Dogen Sangha Blog


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Friday, April 30, 2010

The two commens by Ven. silentbell San

I have received two comments from Ven. silentbell San on my Dogen Sangha Blog of 10/04/28 and 10/04/29, but I have lost a chance to express my answer to those questions on my Blog.

Therefore if it were permissible for me to express my opinion, it might be as follows.

Ven. silentbell San's comments

Dear Roshi, (silentbell) 10/04/30

What if a person practices shikantaza, and practices shikantaza, and then keeps practicing shikantaza, and NEVER arrives at a balanced states? Is this possible? Do we judge the balanced state by the stillness of our minds during zazen?
Thank you very much.

Gudo's Answer : When we practice Zazen everyday, it is perfectly impossible for us not to enter into the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system. The state in Zazen, can never be consideration or perception, but it is just Action. This interpretation can never be found in the Euro-American Civilizations, but in Indian Buddhist Philosophy, Action has completely independent entity from consideration or perception. This fundamental characteristic of Indian Buddhist Philosophy is enormously clear, and so we can insist that the fundamental philosophical system of Indian Buddhism does not have any separation between body and mind.

Ven. silentbell San's comment 10/04/29

What if a person practices shkantaza, and keeps practicing shikantazo still, and never reaches a balanced state? Does the balanced state depend upon the stillness of our minds?

Gudo's Answer : When we practice Zazen everyday, we can enter into the state of the balanced autonomic nervous system, and it is impossible for us to leave our balanced autonomic nervous system at all. Of course, if we contine our consideration or perception even in Zazen, it is impossible for us to leave from the consideration or perception, and so if we want to leave from consideration or perception in Zazen, it is necessary for us to stop consideration or perception actually, and if we want to stop consideration or perception in Zazn, we should do it exactly. Of course it is very common for us to consider or perceive even in Zazen, but such kinds of consideration or perception, can never be Zazen. Therefore if we want to practice the True Zazen exactly, we should do it directly. Zazen can never be consideration or perception, but Zazen is just Action itself. Therefore when we want to practice Zazen, it is necessary for us to practice Zazen itself. In other words, when we are practicing Zazen, we should stop consideration and perception, and we should be so careful for us to be exact in following the authentic posture following 'Fukan-Zazen-Gi' by Master Dogen.


Blogger Ryoken said...

Dear Venerable Nishijima-san, do you think theravadan forms of meditation also balance the ANS? they also have very straight spines. What specifically about shikantaza balances the ANS that other forms of lotus position based sitting meditation do not, if they do not?

4:56 AM, May 02, 2010  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Ven. Ryoken San,

Thank you very much for your important question.

I think that even in Theravada Buddhism, if they practice Zazen in their straight posture, they can also enjoy their own balanced state of the autonomic nervous system.

Therefore it is very important point that whether we keep our straight porsture vertically, or not, and if it is impossibl for us to keep the spine straight vertically, it might be impossible for us to keep the autonomic nervous system balanced.

The words of "Shikan Taza" means "just to sit," and so it means that "just sit without consideration, or perception."

During Zazen it is impossible for us to think or perceive. Therefore we should think that Zazen can never be consideration, or perception, but it is just Action to sit.

And if we want to stop thinking and perception, we should stretch the spine straight vertically. It is necessary for us to change consideration or perception into Action to sit.

Of course even in the case of Theravada Buddhism, if they stretch their spine, they can enjoy their balanced autonomic nervous system, and if they do not stretch their spine, it is impossible for them to enjoy the balanced state of their autonomic nervous system sufficiently.

Shikantaza means that Zazen is not consideration, or perception, but Zazen is just Action itself. Therefore if there is no practice, there is no Zazen. Only thinking Zazen can never be Buddhism, and only looking at other's Zazen can never be Zazan, but Zazen is just practice, and so if there is no practice of Zazen by ourselves, there is no Zazen at all.

2:16 PM, May 02, 2010  
Blogger Harry said...

Dear Roshi,

I hope you are keeping well today.

Master Dogen seemed very concerned with traditional koan cases. In Shobogenzo he seems to encourage us to interrogate them in a number of ways, from a number of perspectives, including that of thinking (subjective), not thinking (objective), non-thinking (from our experience of Action which is different to consideration), and from the perspective of the actual, practical situation.

He does not, of course, suggest that we should sit in zazen considering koans. He clearly states that zazen is not consideration, as you often kindly point out.

But, it seems that the traditional koan stories which form the basis of much of Shobogenzo, and the great potentials and wealth of experience that they contain, have widely been rejected in these latter days by people who consider themselves followers of Master Dogen's way: We don't seem to adopt koans as Master Dogen did. Why is this?

It seems unfortunate that Master Dogen's masterful employment of koans should fall victim to the assumptions and crude beliefs of more recent sectarian constructs, which is a reason that I perceive for this situation of neglect.

How do you feel we should proceed in relation to koan literature?

Thanks & Regards,


8:41 AM, May 03, 2010  
Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Gudo clearly says that Koan should be understood as they are considered in its traditional methods. Koans are traditional meathods, which are utilized to explain the contents of a new law, which are useful to explain the meaning of new Koans.
In the meaning of "Koans", "Ko" means "offcial", and "An" means "a wooden Bourd," on which a new law has been written. Therefore the meaning of "the wooden board" suggests "a wooden board", on which a newly decided law has been written to show as the new law, which is shown to be wread by the people, who are
walking on the street.

4:20 PM, September 16, 2010  

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