Dogen Sangha Blog


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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Gakudo-yojin-shu (1) Outline

The outline of Gakudo-yojin-shu

As the introductory books of Buddhism by Master Dogen, there is Gakudo-yojin-shu other than Fuka-zazen-gi. In the case of Fukan-zazen-gi, because it was written by Master Dogen for the first time, it seems to be very popular, and it was read by so many people actually. But in the case of Gakudo-yojin-shu, I am afraid that it was not so much read by many people. However, when we want to study Master Dogen's Buddhist thoughts, I think that Gakudo-yojin-shu is very important for us to read it too. Because I think that Gakudo-yojin-shu includes so many important instructions, which we need to read for studying Master Dogen's Buddhist thoughts. Therefore I would like to show the fundamental teachings of Gukudo-yojin-shu in Dogen Sangha Blog too.

By the way, when I had a lecture of Gakudo-yojin-shu at Yanagibashi Hall in 1988, the record of my lecture was published by Kanazawa-bunko, and so if you read it, it might be usueful for you to understand Gakudo-yojin-shu in detail, but unfortunately it was published only in Japanese.

Gakudo-yojin-shu includes the following 10 chapters. And the original texts are written in Chinese, but recently even we, Japaneses also read it in sentenses, which are arranged into the same order as Japanese, and so I would like to introduce it in such a special style.

We can suppose that the ten chapter were not written together at once, but they were written separately one by one, and then they are edited into one book later. Because only the chapter 3 and the chapter 6 have the dates, when they were written, but the other chapters do not have any dates, when they were written, and so we can suppose that each chapter has written one by one, and later the ten chapters were edited together into one.

No. 1. Establish the will to the truth.

Master Dogen says, when we begin to study Buddhism, the most important matter is to establish the will to the truth. When we think, at what time, such a kind of will to pursue the truth, will occur, Maser Dogen quoted Master Nagarjuna's words, that when we concentrate our efforts to do
something sincerely at the present moment, we can notice that the passing time is so short and fast, and we recognize how fast the time passing through in our daily life. And just at the moment we can have the will to the truth.

No. 2. Buddhism should be studied without fail, if we had the chance to meet with it.

Master Dogen strongly insisted that if someone met Buddhism, he should study it without fail, because he clearly noticed that Buddhism, which Gautama Buddha taught us, was the only one truth, which pervaded throughout the universe, therefore without pursuing it we, human beings, could never enjoy our human life.

No. 3. Buddhism should always be experienced and entered by act itself.

In the third viewpoint, Master Dogen thought that the teachings, which Gautama Buddha taught us, are different from teachings, which we can get them relying upon our intellectual consideration, or sensuous perception, but they are just the teachings, which can be got relying just upon our acts in our daily life. Therefore if we want to get such a kind of practical experience, which can be got by our act, it is necessary for us to study it relying upon our practice of Zazen, in which we can really experience act itself.

No. 4. We should never practice Buddhism having the mind to get something.

Buddhist practice should always be done for pursuing the truth, and so it should never be done to get something other than the truth itself. Therefore if the Buddhist practice was done for getting fame or profit, it has been done just to get fame or profit, and then we should think that those practice were done for getting fame or profit, and it does never have any relation with getting the truth.

No. 5. In practicing Zazen for getting the truth, it is so important for us to get the true Master.

In the fifth criterion, Master Dogen insisted strongly the very important necessity of getting a true Master in pursuing the truth. And he said that if it was impossible for us to get the true Master in studying Buddhism, it might be much better for us not to study Buddhism. Because if we studied Buddhism under a wrong Buddhist Master, we have to spent the very valuable time of our life for studying wrong theory, and it might be so sad situations for everyone to lose so important time of his or her life for getting so unhappy and serious life.

No. 6. What we should know when we practice Zazen.

In the 6th chapter Master Dogen indicated several points, which we should know cearfully, and he enumarated them as follows. (1) It is the most valuable and important efforts for human beings to practice Zazen for studying Buddhism. (2) We should never like to practice an easy practice. Because easy practices usually do not arrive at the aim. (3) We should know that Gautama Buddha's teachings are so profound and so big. (4) We should know that it is the most important and difficult job for us to keep the balance of mind and to get the harmony of mind and physical behavior. (5) In Buddhist practice it is not so important to get sensitivity, intellect, mental contents, or mental functions, but it is important for us to keep the harmony of body and mind for entering into the world of the truth, which Gautama Buddha preached. (6) It is not so important whether we are older or younger. (7) The greatness of Gautama Buddha's teachings will be decided by whether we continue it, or not, and whether we actually practice it, or not. (8) We should never keep our own opinion subornly, and we should never change our teacher's opinion by identifing it with our own opinion. (9) Gautama Buddha's teachings are completely different from ideas, decision, supposition, intuition, perception, and understanding.

No. 7. A person, who practices Buddhism and want to transcend the secular societies, should inevitably practice Zazen

Master Dogen preached that if we want to follow Gautama Buddha's behavior to transcend vulgar secular rules, it is the best way for us to practice Zazen. Master Dogen strongly insisted that if we want to enjoy the true teachings of Gautama Buddha directly, it is necessary for us to practice Zazen, and so forth directly, to experience the balance of the autonomic nervous system actually, because Gautama Buddha's teachings are not the understandings, which can get by reading books and consideration.

No. 8. Acts, which are really done by Buddhist practitioers in their daily life.

In the Chapter 8. the acts of Buddhist practitioners in their daily life are described in their meanings. Generally speaking, in a intellectual philosophy it is almost impossible for philosophers to notice the existence of the real world, which manifests itself only relying upon the real act of us in our actual daily life. But in the case of Master Dogen, who has clearly grasped the Buddhist philosophy, which is based on the real philosophy of act, actually noticed that the real life of Buddhist practitioners are just the persuing act itself at the present moment of daily life.

No. 9. We should practice Zazen for pursuing the truth.

The Buddhist practice is just the pursuit of Gautama Buddha's teachings, which are pervading throughout the universe, therefore it must be completely impossible for Gautama Buddha's teachings to exist without the truth. And Master Dogen clearly noticed such a fact, which he proclaimed that Buddhist practice must be just the efforts to pursue the truth in their daily life.

No. 10. The direct experience just at the present moment.

The Japanese word "Jikige" means just at the present moment, and the Japanese word "Joto" means to experience, that is just the direct experience of the balanced state in the autonomic nervous system at the present moment. It is not necessary to say that there was no knowledge of the autonomic nervous system in the 13th Century, when Master Dogen lived, but it was very clear that Master Doge actually experience the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system, and so he described the state with the Japanese words "Jikige Joto."

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Dogen Sangha (7) The Truth is just one

Reliability of teachings

When I think the reason, why I have begun Dogen Sangha Blog, it goes back to the original principle, that Buddhism exists as only one. When we think how many numbers of the Truth exist, if there were three or four Truths exist, it would be very strange. When the numbers of the Truth are 2, or 3, we should never say that they are the truth, because we should think that the Truth must be only one.
However, I think that we, human beings, ironically, have given up to get the only one truth for thousands years at least. Because, we, human beings, are fortunate to have both the excellent thinking ability and the excellent sensuous perception, and so our philosophies are prone to divide into two kinds, that is idealism and materialism. And those two kinds of philosophies are absolutely divided into the two fundamentally different bases, and so if someone believes in idealism, he can never believe in materialism, and if someone believes in materialism, he can never believe in idealism. Of course, each individual person usually does not have so clear consciousness about phylosophy, and so the situations are not so clear, but at the same time such a kind of principle, that our human philosophies are prone to divide into idealism, or materialism, and so human societies have been divided into a goups of people, who believe in idealism and who believe in materialis, and they have been fighting against each other for thousands of years at least. Therefore in such situations people are usually difficult to think that there was only one truth, and so almost all people can never believe that there is only one truth.

Gautama Buddha's teachings

However, it was a very splendid fact that in human history there was a gineus, who noticed that without throwing away the two kinds of fundamental philosophies of idealism and materialism, it was impossible for us to grasp the truth. That was Gautama Buddha. But at the same time his idea was so much difficult for many people, and so it has been understood by only very few people for about one and a half thousand of years.
But fortunately his thoughts have begun to meet with the very developed western civilization recently, and so Buddhism has begun to be understood on the basis of western logical philosophy, and such interpretation of Buddhism is going to make a very clear and understandable philosophical system of Buddhism throughout the world. Even though many people do not think so, I think that since Soeren Kierkegaard has established his existentialism at the middle of the 19th Century, the western civilization has entered into the Age of Realism. And when the western people are entering into the Age of Realism, I think that it is very useful method for human beings to utilize the four philosophies in Buddhism.
The four philosophies are the philosophy of pain (idealism), philosophy of accumulation (materialism), philosophy of self-regulation (philosophy of act), and realism itself (philosophy of morals), and the first two philosophies, idealism and materialism, are the fundamental philosophies in the western philosophical thoughts. But at the same time Buddhist thoughts request that it is not sufficient for us to have only the two intelectual philosophies, but Buddhism requests that the realistic philosophy should be realized leaving from the intellectual philosophies to enter into realism. And at that point we should notice the dimensional difference of intellectual area and real area. Therefore in Buddhism we utilize the practice of Zazen to transcend the area of intellect to enter into area of reality. And utilizing the practice of Zazen, we can make our autonomic nervous systems balanced. The autonomic nervous systems are seperated into two parts, that is, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. And the two kinds of nervous systems have opposite functions. When the sympathetic nervous system is stronger, we are prone to be spiritual, and so we are prone to be idealistic. But when the parasympathetic nervous system is stronger, we are prone to be materialistic. However, when the strength of the two contradictory nervous systems will become balanced, the contradictory functions of the two nervous systems become like plus/minus/zero. In other words idealism has vanished, and materialism has vanished. And we can experience that we are just sitting in reality. That kind of fundamental principle of Buddhim is described with the four philosophies, and so we can insist that the theory of the four philosophies are the fundamental priciple of Buddhist philosophies.
The reason, why I established Dogen Sangha, was in such a point. Reading the historical situations of human societies, I feel very strongly the necessity to solve the contradictory situations of idealism and materialism, and to establish the only one priciple of realism. And in the case of Buddhism, the solution is not only related with theory, but the Buddhist solution includes also the practical, or realistic method of Zazen. Therefore we can experience the real situation of human beings, who are living in the real world, and we can accept the philosophical system of realism in our daily life. Therefore I expect that we, human beings, will get the Age of Realism relying upon the practice of Zazen.

Examples of leaving Dogen Sangha

(1) In the case of Mr Mike Cross

In the case of Mr Mike Cross, our mutual contact has continued more than 30 years, I remember. First he came to Japan for studying Karate, but he attented to my Buddhist lecture in English, which had been continued in the Young Men's Buddhist Association of Tokyo University. He was very diligent to study Buddhism, and sometimes he studied in my house in Tokorozawa too. But several years later, he began to study Alexander Technique (AT), and he wanted to insist that AT was the same as Buddhism. The AT has been established by an actor, called Matthias Alexander from Australia, who has suffered from difficulty to speak in his life, because of his enormous efforts to speak in his vocal job. Therefore it was necessary for him to solve the difficulty of speaking in his job, he made enormous efforts to solve the problem, and he established his AT theory, which is useful to solve mental and physical difficulty. Therefore Mr Mike Cross and I have continue our discussion about the problem in every 2 or 3 days for more than 10 years, and such discussions have continued even after my blog has begun. However it is completely difficult for me to affirm the identity between AT and Buddhism, and so I decided that it is better for me to separate Buddhism from AT, and then I recommended him to leave Dogen Sangha. Therefore he is now out of Dogen Sangha, and he is still insisting his a little strange theory, even though he does not belong to Dogen Sangha.

(2) In the case of Mr Michael Luetchford

In the case of Mr Michael Luetchford, I remember that he has attended my Buddhist lecture in English in the Young Man Buddhist Asociation in Tokyo University several years later after I have begun my Buddhist lecture there. The reason, why he has begun to listen to my lecture, came from a situation that one day he visited me in my office in Ida Industry Co. to complain serious difficulty of Japanese company because of much difference between English and Japanese habits and ideas. And after that he also began to listen to my Buddhist lecture on Saturday every week.
Then because I found that he had very good ability to produce beautiful books, I established a small company called Windbell Publications, and I selected him as the manager of the company, and he has produced several beautiful books for me, therefore I feel many thanks for his efforts. At that time I couldn't pay any money for him, and at the same time I have never received any money from the company at all.
Later I felt that it is necessary for me to study Sanskrit if I continue my efforts to study Buddhism. And I have met a chance to study Sanskrit under Professor Hideki Kiyoshima in the Eastern Institute, which was established by Doctor Hajima Nakamura. And after finishing to listen to the lecture I began to read Mulamadyamaka-karika (MMK) in Sanskrit utilizing Sanskrit-English dictionaries and Sanskrit Grammar books in English. And several years later Mr Luetchford wanted to study Sanskrit together with me, and so we established a workshop for studying MMK with the wife of Mr Luetchford, Saito Taijun, and so forth. But several months later he complained that the study was too much difficult and he wanted to stop the workshop, and so I followed his opinion and I begun to continue my study of MMK alone by myself. However, several months later he asked me to attend a Summer Seminar of Sanskrit study in Princeton University for 2 months relying upon payment by Windbell Publications, and I permitted him to do so thinking his enormous efforts to produce excellent books for me. However after coming back from US, he began to translate his own translation of MMK, and wanted to publish it by Windbell Publications. Therefore I read his draft, but it was completely different from mine, and so even though I permitted him to publish it by Windbell Publications, I refused to put my name on it absolutely. And frankly speaking I had a little doubt on his personality at that time.
After that Windbell Publications has published several good books, and I have begun to think that Windbell Publications has been going to enter into the term, when the company would get its profit, but he suddenly requested me that he wanted to stop working for the company. Therefore I listened to his opinion carefully, and I supposed that he has idea that after stopping the company, he wanted to manage the job by himself personally. But I do not like to have him does so, and so I thought that it might be necessary for me to close the company. However I thought that it might be very difficult for me to solve the problem as I like, and fortunately in my students I had Mr James Cohen, who is a lawyer, I asked him to solve the problem lawfully.
After a few years later, I remember that it was in the last spring, he requested me to be a little independent from me in Dogen Sangha. And so I thought that if he wanted to be a little independent from me in Dogen Sangha, I thought that it might be much better for him to leave Dogen Sangha, and he agreed to do so, but later he asked me to come back to Dogen Sangha again. However he haven't be oermitted to come back to Dogen Sangha yet.

Purity of teachings

Only my own aim, for which I established Dogen Sangha, is to maintain the true Buddhist theory as it is exactly, and to pass it to the next generations. I have begun to study Buddhism when I was 16 years old, and I have sacrificed almost all my life for studying Buddhism. Fortunately I have met with Master Kodo Sawaki in 1940, and have begun to practice Zazen. And then I have begun to study Master Dogen's books so enormously, especially Shobogenzo, and after understanding them I had lectures at many places in Japan including Eihei-ji temple, and I have also had my Buddhist lectures abroad several times. I have wrote so many Buddhist books in Japanese and English, and so forth. I have become a Buddhist monk in Soto Sect under Master Renpo Niwa, who was the later Abbot of Eihei-ji temple. Later I began to read Mulamadyamaka-karika by Nagarjuna in Sanskrit, I found that Master Nagarjuna's Buddhist thoughts were never a kind of vague nihilism, but his Buddhist idea is just a very exact realistic philosophy like Master Dogen, which denied idealism and materialism as real entities, and insisted that Buddhism is just realism, which affirmed the real existence of this world. Therefore we can think that we, human beings, have passed through the age, when we have been wobbling about between idealism and materialism, and have entered into the gorgeous and brilliant age of realism.
Reading such a too optimistic belief, I guess that many excellently intellectual, or sensitive poeple might laugh at my so optimistic ideas like Don Quixote. Before noticing the true meaning of Buddhism, I have also had a perfect skepticism that we, human beings, did not have any ability to arrive at the ultimate truth at all. But after meeting Buddhism, I have clearly noticed the clear existence of the ultimate philosophy on the earth exactly, and relying upon the ultimate truth, it might be possible for human being to establish the new world of realism.

My reverence of the western civilization

At the same time I have a very strong reverence in the western civilization. It is said that the oldest civilization of human beings has occured in Ethiopia, Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and so forth, and those ancient civilizations have moved very slowly to the district of the Middle and Near East. Then the civilization moved to the Clete island, and landed in Greece.
In the ancient Greece there were so excellent civilizations, it is said that the almost all civilizations in the world today have started in the ancient Greece. And the ancient Greek civilization moved to Rome. And the Roman people were excellent in martial power and lawful governance, and so the Roman Empire has spread its territory almost through the Europe, and the Greek-Roman Civilization has also spreaded through the Europe.
ABut at the end of the Roman Empire, Christianity has become popular throughout the Europe, and the Christianity was very adequate to maintain the economical condition of medieval ages, which were not so productive because of the agricultural basis. But relying upon the opening the navigation between the West and the East, the European economy has stimulated massively, and then the Europiean economical activity has been much progressed. And being backed up by such vigorous economical activities the Age of Renaissance has begun. Then the Protestantism and the modern sciences have occurred so vogorously, and so the European human civilization has entered into the very vigorous age of Capitalism. The leadership moves from Spain to France, from France to England, and from England to US.
After the world war 1, and the world war 2, we, human beings, were going to enter into the world war 3, because of the serious situations between USA and USSR. But fortunately we, human beings, were not so stupid to enter the world war 3. When I was watching the serious confrontation between USSR and USA, I thought that it might be impossible for human beings to avoide the world war 3. Therefore I felt so happy when USSR and USA stopped the world war 3. I was so joyful that human beeings were not so stupid to burn so wide area on the earth utilizing nuclear weapon foolishly.
I revere such kinds of Euro-American civilization so much, and I think such a gorgeous and excellent civilization will continue more and more as the central civilization of the world. Therefore I do never think that the Euro-American civilization will be replaced by Buddhist civilizations, but I think that if the Euro-American civilization will utilize Buddhism to revise its contradictory disunion of idealism and materialism, the excellant Ero-American civilization will enter its new Age of brilliant Realism.

The value of the Four Philosophies

And in such a case Buddhism has its especially logical methode, which is able to connect the contradictory situation of idealism and materialism with the brilliant oneness of Realism, and relying upon such a change the Euro-American civilization will naturally and logically can enter into Realism. And the Buddhist logic, which supplies a very logical and relyable theory is the Four Philosophies in Buddhism. The theory of the Four Philosophies is a bridge, which can connect the two contractory philosophies of idealism and materialism into one realism utilizing the actual exercise of Zazen.
At the same time such a kind of logical series has become to be certifided by modern scientific research. Recently, especially many American psychiatrists, and so forth, have begun to research the relations between our mental and physical conditions, have become so much identified with the situation of the authonomic nervous system. I wrote my first Buddhist book entitled "Bukkyo Daisan no Sekaikan, or Buddhism as the third worldview" in 1975, and in the book I wrote my proposition that our human mental and physical stableness had the absolutely the same relation with the balance of the autonomic nervous system. And so I have felt very happy that my proposition 31 years ago, has begun to be certified by many scientific scholars recently.
In such a meaning I think that the Buddhist theory in Dogen Sangha should be precisely the same as the newest conclusion of scientific research.

Ittsu-Ki Sha-sui, or one cup of water should be poured into another cup perfectly

In Buddhism, we have the words "Ittsu-Ki Sha-sui, or one cup of water should be poured into another cup perfectly." And the words indicate that Buddhist Master's teachings should be poured into another cup of his student perfectly without fail. I think that this rule should be maintain even in Dogen Sangha, and so each student should study his Master's teaching without any kind of difference.