings" is a difficult word in English. Is there a Japanese word I could study that you think has the same meaning?

Regards,
Lauren

8:07 AM, September 28, 2009  
Blogger David Clark said...

Roshi,

Thank you for your response to Max's question about Koans. This point has been bothering me for some time. I sit zazen daily and have felt that it is not right to ponder a koan while meditating. But when I am driving to work or going for a walk, the koans just seem to pop up in my thoughts and to consider them seems instructive.

10:34 AM, September 28, 2009  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Ven. Ran K. San,

I think that you are perfectly an idealistic thinker, and I am a Buddhist thinker. Therefore it is very natural that your purely idealistic philosophy is perfectly different from my Bhuddhist Realism.


Dear Ven. Skatemurai San,

I think that you have been keeping the balanced autonomic nervous system already, relying upon your practicing Zazen everyday.

Therefore I think that your autonomic nervous system has been balanced relying upon your daily practice of Zazen already.

Therefore if you continue your practice of Zazen without stopping further, you can continue the balanced state of autonomic nervous system without fail, and that suggests that you can continue your balanced autonomic nervous system without fail, if you do not stop your practicing Zazen every day.

Then you can continue your balanced state of your autonomic nervous system without fail for ever.


Dear Ven. Max San,

During Zazn we should not think about anything at all. Our posture, which is just keeping our spine straight vertically, is just the same as the Cosmos itself.

Satori is the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system itself. Therefore there is no special feeling or thinking, but it is just the seren and quiet situations of body and mind.

Therefore we can say that it is just Satori, which is our daily practice of Zazen.

I am sorry, but I haven't read 'The Compass of Zen' by Seung Sahn yet, and so I can not say anything about it.

So far it is rather difficult for me to read it soon.


Dear Ven. Lauren San,

When I use the Eglish word 'feel,' I usually intend to our usual perception. Therefore in my case 'feel' does not usually include the factor of 'emotion.'

Therefore if I express the meaning of the word in Japanese, it might be 感覚、or 感受.


Dear Ven. David Clark San,

I think clearly that it is wrong for us to consider the meaning of Koan during Zazen, but at the same time there is a chance for us to think about the meaning of Koan separately from the practicing Zazn, and we can grasp the true meaning of Koan outside of practicing Zazen.

5:36 PM, October 02, 2009  

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