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Sunday, December 4, 2005

Estimation of Idealism and Materialism (2)

About the 12 ~13 Century, however, a big change has begun. That is Renaissance. Before that time the Catholic Charch proclaimed on the movement of heavenly bodies that the Earth was fixed, and the Sun was moving over it. But a few astronomers, including Copernicus, recorded the time and the place, when and where the Sun arised and went down in the West, and they researched the real movement of the Sun. But surprisingly if they assumed that the Earth was without motion, and the Sun was moving, the data, which they had collected, could never be identified with their records, and if they supposed that the Earth was going around the Sun, and the Sun was stable, it was possible for them to identify the motion of the Earth and the Sun with their data. Therefore the astronomers began to insist that the Earth was not motionless, but it was always going around the Sun.
But their insistences were completely opposite to the insistences by the Catholic Charch. Therefore the Charch requested to stop for them to insist such a different theory. The Catholic Charch caught those astronomers, and some of them were killed by stake. But the Facts were the Facts.
Because of those facts, people have begun to change their thinking method gradually. They began to doubt miscellaneous secular insistences, which were believed by people without any reason, and they wanted to know all things and phenomena on the basis of their own perception, and the Age of schientific research has begun. After that, the scientific researches have been developed so much, and many kinds of industries were established, and the Capitalistic Societies have begun.
In such situations many kinds of important historical facts occured, for example, the Reformation, the Independence of USA,
the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the World War 1.
People have begun to believe in the power of economical value, martial power, big industries, big properties, and Idealistic philosopies has been invaded so much by the Materialistic philosophy, but at he same time it might be almost imposible for human beings to arrive at so gorgious economically rich societies. Therefore I think that the Materialistic philosophy was also so valuable for human histories.


Blogger Jules said...

We should give Pope John Paul some credit here. He pushed the Catholic Church to officially forgive Galileo in 1992, 359 years after he was officially condemned. So the Church's ideals aren't completely fixed. A little slow to change, but not entirely set in stone.

I've met a lot of young atheists lately.

3:56 PM, December 05, 2005  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

I left this comment on the last post. Thought I'd move it here and case someone didn't read it and missed out on hearing the ulitmate truth.... Just Joking LOL

Ideals huh well I would say that most of the religions have benefited the world in some way. What would the westeren world be without Chritianity? I'm not sure it would be a better world. At least Christiantiy teaches a since of morals and love thy neighbor and all that good stuff.(That doesn't make me want to convert and be a Christian though) I mean there is far more less benefiting ideals out there.(like being an atheist(I'm not talking about all atheist here) who just wants to please his ego as much as he can be for he doesn't exist anymore. So screw as much people over as you can to get as much wealth, fame, pleasure etc. as one can) Now it seems to become a problem when people get fanatical and lose balance. If you start to bomb abortion clinics because your pro-life that a bit extreme. It would be better if every religion had the idea(which buddhism teaches) to respect other religions and ideals. As long as they don't phisically hurt anyone believe in whatever floats your boat. But when ideals start to cause conflict like War or arguing over the Alexander Techinque or being an arrogant converter of Chritianity looking down at the poor soul that is going to hell cause he hasn't said the words"Christ come into my heart" is going a little to far with ones Ideals. I mean there just Ideals even Buddhism. Thats what I like about Buddhism it doesn't advocate converting at all. So if your thing is Buddhism, Alexander technique, thinking Elvis is god, Bunji jumping being the ultimate spiritual experience by all means enjoy those things but to argue over them or try to convert everyone to that way(that could even be saying that you shouldn't be talking about the alexander technique, another idea) or even the stuff I'm saying here. Enjoy what you enjoy for the sake of enjoying. I like Sag Paneer, I use to try to take everyone to the Indian Restraunt to each Sag Paneer. Almost no one else likes it. Thats fine. I'm not going to say "you are so stupid for not likeing Sag paneer." or "How could you say you don't like Sag Paneer get out of my face." Anyways just some thoughts, I hope everyone takes what I say with a humorous mind and a huge grain of salt. I was just thinking about the value of Idealism. It seems to cause trouble when it hurts others or when people believe that its the ultimate truth and that everybody should do it cause "I'm living the truth".

If only everyone practiced Zazen and saw thoughts are realy nothing at all(Havn't experienced this myself) then maybe there wouldn't be so much trouble caused by thoughts and ideals and people could still use the ideals to benefit with out the attachment of thinking thoughts/ideas are real. Just Idea.

4:41 PM, December 05, 2005  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

Wow this is really cool Nishijima Roshi. It almost seems Idealism or Materialism is the only way people can and do live there lives by. I'm really interested in what the meaning and value is of realism based on Buddhism.

4:51 PM, December 05, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Idealism, Materialism, Existentialism, Humanism, Pragmatism, Realism.... Just so many flowers in space!

People of clear eyes ask: "What has all this got to do with Buddhism? What has all this got to do with Zazen?"

The answer is: EVERYTHING.

Because we human beings are led, and are misled, by ideas. Even the Zazen of a very tough Zazen practitioner is just led, or misled, by his or her idea.

So Master Dogen instructs us in Fukan-zazengi TO THINK. He instructs us: "Think the concrete state of not thinking."

If we want to practice "just sitting," the vital thing is to have A CLEAR INTENTION just to sit, and not to be misled off in other directions by other intentions.

Zen Master Dogen saw this very clearly. FM Alexander saw this very clearly. I see this very clearly. My friend and student Pierre Turlur sees this very clearly. There is a contributor to this blog called Michael who, it seems to me, is on the verge of seeing this very clearly.

But, truly, there are not many of us, and the opposition which we face from Zen orthodoxy is not dissimilar to the opposition which Galileo faced from Catholic orthodoxy. Still, I believe that we will triumph in the end, despite the efforts of arrogant people of fixed views to defeat us. Why? Not because our idea is the truth -- because the truth can never be only an idea. We will triumph because our idea leads us to devote ourselves whole-heartedly to the truth of Gautama Buddha, which is sitting in the full lotus posture, which is supremacy itself.

6:23 PM, December 05, 2005  
Blogger Michael said...

Hi Jules,

I was trying to access your blog but got an error message saying "the requested URL wasn't found."
I know I accessed it once before maybe a couple of weeks back, but no luck since then. Are you going to republish it?

Hi Mike,

Many thanks for the vote of confidence, but to be quite honest, the prospect of being on the verge of seeing the truth scares the shit out of me. I don't think I'm anywhere near seeing the truth, though I'm developing inklings of what I **think** it *may* be.
That's why I can't stress enough that I'm really enjoying everyone's posts and the perspectives from which they come.
Don't get me wrong: If I think someone's full of crap, I'll say so (and I know this sword cuts both ways).
Anyway, a hearty thanks to everyone.

Hey Lone Wolf,

Interesting post. I agree with you that it's pretty dangerous when everyone thinks they have sole possession of the truth. When I hear someone or some group make such a claim, I run as fast as I can in the opposite direction.
That's why organized religion doesn't do too much for me. It's a shame, because most religions have the same basic bottom line: Don't kill, don't steal, etc. It seems they all have great contribtions to make regarding ethics, interpersonal relationships and other things along those lines. If only people would just state their case without demanding faith or obedience, and let the listener decide.

3:05 AM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

Thanks for the interest in my nonexistent blog, I actually haven't put anything there yet. I do plan on putting it together properly, as soon as I think of something interesting to say. So it could be a while.

5:19 AM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger Michael said...

Hmmm, then it must've been someone else's blog that I accessed once and tried but failed to access thereafter.
Sorry for the mix-up, which is actually frightening to me, because if my memory is truly that bad ... :))

5:48 AM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:54 PM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

If fear were a purely psychological phenomenon, maybe your conclusion would make sense. But to me fear is a total pattern of reaction of which I become aware in Zazen, a holding pattern from which I wish to be liberated, following the example of Gautama Buddha.
This point, it seems to me, IS REALLY IMPORTANT!
Michael's attitude to fear, as a man with a disease that is going to kill him, seems to be to recognize fear honestly, and to confess that he doesn't know what to do about it. He hasn't got all the answers. I find that honesty inspiring. I haven't got all the answers either.
Michael is suffering from fear. So am I. He is carrying around the baggage of his ego. So am I. As he is, so am I.

5:50 PM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Really not important,
It is I who should apologize for my low emotional IQ. I did not express myself well.

In his instructions for sitting-meditation Master Dogen describes a situation that, despite all this wonderful mental understanding that I have got about the Buddha's teaching, my physical body fails to open up. I "lack the vigorous road of getting the body out."

My body seems to have its own inherent tendency to hold onto itself, as if it is afraid of losing itself. Don't you see the same thing in yourself?

The holding on tendency seems to do itself without any problem at all. Establishing the opposite tendency seems to me to be like a trickle of water trying to drill through a rock. It is not going to happen in an intellectual flash, however brilliant the flash may be. It is going to take constant application.

Idealistic thoughts do not establish this opposite tendency. Materialistic thoughts do not establish this opposite tendency. Nor do existentialist, humanist, pragmatic or even realist thoughts establish this opposite tendency.

But one moment of intention to allow might be like one drop in the trickle of water that is on its way to drilling through rock.

I wish for all beings to be totally liberated, as I believe the Buddha was. My physical body is held in a prison of habitual reaction. In the middle way between this idealistic thought and this materialistic perception, can I establish an intention, here and now, to surrender to a tendency which is opposite to my habitual fearful one?

To answer truthfully, probably not. Perhaps just for the odd moment.

8:54 PM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:32 PM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

My wife is out doing the shopping right now. I am here shuttling between computer and zafu. I try to practice Zazen four times a day, and thereby practise what I preach; in between, what others see in me is up to them.

What I would like to say to reallynotimportant is this: the point of Zazen is not to integrate two things which are originally separate. Body-mind integration is our original state and our natural state. But for most of us it is not our habitual state. So we need to make intentional effort to get back to it. This effort is not intention to achieve a balance, because balance is not something that I can achieve; it is intention to allow something to balance me.

Because of our stupid desire to explain the unexplainable, we call the intention to allow "mental" and we call that which is brought back to balance "physical"--I refer you back to Nishijima Roshi's posting about balance of the autonomic nervous system.

So in Zazen I intend to allow a space(so-called mental effort) in which the natural mechanisms of upright posture can work freely (so-called physical effort).

I do it very badly. That is not me putting on a persona. That is me reporting honestly the truth of how I am in Zazen. I sit badly, but I hope gradually less so.

11:38 PM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

Thank you for honoring my request for real communication, this is the kind of dialog I was hoping to see when I first came to Nishijima sensei's blog.

11:49 PM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Ken asked: How do I sit badly?

That is THE key question. JUST THAT is the question.

Asking that question causes sentences from Shobogenzo like this to reveal their real meaning:

"Those who are enlightened about delusion are buddhas. Those who are deluded about enlightenment are ordinary beings." (Genjo-koan)

"How should I maintain the Buddhist state?"
"When cloudedness is in your eyes, flowers in space tumble down." (Kuge)

Thank you, Ken, for that question.

If I answer it for myself, I sit badly because I don't intend to allow; I intend to achieve. And in intending to achieve, I grasp. I grasp with my neck, with my jaw, with my hips, with my shoulders, with my wrists, et cetera, et cetera. All of these I stiffen. Over the past 10 years or so, I have learned to stiffen less. But the underlying pattern, the underlying tendency, is still very much there. Oh yes it is. I know very well it is. And I will never fool myself again into thinking that I am free of it. No thank you very much. Not again.

1:03 AM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

I was reading Nishijima's Teaching on "The Three Philosophies, One Reality". That sorta somes up Truth to me in just the title. Philosophies are just thoughts and descriptions, the finger pointing to the moon. The Reality or Moon itself can only be experienced. If it is intellectual based on thoughts (idealism) or perception(materialism) that is not truth.
So truth can only be experienced. I mean you can say some things that are very close or point dierectly to the truth like the Philosophy of Action(Realism) but that is not the actual truth you experience when sitting Zazen. So I would say Zazen is the Truth, if you so happen to be sitting zazen and falling into intellectualization this is not the truth for this is falling into either thought or perception.

By the way thanks for commmenting on my commment Michael

3:08 AM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Taigu said...

Dear Lone wolf ( I really like that name), with due respect to the teaching of Nishijima, I would like to make a simple suggestion:

sometimes the finger points at the moon ( what you seem to describe), sometimes the moon points at the finger, sometimes finger and moon merge in one, sometimes they both fall away.

OK. I can't agree more with you, the truth has to be experienced. But what kind of truth, or rather what experience of it? I f you talk about the truth of the truth, I have a difficulty with that. I prefer to say that what I meet eveytime I sit is the truth of how wrong I am, pure, simple, undiluted. What I face in the process of sitting is the resistance to a natural and balanced state of being. That's why I cannot hide my own confusion behind the false assumption that I have got it ( Sorry Jules if I could not make it clear enough for you). The truth is the increased awareness of a very rigid and stiff sitting practice. Having X years of zen experience, being approved by X or Y, being this and that, all that blablabla...fall down. The true state of zazen is unexperienced, in the sense that you-me-anybody is an absolute beginner or... a splendid fake. And that's it. No other options. again, Dogen never gave any precise physiological description of sitting zen, he knew too well that the key is not to fix the body in order to fix the mind ( what is practised everywhere, in almost every single zendo of our planet). The secret is to give up recipe and secrets and just allow the right thing to do itself. He called it Jujiyu zanmai in Bendowa, using and receiving the self. The secret is, in the process of sitting, to become aware of what is, of how far we are from it rather than fooling ourselves and others.

A final suggestion: I may be wrong but I feel some prejudice against intellectualism and words in your comment. Of course, if you follow the beautiful metaphor of finger and moon, then you end up thinking that zazen cannot be expressed as such by words. reality on one side against a mere picture of it (sounds familiar in Western and platonic philosophy). But if you drop your preconceived ideas about ideas and reality, fingers and moon, yo umight as well realize that what was pointing all along with that finger what the moon itself. When the moon points to the moon, then fingers get enlightened.


7:16 AM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Taigu said...

Another thought about Jijuyu zanmai:

It takes to be aware of the grasping mecanisms of our body-mind sitting in order to really be grasped by the still-state. As soon as you freeze this, it is not real anymore, just a repetition, imitation, habit, conditioning.

7:36 AM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

Pierre wrote: That's why I cannot hide my own confusion behind the false assumption that I have got it ( Sorry Jules if I could not make it clear enough for you).

You said in the last blog entry, "As to know if Nishijima roshi is the victim of two of his heirs, I doubt he thinks so."

I guess you and I have a different understanding of the meaning of "Dharma heir." Doesn't matter, I guess.

In the interest of leaving Nishijima-sensei's blog in peace I've set up my own blog if you care to respond further:
Drunk on a Stump.

7:57 AM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Michael said...

If I can add to what Pierre said, I'd like to relate an anecdote.
Several years ago I had a conversation on Buddhism with a very dear Japanese friend.
I asked her what her meditation practice was, expecting her to say Ajikan or zazen or some other practice from one Buddhist denomination or other.
Instead, this is what she said: "Life itself is the meditation."
My perspective was instantly and irrevocably changed.
I'm not sure this is on-topic or if it's a particularly good segue from what Pierre said, but I post it for what it's worth.

8:25 AM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

A point about Jijuyo-zanmai:

Last year Nishijima Roshi and I agreed that we should change our translation from "samadhi of using and receiving the self" to "samadhi of using and accepting the self."
"Receiving the self" was not the translation that hit the target. Then why did we miss the target? Two reasons:
1) Nishijima Roshi's inability 25 years ago to grasp the different nuances of two English words.
2) My understanding of how to practice Zazen was immature, and so I didn't notice that I should change Nishijima Roshi's original word "receive" into "accept."

There are several other changes like that in Shobogenzo that I feel should be made. Sadly, however, Nishijima Roshi does not feel confident enough in me, so far, to entrust those changes to me.

What I cannot change I have to accept, I have to allow. Accepting is, after all, a kind of allowing.

6:07 PM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Jules San

I do not have any idea to criticize historical facts.

I also recognize the existence of so many atheiss.

12:05 PM, February 25, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Lone Wolf San

I clearly notice the enormously great effects of Christianity in human civilization, but I do not know whether Christianity is Idealistic philosophy, or not.

In the case of Idealism itself, I think that ideas are always completely perfect, so beautiful, so faultless, so ideal, and so if a person wants to live his or her own daily life following only ideals, his or her life is always unsatisfactory, unhappy, criticizing others, being aggressive againt others, and so on. Therefore we have to thinki that it is wrong for human beings to live their daily life following idealistic philosophy.

I think that ideas are the fuction of the brain-cells, and so they are not any real entity.

12:49 PM, February 25, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Lone Wolf San

Buddhism recognized that ideas and matters both are not real entities, and it notices that the fusion of our act at the present moment and the Universe is Reality, and it is the Truth.

1:06 PM, February 25, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Mike Cross San

Gautama Buddha says Buddhism includes evrything.

Ideas are not sinful, but we sometimes select wrongness.

Master Dogen never teach us TO THINK. His words "Think the concrete state of not thinking" means that "it is different from thinking."

During Zazen we should never have any kind of INTENTION.

Master Dogen never taught such a wrong idea of Zazen to us. Therefore I clearly insist that Buddhism and Alexander Techinic are different, if what you said is true in Alexander Techinic theory.

If Galileo listened to your insistence, he would have become so angry saying that "I have never said such a lie."

1:35 PM, February 25, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Michael San

Reading your comments I am a little afraid that whether you have some kind of idea that Buddhism can never be described with words. But because of Gautama Buddha's excellent genius we can approach the Truth itself dialectically utilizing the theory of four philosophies. Therefore the Chinese Buddhist Master Yoka Shinkaku in Tan Dynasty proclained in his Shodoka, or A Song of Exeriencing the Truth, that "A person, who can express his own decisive words, manifests himself to be a true Buddhist monk." Therefore I think that it is necessary for us to express the true meaning of Buddhist philosophy logically too especially in 21st Century.

10:39 AM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For ReallyNotImportant San

I feel that your viewpoint seems to be realistic.

For Mike Cross San

I think that it might not be Buddhism for everyone to lose his or her way in frnt of Reality.

10:53 AM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For ReallyNotImportant San

I think that your interpretations might be adequate, but I would like to add some common facts that a person, who has stronger sympathetic nervous system are prone to be too much brave, and a person, who has stronger parasympathetic nervous system are prone to be too much afraid.

11:16 AM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For ReallyNotImportant San

We can find frequently a fact that the stronger sympathetic nervous system is sometimes called mind, and the stronger parasympathetic nervous system is sometimes called body.

For Mike Cross San

Please don't worry about your IQ. I guess your IQ might be very high.

Your interpretation of the last sentence in your quotations from Fukanzazengi is completely wrong. Master Dagen does never criticise himself, but he generally speaks that ordinary people lack the vigorous road of getting the body out, and that suggests that ordinary people do not have ability to get out from the intellectual area and enter into the area of practical act.

Such a passive state to be satisfied to maitain ourselves as we are, is different from Buddhist state.

It is not clear for your sentence to show whether you are affirmative to be conservative, or not.

What is the meaning of "this opposite tendency."

What can work, is never intention, but act itself.

According to the Buddhist philosophy what is established between body and mind is not intention, but act.

Please don't flee from Reality.

12:51 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For ReallyNotImportant

Thank you very much for your precise interpretations of fusion between body and mind. The fusion between body and mind is just the fundamental basis of Buddhist phiosophies.

For Ken San

I enjoyed your irony.

For Mike Cross San

Frankly speaking it is completely impossibly for me to understand what you write in your first paragraph.

I think that it is not true that we identify body and mind together intentionally, but we recognize the simple fact that body and mind are not separate at the present moment.

I feel very strange by reading your expressions that "in Zazen you intend to allow a space in which the natural mechanisms of upright posture can work freely." I do not know such a kind of strange facts really occur on the Earth, or not.

I think that it is impossible for everyone to practice Zazen badly.

2:03 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For Jule San

I also think that our dialogs have entered into a normal course.

For Ken San

I also have the same question.

For ReallyNotImportant San

I also agree with your ideas totally.

For Mike Cross San

What you have quoted that "Those who are enlightened about delusion are buddhas. Those who are deluded about enlightened are ordinary beings," are just affirmative sentences, which suggest a simple fact, and they do not have any relation with the question, which we are discussing.

Your quotations, "How should I maintain the Buddhist state?" are Master Fuyo Dokai's words, and "When cloudedness is in your eyes, flowers in space tumble down," are Master Kisu Shishin's words, and both are the expressions about "Kuge", which suggests intellectual considerations in Shobogenzo, and so they never have any relation with the pactice of Zazen. Therefore it is completely impossible for me to undersand the reason why you quote such words, which are perfectly irrelevant to the discussion of practicing Zazen.

It is perfectly impossible for me to understand what you write in the last paragraph at all.

3:23 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For lone Wolf San

Thank you very much for your efforts to read my article "The Three Philosophies, One Reality." I think that your comment has hit the target.

For Pierre Turlur San

Do you feel actually that you are wrong in zazen?
Is it true that what you face in the process of sitting is a kind of resistance to a natural and balanced state of being? Frankly speaking, it is completely impossible for me to suppose such situations actually at all.
Why are you satisfied to be a splendid fake?
Master Dogen did never give any precise physiological description of sitting zen, but the same facts as in the 21st Century occured even in the 13th Century without fail.
The separation of body and mind is sometimes very dangerous in Buddhist philosophy.
Jijuyo is separated into jiju and jiyo, and jiju means the function of the parasympathetic nervous system, and jiyo means the fuction of the sympathetic nervous system, and so jijuyo zanmai mean the the balance between the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system.
Frankly speaking, I think that fingers do never get the enlightenment.

For Pierre Turlur San

Is there anything, which is different from repetition,imitation, habit, or coditioning, in Zazen?

For Michael San

I think that it is a interesting story.

For Mike Cross San

Frankly speaking, I did not find so much difference between "to accept" and "to receive", other than in the case of "to accept" the word has a little more possitive feeling, therefore I did not find any reason to refuse your proposal.

Thank you very much for your allowance from a student to a Master.

12:23 PM, February 28, 2006  

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