Dogen Sangha Blog


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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Daily lives in Dogen Sangha

(1) Dogen Sangha and daily lives

1) Keeping the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system throughout a day: Even though it is true that the practicing Zazen is just the central point of our Buddhist training, it is also true that only the practing Zazen is never the whole life of Dogen Sangha members, and so it is also necessary for us to maintain the balanced autonomic nervous system throughout a day other than the time, when we are sleeping. The reason, why I exclude the time of sleeping, comes from the fact that it seems that the strength of the sympathetic nervous system is especially weakened in our sleeping time, and so it is necessary for us to think that the state of the autonomic nervous system in our sleeping time might be different from the time other than the state of sleeping time.
Therefore I think that the members, who belong to Dogen Sangha, should maintain their autonomic nervous system balanced other than the sleeping time. I guess that almost all people will strongly insist that "we, human beings, have never been obliged by such a strange obligation at all."
But I suppose that this problem is a very serious matter, which governs my total Buddhist philosophical system completely. Because since I have begun to study Buddhism relying upon Master Dogen's thoughts, I have begun to have an intuitive principle that "The Buddhist Samadhi must be the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system," a few years later than the time, when I have begun studying Buddhism.
At that time I was rather enthusiatic about Freudian psychology, especially about American psychologist called Karl Menninger, and so reading his books "Man against himself" and "Love against hate," and so forth, I had a intuitive feeling that his explanation of the balanced autonomic nervous system, which reveres the middle way, must be related with the Buddhist fundamental criterion , which was called Samadhi.
Of course, the idea was just my proposition at that time, however, even though I have maitained such a kind of proposition for more than 70 years, I have never met an example, which was inconsistent with my proposition, at all. Therefore, nowadays, I have been believing that my former proposition, which I have been keeping for more than 70 years, must be the Truth itself.
In such meaning my total Buddhist philosophical system including the practice of Zazen, has completely relied upon my proposition. And so if my proposition is true, I can proclaim that my Buddhist interpretations, which has based on the proposition, are completely true. But if it were not true, my total interpretations of Buddhist philosophy must become perfectly wrong.
So my total Buddhist philosophical system relies upon just the proposition perfectly. However, I do not have any idea to doubt my proposition even today at all, and so I would like to proclaim my Buddhist belief totally in such a meaning, which I have explained above. And relying upon such a belief,
I recommend to all members of Dogen Sangha that all human beings, who believe in Gautama Budda's teaching, should practice Zazen two times a day at least everyday.

2) Washing the face: After getting up from a bed in the morning, all buddhists should wash the face and brush the teeth as soon as possible. Because Master Dogen wrote one chapter in Shobogenzo, which was entitled "Washing the Face" (56) , to described the importance of washing the face and brushing the teeth everyday. And that fact suggests how Master Dogen revereed the value of washing the face and brushing the teeth so much. Therefore, we can think that washing the face and brushing the teeth every morning might be a kind of so important human civilization, and so we should never think them light.

3) Gymnastics: Gymnastics are not included into obligations for Buddhists to do, but actually speaking, in the 13th century, when Master Dogen lived, we can suppose that even Buddhist monks were working very hard in agricultural production, and so forth, and so even in their daily life they had sufficiently chances to work for physical labours hardly. However, in our daily life in the 21st century, we are usually working for desk works, and so forth, therefore we are prone to fall down into lack of exercise. Therefore in my case, I have been continuing a preparatory gymnastics, which I have experienced as a member of athletic sports, in my highschool life, for more than tens of years since then. Even though it is never our obligation as a Buddhist, however, it seems that such a kind of practice is useful for maintaining our health, and to keep the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system too. At the same time it is also valuable for me to have taking a walk every day habitually for preventing a lack of exercise.
And it seems that such a kind of practice might be useful for us.

4) Zazen; As for Zazen, I practice it for 45 minutes in the morning, and for 30 minutes at night now every day. In the case of beginners, it might be better for them to increase the length of practice gradualy, for example 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and so forth. There is a habit, which is called Sesshin, that is rather long term of dates, when we can enjoy Zazen intensively, and it is also useful for us to be accustomed to practice Zazen everyday, but at the same time it is very revered in Dogen Sangha that we should practice Zazen everyday on 365 day, or 366 days a year, and so we should practice Zazen without fail even on the day, which is just the next day of ending Sesshin.

5) Meals: It is also a very important task for us as Buddhist practitioners to eat meals everyday. Because it is also an inevitable task for us to continue our living longer day by day. Without taking meals it is impossible for us to secure our survival further.
And it is important for us to eat meals in adequate volume at every time, that is not too much, but at the same time not too scarce. It might be also rather shamful fact if there were any Buddhist practitioner, who is proud that he eat so much, or he eat so little. The volume of meals should be decided on the basis of natural conditions in everyone's daily life, for example, according to age, profession, volume of physical labor, condition of health, and so forth.

When we begin eating meals, it is necessary for us to recite the five reflections every time loadly. Even I explained the Go Kan no Ge already in my blog before, but I would like to repeat it again for your reference.

Go Kan no Ge, or the Poem of Five Reflections

No. 1.


hitotsu ni wa, koo no tashoo o hakari, ka no raisho o hakaru


First, cosidering what I have done today, and I suppose the so enormous efforts of others, who have made their efforts for producing the stoff of meals and cooking.

No. 2.


futatsu ni wa, onore ga tokugyo no zenketsu o hakatte ku ni oozu


Second, thinking the perfctly lacking my moral behavior, I accept the meals with many thanks.

No. 3.


mitsu ni ha, shin o fusegi toga o hanaruru koto wa, ton too o shuu to su


Third, our efforts to prevent abstract considerations and leave from mistakes, are mainly relying upon our efforts of regulating our desire, anger, and stupidities.

No. 4.


yotsu ni wa masani ryooyoku o koto to suru wa, gyooko o ryoo ze n ga tame nari


Fourth, the reason, why I receive meals as good medicine, is just to cure and prevent withering and weakening of mine.

No. 5.


itsutsu ni wa, joodoo no tame no yue ni, ima kono jiki o uku.


Fifth, I receive those meals just for accomplishment of getting the Truth.


 • The double charactor like aa suggests a long sound of a. 

 • ii suggests a long sound of i.

 • uu suggests a long sound of u.

 • oo suggests a long sound of o.

I am hopeful that the Go Kan no Ge might be translated into the native language of each country, because I wonder whether it is useful for people of every country to recite the Go Kan no Ge without knowing the meaning of it directly.

6) Taking a bath: It is also a Buddhist duty for everyone to keep the body clean. Therefore it is also an adequate habit for everyone to take a bath as trequently as possible.

7) Sleep: In the case of sleeping, it is also necessary for us to have an adequate time for sleeping. It might be very serious misunderstaning, that it is adequate for Buddhist practitioners to have a shorter time to sleep, which comes from a wrong interpretation of Buddhism as a kind of asceticism, and so we should have an adequate length of time in our daily life. At the same time it is also a very wrong habit for everyone to sleep too much everyday because of laziness.


Blogger prg5002 said...


Thank you for producing this blog. I live in Tokyo but am not able to make it to the weekly meetings so this communication is very valuable to me.

My question is on the first of the reflections when we begin eating. I am amazed by how much humans consume in the world compare to other living beings and what do/can we give back that makes human life useful?

Thanks, Paul

7:47 PM, April 06, 2007  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

For prg5002 San

I think that all human beings are helping with each other without notice. Therefore if we are doing our best in our daily life, we are doing our best for all human beings too.

12:22 PM, April 25, 2007  

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