Dogen Sangha Blog


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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fukan-Zazen-Gi (2) The original text of Rufu-Bon


In general, when we pursue the truth, the fundamental truth purvades throughout the universe, and so it seems to be perfectly unnecessary for us to rely upon the practice or the experience (of Zazen). Furthermore, the methods of arriving at the fundamental principles naturally exist, and so how is it necessary for us to exhaust our efforts (for getting the truth)?

Especially in our case, we, Buddhists, have already perfectly left the value of secular societies like garbage and dust. How is it necessary for anyone to believe in the necessity of methods to brush or wipe away those secular values?

Generally speaking we usually have not lost the adequate situations, and so how is it possible for us to necessarily utilize a bit of the tip of the edges of the feet (of Zazen) at all?

However, even if there was just a bit of the smallest gap, then the gap would become bigger and bigger as if it were like the distance between heaven and earth; and if the smallest difference slightly occured between right and wrong, we would have to lose our mind perfectly in serious confusion.

Even if we were so proud of our sharp intellectual understanding, and were full of intuitive decisions, getting sharp intuitive enlightenment in a perfectly independent area, getting the ultimate truth, clarifying the human mind, and even though we were elegantly strolling through situations, having the strong confidence that our intellectual thinking ability has surely entered into the real world, having the strong and sharp mind of piercing heaven, (but actually looking at the situations), it seemed to be perfectly impossible for us to avoid the faculty of intellectual consideration to get the vigorous state of real acts in the area of reality.

Furthermore, we can trace even the clear footprints by the genius (Gautama Buddha) of Jetavana Anathapindikarama, who made his efforts to practice Zazen for 6 years, and we can still hear even today the famous Master's information in Shorin-temple (Bodhi Dharma), who practiced Zazen facing the wall for 9 years. Even the ancient great Masters have shown their excellent example like those. How, then, is it possible for us to pass a bit of time of a day without practicing Zazen?

Therefore, we should stop the intellectual efforts of researching words and pursuing speeches at once, and should begin to learn the study of stepping back by illuminating ourselves. (Then the consciousness of) body and mind will drop off from us naturally at once, and our original face and eyes will manifest themselves suddenly. If we would like to get such a situation as this at once, we should do it at once, without any hesitation at all.

In general, when we practice Zazen, a quiet room is preferable. Eating and drinking should be moderate. Miscellaneous circumstances should be thrown away perfectly, stopping all kinds of jobs, don't think about good and bad, and don't have any concern between right and wrong. Stopping motion of mind, will, and consciousness, stopping consideration by image, thoughts, and intuition, and never intend to become Buddha! Such a state of practicing Zazen does never relate with sitting and lying down in our daily life.

At the place, where we sit, we usually spread a thick matting, and we use a round cushion. Sometimes we use the full-lotus posture, and sometimes we use the half-lotus posture. In the case of the full-lotus posture, first we place the right foot on the left thigh, and then we place the left foot on the right thigh. In the case of the half-lotus posture, we push the right thigh with the left foot. Covering over (the feet and the thighs) with wearing clothes, and it is necessary for us to make them orderly and neat. Then, place the right hand over the left foot, and place the left hand on the right hand, having the two tips of thumbs touching together against each other. Just then keep your posture in the regulated sitting exactly. Don't lean to the left, don't incline to right, don't slouch forward, and don't lean backward. It is necessary for us to keep the ears and the shoulders contrasted in parallel (parallel to eachother), and the nose and the navel should be contrasted (in line with eachother). Hold the tongue against the palate, keep the lips and teeth closed, and the eyes should always be kept open . Breathe softly through the nose, and after already regulating the posture, take a deep breath once, and swing the trunk right and left. Then sit stably without motion, similar to a mountain, and think the state without thinking. How can we think the state without thinking. It is different from thinking. This is just the summarized method of Zazen.

What is called Zazen can never be the so-called learning of Zen, but it is just the peaceful and pleasant entrance into Dharma. It is just the fusion of practice and experience to realize the truth perfectly. The rule of the universe has been relized already, and there is no possibility for net and cage to enter, which can capture the practioner. If we have grasped this meaning already, (our situations) might be the same as a dragon, which has got water, or a tiger, which stands up in front of a mountain guarding itself with the mountain. We should know the facts that the true universal rules manifest themselves first, and the states of both melancholy and gaiety fall down on the ground at once.

When we stand up from the sitting, we move the body slowly and gradually, then we should stand up peacefully and happily. Never should (our getting up) be hasty or violent. We have studied since the ancient time that the transcending ordinary poeple, or the overcoming saints, and the dying in Zazen and losing life standing still, have come from relying upon the power of balance, which has been got from Zazen.

Furthermore, the seriously important changing moment like the pointing finger of Master Gutei, the bringing poles down by Master Ananda, the using a needle by Master Nagarjuna for teaching Kanadeva, and the clapping block utilized by Master Manjusri, or the experienced states, which are indicated by a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood at all by mental consideration or intellectual distinction. How is it possible for them to be understood by mystical ability, or by the separation between practice and experience? They might be the dignified form out of voice or color. How is it not possible for them to be different from criteria before knowledge or view? Therefore, we should never discuss whether we are superior cleverness, or inferior stupidity. We should never prefer between a clever person or a foolish person. If we make our efforts wholeheartedly, it might be just pursuing the truth. The practice and the experience do never taint with each other, and the attitudes to go forward are much further balanced and constant. Inside ourselves and outside the external world, or the western,(India), and the eastern lands, we have kept the characteristics of Buddhas equally, and manifest the behaviors of fundamentally traditional habits solely, that is just to sit in Zazen, being restricted by the state of no motion. Even though there might exist tens of thousands of differences, or thousands of differences (in methods of Zazen,) just do Zazen and make our efforts for pursuing the Truth. How is it possible for us to forget our own sitting places by going to and coming back from others' dusty countries? If we have made a mistake in the smallest step, we have to make a stumbling, or mistakes just at the moment. We have fortunately got the important situations of human body already, therefore how is it possible for us to spend a bit of time without doing anything uselessly at all?

Fortunately we have maintained the human body and mind, which are the very important substance for pursuing Buddhist Truth, and so how is it possible for whom to enjoy the slightest instant joy like a spark of a flint at a moment, in vain at all?

Furthermore, the physical substance is as transient as a dew on a plant's leaf, and the situation of human life seems to be so similar to a flash of lightning. It has suddenly become vacant, and it has been lost at once.

Therefore, I would like to ask for those higher poeple, who are practicing and pursuing the Truth, that being accustomed to the miscellaneous images of imitative dragons, do not fear to meet the real dragon actually! Please make your efforts in the practice of Zazen, which indicates the Truth directly, revere a personality, who has transcended learning and having any kind of intention, become perfectly indentified with the Truth of the Buddhas, and receive the balanced state of the Patriarchs authentically. If you practice what is the ineffable, (which is Zazen,) it is impossible for you to avoid becoming the ineffable. The grand warehouse of jewels will become open naturally, and you have got the perfect freedom to get jewels and utilize them without any hindrance.

The End of Fukan-Zazen-Gi


Blogger Mike Cross said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:12 PM, June 22, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Of couse, there is some truth in what you write, 123twist.

Emotional reaction is always a mistake.

It is unnecessary for us to try to force the truth to come out. The truth comes out by itself, spontaneously.

It may be, on the contrary, that even if we want the truth not to come out, the truth anyway comes out.

To try to force the truth out, on the basis of emotional reaction, is always a mistake.

I have often been guilty of that mistake. It just happened right now. Therefore I deleted my comment, and I confess.

By the way, 20 years ago the woman you speak of complained to Nishijima Roshi that my attitude towards Zazen was too obsessive. Nishijima Roshi's reply to her was that sometimes a man who becomes obsessed with something can become an expert on that subject, and thus be useful to others.

So there you have it: I lost the love of a very beautiful young woman, to whom I was very deeply attached. On the other hand, nowadays she is a middle-aged mother of three chldren, and I finally realized my dream to become a kind of expert on Zazen. Sometimes life presents us with extremely tough choices -- choices that make chopping off one's arm seem to be not that much of a sacrifice.

Your attitude towards Nishijima Roshi is like that of a child who says to his mother and truly believes "You are the best mother in the world." It is true. It is as true as the perception that, when we walk along a country lane in summer, the moon is walking along with us.

I hope that, in spite of what you say, I can be useful to others, as a kind of expert on Zazen.

5:54 PM, June 22, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

The last four Chinese characters in this section are SHUTSU (get out), SHIN (body), KATSU (vigorous), RO (road); so, literally, the last part of this section is “the vigorous road of getting the body out.”

What does this mean?

When we investigate ourselves honestly in Zazen, is the body free or not? For example, does the breathing have a spontaneous and free tendency, or does it tend to be restricted and held?

As all Alexander teachers know, most civilized people have a tendency to hold the breath. I certainly observe this tendency in myself -- I do not think that my Zazen is right. Zazen itself has a right direction inherent in it. But "my Zazen" can never be right.

When we investigate the causes for this tendency for the body to be fixed and held, not free, attachment to intellectual ideas is certainly a large cause. So I agree with Nishijima Roshi’s interpretation, partially. But there are other causes -- not only habits of the intellect, but habits in general, habits which are rooted in faulty sensory processing, habits which are rooted in attachments, habits which are deeply rooted in conceptions, and not only intellectual conceptions.

So “the vigorous road of getting the body out,” in my understanding, expresses liberation from the intellectual area, but also other kinds of liberation too.

8:48 PM, June 22, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

In response to 123twist, my attitude is like this:

Even if he is an 86-year old Zen Master, if his understanding of Zazen is less clear than mine, I shall teach him. Even if she is an old lady who teaches the Alexander technique and does not sit in the lotus posture, if her understanding of upright sitting is clearer than mine, I shall ask her to teach me.

123twist: If you do not recognize any ancient trace of this attitude, I recommend you to study Shobogenzo in more detail -- for example, chapter 35, Hakujushi.

To endeavor to establish true Buddhist theory clearly is also a practical task. I committed myself to help Gudo Nishijima in that mission, as he requested me to, and so far I have not given up.

So 123twist, if you understand Master Dogen’s Zazen teaching more clearly than I do, please expound your wisdom, and, if I sense that you are superior to me, I shall make my effort to visit you, meet you face to face, and ask you to teach me. So far, I am sorry but I do not sense that, at all.

I appreciate the kindness and concern of so many internet psychologists, but the fundamental problem between Nishijima Roshi and myself is not, as people think, personal. The fundamental problem is philosophical. We transcended our personal and cultural differences for many years, as if they were nothing, for the sake of the Shobogenzo translation. But, for example, the problem of thinking in Zazen, we haven’t solved yet. According to me, to sit in the full lotus posture with the mind just means to think -- to think the concrete state of not thinking. But according to the Nishijima Roshi, Master Dogen does not show any kind of affirmative attitude to thinking in Zazen, and so to sit in the full lotus posture with the mind means to endure the state in which the sympathetic nerves are dominant.

Looking at my arguments, and the Master’s response to my arguments, every Zazen practitioner who, like Nishijima Roshi and I, wishes to follow Master Dogen's Zazen teaching as exactlly as possible, can begin to see two sides to this very fundamental philosophical problem.

11:22 PM, June 22, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

Mike, You should have the courage to open up your "middle way" blog again for comments and discussion and leave "Dogen Sangha" blog for those things Master Nishijima wishes to discuss.

It appears your intentions here are rather selfish and subversive.

Open your blog again.

11:44 PM, June 22, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

I agree with Oxeye. It would be better to debate Mike Cross on his own blog, rather then waste all this time and space on Gudo San's blog. Gudo San is kind enough to share his understanding of Buddhism with us. If you have your own agenda, you should use your own blog space to rant and rave.

Gudo San- Do you think one can have sharp intellect and live in Reality at the same time? Is sharp intellect (prajna) born from living in reality at the present moment?

2:35 AM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Now, when we research it, the truth originally is all around: why rely upon practice and experience? The vehicle for the fundamental exists naturally: where is the need to expend effort? Furthermore, the whole body far transcends dust and dirt: who could believe in the means of sweeping and polishing? In general, we never depart from the place where we should be: of what use, then, are the tiptoes of training?

However, if there is a thousandth or a hundredth of a gap, heaven and earth are far apart, and if a trace of disagreement arises, we lose the mind in confusion. Even if, proud of our understanding and richly endowed with realizations, we obtain special states of insight, attain the truth, clarify the mind, manifest a zeal that pierces the sky, and ramble through those remote spheres that are entered with the head; we have almost completely lost the vigorous path of getting the body out.

* * * *

The above is, as far as possible, a literal translation of the opening part of Fukan-zazengi.

What is Master Dogen cautioning us against? According to Gudo Nishijima, Master Dogen is cautioning us against an intellectual attitude. I don’t think so. I think that what Master Dogen is cautioning us against, in essence, is pride in a view. Two examples of such a view are firstly, anti-intellectualism itself, and secondly, closely related to the first, Gudo’s view on the autonomic nervous system.

When I began to understand the importance of what FM Alexander called “thinking,” I tried to convey my understanding to my Master. He took the view that I had departed from Buddhism in favour of the usual attitude of Western people, as he sees it from his Japanese goldfish bowl, which is “Western intellectual thinking.” He belongs to a generation in Japan which went to war against HAKUJIN NO BUNKA -- “white man’s civilization.” And for him, “white man’s civilization” means “intellectual civilization.”

So I think that Master Nishijima’s understanding of this part of Fukan-zazengi is coloured by his anti-intellectual bias. If he truly understood what Master Dogen is saying here, taking off the smoky spectacles of anti-intellectualism, Gudo might have to re-consider his deep emotional attachment to the view which he has on the importance of his discovery on the importance of the autonomic nervous system.

3:25 AM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

OK, Oxeye, I shall re-open my Middle Way blog, with comment moderation. My Fukan Zazengi blog has remained open all along, but did not attract any comments or questions.

At the same time, I prefer to oppose my Master's view openly, rather than behind his back, so I shall continue to post here too.

My intention is certainly subversive, but selfish? No. No, you do not understand. If I had carried on this argument with my Master for the past 12 years for my own sake, that really would have been crazy.

My attempt to clarify Master Dogen's teaching is just my way of trying to repay my Master's benevolence. I think that it is impossible for you or anybody else to understand what kind of inner conflict it has involved.

3:36 AM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Master Dogen wrote that if a trace of disagreement arises, we lose the mind in confusion. I would like to bear witness from my own experience.

If somebody teaches us a wrong principle of Zazen -- for example, forcibly pulling in the chin to keep the spine straight vertically to balance the autonomic nervous system -- then as long as we follow that principle blindly, as long as we adhere to that principle obediently, then there is no confusion. There may be severe pain in the neck and shoulders and all manner of psychological disturbances associated with suppressing the natural mechanisms of upright posture and breathing, but there will be no confusion. There will rather be the attitude of “I know the true principle to follow. I am right.”

If one begins to doubt the truth of the wrong principle that one has been following, however, then there inevitably follows a period of confusion in which one’s previous confidence is lost.

But finally if one understand the true principle that Master Dogen points to in Fukan-zazengi -- the principle of not only sitting in lotus with the body, but also of sitting in lotus with the mind, and thereby passing through to the practice and experience of sitting in lotus as the dropping off of body and mind -- then there is no confusion.

There is no confusion, but there are many concrete problems. Thus, the mind of no confusion is described very accurately in Shobogenzo in chapter 44, Kobusshin.

What is the mind of no confusion?

Fences, walls, tiles and pebbles.

Master Dogen adds: “There are walls standing a thousand feet or ten thousand feet high... and there are sharp edges of pebbles, big ones and small ones.”

Ah yes! Now I understand what Master Dogen was talking about.

4:30 PM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger Jules said...

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12:18 AM, June 24, 2006  
Blogger Jules said...

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12:51 AM, June 24, 2006  
Blogger Friend said...

"Friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know it's nature is to sting?"

What scorpion? I'm holding a mouse!

12:52 AM, June 24, 2006  
Blogger Jules said...

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12:59 AM, June 24, 2006  
Blogger Jules said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:01 AM, June 24, 2006  
Blogger Jules said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:01 AM, June 24, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Our previous joint translation says:

“If there is a thousandth or a hundredth of a gap, heaven and earth are far apart.”

This suggests that heaven and earth are originally not separate, but there is something about we tottering bipeds that causes a gap to open, in which case, even if the gap is very slight, we experience heaven and earth as being far apart.

For me, on the basis of my own experience, I think what Master Dogen had in mind was related with Alexander’s problem of end-gaining, that is, a gap between means and end, which has to do not only with dualistic or intellectual thinking, but also with falsity, not being true to oneself, not keeping to principle, putting the cart before the horse. This end-gaining habit has very real effects on the human body -- causing, for example, a lack of proper connection between the head and the weight-bearing parts of the body such as the feet (for standing) and pelvis and knees (for sitting in lotus).

Nishijima Roshi’s new, independent translation says:
“If there were even though a bit of the smallest gap, then the gap would become bigger and bigger as if it were like distance between the heaven and the earth.”

This suggests a different emphasis. It suggests that originally there is no gap, but if a slight gap opens, then this gap becomes bigger and bigger. I am not sure why Nishijima Roshi saw fit to change the emphasis. If our previous translation was not literal, or if my interpretation is not adequate, I would like to ask Nishijima Roshi to correct my understanding.

5:49 AM, June 24, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

“We should begin to learn the study of stepping back by illuminating ourselves. (Then the consciousness of) body and mind will drop off from us naturally at once....”


E means turn; KO means light; HEN means turn around; SHO means illlumination; NO is an object particle; TAI means backward; HO means step.

So EKOHENSHO NO TAIHO is, literally, “the backward step of turning light and turning around illumination,” which we should learn.

This indicates to me an intentional process, a process that involves an intentional change of direction.

Dropping off of body and mind is natural, spontaneous, or unintentional. As you suggest with your brackets, it involves a loss of self-consciousness. But it as a consequence of an intentional self-conscious process, a deliberate decision to take a rest from pursuing outward ends and instead to turn our attention inward.

I think that you know the above very well intuitively. But in your translation, and in your discussions with me over several years, you have not expressed it clearly yet. In your translation you missed the sense of turning, that is, intentionally changing our direction. In yoour responses to my arguments, you have consistently denied such intention. It seems to me that this is because your intellect is blinded by the knowledge that the function of the autonomic nervous system must be unintentional. So now is just the time to recognize your mistake.

I already had the experience 12 years ago of prostrating myself and weeping tears at your feet and begging you to recognize your mistake. So clever bloggers should understand that when I write “with prostrations,” it expresses something more than just nice-sounding words. Not just a meaningless word “gassho.” But with real prostrations already. Real prostrations and real frustrations.

1:46 PM, June 24, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

The Master will correct me if I am wrong, but I think that E (to turn) and HEN (to turn around) are both used as transitive verbs.

So it is not that light turns around by itself. Rather, we turn our light [inward], transitively, intentionally, with effort.

It is effort to go in a direction opposite to our habitual direction. So we have to learn to make that effort.

3:59 PM, June 24, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Think the state of not thinking.

In other words, make a mental effort to initiate a process which happens effortlessly, spontaenously.

All spontaenous happenings in the material world, according to Dr. Frank Lambert ( are examples of the second law because they involve energy dispersing.

The rolling of a ball downhill is like this. The flow of water downstream is like this.

Release of tight muscles while sitting in the full lotus posture can be like this. Opening of held joints while sitting in the full lotus posture can be like this. The lion’s roar is like this.

This is just the vital secret of Zazen.

5:38 PM, June 25, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Master Dogen instructed:
Sit in the full lotus posture, bodily.
Sit in the full lotus posture, mentally.
Sit in the full lotus posture, dropping off body and mind.

The thesis is doing, a physical effort.
The anti-thesis is non-doing, a mental effort.
The synthesis is undoing, a spontaneous happening which, as such, can be investigated as an example of the second law of thermodynamics.

The thesis is intention.
The anti-thesis is intention.
The synthesis can truly be interpreted as “transcending having any kind of intenton.” But in that case, it must be clarified, at all costs, that transcendence and negation are totally different principles -- because, if there is even the slightest gap, heaven and earth are far apart.

Because Gudo Nishijima taught me to think like this, using dialectic, and seeking parallels between East and West, I repay the Master’s benevolence like this.

5:12 PM, June 26, 2006  
Blogger roman said...

Dear Mike Cross, I would like to apologize for the stupid advice i gave you some time ago. I really don't know you at all so I should not tell you what to do plus you didn't even asked for advice. Sorry and all the best.

8:19 PM, June 26, 2006  
Blogger Jules said...

I liked what Daiho Hilbert said in the last post. "Just be your zen and forget the rest."

11:32 PM, June 26, 2006  
Blogger gniz said...


Apparently, Mike Cross at one time received official dharma transmission from you. I believe this means that you felt he had grasped a full understanding of the concepts which you are now writing.
You later took away his transmission and threw him out of the community.
Question: How do you "take away" the transmission? Does that mean you never gave him it in the first place? Did you make a mistake giving Mike official transmission? Does that mean you may have made a mistake with others in the community as well?
I think this is an important question.


4:24 AM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Dear Ryunin,

No problem. A bodhisattva's life is one mistake after another, and a sincere will to the truth excuses all.

If we were sravakas we would have to worry so much about making mistakes that how could we dare to try to clarify Buddhism via the internet, as if we had never heard the principle ISHIN-DENSHIN ("transmission of the mind by the mind itself").

Fortunately we are not sravakas, and so we are continuing this blogging experiment, by trial and error.

5:27 AM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger jundo cohen said...

Dear Gniz,

My name is Jundo Cohen, and I am also one of Nishijima Roshi's "Dharma Heirs" While awaiting Roshi's answer, which can sometimes be short and sweet and days in the making, I thought to offer a word.

People often hold a highly idealized opinion of what it means to be a "Zen Teacher" and "Master," and to have received "Dharma Transmission." The fault lies sometimes in all those old stories in which Master Fuddy-Duddy hears the sound of a falling shoe and, ZAP!, he (rarely she) suddenly is "ENLIGHTENED." Those stories, our version of Jesus' turning loaves into fishes, are very often taken to mean by beginners that the "Enlightenee" is now suddenly some super-human creature, all Wise and Compassionate, and in perfect understanding of the Buddhist teachings --- if not all Time and Space to boot. Many a teacher with a Guru complex would like his students to believe so too.


One does not expect such perfect knowledge from a car mechanic about cars, a lawyer about the law or a taxi driver about the city streets, so why would you expect it from a Zen Teacher?? Those idealized old tales rarely tell you what happened a day later when the new "Master" was all too human and not so masterly. You see, "Zen" is about being a human being in this sad and joyous, beautiful and perfectly imperfect world. It is about sitting Zazen, and making the Buddhist teachings a part of one's life, so that we can live - right this very moment. Yes, some very deep experience of life, of Wisdom and Compassion, of Time and Space too ... all that does go with it. But then, as my wife likes to remind me, it is time to take out the trash and do the dishes (each, by the way, a profound experience of the Dharma too, encompassing all Time and Space, if you do them in a Zen way ... please do not forget that fact!).

I suppose that, like that car mechanic or a "Black Belt" in some other art, Zen Teachers are supposed to be experienced and pretty good at this stuff so that they can teach others. They sit Zazen, have hopefully found a certain balance, and have mastered the Buddha's Teachings to a degree that they are skilled at living life in a very deep way. But, Zen Teachers are just human beings, living in Samsara , this crazy world with all its Stuff, and "Masters" come complete with bad breath sometimes and pimples on their faces. We are prone to all human problems just like everybody else - and sometimes we can loose the way too. "What is balanced can come unbalanced," my wife the Ai-ki-do student likes to say.

If you want some other teaching of angels and saints, somethings that denies the mud and dust of this ordinary road we walk, than there are plently out there. But if you want to learn to live life with all the bumps ... to live life fully here and now ... try Zen.

Peace, Jundo Jim

12:58 PM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For 123Twist San

Thank you very much for your excellent and exact interpretation. Because of your efforts I think that it has become much brighter for us (you, Mike Cross San, me, and other many members) to solve the problem, and so I would like to express so many thanks to you.

For Mike Cross San

Reading your comment now, I feel that you have become a little brighter than before. I think that it is very clear how you can solve the problem, therefore I hope that you will select the way of solution.

As you wrote, I have always the very great and benevolent mother, who is called Buddhism, and so I hope that you will have the same benevolent mother too.

For 123Twist San

I also think that your interpretation is true.

I remember clearly that I have told his girlfriend my consolation, but I didn't have any supposition that the hard and miserable conditions have continued so long for Mike Cross San, and those problems haven't been solved yet. I think that the method of solution is very clear, but I do not know whether he likes to change his situations, or not.

For MikeDoe San

I think that your interpretations are true. The problem might be Mike Cross San's interpretation of Zazen. I think that Mike Cross San has selected the most unhappy way. I think that if he permit himself to take a posture in zazen a little relaxed, I think that such a kind of relaxation might be the relaxation for him to consider miscellaneous thoughts of good and bad.

For michaelser San

Thank you very much for you reading my blog.

For Mike Cross San

The SHUTSU SHIN NO KATSU RO means the vigorous way manifesting the body itself.

In Buddhist philosophy, we distinguish the two areas absolutely. The one is the area of intellect, and the other is area of act. And Master Dogen taught us that we, human beings, can easily understand the existence of the area of intellect, but it is very difficult for us actually to experience the existence of area of act. This is the very important point, which divides clearlly the realistic Buddhism from the intellectual Greek-Roman-Civilization.

In Zazen there is no separation between body and mind. Therefore it is impossible for us to separate even breathing into the two parts of body and mind. The breathing belongs to act.

I am very sorry, but I have to say that Mike Cross San's Zazen is not true.

Habits are never real, but they are just memoty or supposition. It is just the true Buddhism to break down all wrong habits totally relying upon our human act at the present moment.

So the meaning of "the vigorous road of getting the body out" is to a real act at the present moment.

For Mike Cross San

Unfortunately there is nothing in my Buddhist theory, which is not true at all.
I have sacrificed everything in my life for studying Buddhism and to spread it through the world. Therefore there is nothing, which is wrong in my Buddhism. Because I have studied Buddhism under Gautama Buddha, Master Nagarjuna, Master Bodhidharma, Master Dogen, Master Kodo Sawaki, and Master Renpo Niwa.

When I think the cotents of Mike Cross San's Buddhist philosophy and 123Twist San's Buddhist philosophy, I clearly think that 123Twist San's Buddhist understanding is much better than Mike Cross San. We should never be proud of ourselves utilizing the facts, which are completely different from the real facts.

A person, who insists that we should think something in Zazen, can never be a Buddhist.

For Oxeye San

Thank you very much for your kindness, but at the same time it might be completely impossible for me to find anything valuable in his blog, and so I am afraid that it might be really losing time for me.

For Lone Wolf San

Thank you very much, but I am afraid that it might be just losing time for me to read them.

I think that your question is a very important and interesting. Because we, human beings, have enjoyed the so gorgeous ages of Greco-Roman, Christian, Scientific Civilizations, and so we have studied the so valuable and important Civilizations of idealism and materialism. But recently we, human beings, have begun to have necessity to solve the absolutely contradictory situations between idealism and materialism. But if we want to solve the absolute contradiction between the two, it is necessary for us to have a completely new philosophy other than intellectual philosophy. And when we look for any kind of philosophy, which has ability to solve the problem, we can find the philosophy, which has ability to solve the problem in the ancient India. The value of Buddhist philosophy comes from such a historical situation, and so it is necessary for us inevitably to study the philosophy, which insisted the existence of two kinds of philosophies, the one is the philosophy of intellect, and the other is the philosophy of practice, or act.

For Mike Cross San

In your translation of Fukan-Zazen=Gi, I can be affirmative until the middle of translation of the second paragraph. But from the part that "Even if, proud of our understanding and richly endowed with realizations, we obtain special states of insight, attain the truth, clarify the mind, manifest a zeal that pierces the sky, and ramble through those remote spheres the sky, and ramble through those remote spheres that are entered with the head; we have almost completely lost the vigorous path of getting the body out."

Therefore I would like to show my translation of mine, which I have show in my blog as my own translation just before.

3:08 PM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Even if we were so proud of our sharp intelletual understanding, and were full of intuitive decisions, getting sharp intuitive enlightenment in perfectly independent area, getting the ultimate truth, clarifying human mind, and even though we were elegantly strolling inthe situations, having the strong confidence that our intelletual thinking ability has surely entered into the real world, having the strong and sharp mind of piecing the heaven, (but actually looking at the situations), it seemed to be perfectly impossible for us avoiding the intellectual consideration to get the vigorous state of real acts in the area of reality.

3:19 PM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Even if we were so proud of our sharp intelletual understanding, and were full of intuitive decisions, getting sharp intuitive enlightenment in perfectly independent area, getting the ultimate truth, clarifying human mind, and even though we were elegantly strolling inthe situations, having the strong confidence that our intelletual thinking ability has surely entered into the real world, having the strong and sharp mind of piecing the heaven, (but actually looking at the situations), it seemed to be perfectly impossible for us avoiding the intellectual consideration to get the vigorous state of real acts in the area of reality.

3:27 PM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

The Four Noble Truths and the Second Law

(1) To suppress ourselves is suffering. This is dukha-satya, the truth of suffering.

(2) This self-suppression, through unduly tightened muscles and held joints, requires physical energy. This is dukha-samdhaya-satya, the truth of suffering as accumulation of physical energy.

(3) This physical energy, according to the second law of thermodynamics, has an inherent tendency to disperse and, unless obstructed from doing so, it will disperse spontaneously. Therefore, if we stop obstructing the second law by doing something to suppress ourselves, the energy required to keep muscles unduly tightened and joints unduly held, will spontaneously disperse. Muscles will release and joints will open up. This is dukha-nirodha-satya, the truth of stopping suffering.

(4) There is a traditional way of stopping suffering, transmitted from the seven ancient Buddhas. It is to sit in the full lotus posture with physical effort, with mental effort, and as the spontaneous shedding of physical and mental effort. This is dukha-nirodha-marga-satya, the truth of the way of stopping suffering.

Not having clearly understood this original teaching of Gautama Buddha, Gudo Nishijima taught me to suppress myself by stiffening up my neck and pulling in my chin. (Then he criticized me for being too tense.)

I couldn't find the solution in Gudo Nishijima's teaching at all, but fortunately I found the solution in the teaching of FM Alexander and the words of Zen Master Dogen.

What I am reporting now regarding my experience of suffering, and release from suffering, is not an intellectual ramble. I am bearing witness to real experience.

4:47 PM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Nishijima Roshi wrote: "A person, who insists that we should think something in Zazen, can never be a Buddhist."

To explain the relation between thinking and action in Zazen, or, in short, the necessity for thinking in Zazen, I would like to use the metaphor of a rubber bull held under water.

The metaphor is taken directly from Master Nishijima’s own teaching -- a fact which supports my contention that the principle I am explaining now Gudo Nishijima already understands on a deep, intuitive, non-semantic level. He is just very bad, extremely bad, at clarifying it intellectually, not only to others but also to himself.

A boy is holding a big beach ball under the surface of the sea. He is very attached to the ball and fears that unless he keeps hold of it, he might lose it. Because the 2nd law of thermodynamics, now when we investigate it, is tending to operate all around, without and within, the boys arms are growing very tired and he is becoming distressed. At that time his father wades up to him and shouts in his ear, “Just act! Just do something!” So the boy redoubles his efforts to keep the beach ball under the surface of the sea. His distress increases further. Then his father shouts still louder: “You need not think about your situation. You need not feel the pain in your arms. Just act!!!”

Finally the boy, almost at the end of his endurance, cries out for help. An old grandmother comes along and explains to him, “If you stop holding the ball down, it will just float up to the surface of the sea. Don’t worry, you won’t lose it.” Then she gently takes the boys hands and guides them, still holding tightly onto the ball, to the surface of the sea. “Do you see?” the old woman asks the boy, “You didn’t need to waste all that energy holding the ball down.” “Yes. Thank you, replies the boy. “Now. I understand.”

6:38 PM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

I am not happy with the above metaphor, but the point I am struggling to make is that one cannot do an undoing. Undoing is a spontaneous process. But we can learn to initiate this spontaneous process of undoing, by our conscious decision NOT TO DO. And this conscious decision not to do, is a mental effort, a kind of thinking.

A clearer example might be a man holding a heavy ball at the top of a hill. He doesn’t need to do anything to cause the ball to roll down. The ball already has a tendency to roll down the hill. The man only needs to allow it. But in order to allow it, the man has to make the conscious decision not to hold the ball. He need not do anything to initiate the spontaneous process. Just a thought is enough.

Allowing the spine to lengthen in Zazen is also like that. The spine has an inherent lengthening tendency. But in order for us to initiate the spontaneous undoing of the spine into its lengthening tendency, it is necessary for us to decide not to do anything to shorten the spine.

One way or another, I will clarify this point.

8:21 PM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

To try not to do is also doing. To try and not think is also thinking. Dogen said "beyond thinking". Zazen is sitting up straight accepting what thoughts come up without blocking or pushing them away but not chasing or getting caught by them either. To use the intellect to push away, to not do, to not think, or to block thought is not zazen. So one should just sit with no intention and no intellectual gymnastics.

Thanks Gudo San for taking the time once again to answer and respond to are comments.

2:10 AM, June 28, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...


For Mike Cross San (continued)

I do not affirm the last part of your translation at the end of your quotation, and so I corect it. You do not recognize the dimentional difference between the area of intellect and the area of reality.

Buddhist monks should always have the absolute confidence in their own Buddhist theories, and so I would like to explain my Buddhist theory completely and absolutely. It might be very useful for many readers, who like to know the true Buddhism sincerely.

I would like to write only Buddhism, and I do not write anything other than Buddhism.
Because I do not know anything other than Buddhism at all.

I do not have any prejudice to any national civilization at all.

Chivilizations, which have the strong tendency to intellectualism, can never be only Euro-American Civilization, but almost all human civilizations have very strong tendency to intellectualism.

For Mike Cross San

I do not like to read your blog at all. Because I can never expect to find any kind of Buddhism in your blog at all.

I feel very sorry tha Mike Cross San will leave from true Buddhism more and more by criticising my Buddhism,.

I think that Mike Cross San is very selfish because he likes to become famous by criticizing me in Buddhist societies.

I never expect any benevolence from Mike Cross San at all.

For MikeDoe San

I expelled Mike Cross San from Dogen Sangha, because he disturbed the situations of Dogen Sangha so much. But I still keep him as my student, because I haven't given up to teach him Buddhism even today, and so I am writing this blog to change his Buddhist thoughts too.

I agree with MikeDoe San's idea. The words "I am right, he is wrong" do not belong to discussion, but they belong to crying.

I think that Mike Cross San's emotional attitudes clearly suggest that he hasn't become Buddha yet.

I will just fight against the wrong theories until my death.

I have changed my common social attitudes from today. I will express my honest opinions to his wrong idea without hesitation at all.

A person, who does not belong to Dogen Sangha can never become the successor of leader in Dogen Sangha at all.

I think that a person, who insists some wrong theory, has to be painful throughout his life.

Mike Cross San can never be a Buddhist monk at all.

3:41 PM, June 28, 2006  
Blogger earDRUM said...

Much of zen thought is paradoxical, and doesn't seem to make sense until the mind becomes clear. Trying to understand everything with logical thinking is a trap. Sometimes we have to trust our intuition to lead us in the right direction.

When I sit zazen, I let my mind empty of thoughts. I gently remind myself to let my thoughts subside. In doing so, I am thinking this thought: "Let my thinking subside". So while I am reminding myself to let go of thinking, I am still thinking. But as my thoughts subside, I think less and less. Gradually, my mind becomes quiet and clear. I can now let go of my thinking easily. But I have been at it for 25 years.

This is how I interpret Master Dogen's statement “Think the state without thinking”.
Is this correct?

5:29 AM, June 29, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Dear Eardrum,

I think your question is addressed to the Master, not to me, but, for what it is worth, my interpretation is essentially the same as yours.

Evaporation of thoughts is a spontaneous process. I can’t force it to happen by any means--not by doing something, and not by thinking something. But I can learn to LET it happen. And this LETTING is not a doing. It is a kind of thinking. It is not thinking ABOUT thoughts evaporating -- it is not intellectual thinking. It is thinking as a practical means of initiating a spontaneous process which is beyond thinking. If we express it in terms of the 2nd law of thermodynamics (see, it is thinking to surmount “activation energy barriers” which obstruct the spontaneous dissipation of blocked energy.

Twenty-five years ago, I read the following in Gudo Nishijima’s book “How to Practice Zazen”:

There are two sides to the coin of thoughts. (1) First, the fewer thoughts we have, the better our condition is. (2) On the other hand, thoughts arise from our unconsciousness when we have cut down our mental restraints in Zazen. (3) Therefore, the arising of thoughts is useful in liberating us from unnatural conditions of body and mind and restoring our balance. (4) However, it would be a misunderstanding of this process to deliberately pursue thoughts or fantasies in Zazen.

It seems to me that what you, Eardrum, are saying, has to do with the process described in (2) -- i.e. using thinking as a means of cutting down mental restraints in Zazen. But whenever I have tried to make this point in the arguments I have had with Nishijima Roshi over the past 12 years, he only interprets that I am going against his teaching in (4).

This is why I persist with this dogged determination that others perceive as madness. Nishijima Roshi understands the process intuitively, which is all very well for him, but by not being clear about the process theoretically, he has led others terribly astray, not only by his words, but also by his hands. His terrible mistake has to be recognized for what it is, so that it is not repeated.

In his own practice Nishijima Roshi leads himself by his intuition. I think that he allows a spontaneous process to take place in himself, which he calls “balance of the autonomic nervous system.” But what he taught me was to stiffen up my neck and to pull in my chin. He taught me this by physically pulling my chin back into my neck and pulling the whole neck column back. It was the most utterly wrong and perverted attempt at postural re-education. The direction of it was 180 degrees wrong. It was just a means for obstructing the spontaneous dissipation of blocked energy.

Not only me, but many other of Nishijima Roshi’s students received the same treatment. If, instead of remaining silent, they had the courage to speak up, you would find that very many of us have suffered from neck and shoulder problems.

The evaporation of thoughts is a spontaneous process of undoing. And we cannot do an undoing. This is a fundamental, absolute truth, about which we, as teachers, must be clear. I think the 2nd law of thermodynamics can help us achieve the necessity clarity.

This is the most vital problem. I think we need to understand it not only intuitively but also very clearly and sharply, as scientists of action.

7:12 AM, June 29, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

P.S. If logical thinking can be a trap, how much more dangerous a trap is illogical thinking?

7:19 AM, June 29, 2006  
Blogger jundo cohen said...

Hello Swan Flied By, Hello Eardrum,

May I offer a take on "“Think the state without thinking”?

When I sit, I just do not think "good" or bad," I do not judge "beautiful" or "ugly." With a quiet mind, I do not put tags on objects in my perception like "mine" or "not mine." In other words, it is not so hard ... I just let things be. If a chair is in my sight, I just see it ... not thinking good chair, blue chair, beautiful or ugly chair and such ... very often not even thinking "chair" or "me" or "not me" chair. I just let all be, perhaps without even a sensation of me and something being apart from me. (Yesterday, today and tomorrow, here and there, may all fade from mind too).

Of course, thoughts will come during Zazen ... good chair, bad chair, blue chair, "my" and "not my" chair and much more. I just let these thoughts drift into mind like passing clouds, then drift out again. I thus return to the state of "just is-ness" beyond thoughts of "this" or "that."

Sit Zazen beyond "right" or "wrong," and it is just right.

This is my way of "thinking non-thinking" or "thinking the state without thinking." It is "Just Sitting" Zazen.

It is really not so hard, nothing to do IMHO with the position of the neck or spine or how you fold the legs or whether you are standing, sitting, walking or flying (Dogen also told me to brush my teeth with a willow twig, which I do not do despite the practice in medieval Japan). I mean, the Full Lotus and Half Lotus are very balanced positions, and Nishijima Roshi stands by them (pun intended) but there are others too (I often use the Burmese position as much as Full or Half Lotus). Many westerners find balance in a chair. You don't have to force Zazen, it is not a Masochistic experience, not self flagellation several times a day. It Just Is, Easy as Pie.

By the way, Nishijima Roshi may like philosophical discussion of the meaning of Zazen, philosophy, politics and such. We all do. But, in the end, his only teaching is to "Just Sit," dropping all philosophical discussion and other conceptions in that simple act of Pure Being. That is my experience of his most fundamental teaching.

Gassho, Jundo Jim

P.S. - I think Eardrum was describing exactly this, as I read his words.

9:26 AM, June 29, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

thank you eardrum, thank you jundo jim, thank you sensei cross. and thank you master nishijima.

you all gave some very important lessons. things i needed to hear. your kindness is really kind of overwhelming to me.

11:33 AM, June 29, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For 123Twist San

I would like to ask you sincerely not to use Koan for making a joke. Because if we have such a habit, Koans will be used for making a joke so many times, and such a tendency might produce a very unhappy situation that many poeple will enjoy making jokes utilizing Koans. And I am afraid very much that Buddhist study would become some kind of hobby to make jokes.

For Mike Cross San

We can easily experience such an unhappy situations in our daily life, and so Gautama Buddha wanted to solve the problem for human beings by recommending Zazen.

During Zazen if we do not fix our posture into the regular way, it is impossible to stop consideration, and we have to become tense more and more to enter into a serious situations by daily practice. If we do not fix our posture regularly in Zazen, such a kind of relaxation gives us a limitlessly big freedom to think, and so if we continue to give ourselves such a reluxation during Zazen, it is inevitable for us to become more and more tense in Zaen seriously. Therefore I taught you such a important point so frequently, but you have never follow my teachings at all. That was the simple fact, which has occured for tens of years, and so if Mike Cross San change your principle, the problem will be solved soon.

The most important problem is whether which is true, and which is false.

Body and mind can be separated in idea, but it is completely impossible for body and mind to be separated in act.

When Zazen is practiced, whether the posture is fixed, or not, is very important point.

Don't flee to Shobogenzo. The most serious problem is just your so confused body and mind.

No confusion means equality of body and mind.

Fences, walls, tiles and pebbles, do not exist without mind.

Do not flee to Master Dogen's expression, but your own peaceful and healthy body and mind are important.

For MikeDoe San

Unfortunately Jules San erazed his own comment, and so it is impossible for me to write anything as the comment.

For Friend San

Because the original story has been erazed, it is impossible for me to write anything at all.

For Dan San

Thank you very much for your kindness to read my blog. As you know, I have several Dharma Heirs, who are called Dan, and so it is rather difficult for me to decide whose Dan you are. Anyway this blog is my last job in my life, and so I would like to express everything, which I want to tell to my students, and so I am very happy that you read my blog so well.

For Mike Cross San

When I finished our translation of Fukan-Zazen=Gi for the first time, it was rather difficult for me to find a sufficient time to check it. And I have cotinued the same interpretation of it for tens of years, and so I am rather surprised that you have had a little different interpretation from mine for so long time.

I do not like to touch your interpretation, which is related with AT theory.

Of course, Master Dogen did not discuss about Heaven and Earth, but he utilized the distance between Heaven and Earth as a simili of difficult problems in our daily life.

Master Dogen said that in our daily life, a small mental problem occurs usually, and such a kind of small problem is prone to become bigger and bigger enormously, and even though we, human beings, worry about such a problem, it is impossible for us to solve the problem inside the mental area. Therefore if we want to solve the problems completely, it is necessary for us to get out from the intellectual area to enter into the actual area, but looking at the real situations it seems to be very difficult for us to get rid of the intellectual area and enter into the area of act directly. Therefore Goutama Buddha recommended us to stop thinking by keeping our posture into theregulated posture, and that was the enormous benevolence, which Gautama Buddha presented us.

Our mental consideration and our sensious perception can never be real, and what is real is just our act at the present moment. Therefore if we want to live our real life, we need to leave our mental consideration and sensuous perception, and it is necessary for us to live our real life relying upon our act at the present.
And such a fundamental theory is very clear, but it is very difficult for us to realize the real life relying upon our act. Therefore Gautama Buddha recommended us to practice Zazen to get rid of consideration and sensuous stimuli by concentrating our efforts to sit really with the regulated posture, but if someone refuses to have such a regulated posture, it might be impossible for him to enjoy the world of reality itself.

For Mike Cross San


EKO HENSHO means to return the direction of illumination, not to outside, but to incide, to reflect ourselves. If we regulate our posture exactly, and make our autonomic nervous system balanced, we can reflect ourselves directly, and recognize the fusion between body and mind in practicing Zazen. And the state like that called EKO HENSHO NO TAIHO.

EKO HENSHO NO TAIHO is never an intentional process. When we regulate our posture into the regulated one, our body and mind become into the fusion of body and mind, which realizes the rule of the universe naturally. In such situations, if the regulated posture is not perfect in its exactness, it is impossible for the practitioner to enter into the fusion of body and mind, and so he can not avoid thinking.

Dropping off of body and mind is not natural, or spontaneous, but it is just our act to regulate our posture into the regulated posture. It is just our efforts to keep the spine straight vertically.

It does not mean any loss of self-consciousness. It is absolutely impossible for human beings to lose their self-consciousness usually.

As you know I have so many Dharma Heirs and students, and so if some student does not manifest any question to me, it is impossible for me to suppose the existence of questions at all.

There is no sense of turning, but it is a kind of self-reflection. Therefore it is fusion of the two directions of inside and outside. Where is my mistakes. If you continue your so rude attitudes further, I would like to stop teaching you absolutely at all.

If you feel real prostrations and real frustrations actually, you have your perfect freedom as a human being to stop asking me everything at all.

For Grim San

Please don't worry about such a intellectual consideration of dualism. It is the Buddhst efforts to transcend the intellectual dualism, and experience the fusion of body and mind.

For Mike Cross San

It is true that both E and HEN are both transitive verbs.

Your thoughts are perfectly caught by the dualistic intellectualism, and so Gautama Buddha wanted to save us from such a kind of dualism.

But if you like to maintain yourself inside such a kind of intellectual dualism, you have your perfect freedom to maintain your favorite tendency for ever.

Even though I have taught such a kind of realistic Buddhism for tens of years, you have always refuse to study such a kind of realism under me at all. Therfore I think that the solution is just relying upon your decision completely.

For Grim San

I would like to ask Grim San, whether it is true that being ordinary is effortless and intentionless? I think that human thoughts are usually so unreliable, and so Gautama Buddha has found his very realistic and reliable philosophy.

For Mike Cross San

The meaning of KONO FUSHIRYOTEI O SHIRYO SEYO does not mean so intellectual, but Master Dogen taught us that the state in Zazen is never consideration. Therefore it is not thinking, and so if we want to practice Zazen, we should notice that it is just to practice Zazen that we are just sitting in the regulated posture without thinking.

Now I am not explaining only the material world.

Release of tight muscles while sitting in the full lotus posture can never stop our thinking, and so such a released situation incleases our tention more and more.

That is perfectly different from Zazen.

For MikeDoe San

Is appying efforts are bad habits?

I think that the heart does not have so effective results, which you described in your comments.

3:38 PM, June 29, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

To Jundo Jim Cohen,

You wrote:
This is my way of "thinking the state without thinking." It is "Just Sitting" Zazen.

You should read Frank Lambert’s excellent explanations of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Then you might begin to understand the utter stupidity of what you have written.

It is necessary for us to be clear about the distinction between (A) effort which is required to surmount “activation energy barriers” and (B) the spontaneous dissipation of energy which follows from this effort.

For example, the energy required to light a fire belongs to (A), but the subsequent burning of the fire belongs to (B).

“Thinking the state without thinking” belongs to (A). The practice and experience of “just sitting” belongs to (B).

Studying the self belongs to (A). Forgetting the self belongs to (B).

Sitting in the full lotus posture with body, and with mind, belong to (A). Sitting in the full lotus posture as the dropping off body and mind belongs to (B).

To say that (A) is just (B) shows a total lack of real understanding of the problem. In your case, there is neither light nor fire, but just complete dullness. Master Dogen taught us in Fukan-zazengi that we should not choose between clever people and dull ones. But a dullard like you makes that teaching almost impossible to follow.

5:15 PM, June 29, 2006  
Blogger jundo cohen said...

Hello Michael Cross,

I usually overlook what our fallen angel writes, but I have been meaning to point this out for awhile.

"The Second Law of Thermodynamics" has about as much to do with Zazen as, for example, Einstein's Special Relavity, Pythagoras' Theorum or my mother's recipe for apple tarts have to do with Zazen. Did you know, for example, that human form in Zazen can resemble a right triangle that satisfies A2 x B2 = C2? Did you know that time slows for someone sitting still in Zazen compared to someone walking Kinhin? Do you know that my mother's apple tarts also formed perfect right triangles, heat dissipating little triangles, much as does the human form in Zazen? Isn't that all just amazing coincidence with important implications to our sitting?

With all due respect, it is a common tactic of pseudo science to take conservative scientific concepts and stretch them beyond recognition into subjects far far beyond their intended scope. The Skeptics Societies around the world regularly point out these misuses by New Agers, general cranks and the like, all forms of half-education. I am very sensitive to this, because Zazen and such can be lumped in with all the crazies by those who understand not what we are. Here is a page of misuses and misinterpretations of the Second Law and Thermodynamics in general.

As to the rest of your analysis of proper Zazen, well, I find it rather one of those "angels on the head of a pin" type discussions. For me, perfect Zazen is no harder than eating a vanilla ice cream on a hot summer's day. There is, of course (to borrow your words an (A - the effort of ice cream eating which is required to surmount “activation energy barriers”) and a (B - the spontaneous dissipation of energy which follows from this ice cream eating effort), and the laws of Thermodynamics (it is a heat dissipation, of course) apply perhaps more directly than in Zazen.

None of that is a concern ... I just taste the pure taste, no thought of something else, no comparison to other treats I have encountered or dreamed of ever tasting, and I know all there is to know about its sweetness.

It's not rocket science!

Gassho, Jundo

6:24 PM, June 29, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

The 2nd law of thermodynamics, describes a direction which is inherent in all energy--a tendency to disperse spontaneously if not obstructed from doing so.

It is not about "heat dissipation." Heat is the name for a process of energy transfer from a body at a higher temperature to one that is at a lower temperature.

Heat does not dissipate. Energy dissipates. And that process of energy dissipation, is called, in some cases, heat. It is called, in other cases, a blue lotus flower opening.

According to Master Dogen, to study Buddhism under a false teacher is worse than not studying Buddhism at all. Therefore I clearly and loudly proclaim that Gudo Nishijima made a terrible error in transmitting the Dharma to you, James Jundo Cohen. You are a nasty piece of work, as documented on my blog, in your own words.

7:57 PM, June 29, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

A bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism need not concern him or herself with such an impractical and abstract law as the so-called first law of thermodynamics, because living beings can never exist in a closed system.

But the second law, Guatama’s law, the Buddha Dharma, is not abstract: it is just reality.

In reality, all kinds of energy dissipate, if they are not obstructed from doing so. But is anger a kind of energy in reality?

When I see people who are proud without reason of their status in Buddhism, teaching others wrongly, I feel very angry. I want to destroy their arrogant attitude.

Noticing my own anger, I remember Master Dogen’s instruction to turn our light within. But then, sitting in the lotus posture, I cannot locate any energy called anger. I am sometimes aware as an objective fact that, associated with a subjective feeling of anger, I am holding the joints of my body with undue tension. This holding requires energy.

So how do I stop holding? What should I do to stop the holding?

Where is the need to do anything? The energy which is required to keep my joints held in an anger pattern, with undue tension, has an inherent tendency to dissipate. The energy dissipates spontaneously, providing that it is not obstructed from doing so.

So what is necessary is clear understanding of the Law. For a person sitting upright in the lotus posture, with clear understanding of the law, it is not necessary to do anything to become free of anger. A preventative thought is enough -- a decision not to obstruct the 2nd law, a decision NOT TO DO. Freedom follows spontaneously.

This is why Master Dogen instructed us not only to sit upright in the full lotus posture physically, but also to sit in the full lotus posture mentally. This is why he described right effort as “two mirrors and three reflections.”

To all false Buddhist teachers like James Cohen, who are proud of themselves without reason, I say: Be warned. My mission is to cut to the root of confusion, and destroy your useless teaching. The first turning of the Dharma-cakra was like that. And my turning of the Dharma-cakra will also be like that.

To Swan Flies By, I would like to add: Sitting in the full lotus posture is not called The Queen of Samadhis. Sitting in the full lotus posture is called the King of Samadhis. The truth is not always politically correct.

1:45 AM, June 30, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

In the case of a sravaka, thinking means thinking about. Thinking about precepts, thinking about the Dhammapada, et cetera. It is powerless.

A bodhisattva’s thinking in Zazen is decisive. It is like a sharp sword cutting a rope that prevents a boat from following the spontaneous flow of a river.

These are not the words of Gautama Buddha. They are just my own words, from just my own experience of sitting in the full lotus posture, today and every day, seeking to understand the true meaning of Master Dogen’s instructions for Zazen. Finally I clearly understood, decisively. So people with ears should ask to visit me, and should listen to me.

4:57 AM, June 30, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

In my experince, if I just relax the body in Zazen without keeping the spine straight it is easy for me to relax to much and fall asleep or to get caught in some kind of thoughts without notice. Keeping my spine straight vertically brings alertness to my practice. When I sit zazen keeping the spine straight vertically I relax with alertness. Without alertness of keeping the spine striaght vertically, my mind gets distracted by random thoughts or slumberedness and I cease to sit zazen in the present moment.

Last night during Zazen, I noticed (based on alertness) a very sublte thought of trying to reach a certain way of doing Zazen I had done in the past. Once noticed the thought dissapated by itself and I was sitting zazen fully as just sitting zazen. A feeling suddenly came upon me that I can not describe then in the next moment I had the thought "is this what it feels like to be sitting in reality with no seperation between subject and objetc", this was the first thought that arose after feeling what I felt,then other thoughts came and I just continued to sit not getting caught by the experience or thoughts.(I really have no idea if that was the experience of no seperation between subject and object, I just kept sitting) The best explination I can explain was that without effort something came into focus or more like balance because I was not focusing on anything.(But it had the feeling of being out of focus and coming into focus with out intention or effort, all by itself)and I was not denying anything either. It was just a feeling of okayness, without the normal worrying or anxiety I am prone to feel. No bliss(unless you call the feeling of okayness Bliss), nothing mysitcal. But it was very ordinary at the same time without any difference. The only difference was this feeling of okayness with whatever came up. It lingered on as thoughts arose. The thoughts about my life that usually worry me arose but I still felt okayness as I watched them arise. I don't label this experience as anything special but I don't deny that it happened either. The feeling of okayness still lingers even today slightly among my discursivness as in the background so to speak. I feel a since of being more balanced but nothing in my life has changed. I still have financial worries at the time but if I didn't sit zazen I probably would feel as okay as I do. Whatever the experience was it is gone now and does not exist, only this moment, moment by moment.

Zazen is nothing special and one does not change from it or get anything from it. But Zazen is the best practice one can do, and change from living in illusion to living in reality. It seems to help nothing but yet be very helpful.

As I have said, I claim nothing about the above experience.(I really don't know what it was I experienced) I sure in the hell don't claim an enlightened experience of any kind. But I am very thankful to be practicing Zazen for the sake of Zazen now and forever. Each individual is responsible THEMSELVES to practice zazen and experience no self or no sepration between subject and object. No one can do this for another. But without the teachings and teachers like Gudo San, Brad, etc. would one ever sit zazen, even have the idea to sit zazen, or sit zazen correctly. I wonder, if one experiences this reality or act in the present moment if one will know for sure what they have experienced?

5:17 AM, June 30, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...


Literally: It is vital that the ears vs the shoulders, and the nose vs the navel, should be caused to oppose each other.

In other words, it is vital that the muscular energy which pulls ears and shoulders towards each other, and nose and navel towards each other, should be allowed to dissipate.

This instruction is not, as Master Gudo Nishijima describes, about “fixing the posture regularly.” Master Dogen is describing a spontaneous process, involving dissipation of superfluous energy. Master Nishijima’s conception and Master Dogen’s conception are totally opposed to each other. One is fixity. The other is release from fixity.

Master Dogen’s instruction is based on his clear realization of the direction inherent in all energy. Master Nishijima’s understanding of this instruction is wrong, false, untrue. It is just Gudo's error.

What do I hope to gain by pointing it out? What does it look like? I tell the truth because I cannot help it.

6:54 AM, June 30, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

who were the six great philosophers of india who believed in materialism? and what was their materialist belief?

9:59 AM, June 30, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

Master Nishijima, you wrote:

"During Zazen if we do not fix our posture into the regular way, it is impossible to stop consideration, and we have to become tense more and more to enter into a serious situations by daily practice. If we do not fix our posture regularly in Zazen, such a kind of relaxation gives us a limitlessly big freedom to think, and so if we continue to give ourselves such a reluxation during Zazen, it is inevitable for us to become more and more tense in Zazen seriously."

Could you explain a little more what you meant by relaxation during zazen leading to tense in zazen?

And also, While maintaing the proper zen posture, should the neck and back muscles be fixed rigidly or should there just be continual correction of posture during zazen?

Thank you..

9:53 PM, June 30, 2006  
Blogger jundo cohen said...

Dear Lone Wolf,

You asked:

who were the six great philosophers of india who believed in materialism? and what was their materialist belief?

If I may, the following is Nishijima Roshi`s explanation from a Japanese book of his which I translated. I think that it also helps clarify Roshi's view of Buddhism as an existential practice of pure being, acting, living ... what he calls a "philosophy of action" (or "religion of action" ... he does not distinquish in this book). I apologize that the post is a little long.

The book, by the way, is available from Amazon and other sources (just search "A Heart To Heart Chat On Buddhism With Old Master Gudo.")

Gassho, Jundo


Sekishin: … [P]lease tell me about the real meaning of ‘The Middle Way.’

Gudo: Because the meaning of ‘The Middle Way’ indicates a path right between ‘something’ and ‘something,’ the first question to address is the nature of that ‘something’ and ‘something’ [and] the concept of ‘The Middle Way’ anticipates are not only of a single type. However, if we ask, historically, what Gautama Buddha first meant when he spoke of ‘The Middle Way’ in his own day and culture, he meant that path standing between the extremes of Brahmanism and the extremes of what are known as ‘The Teachings of the Six Non-Buddhist Masters.’

Sekishin: Let us discuss all of that. Let us begin with Brahmanism. What is that? …What were the central tenets of ‘Brahmanism.’

Gudo: Well, the content of both the Vedas and the Upanishads is just not something so clear and simple that it can ever be summarized in a few words, at least not without the greatest risk in doing so. That being said, if I were to attempt to briefly summarize the central concepts of the Upanishads, I would say: (1) This world in which we live was formed by a Creator, usually called ‘Brahma;’ (2) Accordingly, it can also be said that this world is an entity ruled by Brahma; (3) Within the heart of each human being is a ‘self’ called the ‘Atman,’ this ‘Atman’ being an aspect of Brahma; (4) Accordingly, we human beings can achieve happiness by actualizing and realizing the Atman within us, thereby unifying with Brahma; and (5) Even after the death of the physical body, the Atman can be reborn in the world of Brahma.

Sekishin: So, when we think about the fact that Brahmanism recognizes a ‘Creator,’ that it speaks of an inner spirit named the ‘Atman’ and of a world after death, I feel that this belief system would fall ….. among the three categories of religions you discuss ….. into the category of ‘idealistic religions.’

Gudo: Yes, that is so. If we were to place Brahmanism among the three categories of religion, it is a religion which venerates the ‘ideal.’

Sekishin: Alright. Then, what are ‘The Teachings of the Six Non-Buddhist Masters?’

Gudo: ‘The Teachings of the Six Non-Buddhist Masters’ refers to six teachers of six schools considered heretical from the standpoint of Buddhist thought. It means the teachings of these six thinkers falling outside the teachings of Buddhism.

Sekishin: Who were these six thinkers?

Gudo: The six thinkers were individuals active during the age of Gautama Buddha, or shortly prior thereto. Their names are Sañjaya-velatthiputta, Ajita-kesakambarin, Makkhali-gosāla, Purāna-kassapa, Pakudha-kaccāyana and Nigantha-nātaputta.

Sekishin: What doctrines did each of these six teachers propose?

Gudo: Each of these six thinkers criticized the ideas of Brahmanism in some way, and proposed a philosophy in contrast thereto. Accordingly, in contrast to Brahmanism, we can say that they tended to be upholding doctrines which, in the three categories of religion, can be categorized as either religions of materialism or as religions of ‘action.’

Let us begin with Sañjaya-velatthiputta, who entoned that debate and dispute is meaningless with regard to those problems about which human beings cannot reach a conclusion, and that, foregoing such disputation, it is best to engage in practices and ascetic training for the purpose of understanding.

Ajita-kesakambarin was a sensual materialist, who philosophized that the purpose of life is to be found in pleasure.

Makkhali-gosāla, a fatalist, denied the existence of free will as well as the meaningfulness of effort on the part of human beings.

Purāna-kassapa denied the reality of values such as good and evil, and therefore rejected the significance of morality.

Pakudha-kaccāyana professed a materialist theory, denied morality and asserted a philosophy of hedonism.

Nigantha-nātaputta, the founder of Jainism, divided this world into the spiritual and the material, advocating a control and suppression of that which is the material, and an uplifting of that which is the spiritual.

Sekishin: How would the three categories of religion apply in each case?

Gudo: The four thinkers Ajita-kesakambarin, Makkhali-gosāla, Purāna-kassapa and Pakudha-kaccāyana are clearly believers in materialistic religions. However, with regard to Sañjaya-velatthiputta and Nigantha-nātaputta, the situation is not so clear. To categorize their ideas, it can be said that they were intoning religions placing value upon action, but perhaps because the thought structure of their systems was not sufficiently clear and precise in comparison to Buddhism, they were subject to criticism by Gautama Buddha.

Sekishin: So, the concept of ‘The Middle Way’ as expressed in Buddhism means the ‘Middle Way’ between the extremes of ‘Brahmanism’ and the extremes of ‘The Teachings of the Six Non-Buddhist Masters.’ Therefore, if we were to summarize the point, does ‘The Middle Way’ mean the ‘middle path’ between religions of materialism and religions of idealism, namely, a religion placing importance on action?

Gudo: That is right. The intent of Gautama Buddha in putting forth ‘The Middle Way’ was to point to the fact that Brahmanism was in error, that ‘The Six Teachers’ were in error as well, whereby, if we try to boil it down, he was asserting that the ways of thinking of materialistic religions are in error and, no less, the ways of thinking of idealistic religions are in error.

Gudo: … It is quite commonly thought in modern society that a veneration of the material, so-called ‘materialism,’ is the same as ‘realism.’ For example, that ‘science,’ and a vision of a universe consisting but of cold, dark, meaningless matter, is the last word on what is ‘real.’ However, such a stance is not supported in Buddhism. From a Buddhist standpoint, ‘matter’ is nothing more than an abstract concept representing that which can be grasped with our senses. It is not the same as ‘Reality.’

Sekishin: So, what you are saying is that in Buddhism, ‘Reality’ ….. or to put it in other words, ‘Dharma’ ….. signifies that state of being which is itself neither the ideal nor the material?

Gudo: Yes. The placing of importance on ‘Reality’ found in the thinking of Buddhism does not lean toward the ideal, does not lean toward the material. Accordingly, thus comes the meaning of ‘The Middle Way.’ Buddhism, through its use of the term ‘Dharma’ in its true meaning of not the ideal, not the material, thereby grasps the real world. Thereupon, it places complete trust and faith in this world of Reality, namely, in that which is ‘Dharma.’

You said at the outset that, sometimes when you hear the expression ‘The Middle Way,’ you feel as if it means ‘a lukewarm effort,’ ‘just to take the safe and sure road,’ or just to have a compromising attitude about life, a weak indecisiveness toward life. But, quite the contrary, Buddhism …. much as does idealism itself …. lets us know that we are fully capable of pursuing high goals which might enliven and kindle our human existence, any ‘goal in life’ available to us. The difference from ‘idealism’ is that, simultaneously and hand-in-hand with our moving forward … from a parallel perspective not separate therefrom … we accept - right to the marrow - this world ‘as it is,’ perfectly what it is with all which may be taken as imperfection ….. our world of perfect imperfection. While fully accepting the world, while fully not wishing that the world were any other way than just the way it is …. we are most free to act, to live and choose as we think best. We need not be passive, but can live our lives abundantly. That stance of moving forward, fully living life …. while simultaneously knowing that there is no place else ever to go …. is the ‘Middle Way.’

10:04 PM, June 30, 2006  
Blogger jundo cohen said...

Let me also add that, in translating this section, I consulted with Dr. Steve Heine (the Dogen specialist and big fan of Sensei's translation with the aid of Michael Cross of the Shobogenzo) and several other Buddhist historians. While he thought that the description of Brahmanism is a little short and sweet (necessitated by the nature of the book), they all confirmed the description of the original meaning of "Middle Way" in Early Buddhism.

Gassho, Jundo

10:09 PM, June 30, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

Thank you Jundo. That was very helpful.

10:59 PM, June 30, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

The right direction is inherent in all energy, and it manifests itself spontaneously, unless prevented from so doing. This is the fundamental law of the Universe: how could it rely upon our practice and experience of Zazen?

If, however, we misunderstand this law even slightly, our Zazen is far separate from accordance with this law. If, for example, we are proud of our understanding that it is necessary to pull in the chin to straighten the spine to balance the autonomic nervous system, and even if are able truly to say that “I have sacrificed everything in my life for studying Buddhism,” the cruel fact remains that, if we have misunderstood this law even slightly, we have never realized it at all.

In reality, a happening is either spontaneous or not. If it is not spontaneous even slightly -- even if the principle of pulling in and straightening is very subtle -- then it is not spontaneous at all. As the English proverb says, “A miss is as good as a mile.”

7:07 AM, July 02, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Now I would like to drop the atom bomb, as follows:

What Master Dogen expressed in the 13th century as KOAN (in the line “the rule of the universe has been realized already”) is called in our time the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

What Master Dogen expressed as SHOBO in the line “the true universal rules manifest themselves first,” is called in our time the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Now I have dropped the atom bomb already. I await the announcement of surrender from Japan.

5:55 PM, July 02, 2006  
Blogger element said...

Nishijima Roshi,

I'm happy that I can learn about Zen
from your teachings!

If I may, I would like to ask you some questions?

1. Is it possible to prove oneness of reality by logic or argumentation to a person who does not practice Zazen, for example with the logic of Nagarjuna? I ask this because my teacher in philosophy says that it is not possible. He says that I can only believe what you say is true (and I Think that what you say is true),he also says that a experience of enlightenment can't be proven, and that people who had such an experience maybe had only a illusion/dream/... My teacher only believes in rationality especially Kant, he says that a truth must be examinable by reason.
But I think both ways are important.
And isn't rationality also a belief which is much more worse because it
doesn't seem to be a believe?

2.Do you know about Taisen Deshimaru
Roshi who had studied also with Kodo
Sawaki and later teached Zen in France/Europe? I ask because I practice in a Dojo in Germany in the
tradition of Deshimaru Roshi and we
get instruction to watch or follow our breath. Deshimaru Roshi has also written in his books that we should concentrate on the breath. Now that
you are also practiced with Kodo Sawaki and do not recommend to follow the breath I wonder what Kodo Sawaki teached? I asked that question in my Dojo and the Master and other prationers said that they all would concentrate on breathing.
I tried both, and prefer not to concentrate on the breath. Why are there so many teachers who teach one should follow the breath?

Thank you very much!


6:20 PM, July 02, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

According to my dictionary, “racism is defined thus: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

I think that Hitler and Hirohito held that belief. But, on the slaughterbench of human history -- to use Master Nishijima’s own words -- “nationalism was defeated in the semi-final.”

Even though Japanese racism/nationalism was defeated in the semi-final, General Macarthur left Hirohito on the throne and the zaibatsu only strengthened their power. Consequently, Japanese society has been very slow to come to terms with its own defeat. I refer anyone who is interested to Karel von Wolferen’s book The Enigma of Japanese Power.

During my 13 years living in Japan, I encountered Japanese racism very frequently, and suffered from my strong reaction to it.

The aggressive comments of 123twist are very characteristic of a habitual Japanese attitude of unreasoned self-sacrifice for the leader of a group. I have observed this to be a strong Japanese trait. But my observation is not racist. Anyone who believes that such a trait is determined by racial differences is entirely out of touch with their human reason. The roots of Japanese irrationality lie not in race, but in politics. People who are not accustomed to act on the basis of reason are much easier for the System to control.

As a member of Japan’s ruling post-war elite, a graduate of Tokyo University who worked in the Ministry of Finance, Nishijima Roshi understands the above very well. And there is a certain irony in his attitude. He clearly understands that Master Dogen’s teaching affirms human reason (see, for example, Shobogenzo chap. 14, Sansuigyo [184]). At the same time, when Brad expressed an unreasoned and unfounded view on the Shobogenzo translation, Nishijima Roshi gratefully affirmed Brad’s view. Brad subsequently apologized for and retracted his opinion on the basis of feedback received from people who knew more about it than Brad himself. What I noticed is that Nishijima Roshi was happy to see Brad’s unreasoned devotion to his Master.

The way I see it, reasoned devotion is admirable and good. Unreasoned devotion is dangerous and bad. From my students, I neither expect it nor want it.

As Japanese people (and Brad) begin to understand the true meaning of Fukan-zazengi, their actions are bound to become much more reasonable.

Why? Because, in the final analysis, any holding, even the holding of an unreasonable prejudice, requires energy. Metaphorically speaking, it requires the energy to keep the eyes screwed shut and the ears covered with the hands. Therefore, it is totally impossible for a man who has truly realized the true Dharma, i.e. the 2nd law of thermodynamics, to maintain an unreasonable prejudice.

I am pointing you, 123twist, to wake up to the true Law of the Universe. In return, you are reacting to me on the basis of an unreasoned devotion to your teacher. To hold such unreasoned devotion also requires a kind of artificial effort, or energy. But this needless energy has an inherent tendency to dissipate, if you stop preventing it from doing so. Therefore, if you understand the true meaning of Fukan-zazengi, as I have explained it to you already, you will not suffer from this problem any longer. Your world will become not illusory problems, but fences, wall, tiles, and pebbles.

4:19 AM, July 03, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

To sit in the full lotus posture with the body requires a physical effort which we should make, four times a day if possible, for as long as we can manage.

To sit in the full lotus posture with the mind requires a mental effort which we should make as is necessary, using thinking as a bridge to go beyond thinking.

To sit in the full lotus posture as dropping off body and mind is a spontaneous process.

Because it is a spontaneous process I have used the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which describes all spontaneous processes, to explain it on this blog. But to practice and experience it for myself, I sit in the full lotus posture, four times a day, with body, with mind, shedding body and mind.

I encourage everyone to emulate my King of Samadhis, and to match my King of Samadhis. There is nothing special about me. The right direction is inherent in all energy -- yours as much as mine.

Therefore, in 1227, when the lion’s roar was heard for the first time in Japan, it sounded like this: DO MOTO EN ZU.
DO means the truth, the way, Bodhi, enlightenment.
MOTO means originally.
EN means roundly, totally, integrally.
ZU means to pervade.
So, literally “The truth originally is all pervasive.”
Or, for a more interpretative translation:
“The fundamental truth pervades throughout the Universe.”
Or, for a still more interpretative rendering:
“The direction inherent in all energy is expansive; energy has an inherent tendency to release out of itself -- both within and without the self.”

4:53 PM, July 03, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

What is spontaneity?

There are two kinds, and Master Dogen cautions us to mind the gap that is prone to open between them.

The first kind is the spontaneity of energy spontaneously spreading out -- as in the flow of water, the growing of grass, and the floating of clouds.

The second kind is the spontaneity of “dropping off body and mind” which we Zen Buddhists are prone to pursue directly, greedily.

The first kind cannot be grasped; but it can be allowed. In the process of allowing, it is truly realized.

The second kind can be pursued, for example, by pulling in the chin and pushing up the spine, but it can never be realized, because it is only a concept.

When Master Dogen wrote, “If there is the slightest gap, heaven and earth are far apart,” he is warning us against greedy end-gaining.

Master Nishijima’s interprets that Master Dogen is warning against a small intellectual worry that is prone to become bigger and bigger. I do not agree. The separation between heaven and earth that Master Dogen describes is not relative; it is absolute.

One cannot do an undoing. This is a fundamental rule of Zazen, an absolute.

Undoing is a spontaneous process, which involves energy being released. One cannot do it by direct means. What causes us to try to do it by direct means is not intellectual worry. What causes us to try to do it by direct means is greedy end-gaining, that is, an emotional desire to grasp something.

6:34 PM, July 03, 2006  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear All members of Dogen Sangha Blog. Thank you very much for your eforts to research the true meaning of Gautama Buddha's thoughts.

I have answered to each member's question one by one before, but this time I would like to explain the fundamental basis of Buddhist philosophy.

Because reading your comments, I noticed that several members want to know the meaning of the expression that "think what is not thinking,"

The expression come from a Koan Story of Master Yakusan Igen.

One day Master Yakusan Igen was sitting in Zazen, and there his student came, and he asked his Master.

"What are you thinking, just sitting like a mountain without any motion.

Master Yakusan Igen answered, "I am thinking what is not thinking,"

But the student could not understand the meaning of his Master's explanation.

Therefore the student asked to the Master Yakusan Igen, again.

"How is it possible for us to think what is not thinking.

Then Master Yakusan Igen answered, "It is different thinking."

This is the outline of the Koan.

Therefore the conclusion is just "It is not thinking."

And so when we are sitting in Zazen, we should never think anything at all.

But actually speaking, it is impossible sometimes for us to stop thinking.

Therfore Master Dogen consolated us, "It is impossible for us sometimes to stop thinking, and it is sometimes inevitable for us to feel sleepiness in Zazen.

Therefore Master Dogen consolated us in Shobogenzo Zanmai-0-Zanmai that it is permissible for us to think in Zazen, and it is permissible for us to feel sleepiness in Zazn, but the ultimate situation of Zazen is having dropped off body and mind.

And "Having dropped off body and mind" means just keeping our posture straight vertically without thinking and feeling.

Therefore I clearly notice that Mike Cross San's philosophical system can never be Buddhism. Therefore we should never read his opinion, and we should never listen to his opinion at all.

5:21 AM, July 04, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

I don't have my own philosophical system. I have endeavored for 25 years to translate Master Dogen's words literally, and to understand them literally, by sitting in the full lotus posture.

In Fukan-zazengi Master Dogen teaches us how to sit with the body -- right foot on left thigh, left foot on right, thumbs together, sit upright, et cetera.

He teaches us how to sit with the mind -- turning our attention inward, stopping the mind's forward momentum, not thinking good and bad, but thinking the state of not thinking, et cetera.

And he points us to sitting as dropping off body and mind -- to that which is spontaneous, beyond our physical and mental effort.

The Buddha-Dharma is not anybody's philosophical system. The Buddha-Dharma is to sit. To sit is the Buddha-Dharma.

The translation of Fukan-zazengi which you have done completely by yourself is of course excellent, but I much prefer the translation we did together, because it is closer to the original. Your interpretation of Fukan-zazengi also is of course very excellent. It has formed the basis of my Buddhist efforts for 25 years. But in some places your interpretation is not accurate. The main problem is your failure explicitly to recognize the role of mental effort, i.e. thinking, in Master Dogen’s teaching.

Your Zazen teaching is like military training on the parade ground: Don’t think. Just do it.

For 12 years I have made my effort to draw this problem to your attention. Your response has been like that of an officer in the Japanese Imperial Army (which you were, in China) facing insubordination from the ranks, or maybe insubordination from a foreign prisoner of war. There is something about your attitude that truly sickens me to the pit of my stomach. This is not a new emotion. I served you all those years, in your office, in the dojo, and in the temple, in spite of this emotion. Deep, deep inside I think that you are an unreformed war criminal. So I am afraid the time is growing close when you will go to hell.

He teaches us how to sit with the mind -- turning our attention inward, stopping the mind's forward momentum, not thinking good and bad, but thinking the state of not thinking, et cetera.

And he points us to sitting as dropping off body and mind -- to that which is spontaneous, beyond our physical and mental effort.

The Buddha-Dharma is not anybody's philosophical system. The Buddha-Dharma is to sit. To sit is the Buddha-Dharma.

He teaches us how to sit with the mind -- turning our attention inward, stopping the mind's forward momentum, not thinking good and bad, but thinking the state of not thinking, et cetera.

And he points us to sitting as dropping off body and mind -- that which is spontaneous, beyond our physical and mental effort.

The Buddha-Dharma is not anybody's philosophical system. The Buddha-Dharma is to sit. To sit is the Buddha-Dharma.

7:23 AM, July 04, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

In the late 1980s I attended a Saturday afternoon “Zen Seminar in English” at Asakusabashi in Tokyo; it was also attended by quite a large group of young people on a visit to Japan from America. Stimulated by the young audience, Gudo Nishijima spoke from the heart: “I believe that Master Dogen is the best Buddhist Master in Japan. Therefore I believe that Master Dogen is the best Buddhist Master in the world.”

The conclusion may be true, but with regard to the validity of the reasoning, I would like to ask, on behalf of many myriads of murdered Chinese civilians, one question: If Japanese civilization is so excellent, how do you account for a phenomenon like the rape of Nanking?

What makes me angry? I will tell you what makes me angry. Japanese arrogance makes me angry. It is the unreformed arrogance of Japan’s post-war elite that makes me fucking angry. And because Gudo Nishijima has still not shed the characteristic attitudes of a member of that post-war elite, even if he has spent more than 30 years like a castrated water buffalo, I dare say that he has not spent even one day as a true Buddhist monk yet.

So I recommend you, Kazuo Nishijima, former officer of the Japanese Imperial Army, to confess your evil karma. After that there may be a possibility that your ears will finally open to the true meaning of Master Dogen’s instructions in Fukan-zazengi, which I have persisted in elucidating for you for 12 years already.

7:55 AM, July 04, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

Thanks for the teaching and advice Gudo San.

When one thinks about what to write before or while one writes, is it possible for that person to recognize act in the present moment? Can one recognize act in the present moment all the time or does the recognition have to come in fragments in time? My confusion about thinking and Reality continues to confuse me no matter what answers I recieve. It seems we need thinking in life to communicate and function, but it also seems thinking causes us alot of suffering. But I don't think the point of Zazen is to become a rock and not live fully. What would be the point of that? Can we live in the balanced state even while we use intellectual function to live life fully?

11:20 AM, July 04, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

From the internet I found that Shobogenzo Book 1, 3, and 4 are now available through Booksurge. Although I hold half the copyright to the Shobogenzo translation I myself was not informed about this move at all. I am not a legal expert, but I think that, in going ahead with the publication without either informing me or making any arrangement with me regarding royalties, Gudo Nishijima must have done something illegal.

Having done that, Gudo then threatened on his blog to take legal action against me. Why should a graduate in law from Tokyo University put himself in such a vulnerable legal position? This is one question I have been asking myself. There must be a reason for it.

I remember in the early 1990s I was on a train on the Seibu-Ikebukuro line, going into work in Tokyo. It was late morning, past the rush hour, and in my carriage there were only a few people. One of them, an elderly scruff, started barking aggressive commands at me in broken English. Whether my intuition was right or wrong I do not know, but I sensed he was playing out some wartime experience, and I reacted. I grasped him by his shirt and drew his face towards mine.

Can you guess the reaction of this weedy old man as a large foreigner with the calloused knuckles of a karate black-belt pulled him onto his toes? His face lit up. It was as if he was saying to me: “Yes, please, go on and strangle me. I deserve it.”

I let go of him and walked through into the next carriage.

I wrote a few days ago that the battle between Gudo Nishijima and myself is not personal; it is philosophical. That was only partly true. It is not only philosophical. It has to do with the direction of culture, or civilization. It has to do with my deep-seated hatred for Japanese cultural arrogance which, for me, is personified by Gudo Nishijima himself. I want to defeat Japanese cultural arrogance.

I don’t hate Gudo Nishijima and I don’t hate Japan. My wife is Japanese. My sons are half Japanese. My sons’ grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins are Japanese. I don’t hate Japanese people. But there is something about the way Japanese society works (again I refer readers to Karel von Wolferen’s brilliant expose of the Japanese System) which sickens me. And Gudo Nishijima, through his life, has been very much a stalwart of that System.

The battleground Gudo invites me onto is a legal one -- like the old man on the train who wanted me to beat him up physically. No thank you. It is not about defeating one old man in the confines of a court. It is about defeating a wrong direction, out in the open.

Today, as it happens, is July 4th, the day when American citizens celebrate the founding of a new republic. It was 230 years ago that the Founding Fathers proclaimed the primacy of individual rights, under the banner of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

It is primarily because of the enormous directive power of this idea, I believe, that individual Americans, protected by their constitution, and guided by reason, are gradually finding their own way to the ultimate pursuit of happiness, which is sitting in the full lotus posture, as taught by Zen Master Dogen -- with body, with mind, and shedding body and mind.

Japanese civilization has progressed in a different direction, not respecting individual rights or human reason. Again, Karel von Wolferen has laid it out much more clearly than I can. Japanese civilization has evolved into a System, enigmatically exercising its power from the top down. Japanese society was like that before the Second World War, and after Japan’s surrender in the Second World War Japanese society became even more like that.

I use the word “surrender” instead of “defeat” because in a real sense the Japanese System, 60 years on, still has not been defeated yet.

So my philosophical battle with Gudo Nishijima over the role of thinking in Zazen can be seen as a small part of a much wider conflict, which has to do with the direction of civilizations. The really big question at the beginning of the 21st century, not least for Japan, is: which way will China go.

The teaching that “just to sit is to drop off body and mind” did not originate with the Japanese Zen Master Dogen. Master Dogen brought the teaching back from his Chinese Zen Master Tendo Nyojo. Let us hope that the Chinese Zen Masters of the 21st century do not pervert the original teaching in the way that Japanese Zen Masters such as Master Kodo Sawaki, Master Taisen Deshimaru and Master Gudo Nishijima have perverted the teaching in the 20th century -- with their irrational exhortation to pull in the chin. The wrong direction of Japanese civilization may be seen as the wrong direction to pull in the chin, writ large.

The teaching of Fukan-zazengi is one that can unite America, China, and Europe -- but never in the way that Gudo Nishijima has imagined (with America acting as the chief of police in a global police state). The true teaching of Fukan-zazengi has to do with samadhi as a spontaneous happening, not as something which is imposed from above.

So far, there is not one person who truly understands what I am going on about. But gradually people will understand. It is inevitable. Because I am pointing in the direction which is inherent in all energy.

7:12 PM, July 04, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Sekishin, you are nearly there, but not quite.

Yes, sitting upright in the full lotus posture is action, which is different from thinking.

I also say that we should just do this physical action, without thinking anything, as a starting point. Physically we should do it, for as long as we can.

But mentally we should decisively not do it.

Dropping off body and mind, we should allow it to do itself.

9:10 PM, July 04, 2006  
Blogger Taigu said...

You really want to have a good go at Mike, don't you? The guy seems to really upset you. Now, we are in the conspiracy kind of theories... So Chodo would invent another identity? When you haven't revealed your own...That's a good one, isn'it? Who are you by the way, immaculate lesson giver? Who are you?

Let me say it again, one might disagree with the way Mike speaks, communicates, but this boyish fight is a bit ridiculous. You are not a flying swan but behaving like an annoying fly... And your very attitude is precisely feeding what you claim to fight.

You will find me at Blue Mountain, I am a very crooked man, living in Japan and even if Mike shouts that I did not understand what he teaches, that I am a fake, well, let me tell you that his teaching is real and genuine and did change my way to sit. And yes, I disagree with Nishijima Roshi when he says that Mike's teaching is not true Buddhism, and yes I disagree with Mike's abrupt style of writing posts.

You obviously have no idea how much this issue of the pulling of the chin is critical. Or you don't want to listen. And I even believe that many people in Dogen Sangha are aware of it and won't open their mouth about it. Dogen never instructed anybody to pull the chin in. The ineffable expresses itself not through holding, fixing but releasing, undoing. And this has nothing to do with Mike Cross, you, me, Nishijima or the Pope, it is just a fact. Something you may catch a glimpse of when you drop your belief system and put your shiny armour away. Locking one'shead may feel safe and secure, unfortunately, it is not the unknown that Bodhidharma urged us to put into practice. How do you sit "I don't know" with your whole body-mind? That is precisely what that other noisy and irritating fly called Mike Cross asks.

This is a very important issue. If you visit Japan, you'll see what centuries of stiff neck and chin in practice did: they killed the Buddha-dharma. Zen is dead here. If you go to France and sit with the AZI or other groups, you may find the same subtle tendency, what as alive and organically dynamic has become, in less than half a century, a very rigid, moralistic, feudal and military training. Nobody wants to listen.
All they want is to imitate dead japanese forms and get the approval of the great and mighty Sotochu. Even if the contraversial Deshimaru would come back, he would be horrified!

That's where pulling the chin, stiffening the neck lead people to.

Rather than saying that this Alexander technique is a complete scam, why don't people go and experience what it really means? Why don't people that have already experienced how valuable this approach is just get to write something here?

And the issue is not Alexander Technique versus true Buddhism... This is an ignorant and childish view. Refusing to listen and be the student of one's disciple is regrettable, excluding a student doesn't solve anything, proclaming that he is not a Dharma heir anymore is just impossible (the nature of Dempo is beyond this, and we all know it)and shouting insults to be heard is pointless and also unecessarily offending, practicing what one preaches not only in action but also in words is important (how can anybody listen to a angry person?).

Now I might have two people on my back...I cannot care less. Three geese fly as one.

Kuma San

12:42 AM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger gniz said...

Talk about missing the forest for the trees.
Everyone involved in these ridiculous, circular blog fights is simply trying to avoid the present moment.
I include myself among you.
When paying bare attention to the present moment, talking about pulling the chin in, which sitting position is better, or who did what in the past, becomes nonsensical.
But the fact that everyone continues to discuss and argue merely reflects the basic fact that we are avoiding right now.
For all of our various reasons.
None of you can give eachother the last word and so the debate continues.
I find it entertaining that there is not one actual zen master in the bunch.
But you all have your certificates, dont you?


1:34 AM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

Master Nishijima, Mike Cross's understanding or misunderstanding of Buddhism should not be posited on Dogen Sangha Blog. His interesting theories should only be available on his own website. I request that Master Nishijima take the necessary steps to prevent the theft of his own blog and to remove any further writings of Mike Cross forever. Those of us who are intrigued can continue to read Mike’s interesting meanderings on his own “Middle Way“ blog.

10:53 AM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Master Dogen taught:
(1) Sit in the full lotus posture with the body.
(2) Sit in the full lotus posture with the mind.
(3) Sit in the full lotus posture dropping off body and mind.

To sit in the full lotus posture with the body requires a physical effort not to think but to do.

To sit in the full lotus posture with the mind requires a mental effort not to do but to think.

To sit in the full lotus posture dropping off body and mind feels as if it is effortless; it is a spontaneous process, like a great body of water moving imperceptibly downstream.

Without (1), there is no (2) and no (3).

Therefore, without the existence in Buddhism of Gudo Nishijima, there is no existence in Buddhism of Mike Cross, Pierre Turlur, and Swan Flies By.

Miscellaneous views expressed above are utterly irrelevant to the true meaning of Fukan-zazengi, which passes from teacher to student, person to person, spontaneously, like a sound vibration passing from one tuning fork to another. All else is only vanity.

9:16 PM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

flecktones, if you blame this blog or any blog in keeping you away from Dogen's writings.. The chances are you would never have got around to reading him anyway.

12:45 PM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger jundo cohen said...

Hello All,

This blog makes me never want to read Dogen.

I might say that if Zen practice did not allow for life's disturbances, annoyances, human failings and ugliness - in fact, if our practice failed to EMBRACE all of that, and everything that this universe contains including the cancers ...

... well, it would not be very much Zen at all.

If you wish a dreamland without weeds, eat opium. As Dogen wrote in Genjo, "And though it is like this, it is only that flowers, while loved, fall; and weeds while hated, flourish." This sentence suggests that Reality is just Reality.

Gassho, Jundo

6:33 PM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...


You were the 108th person to comment. That is very auspicious.

2:19 PM, July 08, 2006  
Blogger jundo cohen said...

Hey Mike Doe,

As you say: Just sit, and all the nonsense drops away in an instant. The rest is, well, just this crazy world, just PEOPLE, imperfect people, not saints or angels. Even bald headed monks are just people, and we can all loose our way. You know, this kind of thing is nothing new in the history of Zen, let alone Buddhism.

After Dogen's death, his lineage was continued by Ejo, who transmitted the Dharma onto Tettsu Gikai, who became the third abbot of Eiheiji. His abbotship became entangled, however, in what came to be known as the "Third-Generation Controversy" (sandai soron), also involved questions about Dharma transmission. The main problem lay in the fact that Gikai had received Dharma transmission from two masters (Ejo being one of them and the other, a master of the Japanese Darumashu). After receiving much opposition because of this, Gikai was forced to resign his abbotship and henceforth the practice of having only one Dharma transmission master became the norm.

But over time, this policy of having one Dharma transmission master came under question as well because of the "temple-transmission" issue (garanbo). From the medieval to the early modern period, the custom of becoming part of the lineage of the temple one was to become the abbot, rather than becoming part of the lineage of one's direct teacher, became prevalent. In other words, a new abbot had to transfer their lineage allegiance to the temple and void the Dharma lineage they had received from their original master. Furthermore, if one became an abbot of a different temple, one had to void the previous lineage allegiance each time one moved. Because of this, the idea and reality of transmission became disordered.

The problem, however, was not Dogen. Nor is the current problem Nishijima. Get this point straight, absolutely straight, or your Zen practice will always be lacking: We sit, we drop off body and mind, all is peace (PEACE!!!!) However, we must live in a world (aka Samsara) in which we need deal with people, conflict, emotions, the good and bad, beautiful and ugly ...

The resolution is not to flee from the reality, not to insist that the latter does not exist. We are not saints, not machines, and even monks will fight over who got more rice at breakfast who failed to replace the paper roll in the Tosu (temple bathroom). The resolution, full and complete, is to EMBRACE Samara ... life's disturbances, annoyances, human failings and ugliness, wars and cancers.

However, in doing so ... mountains are mountains again.

In other words, living in this world of war and cancer, it is just not the same as it was before ...

The problem was not Master Dogen, the current problem is not Nishijima. The problem is that life is complex. This is what Dogen meant, it is what Nishijima means when he cautions against having an overly idealistic vision of anything, even Zazen. It is what both Dogen and Nishijima mean when he says to forget the words, forget the debates, and Just Sit!

So, now go sit! To quote Mike Doe ...

If you sit on a Zafu as Dogen did you may discover what Dogen rediscovered. The rest is just words.

Gassho, Jundo

5:51 AM, July 09, 2006  
Blogger jundo cohen said...

Hi Mike Doe,

I might suggest some perspectives to you that may deepen your practice. It is from what you wrote, and of course, I cannot know the actual state of your practice based on that alone.

If the peace that you experience on the Zafu is not carried forward into parts of your everyday life then I would suggest that you still have some practice to do.

Of course, as you say, that peace tasted in Zazen swallows the whole world whole, all conflict is gone at once, problems vanish into whisps and whisps vanish, no "self" or "other" to yield the slightest friction. But, if you think that everything in your life will thus be peaceful, that all conflicts will be gone, your problems vanished once and for all, that self and others will not bump heads ... you are missing the point completely. You describe a dream, an ideal ... not Reality. You describe Zen Masters in story books, not Zen Masters who must tend to the flowers that fall and the crab grass that grows though it is unwanted.

Zazen does not have to work 100% of the time, taming our emotions 100%, eliminating our problems 100% ... yet, it is still 100% effective. How? By letting us be True Human Being, not emotionless machines, not opium addicts, not denizens of Heavens far removed from this muddy earth. Be willing to get your hands dirty, to let the facade fall, and do not seek panaceas. "Return to the market" as the last of the Oxherding Pictures show, and stop playing Zen Master.

When there is inner conflict and suffering then naturally this will manifest into conflict with others. When there is no inner conflict then no conflict will arise with others.

If you seek a world without inner conflict and suffering, then you seek Pari-Nirvana, and that happens when you are dead (i.e., when you have no longer a human body to stub its toes, to get pissed off). But, so long as you are in this human world, with human emotions, you will have human emotions, and confict with others. The only question is whether those emotions and conflicts are experienced the same as they were before your years of Zazen practice.

Mountains are mountains again, emotions and conflicts are emotions and conflicts again ... fully the same yet completely something other.

Fail to see this, and you may be shooting for the moon on that Zafu.

There is no need to either flee or embrace. ... There is no need for either reaction or judgement.

Yes, that is what I mean by embrace. But if you think that a human being can avoid reaction and judgement ... you are describing a rock, a corpse perhaps ... not a living human of flesh and bone.

Samsara exists because we continue to create it - with our thoughts.

Samsara is the place where we live so long as we live. It may be differently perceived and experienced as our ways of thinking (and non-thinking) deepend, but it is still Samsara.

On the Zafu peace arises because we momentarily stop thinking and concentrate on the present moment, just letting everything be without thought or discrimination.

But, try to live like that, without thinking and letting everything be, and you will walk into wall, drive off cliffs, be unable to hold down a job. What I propose is a way of seeing in which we choose, discriminate, judge ... all without choosing, discriminating, judging. Fail to practice in that way, and your Zazen is in Ya-Ya Land.

IMHO. Anyway, don't let the words get in the way.

Gassho, Jundo

8:48 PM, July 09, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Jundo James Cohen writes as if he has understood the meaning of Fukan-Zazen-Gi already. In fact, he has never seen the fundamental contradiction inherent in Fukan-zazen-Gi, even in a dream, much less transcended it.

Jundo James Cohen is a hypocrite. He is a Zen Master who points others not to Zazen but to psycho-therapy. He is a nasty piece of work. All this he has documented in his own words, and I have posted it on my blog.

The understanding which Jundo James Cohen expresses here may be adequate for his pursuit of fame as a so-called Zen Master, but it is never adequate to guide people towards Master Dogen's true intention in Fukan-zazen-gi.

Cohen discusses political situations in the history of Zen. But there is just one political situation which it seems that you, Jundo James Cohen, diligent politician, have never studied yet:

Just to sit in the full lotus posture is already the King of Samadhis.

9:36 PM, July 09, 2006  
Blogger Matt said...

whew, yeah i gotta say this stuff really repels me from the idea of sanghas, soto, dogen, and (and AT) period. i know sects have their problems but wow, this is nuts!!!

7:31 AM, July 12, 2006  

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