Dogen Sangha Blog


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Monday, July 16, 2007

Book Question

Dear Master Nishijima,

I find the information available on your blog to be invaluable.

I am very interested in reading more of your work. Which of your books that are easily available in English would you recommend for me to begin with?



Dear Gregory San,

Thank you very much for your question about my book, and recently I have published my book entitled "To Meet the Real Dragon," which is my introduction into Buddhism, and it is sold by
the meathod of POD, but it is easy for you to get it by relying upon Amazon.

And if you like to read Shobogenzo, it is also possible for you to get it relying upon Amazon too.

Many thanks for you. Gudo Wafu Nishijima


Blogger Gregor said...

Dear Nishijima Sensei,

Thank you very much for your kind reply. I own a copy of your Shobogenzo and hope to start working with it soon.

I am following Jundo's teachings on the Fukanzazengi through his netcasts at Treeleaf.

I'll be ordering a copy of "To Meet the Real Dragon" soon. I read the the excerpt of the book from and am very much looking forward to reading it.

In the Dharma,


12:28 AM, July 18, 2007  
Blogger Harry said...

Dear Nishijima Sensei,

Below is an editted version of a message that I posted to Jundo's Treeleaf Discssion Form. I thought it might be of interest you. I am very much enjoying reading your book "A Heart-to-Heart Chat..."

Wishing you good health.

Best regards,



I'm reading through Nishijima Roshi's book "A Heart-To-Heart Chat on Buddhism With Old Master Gudo" (translated by one Mr. Cohen) to try to get an understanding of his take on religion (as this has been discussed recently).

Roshi's conclusion as to what constitutes a religion seems to be:

1. There is present: "...some way of thinking or ideology believed true concerning the meaning and workings of the world and mankind's place in it"


2. There is also present: "...that the actions of the individual are sought to be regulated in accordance with that way of thinking believed to be true".

He then goes on to lay out his theory of evolution (and extinction) of religions, where he percieves that religions will only survive due to their posessing "superior qualities", then he outlines three types of religion as he sees them thus:

1. Idealistic religions: that look to a higher, super/extra human power or ideal: "Chritianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and many others..."

2. Materialistic religions: here Roshi states that his view does not seperate much between philosophies and religions, even "anti-religion" philosophy. He cites the classical greek materialists Thales, Anaximenes, Leucippus, Democritus and English Empiricism, Francis Bacon, Hobbes, Feuerbach, Marx...

3. Religions of 'action': those "that just call for us to 'be', to 'live' and 'act' here and now, while simultaneously accepting the world 'as it is'"... existentialist religions such as Buddhism (which is the only religion cited in this category).

I think, from a Buddhist viewpoint, that there may be some good practical reasons for viewing religions/philosophies in this way: but, such a viewpoint would quickly lead us into conflict in the wider, diverse, non- buddhist world (as an example, try convincing some rebel Marxist army somewhere that they are actually practicing a religion, or persuading a hardline atheist that he is religious!)

Also, on the point re. the evoltion and extinction of religions: I'm not sure that religions are upheld solely on the strength of their own internal merits: there is the area of politics and other powers (financial power, military power, cultural power, nationalist and racial powers) that contribute to the survival of certain religions and philosophies. This strikes me as a good, practical reason for distinguish between religion, philosophy and ideology.

It can be seen also that some of the 'idealistic' religions have movements that approach, or just are, 'action' religions: I think immediately of the several mystic traditions in Christianity, and of the Sufism of Islam... besides I think that many adherents of 'idealistic' religions practice a type of non-idealistic existentialism without making a big fuss about it. Certainly, I have met (and read the writings of) Christians who seem to have a strong mystical, existentialist experience of life. Their experience of God is not as simple as the belief in some nice, external, oversized, omnipotent bearded man. Of course, there are many manifestations of Buddhism that can very clearly be seen to fall into Roshi's 'idealistic' category.

I recommend Roshi's/ Jundo's book BTW. Its a good, thought provoking read, and, as a remedy to all those good thoughts, the section on actual practice is also very good!



12:41 AM, July 19, 2007  
Blogger Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

I've read To Meet The Real Dragon, and can highly recommend it. It's a profound read.

Reading TMTRD is where I learned that Nishijima Roshi was not just an eccentric zen master, but a freakin' revolutionary one. The usual understanding of the 4NT is incorrect?!

It's a great book, and I'm looking forward to reading it again soon.


2:23 PM, July 19, 2007  
Blogger Gregor said...

Master Nishijima,

The book arrived yesterday and It is great. . . I can already tell its one of the best books on Buddhism I've ever read.

I Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this great work!



1:47 AM, July 23, 2007  

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