Dogen Sangha Blog


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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stopping blog for a while.

Dear all members,

Because I am going to a hospital, I would like to stop Dogen Sangha Blog for a while.

I beg your pardon.

Gudo Wafu Nishijima


For the duration of Nishijima Sensei's hospital stay, the administrators of this blog have removed the ability of authors other than Nishijima Sensei himself to post new articles. You will still be able to add comments freely to the comments section. We appreciate your understanding.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Yogacara and David Hume

Dear Nishijima Roshi,

I am new to Buddhism and I am trying to understand it. I am referencing your last insight from "David Hume and Buddhism."

Yogacara refers to container consciousness. Could action be explained by planting seeds in your container consciousness, causing you to act in a certain way? By becoming aware of container consciousness we can plant seeds for more enlightened action. To David Hume cause and effect is an illusion whereas with Yogacara, cause and effect happens, but we do have free will and we can direct our container consciousness. David Hume seems to deny cause and effect, with the result being to deny the effect from the cause. This is a desirable result, we don't want to always be locked into the ways of the past. Yogacara and Buddhism in general seem to accomplish this but in a different way. Yogacara says yes there is cause and effect but it can be controlled by becoming aware of container consciousness. Is this understanding correct?

When you write about the materialistic phase of Buddhism, which phase is this and when did it occur?

Thank you.

Dear Happy Programmer San,

Thank you very much for your question about Yogacara, but unfortunately, I haven't studied Yogacara at all. Therefore I can not say anything about Yogacara, and I do not know anything about container consciousness. I am very sorry being impossible for me to answer your question completely at all.

Gudo Wafu Nishijima

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Important principle in Shobogenzo (15) Busso


The Buddhist Patriarchs
Butsu means "buddha" or "Buddhist," so means "patriarch," and there-fore busso means Buddhist patriarchs. Master Dogen revered Buddhas of the past; he also esteemed the Buddhist transmission from Buddha to Buddha. Furthermore he believed in the continuity of the Buddhist order; the successive leaders of the Buddhist order held an important place in his thought. Here Master Dogen enumerates the names of the Patriarchs of the Buddhist order, and in doing so, he confirms the Buddhist tradition they maintained.

(1) The realization of the Buddhist patriarchs is [our] taking up the Buddhist patriarchs and paying homage to them. This is not of only the past, the present, and the future; and it may be ascendant even to the ascen-dant [reality] of buddha. It is just to enumerate those who have maintained and relied upon the real features of Buddhist patriarchs, to do prostrations to them, and to meet them. Making the virtue of the Buddhist patriarchs manifest and uphold itself, we have dwelt in and maintained it, and have bowed to and experienced it.

(The traditional worship of the Buddhist patriarchs are the taking up each Buddhist patriarch for revering and serving them. Not only in the past, present, and future, but it may be ascendant even to the ascendant reality of buddha. We should pick up Buddhist Patriarchs, who have been keeping the faces and eyes of Buddhist Patriarchs, and we prosrate ourselves in front them and meet them directly. We have manifested the virtue of Buddhist Patriarchs actually, and lived in them and maintained them. We have protestrated ourselves in front them, and experience their life actually.)

We, Buddhist monks, when we have recited Sutras, for example, San-dokai, Hokyo-zanmai, or Daihi-shindarani, we usually recite the names of all Buddhist Patriarchs as follows.

(1) Bibashi-butsu Dai-osho
(2) Shiki-butsu Dai-osho
(3) Bishafu-butsu Dai-osho
(4) Kuruson-butsu Dai-osho
(5) Kunadonuni-butsu Dai-osho
(6) Kasho-butsu Dai-osho
(7) Shakamuni-butsu Dai-osho
[1] Makakasho Dai-osho           [51] Eihei Dogen Dai-osho
[2] Anan-da Dai-osho            [52] Ko-un Ejo Dai-osho
[3] Shonawashu Dai-osho          [53] Tettsu Gikai Dai-osho
[4] Ubakikuta Dai-osho           [54] Keizan Jokin Dai-osho
[5] Daitaka Dai-osho            [55] Gazan Shoseki Dai-osho
[6] Yashaka Dai-osho            [56] Taigen Soshin Dai-osho
[7] Basumitta Dai-osho           [57] Baizan Monpon Dai-osho
[8] Budda-nandai Dai-osho         [58] Jochu Tengin Dai-osho
[9] Fudamitta Dai-osho           [59] Sekiso Enchu Dai-osho
[10] Barishiba Dai-osho           [60] Taigan Sobai Dai-osho
[11] Funayasha Dai-osho           [61] Kenso Joshun Dai-osho
[12] Anabotei Dai-osho           [62] Jizan Yokun Dai-osho
[13] Kabimora Dai-osho           [63] Daichu Reijo Dai-osho
[14] Naga-arajuna Dai-osho         [64] Nan-o Ryokun Dai-osho
[15] Kanadaiba Dai-osho           [65] Daiju Ryuson Dai-osho
[16] Ragorata Dai-osho           [66] Hogan Zensatsu Dai-osho
[17] Sogyanandai Dai-osho          [67] Ryozan Chozen Dai-osho
[18] Kayashata Dai-osho           [68] Kisshu Gensho Dai-osho
[19] Kumorata Dai-osho           [69] Kigai Mon-o Dai-osho
[20] Shayata Dai-osho            [70] Kanshu Taisatsu Dai-osho
[21] Basubanzu Dai-osho [71] Tenso Juntetsu Dai-osho
[22] Manura Dai-osho           [72] Kenkoku Keisatsu Dai-osho
[23] Kakurokuna Dai-osho [73] Raiten Gensatsu Dai-osho
[24] Shishibodai Dai-osho [74] Kengan Zesatsu Dai-osho
[25] Bashashita Dai-osho [75] Hokoku Satsuyu Dai-osho
[26] Funyomitta Dai-0sho [76] Rotei Shoshuku Dai-osho
[27] Hannyatara Dai-osho [77] Fuho Tatsuden Dai-osho
[28] Bodai Darma Dai-osho [78] Kazan Jakuchu Dai-osho
[29] Taiso Eka Dai-osho [79] Bunzan Korin Dai-osho
[30] Kanchi Sosan Dai-osho [80] Daichu Bunki Dai-osho
[31] Dai-i Doshin Dai-osho [81] Choko Bungei Dai-oho
[32] Daiman Konin Dai-osho [82] Roso Ezen Dai-osho
[33] Daikan Eno Dai-osho [83] Ryosai Emon Dai-osho
[34] Seigen Gyoshi Dai-osho [84] Tokuzui Tenrin Dai-osho
[35] Sekito kisen Dai-osho [85] Shogaku Rinzui Dai-osho
[36] Yakusan Igen Dai-osho [86] Butsuzan Zuimyo Dai-osho
[37] Ungan Donjo Dai-osho [87] Bukan Myokoku Dai-osho
[38] Tozan Ryokai Dai-osho [88] Butsu-an Emyo Dai-osho
[39] Ungo Doyo Dai-osho [89] Zuigaku Renpo Dai-osho
[40] Doan Dofu Dai-osho [90] Gudo Wafu Dai-osho
[41] Doan Kanshi Dai-osho [91] Odo Ben-ei Dai-osho
[42] Ryozan Enkan Dai-osho
[43] Taiyo Keigen Dai-osho
[44] Tosu Gisei Dai-osho
[45] Fuyo Dokai Dai-osho
[46] Tanka Shijun Dai-osho
[47] Choro Seiryo Dai-osho
[48] Tendo Sogyoku Dai-osho
[49] Seccho Chikan Dai-osho
[50] Tendo Nyojo Dai-osho


Monday, March 10, 2008

David Hume and Buddhism

Dear Nishijima Roshi,

Some of your posts and writings, as well as those of Brad Warner, seem to show Zen philosophy regarding the self as being extremely close to that of David Hume. Because I am a philosophy student, I was wondering if you could please elaborate on something for me so that I can understand whether the two philosophies agree or disagree.

Hume claims that there is no self because from moment to moment our identity is different, though very similar, to the identity of the moment before. He claims that we infer the connection between the different states of mind from moment to moment, and that we call this connection and continuity our "self" or our "identity". He gives the analogy of a movie - our self is like a movie in that it is an illusion: it appears as though the images are all connected and fluid, but when you look at the film it is actually a series of individual, slightly differing images moving quickly.

Up to this point, Hume's philosophy seems very much in line with Zen Buddhism. But I do know that Buddhism strongly advocates the existence of cause and effect. The problem is, Hume says the only reason that there is no connection between our identity from moment to moment is because we cannot experience the cause and effect, that we only assume A causes B.

Is there any way that Buddhist Philosophy explains the disconnectedness of time and "self" but maintains causality? I apologize if my question is not very clear.


Friday, March 7, 2008

Sesshin ?

Dear Nishijima Roshi,

In the book Hokyo-ki I found a description of the zazen taining-methods of Master Tendo Nyojo. For example he focused on intense sitting minimizing the time for sleep in the night. On the other hand he was scolding monks who fell asleep during zazen-times.
Was this severe praxis the reason for Dogen's great breakthrough of "dropping body and mind"?
Are the practitioners nowadays different from those in the past?
Would you recommend attaining sesshins or do you consider it sufficient to sit twice a day?

Thank you for you precious time answering our questions.

Best regard

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Dear Nishijima,
How can one speculate about time? The natural thought is to believe that time moves in one direction from point A to point B. Lately I've been feeling that time moves in more than one direction or does not exist at all. But this is difficult to reconcile. Any thoughts?

Thank you,

Monday, March 3, 2008

Precepts & Western Thought/ Morality.

Dear Nishijima Roshi,

It seems clear that there are some considerable differences between the Far Eastern and Western views of, and attitudes towards, morality.

In the West I think it may be fair to say that we generally have a more idealistic attitude to what is moral and that this is informed by our history and culture of idealistic religious tendencies. Also, we may be more prone to guilt as we have a culture of identifying our bad thoughts with ourselves more (we see ourselves as 'bad people' more). A culture informed by a Buddhist attitude to thoughts (i.e. the unreality of thoughts) and the illusion of 'self' may not perceive 'bad thoughts' in this way so much.

Bearing these cultural differences in mind, do you feel that Westerners should consider/study the Buddhist Precepts in a special way?

Is there the danger that we could misinterpret the correct meaning of the precepts given our historical cultural values?

Best Regards,


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dogen's Hokyo-ki

Dear Master Nishijima,

I have been reading the Hokyo-ki, Record of the Baoqing Erea in the Book: Enlightenment Unfolds by Kazuaki Tanahashi, Chapter: Journal of My Study in China.

Master Tendo Nyojo, or Rujing is answering Dogen's questions.
But I'm surprised by many things Tendo Nyojo says. I wonder if Dogen or you teach the same as Tendo Nyojo?

1) For example Tendo Nyojo says about Kinhin:
"To do the slow walking practice you coordinate the steps with the breathing."

This is the same way many zen groups teach Kinhin. But I know you are not, and I don't know what Dogen said about that practice.

2) A few pages further, Tendo Nyojo says:
"When you are seated in the teaching chair to give a talk in the monks' hall during zazen, you should wear ceremonial socks."

This shows that Tendo Nyojo was giving Kusen, dharma talk during zazen?
Which is also practiced by many zen groups today.

3) Then this one:
"If after forty or fifty years of zazen practice you are accustomed to sitting without drooping or becoming drowsy, it is all right to close your eyes during zazen."


4) "In zazen it is possible to develop samadhi by placing the mind in various locations. However, I would say during zazen set your mind on the palm of your left hand. This is the way correctly transmitted by buddha ancestors."

Do you think Dogen's teaching is different from his Master ones in this points?
And what is your opinion about the citations?

Sorry for asking such an long and problematic question, but I think this points are important

Thank you

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Support people

Dear Nishijima Roshi,

What is the best way for you to support people who are in death process? Zen practionners or not?

Warm regards
Nicolas Gounaropoulos