Dogen Sangha Blog


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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Buddhism is Realism

Up to this time, Buddhism has been understood as a kind of idealism, and sometimes it has been understood a kind of nihilism. But reading a Japanese Buddhist monk Master Dogen , or an Indian Buddhist monk Master Nagarjuna's works, they clearly indicate that Buddhism is just realism. Therfore if we do not understand Buddhism on the basis of realism, Buddhism can never be understood for ever.


Blogger Friend said...


From Realism, what is Idealism?


11:46 AM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger S. said...

Realism is surrender. Idealism is resistance.

2:14 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

I was practicing Tibetan Buddhism for some years and there seems to be alot of Idealism such as in other religons like Christianity. This just makes me feel like I am banging my head against the wall trying to find out questions for ideas that seem impossible to answer. It was hard to keep my faith in a path where your striving for some futuristic enlightment threw certain practices like Deity practice which can become very confusing from its complexity. The teachings on "Zazen is enlightment itself" as Dogen taught seem to be rare from what I could find, because most teachers are teaching about striving torward some future enlightment. You and Brad make since to me but I have alot to learn about the philosphy of Realism. I am also interested in learning more about the philosphy of action? I shall go sit with my spine straight vertically.

4:37 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

What is Buddhism? It is a very good question.

Zen Master Dogen said: Buddhism is the action of sitting. The action of sitting is Buddhism.

For me, a devotee of Master Dogen, the practical question, the real question, is: How to sit?

In essence, for almost all Zazen practitioners (even I venture to suppose, for the great Brad Warner), there is only one way to sit: the way that accords with my habitual sense of myself.

But I think that the words of great masters of the past “Just to sit is to drop off body and mind ” suggest the existence of another way. So, for me, there is a search for this other way, which I believe to be related with the Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.

It is an extraordinarily difficult and challenging search. It is not for the faint-hearted. Observing the political efforts of Dharma-heirs of Nishijima Roshi , to spread Master Dogen’s teaching without ever having realized for themselves the essential difficulty of Master Dogen’s teaching, I wonder: what should I do about it?

I do not know what Master Dogen’s Buddhism is, but I do know, I have experienced, how extremely difficult it is to understand what Master Dogen’s Buddhism is. It is more difficult than we are prone to assume. Dharma-heirs of Nishijima Roshi write about it as if they have understood, when in fact they have not understood at all.

To be asked to give up the way of sitting that accords with who I feel I am, is to be asked to give up a lot--much more than most of us are prepared to give up. It is to be asked to give up everything, to be one who does not know. To be a total loser. My ego doesn’t like that.

7:07 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Taigu said...

Another suggestion. What Buddhism isn't?

I know very little about Buddhism, but I know that it is not my body-mind locked in a frozen sitting spasm (my good old habit), that it is not about me thinking I have got it all right and everybody else has got it all wrong ( my typical viewpoint )

It is not about the truth of just sitting when "I" am in the way and loose track of the endgainer that is always too close, closer than my nose.

It is not about me bragging that I started sitting 30 years ago and that I am this and that.

It is about beginning over and over again, everytime.

Reality? A clown with a big red nose falling, falling.

So, who is sitting? Am I sitting zen or is it zen sitting me?

Sampai in your direction, Gudo roshi.

12:37 AM, December 01, 2005  
Blogger Rubiolio said...

I'm delighted to see your blog.
Months ago I read some articles by you on the Dogensangha website, and thought I would like to meet this man, but since I am a working guy with bills to pay living on the other side of the world, a thought was all it was. But now here you are. All the best to you.

7:00 AM, December 01, 2005  
Blogger engu said...

Gudo Roshi-
many thanks for this and for all your work...
as for realism, "I" really don't get it... "I" really can't get it.

Mike Cross-
thanks to you also!
"So, for me, there is a search for this other way, which I believe to be related with the Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree."
This other way is found when "you" get out of the way, when "you" give up the search for something other than this, when you see that the Bodhi tree is the nose on your face, as you well know...

8:18 AM, December 01, 2005  
Blogger Kalki Weisthor said...

The problem with Buddhism with realism is, it doesn' answer any of the questions religion is there for. I think Tibetan Buddhism answers those question by providing a god-analog.

So, Buddhism is not a way out of reality, but a way out of reality is just what spiritual seekers are after. So at some point the question arises, what is the advantage of true Buddhism (read: zazen) over nothing at all. And I think the answer has to be, no advantage at all.

So the answer has to be, Mu. Nothing. None. Really, the answer is ineffable. So let's stop talking about it. Now.

8:56 AM, December 01, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

bob j wrote: The problem with Buddhism with realism is, it doesn' answer any of the questions religion is there for.

Steve Hagen uses the analogy of flat earth vs. spherical earth.

Imagine you were raised with the idea that the Earth was flat. You might ask a question like, "Does the earth go on forever, or can you fall off the edge if you go too far?"

Someone who knows the earth is spherical would have to say that you are asking the wrong question. The question is flawed in its basic assumptions. The earth doesn't have an edge, but it doesn't go on forever either. It isn't flat!

When the Buddha was asked about reincarnation, he said, "The question does not fit the case." The typical questions that religions answer are like this. When you can see the reality, those questions go away, because you realize the questions make incorrect assumptions that don't match reality.

11:08 AM, December 01, 2005  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For curious San

From Realism, idealism is a philosophy, which is considered by intellect, but in the case of Reality it is philosophy, which is graspted by intution, which occurs when the autonomic nervous system is balanced.

For j&j San

I do not agree with the Webster's interpretation.

1) Reality is something, which is inclusive of everything.

2) The essential nature of Reality does never lie in consciousness or reason.

For DisheartenedGirl San

Realism is our daily life, Idealism is a romantic dream.

For unclegeebo San

I agree with your idea.

For Lone Wolf San

I agree that almost all religions, including Tibetan Buddhism, are idealistic, but Buddhism is never idealistic, but Realism. Buddhism does never expect the Enlightenment in future, but Buddhism insists that to practice Zazen is the Enlightenment itself. Zen Sect insists that the Enlightenment can be got in future, but Zen sect does not belong to Buddhism according to Master Dogen's thoughts. Thank you very much for your efforts to experience Reality, or philosophy of act by practicing Zazen.

For ReallyNotImportant San

Now our civilizations are full of Idealism, or Materialism, and such kinds of civilizations have be continued in the human history for thouzands of years at least. But both Idealism and Materialism are intellectual philosophies, which can never be the real truth at all. Therefore Gautama Buddha recommended us to experience Reality.

I agree with Brad's opinion.

There are three kinds of religions. The one is belief in Mind, the one is belief in Matter, and the last one is belief in Reality. Everyone has his or her own perfect freedom to select one among the three.

There is a criterion to select one among the three. That is the state of the autonomic nervous system. A person, who keeps a rather stronger sympathetic nervous system, prefers the belief in Mind, a person, who keeps a rather stronger parasympathetic nervous system, prefers the belief in Matter, and a person, who keeps the balanced autonomic nervous system, prefers the belief in Reality.

The Reality, or the Truth, is not so unreliable, It exists in front of us really.

For Mike Cross San

Buddhism is just the Truth.

What Master Dogen said, is just true.

Everyone should never identify himself with his habitual sense of himself, but everyone should identify himself with the Rule of the Universe, that is himself.

We should notice the true meaning of "to drop off body and mind." I does not mean to lose body and mind actually. It is perfectly impossible for human being to do so. "To drop body and mind" suggests the state of the balanced autonomic nervous system.
When our autonomic nervous system balanced, we can experience the sate, in which it seems that the strength of our mental consideration and sensory perception have become equal, and so we experience that our body and mind have become as if they were plus/minus zero.

We have got the Gautama Buddha' s Truth, and so Master Doge's Truth perfectly. Please don't worry about ourselves, and I hope you will arrive at as soon as possible.

Please do not suppose our conditions relying upon your own conditions.

Please do not give up anything. Because after giving up anything, you can never get anything.

For Pierre Turlur San

Buddhism is all, and so there is nothing other Buddhism.

It is just happyness for us to sit.

It is all to sit.

Gautama Buddha forbided us to pride ourselves at all.

It is always now to start something.

You are living in Reality.

A person, who is sitting, is sitting.

For alanpitt San

Thank you very much for your kind greetings!

For Andrew San

Thank you very much for your kind greetings!

For engu San

It is not necessary for us to get Reality, but we are just Reality.

For Bob J. San

Yes, I think that God is the Universe, the Universe is God, and Reality is the fusion of God and the Universe.

Buddhism is all, and so there is nothing to cut off from it, and there is nothing to add it.

However, human beings want to know what Truth is.

I guess that the Earth might be spherical.

Fortunately I am living on the Earth rather safely at the present moment.

I do not believe in the existence of life after death, because Master Dogen teaches so in Chapter one of Shobogenzo "Bendowa."

4:16 PM, February 16, 2006  

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