Thursday, February 19, 2009

RECENT CONVERSATIONS WITH NISHIJIMA ROSHI

I forgot to re-post this. Tonight (Fri. Feb 20, 2009)I'll be at:

An Lac Mission (Ventura Buddhist Temple)
901 S. Saticoy Ave. Ventura, CA 93004
Phone numbers: 805-659-9751 or 805-758-2028

Talk, Zazen, Book Signing:
Date & Time of event: Friday, February 20, 7:00pm-9:00pm

Zazen tomorrow morning in Santa Monica as usual. Details are to your left.

On a couple of my recent trips to Japan when I stayed in Nishijima Roshi's (I'm calling him Roshi lately since the word seems to be important to some) apartment I video taped some conversations we had. I have about 3 or more hours of discussions we engaged in covering a whole lot of topics, from philosophical stuff to world affairs to Dogen Sangha and its history and membership to Nagarjuna's "Fundamental Song of the Middle Way" (MMK) etc., etc.

I spent some time (actually a whole lot more time than I intended) this morning editing some of the best stuff into some short YouTube videos. There's more where this came from! Maybe I'll post some soon. Until then, enjoy!

NOTE: I originally posted all of these as embedded videos. But that caused the page to load really slowly. So now I've changed all but the first one to links. The videos are still there just as they were when I posted them yesterday. (I also forgot to mention that the cutest part of these videos to me is the piece of cardboard taped to the door behind him that says which days to take out the trash. The apt. he lives in is so tiny you can almost see the whole thing in these videos.)

On God



On Matter vs. Reality

Nishijima talks about the nature of matter vs. the nature of reality. This concept was one of the hardest ones for me to grasp. It was also the cause of one of the most mind blowing moments I ever experienced at a talk with him. I thought mentioned this moment in Hardcore Zen. But I just went thru the book and I couldn't find it. Anyway, the idea that matter might not be reality was a pretty big shock to me.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW


On Koans and Enlightenment

Nishijima's ideas about koans and their study is based on Master Dogen's view. It's very much at odds with the view taken by most Western scholars on the matter. The standard line Western scholars tend to take is that the koans are illogical stories designed to shake the mind out of its tendency towards linear thinking. Nishijima also here addresses the relative importance of so-called "Enlightenment experiences."
CLICK HERE TO VIEW


On Recognizing True Buddhism

This is a question I get asked all the time -- "How does a beginner recognize real Buddhism?". So I posed it to Nishijima. Here is his answer.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW

112 comments:

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jundo cohen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jundo cohen said...

Thank you, Brad. It is very well edited. The man is amazingly sharp for someone 90 years old, a brilliant and gifted mind.

But it is the same talk he has been giving for 25 years, with the words well mastered by him. The gentle smile is the same, but not what is behind the smile.

Some of us, though, see the subtle differences. Some of us bump headlong into a side of Roshi these days that that smile, and an edited film, cannot hide. The ideas have become cudgels, rigid, with little room for questioning or disagreement. The talks you present are really all his ideas have come down to, repeated again and again. Oh, the Japanese gentlemanly smile remains, the English words are the same. But it is very different.

Gassho, Jundo

Harry said...

Yes, Jundo, I too find it hurtful that Brad editted out the bit at the end where Nishijima Roshi puts his Darth Vadar mask back on and exits the building to embark on another rampage of killing innocent engaged American Zen Buddhist babies.

Shame on you, Brad.

...sorry, but this did get farcical some time ago.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

'True Buddhism is that which is tested and proven to be true in our own daily lives'...

Clearly a madman.

Regards,

Harry.

NellaLou said...

Best get the videos to CSI immediately for frame by frame analysis. Who knows what this old man is hiding?

leoboiko said...

I would much like transcripts.

Anonymous said...

Gudo Wafu Nishijima - good man/bad man? Wise man/fool?

I understand that Mike Luetchford and Mike Cross, who both served and studied with Gudo for many years - long before Brad and Jundo - and who both admit a great debt to his teaching were in the recent past, mistrusted, rejected and , some might say, badly treated by him.

Mike Luetchford, an excellent teacher and an honest man (who stays well away from internet bitching), has been welcomed back, or at least is now tolerated by Gudo, I believe.

Mike Cross, also an excellent teacher and honest man imo, goes his own way these days.

Gudo is not all sweetness and cuddly light, as Jundo seems to be discovering.

Gudo Nishijima - excellent and original Buddhist teacher. Human being. Stubborn old bastard.

Stephanie said...

Nishijima is a sharp--and sharp-dressed, dang!--man, period. Not "for a 90 year old man." If I'm crankin' on that level when I'm 70 I'll be well pleased. Who am I kiddin', I'm strugglin' to stitch my thoughts together and not look like a goddamn mess at age 26. If I live a long and dedicated life of Buddhist practice, I hope I'm also as confident and stubborn in my own understanding at that age.

Jundo, you're going to regret your own stubbornness in this matter when the man is gone. Because you won't be able to learn any more from him then, when you realize you could have been learning something from him now. Maybe he wouldn't be calling you out if you weren't coming at him with a passive-aggressive agenda. Maybe he's sharper than you realize--and not just 'for a 90 year old man.'

Thanks for the levity, Harry.

Anonymous said...

Harry, To be fair, Jundo never said Gudo was Mad. Only that he was slipping badly and no longer knew what he was talking about.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie -

You like Gudo.

You don't like Jundo.

Harry amused you.

I've learned a lot.

Anonymous said...

I said @ 6.05pm:

'Mike Luetchford, an excellent teacher and an honest man (who stays well away from internet bitching)...'

Before anyone else brings it up - The one time ML did comment was when Gudo, without Brad or ML's permission, published ML's clearly private response to an email he (ML) had received from Brad re 'Dogen Sangha International' (whatever that might be).

Not what I call 'internet bitching'. Not on ML's part.

Jumbo Shrimp said...

What is Jundo seeing? Nishijima-Roshi seems the same as he was on the Tree Leaf videos were Jundo praised his abilities. I think the problem now is with Jundo's perceptions. Don't forget that Jundo has been hurt.

Anonymous said...

Anon@7:01, Get a life.

Anonymous said...

fuck you jundo

Gassho

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Anon @ 6:05 said:

"Mike Cross, also an excellent teacher and honest man imo, goes his own way these days."

You must not have been around when Mr. Cross continually posted comments on Gudo's blog calling him names and throwing a hissy-fit 'cause Nishijima wouldn't budge on his ANS theories or accept Mr. Cross' ideas. Fact is, that's why all comments must now be approved before being seen on that blog. Maybe Mysterion can remember what technique Mr. Cross rambled on and on about. Chas?

Anonymous said...

Jundo my man.. When I see petty charlatans like you claiming to be a Zen teacher; I truly wonder if the practice has any value at all

Gassho

Anonymous said...

Philbob said:

'You must not have been around when Mr. Cross continually posted comments on Gudo's blog calling him names and throwing a hissy-fit 'cause Nishijima wouldn't budge on his ANS theories or accept Mr. Cross' ideas. Fact is, that's why all comments must now be approved before being seen on that blog. Maybe Mysterion can remember what technique Mr. Cross rambled on and on about. Chas?'

Needn't bother Chas, Phil. I read every word.

I like and respect the guy. Go figure.

Anon @ 6.05

Anonymous said...

GOOD ZAZEN LEG WARM-UP X-ERSISE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNW7QdM2Kw8

Dreg said...

Anon @ 6:05

This is from the blog of Mike Cross, Go figure.

"I would like to ask my question to the polite very Buddhist monk Jundo James Cohen:

Venerable Master Cohen! In Buddhism, is to be polite a choice, or is it an obligation, like a commandment?

If you say that it is a choice, then I would like to say to you, Venerable Master Cohen: Fuck you, you poser.

If you say that it is a kind of commandment, then I would like to say to you simply: Fuck off, jewboy.

I feel extreme anger to you, Cohen, because of the mirror principle. You represent everything that is unnatural, pretentious, insincere about the human condition, about my condition.”

- Mike Cross

dreg said...

In a message dated 14/7/05 5:56:49 pm, Jundo Cohen cohenlaw@tkg.att.ne.jp writes:

Dear Mr. Cross who is always cross ...

I have read your recent interchange with Sensei. In fact, I have read many of your interchanges with Sensei going back years. I cannot hold my tongue any longer. I wish to speak to you personally, as your Dharma Brother.

First ... I think most of us practice Buddhism to have balance of life, to be centered in life, to "just be" in life. Ours is the way of peace and the avoidance of anger.

You say you have some other AT way.

However, all I see from you is someone who is most unbalanced in his words, disturbed, and "just being" a complete putz. Does the "Alexander Technique" result in such a lack of peace and flood of anger?

I once was very interested in your words about your "Technique," but if the purpose of the technique is to turn the student into a person like this, then please keep your "Technique." I am quite content to do my Zazen the "wrong" way because it works in my life and I do want to be like you. And while you have many suggestions about where to stick the head and neck, I could also offer you my own suggestion about where you might "stick it"...

Anonymous said...

Dreg -

So you do like Mike Cross, or you don't?

Like I said, an honest man.

If you chose that particular quote for the "jewboy" reference, I'm a jewboy and I don't care. Go figure.

I'm well aware that Mike Cross isn't everybody's cup of tea. Bigging him up, or trashing him wasn't the point of my original post.

anon @ 6.05

mtto said...

Hey!

No more re-posting other peoples shit! It was recently found to be very dangerous! The whole internet could blow up!

Stephanie said...

GOOD ZAZEN LEG WARM-UP X-ERSISE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNW7QdM2Kw8


Whoever you are that posted this, I love you.

I would pay some good $$$ to see all the people who post to this blog get together and do the Stanky Legg. It would probably be more useful than whatever it is we're doing on here now ;)

And Lordy, when it comes to entertainment, the comments section of this blog delivers. I hope my wacky ass is as entertaining to y'all as some of y'all are to me...

Anonymous said...

Dreg -

I see you've added more fuel to the fire...

What's your point?

2nd thoughts - don't bother.

Anonymous said...

i'm glad you liked it steph
i love you to
i love everybody here on "the days of our lives"

gassho

Anonymous said...

sorry,
too

Anya said...

The whole "universe is god" idea really only makes sense if you abuse language to the point of meaninglessness. Buddhism is an atheistic philosophy no matter how much someone might torture words to make it sound pantheistic. The rest of these were interesting.

-anya_baranova@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

and you'd love her to too

Anonymous said...

is that where we are headed now?
past posts:
possible places to piss on?
people problems pandered as a pastime to pleasure peers?

preposterous!

dreg said...

Everything written here is fuel for someone's fire.. But it doesn't hurt anyone to know who these people really are by their own words. Chronologically Jundo's post was first btw.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael James Gibbs said...

Thanks Brad!

kudra said...

DREG:

PLEASE, PLEASE, please.
I'm JEWISH brother.
Your comment hurt more than just Jundo.
Talk to him in private.
That was vulgar dude and unnecessary.

JENNA

Anonymous said...

great videos. thanks.

jundo cohen said...

I am sorry folks. A couple of years ago, Brad stopped answering e-mails from me. He refused invitations to have a cup of coffee when he last came to Japan.

The reason I am upset now, and what's actually happening here is that the SOB (Son of Buddha) is, I am told on good authority, working behind the scenes --for months-- to make things bad between me and my teacher. That is what a lot of this is about. I heard it from Nishijima and others. Nishijima last told me that he was breaking off all communication with me because the head of DSI (Ven. Brad) had decided to have folks not speak to me. That was the last thing Nishijima wrote me. I can get neither him or Brad to respond. I am just venting about that. I mean, some of it is Nishijima Roshi's state of mind these days (he easily sees enemies and opponents all around him, even among many folks who care for him deeply. But I don't believe in blaming him too much for how he is, he can't help much of it), and some of it is people using that condition to strike out at people they hold a grudge against. That is what a lot of this is about for me.

It is like a bad, low budget Othello or King Lear.

You know, there are maybe 30 'Dharma Heirs' that Nishijima Roshi has. About 15 of them no longer talk to Roshi (sometimes because of things the Dharma Heir did, or changes in their lifestyle that led them in other directions ... but most from being unable to handle the situation and being unable to communicate with Roshi). I have noticed some Dharma Heirs (I think, because everyone is "anonymous") write here that all this should be kept private (I do not see why this should be private). Several others have written me privately in support and complimented my 'bravery' for speaking. Others say I am just making waves.

But, you notice, nobody comes out here and says, putting their name to it, that my description is completely wrong. (Okay, 1 or 2 'True Believers' might try to say everything is 'right as rain', but only they could).

But, if I am so wrong or innaccurate in my tale ... where are the other long time Nishijima students and Dharma Heirs to say so?

How dare Brad try to come between me and Nishijima. Politics.

Gassho, Jundo

Anonymous said...

heeey jundo! You first claim here that that your teacher is senile.. then you go onto whining about how that "SOB" brad is preventing you from talking to your cherished teacher.

Please keep posting - you're doing a fine job of demonstrating what an ass you are

Gassho

Moon Face Buddha said...

It seems the lay buddhist path may be the wiser path. At least this way all I have to worry about is the sexual predatory 'buddhist master' trying to 'lay' me, but I avoid entanglements with all the politics/bitching/back stabbing of a true Dharma Lineage.

:)

Anonymous said...

Jundo,

stay the course Jundo. slow and steady. your heads and shoulders above that "kid" in so many ways. he is jealous of you. he fears you. you have "prodigy", something that the golden child seems to lack.(they will be known by their fruit)

Anonymous said...

"he is jealous of you. he fears you"


Jealous of what? Are you Jundo?

kudra said...

clever, clever moon-face.
and Kudra will laugh all the way bed:)
thanks:)

Anonymous said...

Jealously has demonstrated by only Jundo time and time again. He attacks Brad every so often whenever he thinks he has an opportunity.

Then he backpedals and apologizes every time when very few people buy his bullshit..

He is like a little dog nipping at Brads ankles needing to be shoed away

Anonymous said...

my understanding is that you came to a parting of the ways Jundo, you and Nishijima as to the why of it, I don't think it matters
You set sail on your own course on the good ship treeleaf (with everyone, yourself included calling you captain).
And that's as it should be: mature transmitees leave their teachers and take up sharing the dharma the rest of their life in their own corner of the world.

Why do you revisit these places. What kind of redress do you seek. If indeed senility has come, then senility has come and there is nothing you can do about it. If dad likes younger dharma brother better, there is nothing you can do about it.

Since you are officially no longer part of the Nishijima lineage, but considered a lineage unto yourself, I guess that's the place for you to be focussed on.

After a long silence, various family members have sought re-connecting during these holidays. I found it exhausting: to be back in contact with treachery. These are people not to be trusted, and it's hard to be on intimate terms with people you can't trust.
So I'm finding a way to find a way through it: these contacts. I have discovered something I call (for lack of any other term at the moment it came to me) radical departure. What it means is this moment this one right now this very moment, is the cutting edge of this moment, freshly cutting. Even to rest for an eyeblink means the moment persists,
but we want persistence to radically depart when it does the arrival of this very moment is without parallel, is without precedence, is unequaled,
persistence persists and this becomes a tar baby to mental functioning.

I apologize for attempting too late in the day to try to explain something, and I am sorry if I am making a muddle of this, because in my experience of it, it is freedom.

At any rate, there is no need for you to go back over this ground, Jundo.
You came to a parting of the ways with Nishijima/DSI. Why do you keep coming back and revisiting.

It reminds me of the time's I'd drive by my lover's apartment after we broke up. I knew it was wrong to drive down that street and look for the car and look to see if there were lights on. I knew it wasn't doing any bit of good for anything. It did remind me, as if I needed reminding, that we were through.

I didn't know about 'radical departure' then, hell, I wasn't even sitting in those days.

Here is wishing you, and wishing all of us well.

Anonymous said...

Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Two Tribes

This Monk Zen sure does seem to lead to a lot of fighting.

Anonymous said...

"Roshi's state of mind these days (he easily sees enemies and opponents all around him, even among many folks who care for him deeply. But I don't believe in blaming him too much for how he is, he can't help much of it), and some of it is people using that condition to strike out at people they hold a grudge against"

Thats pure speculation (actually BS). There is no way you could know that (that Nisijima perceives enemies everywhere) unless you are very intimate with him. And the facts would suggest you have not been for some time (or ever that intimate with him)

jundo cohen said...

Why do you revisit these places. What kind of redress do you seek. If indeed senility has come, then senility has come and there is nothing you can do about it. If dad likes younger dharma brother better, there is nothing you can do about it.

You are right, you are right. We've got a sick and suspicious old man, and a little vindictive putz.

Okay, I will just leave it.

Gassho, Jundo

Anonymous said...

Okay, I will just leave it.

No you won't. I guarantee it..

Anonymous said...

But, if I am so wrong or innaccurate in my tale ... where are the other long time Nishijima students and Dharma Heirs to say so?

Maybe they agree with you. Now shut up.

Uku said...

Thank you for sharing, Brad! Great videos

nondual said...

The videos were...interesting.

I find Nishijima's talk about 'balancing the autonomic nervous system' troubling - mostly because it seems to try to reduce an internal, subjective experience to a mere objective, physiological one. If all you need to do is 'balance the ANS', why not just find or create a psychoactive chemical to 'balance' you? It also seemed to suggest that zazen is a means toward creating an ideal conditional state and many Buddhist scriptures seem to specifically state that enlightenment and nirvana are NOT conditioned states.

The rest of the videos seemed contrived. Brad: "So Nishijima, let me ask you about these things that I'm in lock-step with you about." Great, but not very elucidating. To me, it was a bit of a wasted opportunity to learn more about Nishijima's point of view by pressing him on some of it.

Brad should interview some people he disagrees with - we'd all learn a lot more that way, Brad included.

I don't really have a dog in this fight. Increasingly, my favorite Zen teacher is Steve Hagen. I've never met him personally, but his Dharma talks and books frequently have me saying 'Holy-Jesus-Fuck!' out loud. I imagine he bores a lot of people, but I sometimes feel like he represents what a mature Brad Warner would be like. Then I listen again to his talks and I realize that he has a much broader base of understanding than does Brad (or myself obviously). He doesn't have 'flare', it's not come to my attention that he's started any shit-storms or controversies. He's got a rock in his Zendo instead of a Buddha statue, doesn't encourage robes or full bows, etc - my understanding is that it's to avoid obscuring what he thinks is actually important about Zen. Of course, he doesn't denounce anyone who does these things either - which is a wholly different approach than Brad's.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, serious stuff! And serious allegations made by Jundo!

It is good to have this inter-sangha bullshit public right now as it is happening. Though as someone already suggested, Jundo is not actually part of DSI anymore. Why then should Nishijima listen to Brad's suggestion - if he indeed made such - that all DSI folks stop talking to Jundo? Is Gudo not Jundo's teacher - regardless of what sangha Jundo is a member of?

No matter how hard you disagree with someone or think that they are utterly full of crap there is never, and I stress never, enough reason to completely stop interacting with them and even less to tell others to do so. That is pure cultist behaviour!

Where is Brad's "I don't tell my students how to live their life (and teachers who do should be avoided like the plague)" ideology now? Does this mean Brad tells everyone to avoid him like he's deadly?

Hopefully in ten or twenty years time things have cooled off enough for someone to write a "What happened to the DSI"-book, perhaps get Jundo, Brad and other's involved to have a dialogue chronicling the rise and fall of the empire.

For now, it's clearly best for all involved if everyone just went their separate ways and - as the book title suggest - shut up and sat.

Blake said...

When you do the Stanky Leg, only do the Stanky Leg.

108 Stanky Legs every morning.

Anonymous said...

Nondual said:


"I find Nishijima's talk about 'balancing the autonomic nervous system' troubling - mostly because it seems to try to reduce an internal, subjective experience to a mere objective, physiological one".

Very perceptive, may I say. The balanced ANS theory is, indeed, Nishijima's explanation of zazen from the second of his "4 views", or "3 philosophies and one reality".

The second viewpoint is the objective, materialistic, (scientific) one. In a lecture you can access on his dogensangha site (not the blog) he says this:

"Next I would like to describe Master Dogen’s explanation of Zazen. In this explanation, I will
also use the four principles which Master Dogen liked to explain. The four principles are: first,
not thinking; second, regulating the body and sitting in the right posture; third, getting rid of
body and mind; fourth, becoming one piece. I would like to explain each of these principles
one by one".

Of the 2nd viewpoint he says:

"The second principle is to make the body right and sit regularly. Zazen has a characteristic to
make our body right. In Buddhism we have belief in oneness of body and mind, therefore
according to this theory, if we make our body right our mind cannot but be right. In other
words, when we make our body right our mind must be right. So Master Dogen explained
Zazen is to make our body right and sit regularly.
When we make our body right or keep our body in the regular posture, our autonomic
nervous system becomes balanced. This effect is very important in Zazen. The autonomic
nervous system can never be changed by our mental effort. Even though we may be anxious
to make our autonomic nervous system balanced, it is impossible for us to make our
autonomic nervous system balanced through our mental anxiety. This is why the nervous
system is called “autonomic”. To make the autonomic nervous system balanced we need
action, we need to make our body right.
The second principle of making the body right and sitting regularly suggests that Buddhism
is also a kind of physical training. Relying upon the physical training we can make our body
right, through this we can make our mind right at the same time. Understanding this meaning
of Zazen is also important. Even though we may have much anxiety, anxiety can never solve
anything. To solve the problems in our daily life, making our body right is a very important
point. Zazen has this meaning. So Master Dogen insisted the second principle, to make the
body right and sit regularly"

So although Nishijima concentrates on explaining this aspect these days, it's ONE explanation only from one particular, materialist, scientific point of view.

If you're interested in the whole picture, check out the bunch of stuff he's written about this over the years, a great deal of it accessible on the web.

Holly said...

I wish my brain could spit. Mm, tastes like tofu and vitriol!

Altho my thanks to those from whom I have extrapolated other resources of information and thought.

Anonymous said...

"The results of karma cannot be known by thought, and so should not be speculated about. Thus, thinking, one would come to distraction and distress. Therefore, Ananda, do not be the judge of people; do not make assumptions about others. A person is destroyed by holding judgments about others."

-Anguttura Nikaya

nondual said...

Anon @ 0735:
So although Nishijima concentrates on explaining this aspect these days, it's ONE explanation only from one particular, materialist, scientific point of view.

So...where was the non-materialist POV? Did I just miss it? Which explanation was the one that did not rely on trying to attain a certain body/mind state?

Anonymous said...

nondual calls for maturity while he shaves his balls, tucks them between his inner thighs and dances in front of a mirror pretending to be a buddhist nun

Anonymous said...

The cultivation of a "great doubt" is often seen as the starting point of the process of enlightenment. (I am not one to think of enlightenment as an event, but as a process).

Having viewed these clips however, my great doubt has turned into simple confusion. Nishijima says that God is an eternal being which is co-existent with the universe. I realize that there is no one essential Buddhist doctrine on God, but I'm also pretty sure that historically both the theistic (God as eternal Being) and pantheistic (God as the Universe) understanding of God was rejected by Shakyamuni Buddha (or the writers of the Brahmajala Sutta) as well as pretty much everyone who came after it.

If God is an eternal being, then how exactly is Nishijima's "Buddhist God" any different than the Judeo-Christo-Islamic version? Is it that this God is immanent and not transcendent? I don't see how holding onto either a new age or Sunday school version of the man-up-stairs qualifies as "right understanding" of Buddhist doctrine.

To me, this one clip has more far reaching implications than whether or not zazen balances the ANS or who is the biggest jerk-off, Brad or Jundo

Dustin

Anonymous said...

Nondual said:

"So...where was the non-materialist POV? Did I just miss it? Which explanation was the one that did not rely on trying to attain a certain body/mind state?"

Like I said:

"...If you're interested in the whole picture, check out the bunch of stuff he's written about this over the years, a great deal of it accessible on the web".

Try here, for example;

http://www.dogensangha.org/downloads/Pdf/Lecture3.PDF

Anonymous said...

and if you're really keen:

http://www.dogensangha.org/talks.htm

Enjoy!

nondual said...

Anon:
"nondual calls for maturity while he shaves his balls, tucks them between his inner thighs and dances in front of a mirror pretending to be a buddhist nun"

I don't even know what that's supposed to mean.

A proper insult would be far more personal.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Dustin, you may be misinterpreting nishijima sensei's interpretation of "god".

He is simply stating that god is the total accumulation of things and phenomena in the entire universe. This includes you and everything else. We are not separate.

Have a nice day!
(Phil is making attempts at being more positive)

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Brad, thank you for putting up those videos of Nishijima Roshi. I wouldn't mind seeing all three hours, sans edits. Since I can't get myself to Tokyo, I greatly appreciate every scrap of video I can get. I wonder if Nishijima Roshi would mind doing a regular video dharma talk. Anyone in Dogen Sangha Tokyo willing to lend technical support?

Jundo. You are what you are. You're a zen master who disparages his teacher, says his teaching is insufficient (what does that say about your teaching?), and implies his senility. Nishijima Roshi has asked you to leave his sangha, disagreed with your Buddhist theories routinely, and finally said he doesn't want to talk to you about Buddhism any more. But please, continue to post here, on Treeleaf, and on every other Buddhist forum on the net. The more you post, the easier it is to see you.

Rob

Jinzang said...

This is turning into a Zen Peyton Place. Somebody pass the chips.

Anya said...

Mysterion, no, it's not. Pretty much all monotheists would flatly deny that by saying "god" they're just using a fancy term for the universe as a whole. If we can say "god is just another word for the universe" we can say "by humanity I just mean the entire earth". Neither works without stretching words far beyond usefulness. If words are to have any meaning at all they need to be at least somewhat precise. There's no reason to say " I believe in god, and by god I just mean the universe as we know it". You can just say "the universe" then. When people asked the Buddha about Indra, he was silent, he did not say "Oh yeah, Indra is just the universe".

--anya_baranova@hotmail.com

nondual said...

Nishijima puzzles me when he talks so much about 'action' - that zazen is 'action'. Zazen is action the way parking is driving - which is to say, yeah, you're in the car (body), but you're not driving (acting).

Zazen posture is really just about parking the body in an alert posture. I think Siddhartha would laugh and laugh if he were to see how people were fetishizing the posture.

A posture is not a practice! Proper posture is 'necessary but not sufficient' as regards zen practice.

Andro said...

Jundo said: "We've got a sick and suspicious old man, and a little vindictive putz."

Jundo, How do you justify this kind of talk when you instruct the people on your forum that the only rule there is to be kind to each other? This post makes you look foolish.

Jinzang said...

When people asked the Buddha about Indra, he was silent, he did not say "Oh yeah, Indra is just the universe".

Actually Indra, under the name Shakra, appears fairly often in the Buddhist sutras. For example, when Buddha hesitated to teach after his enlightenment, Sakra asked him to teach the dharma.

I think you meant ishvara which, when used in a philosophical context, means a creator god.

Anya said...

Thanks, Jinzang, you're correct, I picked the wrong deity. I think my basic point still stands though.

Rich said...

"and if you're really keen:

http://www.dogensangha.org/talks.htm"

I am really keen. thanks for the pointer. I am also grateful to be healthy.

Moon Face Buddha said...

My experience of Zazen supports the statement 'Zazen is action'.

jamal said...

Phil wrote.. "He (Gudo) is simply stating that god is the total accumulation of things and phenomena in the entire universe. This includes you and everything else. We are not separate."

What! Help a brother out here.. This God talk make me crazy. I'm too stupid to get it. Where ever did Gudo define what God is? Thanks in advance. Peace!

Anonymous said...

Jundo said: "We've got a sick and suspicious old man, and a little vindictive putz."

Jundo, How do you justify this kind of talk when you instruct the people on your forum that the only rule there is to be kind to each other? This post makes you look foolish.


Ah, this is brad's blog with brad's rules on language. We say worse than "putz" don't we?

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Jamal, your obviously not a black guy. Do you think it might be a bit racist to use an 'urban' speak in your writing?

Or is that just Brad using one of his many anonymous identities?

Anonymous said...

Jundo. You are what you are. You're a zen master who disparages his teacher, says his teaching is insufficient (what does that say about your teaching?), and implies his senility. Nishijima Roshi has asked you to leave his sangha, disagreed with your Buddhist theories routinely, and finally said he doesn't want to talk to you about Buddhism any more. But please, continue to post here, on Treeleaf, and on every other Buddhist forum on the net. The more you post, the easier it is to see you.

Jundo stop trying to preach to the lemmings and followers They see what they want to see

Anonymous said...

nondual
when you are actively parking the car, parking IS driving--little tiny iddy bits of driving, now forward, now backward
when you are parked you are no longer driving

sitting is active, being seated is not

the practice is not called seated meditation, it is sitting meditation

Alef said...

Zazen is very much an action, because you have to actively keep your spine straight and balanced, your eyes open and focused, your mouth closed, your hands in hokkai-jōin. There's a great deal of concentration and focus needed.
Compared to sleeping for example, zazen is not at all passive.

jamal said...

Phil! Nice job avoiding the question.. Me, I think the idea of race is a social construction. It is kinda like the self. it don't exist cept in our minds. But I prefer to keep race out of the conversation if that is ok. Have you thought about what I axed you? I would like to know what you think.

jamal said...

Damn! I forgot to axe the question. I hear Brad and Gudo talkin about God occasionally, but they never say much about what it is they mean by God. God and Universe am apparently not interchangeable words to either guy. Did Gudo ever ever get expansive on this subject anywhere?

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Ok Jamal, I guess you're playing Ike Willis from Zappa's "Thing Fish". I won't tease you for the use of E-bonics anymore.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thing-Fish

To try and answer your question:

I think that maybe Gudo saying "god is the universe/the universe is god" is an attempt at a definition. Certainly the universe includes all things and phenomena. Does it not? I, in no way, want to imply that he KNOWS what god is. I don't think anyone can KNOW the universe, therefore no one can KNOW god. Can a thing KNOW itself? Are we not the universe experiencing itself subjectively? Are we not the eternal sublimation of energy transmitting through satellites of matter?

And all you touch and all you see,
is all your life will ever be.

Nishijima has discussed this many times on his blog. You'll have to search through his posts to find exactly whatever you're looking for.

Brad has a whole chapter on this idea of god as universe/universe as god in his 2nd book "Sit Down And Shut Up".

Rich said...

"Nishijima puzzles me when he talks so much about 'action' - that zazen is 'action'"

I don't think reality can be understood intellectually. All the Buddhist thinking and philosophy can only lead you to practice. Dropping all thinking, everything is just action - sitting, driving, parking, yada yada yada. So I think trying to practice is very important.

Anonymous said...

Phil, Thank you my brother.

mother earth said...

Stephanie, I have to hearken back to a previous comment of yours. It really touched me, but in a bad way:

I'm suspicious of 'sweetness and light' types because almost invariably I find that (a) the 'sweetness and light' is a pose or defense against a lot of dark shit they've got inside that they don't want to own, which means they treat you, if you don't hide your own dark shit, the same way they treat those dark parts of themselves, or (b) they haven't really suffered enough yet to know the true significance of kindness. These folks may show you generosity, reach out to you, and it's lovely--it's not that they're bad people--but... it's not kindness. Because they pity you, or are a bit unnerved by you, and so there's this wall... there's them and there's you and you can feel it and in a way it's more demeaning than if they'd never smiled or offered a 'kind word' in the first place. Because you know what you are in their eyes.

You’re looking for kindness are you? What a shame.

You seem to be so latently stuck in the forest of your own intellectual opinions that you are lost and looking for a way out.

You definitely seem to have the understanding that there is no way out. That looking for a way out will inevitably eclipse the ability to see clearly.

You seem to have a pretty good idea of what kindness is. How absurd!

Anyways, I do not wish you any negativity.

It's just that when people start to think that the world should be a certain way, that when we start to divide up and label what kindness is...

This seems to be the point where we trick ourselves yet again into creating the very thing which we despise, and once this type of morality is created we all too often go the next step and start to defend it. Vigorously.

It seems to me that Buddhism can become a way to stop the spread of this internal trickery by stopping it at the source.

All I can say is: Please stop! All I can see is that you are hurting yourself.

Jundo !!! This goes triple for you

proulx michel said...

jamal said...

Phil! Nice job avoiding the question.. Me, I think the idea of race is a social construction. It is kinda like the self. it don't exist cept in our minds. But I prefer to keep race out of the conversation if that is ok. Have you thought about what I axed you? I would like to know what you think.

Few people know that there are more genetic affinities between people of european and african stock than between those of european and east-asian stock!

30 000 years ago, there were but some 30 000 people left on earth. That doesn't leave many of us unrelated...

Anonymous said...

"Mike Luetchford, an excellent teacher and an honest man" - I second that!

Anonymous said...

Jundo wrote: "I am sorry folks. A couple of years ago, Brad stopped answering e-mails from me. He refused invitations to have a cup of coffee when he last came to Japan."

But he did write in a book how upset he was about something you wrote him years ago? That seems so un-zen. I cannot imagine that someone would do that if they had not exhausted all other ways of talking things out and giving the other person the benefit of the doubt about his intentions.

And even Nishijima won't talk to Jundo? How the hell did this happen? How is it possible that everybody just accept this as if this is normal? I spent some time in a monastery. I know very well that saints do not exist. I still cannot understand all this DRAMA.

Fellow Orphan said...

Jundo

Saw this today and thought of you. Keep up the good work You are helping lots of people

How to Deal With Being Rejected by Your Parent

1. Know that it's probably not about you at all. You are not a "bad kid." When a parent rejects a child, it's usually a combination of reasons that causes it. Most parents, even if they are controlling, dominating, or rejecting, actually do love their children. Even if you feel that's not true of your parents, and you feel completely unloved by one or both, you are a unique and worthwhile person. Your siblings love you, your grandparents love you, your friends love you. Remember that.
2. Accept that there may be little you can do about it. If your parent(s) have rejected you because you've come out as gay, because they disapprove of your choice of spouse, or because of religious differences, it's unlikely that you're going to be able to change in order to gain their approval and/or acceptance again. In these cases, time is usually the best cure - if you make yourself open to contact, but try not to force it before they are ready, they may come around eventually. Meanwhile, remember that your life is yours alone, and you are free to live it as you see fit, with or without your parents' approval or permission.
3. Identify favoritism. Sometimes you feel rejected by a parent because that parent seems to favor a sibling. You are compared (usually unfavorably) to your brother or sister, and this hurts. The reality is that we all like some people better than others. While parents are supposed to love their children equally, some just can't be bothered to make an effort to understand a child that is difficult for them to read, or is so different from them personally that they find little in common. If this is the case, try not to view your siblings unfavorably, but instead simply understand that if you are going to be true to yourself, your parent may not ever be as comfortable with you as with your brother or sister. It may hurt now, but later in life, you will cherish your individuality and all that makes you a unique person, and will realize that these traits do not make you undesirable - they only make it harder for you and your parents to connect.
4. Talk out your feelings. It may have been repeated many times in other sources, but it does help. Talk it out. Talk to your parents and try to root out the problem. Or talk to a sibling or a close relative. If someone is willing to talk, there is always someone willing to listen. Some of the most caring people work at Child Line, or other similar resources. It sounds drastic, but Child Line is there for any child who feels upset. You can remain anonymous and just chat with them for some friendly advice. And if you don't want to actually verbally speak, go on the internet, whether at home or at an internet cafe, and talk to people here at the Discussion Page on this article. There are even folks who are willing to chat with you through wikiHow.
5.
Find somewhere to stay. If you've been kicked out or you don't want to, or dare not stay at home, go to a relative's home or stay with friends if possible. It may not be permanent, but it will get you through for a time.
6. Find a resolution of whatever kind is possible. Do try to sort it out with your parents. Send them a card, and/or flowers, or just go home and talk it through. Let them have their say and then have yours, but be calm, and don't be afraid to cry - crying can give you a great sense of release. Try to find common ground, and ask them how you and they can be better family to each other.
7. Try to understand the dynamic from their viewpoint. This does not mean you should excuse this damaging, hurtful attitude. But it may be helpful to you to know that they may not ever really understand that how hurtful their actions are. Some parents truly are hateful, and it's a mystery why they ever had children to begin with - these people are best left alone as soon as you are able. But some parents are rejecting because you will not follow their plans for your life - they make plans for you starting from the time you are in your cradle. They believe that if you will only follow the path they have set out for you, you will avoid all hurts and be "set for life" - prosperous and "perfect." Example: If they wanted you to be a doctor, but you decided to be an artist, they may express their disappointment in their own failure to control and dictate the terms of your life by constantly carping at you about how stupid, disappointing, etc. your choices are, what a failure you are, and the like. Sometimes parents misguidedly feel that this type of censure will "jolt you into reality." They believe that this is "for your own good," and that behaving this way will "help" you to make right choices, and leave behind the supposedly wrong choices you are making. The reality is that you feel like a failure in their eyes, and feel unloved by them.
8. Accept whatever relationship is possible with them. You may not have many choices until you are an adult - you may just have to try your best to endure until then. But once you are, if you have tried talking with them, and all your efforts to remedy this problem have failed, then accept whatever you can. It is pointless to berate yourself - it's not about you, it's about them. Your job in life is to be the best person you can, to experience life on your terms, and to be a kind, caring and giving friend or family member. Your job is not to try to change them, just as they should stop trying to do to you. These may not be the parents you would have wished for. Nevertheless, these are the parents you have. If you can simply understand that they will not change (just like you), then you can limit your exposure while having as good a relationship with them as possible. If your parents tend to be polite at first, and then descend, after an hour or so, into criticisms, make sure you spend no more than an hour at a time with them. Go to their home, have a drink or a snack or a cup of tea, and then say, "Well, it's been good to see you - I've got to run!" And leave before it turns unpleasant. If you know that the unpleasantness begins sooner, stay away. Call them on the phone, and as soon as criticism or berating begins, say, "Okay, Mom, well, I understand all that, but I really need to get going. See you soon." And hang up. If all contact is extremely difficult and horrible, cut them off altogether and make a new family for yourself out of friends, or another branch of the family. It's all about doing what works for you.

http://www.wikihow.com/Deal-With-Being-Rejected-by-Your-Parent

Rich said...

"And even Nishijima won't talk to Jundo? How the hell did this happen? How is it possible that everybody just accept this as if this is normal? I spent some time in a monastery. I know very well that saints do not exist. I still cannot understand all this DRAMA."

But this is not real drama. this is blog drama. Who knows, maybe Jundo is playing a role as PR man for Dogen Sangha ;-)

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

God, Mysterion actually said something compassionate and Buddhist He must be going soft

kudra said...

the tenor of the conversation here today has been unusually kind and compassionate.
a deep bow to everyone:)

Stephanie said...

1. Keep in mind, guys, that Jundo's accusations are simply that... accusations. I e-mailed Brad about these accusations and he refused to make a public matter / debate of this, but his version of events is different from Jundo's.

2. I agree with folks who don't like explanations that are purely biological / mechanistic. Nishijima Roshi's theory about zazen and the ANS is interesting to me and I think it may prove a useful theory, but ultimately, such an explanation leaves a lot unaddressed re: the subjective experience of zazen.

3. That said, I don't think that every teacher needs to teach a comprehensive system. Nishijima's teaching is useful precisely because he focuses on just a few points.

4. nondual, I suspect that if you take some time to study/think about what Nishijima says about zazen being "action" you would find it's in keeping with many of your own views. From what I've read of Nishijima's, the most useful teaching of his by far has been his teaching on materialism, idealism, and 'real action.' His meaning (as I understand it, of course) in calling zazen 'action' is to distinguish it from idealism and materialism. In Nishijima's view, Buddhism offers a 'third alternative' to the usual competing views of religious idealism and materialist reductionism: real action in the present moment. In other words, the practice of Zen is engaged in what is here, right now, in this world, available to immediate experience / awareness. My take is that Roshi's meaning in calling zazen 'action' is not that he is referring to any particular physical or mental action, but that, rather, it is active immersion and engagement in the immediacy of subjective experience, beyond idealism or materialism. The experience of reality that one has in zazen is not an experience based on an idea, but one that is based on action in the present moment. It is action because it allows us to intimate something of reality free from reference to conceptual constructions.

5. I think Nishijima's describing God as the Universe is beautiful and I don't take it as meaning any number of the things people are objecting to. Just because he's using the word 'God' does not mean he is implying a personal deity. If God is the totality of the universe, God is no other than reality itself. Why use the term 'God' at all then, to describe reality, when one could simply say 'reality is reality'? Because I think it suggests a sort of intimacy one can experience, a freedom from cosmic alienation, because everything one experiences is just this, is God, is not separate from any sort of fundamental principle. In our awareness of our own conditions, we are experiencing the awareness of God. We can't get away from God any more than we can get away from Reality or the Universe. I don't think there's any particular need to use the term, unless one finds it poetically suggestive and helpful, as I do.

6. Mother earth: it was certainly not my intention to give anyone the 'bad touch.' In all seriousness--I think you have understood what I was saying somewhat differently than I meant it, which is understandable as most of what I've been posting here lately is difficult to put into words. And certainly, you are right--words are problematic. 'Kindness' is just a concept. But I don't mind that. I don't mind that I'm looking for certain things, or troubled by certain things. It's just my life, and it does not have to be yours. But I would much rather be engaged and troubled and fascinated with the emotional and moral side of human experience than be at a distance from it. I think if I have anything to offer this world, it is my very engagement with this sort of thing.

nondual said...

Steph,

That actually DOES clear it up quite a bit for me.

Anonymous said...

1. Keep in mind, guys, that Jundo's accusations are simply that... accusations. I e-mailed Brad about these accusations and he refused to make a public matter / debate of this, but his version of events is different from Jundo's.

which clarifies that ... Stephanie does not like Jundo

nondual said...

which clarifies that ... Stephanie does not like Jundo

How could you tell?

Anonymous said...

"which clarifies that ... Stephanie does not like Jundo"

Well. That's been going on since Stephanie went from being "I like Jundo!"

Jundo to Steph -- Take your meds.

"I don't like Jundo."

Anonymous said...

Stephanie said:

"2. I agree with folks who don't like explanations that are purely biological / mechanistic. Nishijima Roshi's theory about zazen and the ANS is interesting to me and I think it may prove a useful theory, but ultimately, such an explanation leaves a lot unaddressed re: the subjective experience of zazen.

3. That said, I don't think that every teacher needs to teach a comprehensive system. Nishijima's teaching is useful precisely because he focuses on just a few points."

It's undersandable that some folks here are still under the impression that Gudo is all about the ANS and "a few points"; these days he does seem to haven reduced his blogging and interview statements to repetitions of this one aspect of his teaching.

He is also now saying (contrary to earlier writings) that Buddhism is not a religion, but a philosophy. There seems to a be theme.

But originally the ANS theory was only one aspect of what I find to be a completely "comprehesive system."

Please, if you're still keen, confused or curious, check this out. It's all the better for having been edited (rendered readable) by Mike Luetchford. It's got the lot:

http://www.dogensangha.org/downloads/Pdf/4Philos.PDF

Anonymous said...

Nondual -

there's a lot about "the Philosophy of Action" in the link I just gave. Much of it, helpfully, in Q and A form.

Anon @3.38am

proulx michel said...

Hello

I'd like SmoggyRob to write a PM to me.

Rich said...

Stephanie said:

"2. I agree with folks who don't like explanations that are purely biological / mechanistic. Nishijima Roshi's theory about zazen and the ANS is interesting to me and I think it may prove a useful theory, but ultimately, such an explanation leaves a lot unaddressed re: the subjective experience of zazen."

Learning about ANS for me switched on a light in my brain which totally accepted zazen. My practice was action zen with zazen sporadically. Now my practice is my whole life, so it has proven to be a useful theory.

I think it's important to be open to different teaching styles and teachers. Its not one size fits all.

Anonymous said...

BTW, this:

http://www.dogensangha.org/downloads/Pdf/4Philos.PDF

is a totally different link to the ones I posted @ 8.36 and 8.44am.

Should've given this one in the first place. It's very clear and very comprehensive.

Mumon said...

I just saw this.

The standard line Western scholars tend to take is that the koans are illogical stories designed to shake the mind out of its tendency towards linear thinking.

I'm not sure where this straw-man comes from; perhaps Christian apologists?

Anyway, the most eminent Western scholar that I know of, the late William Barrett (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Barrett_(philosopher)) got it right: Koans are actively lived. They should be "been," if there was an active tense for the verb "to be" in English.

This is actually quite obvious from the language of many koans themselves.


So they are not simply an expression of the "Buddhist philosophical system" as Nishijima-roshi says, they are meant to be used as a means to live and for the practitioner not only to "express" Buddhist philosophy in the sense of a verbal explanation, but to express because it's been in every aspect of one's life.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me how so many are willing to chop off the finger that points to The Moon rather than actually behold the Moon it points to.

Anya said...

The more I've been thinking about it, if you teach that Buddhism includes god but does not include upaya, sila, or non-attachment....Are you really teaching Buddhism anymore?

--anya_baranova@hotmail.com

butt-hol-e-o crack-a-lakk said...

stephanie is the only intelligent voice here. her condemnations of said zen masters are justified. I shall await her book; zen wrapped in drama, dipped in zoloft

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Mumon said:

"So they (koans) are not simply an expression of the "Buddhist philosophical system" as Nishijima-roshi says, they are meant to be used as a means to live and for the practitioner not only to "express" Buddhist philosophy in the sense of a verbal explanation, but to express because it's been in every aspect of one's life."


Well, I'd say that's a matter of opinion .

On the face of it, koans are short stories, episodes, encounters between Buddhists, usually discussing or commenting on some aspect of Buddhist life, theory/philosophy, history/mythology.

What you make of them after that is your business. Certainly the Rinzai zen school see them very differently from the Dogen/soto school.

It's fair to say that when zen first hit Europe and America, influenced largely by the writings of D.T Suzuki, many western writers came to regard koans as weird and wonderful gateweays to enlightenment, using means beyond the rational. Nishijima, following Dogen's teaching, sees koans as full of meaning, but not mysterious in that way.

What Nishijima means by the "Buddhist philosophical system" may not be the dry thing you suppose it to be.

Anonymous said...

But I would much rather be engaged and troubled and fascinated with the emotional and moral side of human experience than be at a distance from it.

Where are those who are not??
Sweetness and Light may remain afflictive, devastatingly emotional,& purely engaged. Blanket suspiscion towards the outwardly kind based on gnarly sociopathically-tinged assumptions is a recipe only for shit. Surely?

Anonymous said...

Jundo, the Ned Flanders of the Buddhist world. The thing about Jundo, is that he isn't interested in seeking the truth, whatever that may be. He isn't interested in uncovering the reality at the heart of this moment. He is interested in building a large sangha, pursuading people to follow him, becoming renownded for his ridiculous on line sitting. He wants to be a Zen Master. He has no sense of sincere enquiry, he just wants to be famous and wise, but he doesn't get it, and he doesn't realise that he doesn't get it. Wanting fame and power leads to nowhere, other than to stupidity and unhappiness.

Gasshokely dokely.

Brensan said...

Hi Brad, In your interview that is posted on your website with Gugo Nihijima Roshi. Gugo Nihijima Roshi seems to be saying that Buddhism is the same as monotheism. Is this is correct it is foolish. The emptiness that the Buddha talked about is not caused or uncaused by a supreme being. It does not have a start and does not have a finish. Why must Gugo Nihijima Roshi give in to such new age nonsense.

Brendan said...

If he is not careful he will send beings to a god form realm or a god formless realm with this new age nonsense. Surly he must realise beings in the west are so brainwashed by monotheism that whenever a westener has a realisation they mostly label it as god. I am really surprised by his new age, we are all one-all is god nonsense. He should be thinking more about beings in the god form and god formless realms and be trying to help them.

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