Friday, August 07, 2009

ON MY WAY TO THE EDGE OF CIVILIZATION

I'm sitting at Chicago O'Hare Airport waiting for a flight to the edge of civilization. Actually it's a flight to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where I will be picked up and driven to the edge of civilization. Tomorrow is the first day of the 2009 Great Sky Sesshin in Hokyoji monastery near Echizen, Minnesota. For the next eight days or so I will be inaccessible to Internet, cell phone and most other forms of communication with the outside world.

I heard that some people are deeply concerned about the forthcoming translation of Nagarjuna's Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way (aka MMK) by Gudo Nishijima as rewritten by me. That's so cute! You guys are funny!

When you look at Gudo's blog, what you're seeing is pretty much the raw material I had to work with. The book that's coming out from Monkfish is not that version. I had to have a lot of discussions with Nishijima Roshi, as well as sit around scratching my head and puzzling over his prose for many, many hours before arriving at the version we're publishing. Please don't worry your poor fevered brows that it's going to be a big long string of crazy Engrish. It won't. Haven't I said this about three times already?

I may publish the intro I wrote sometime prior to the book's release. But I'd need to get clear with Nishijima Roshi and the folks at Monk Fish before I do that. Translation is a funny thing. I used to be a translator and there is no way to translate even the most dirt simple stuff without interjecting your own interpretation. In fact the word "translation" is probably misleading. I don't think there is any such thing. It's all interpretation.

In the world of religious texts, one really good example is Baghavad Gita: As It Is by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. This is reportedly the most widely read translation of Bhagavad Gita in the world. Yet it is a highly interpretive version of the text.

Still, who is to say it doesn't mean what Prabhupada said it meant? It certainly meant that to him.

I was personally very interested in discovering what Nagarjuna's Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way meant to Nishijima Roshi. I made it my task to try and convey the meaning he found in the text as clearly as I possibly could. If you want a standard interpretation that follows all of the established patterns, assumptions and prejudices of Sanskrit scholarship, there are other versions available. I see no reason that there ought to be one more of those. They do not interest me.

Whether the Nishijima version of Nagajuna's masterwork is "correct" in the eyes of the Sanskrit scholarship community is just not something I can even bring myself to care about. People keep trying to get me to care, though. And I swear to God I really have tried. Maybe I'm kind of retarded or autistic or something in that way. It's like when I used to tell the folks I mentored at the Summit County Board of Mental Retardation to zip up their pants or whatever and they just couldn't see the point at all. That's how I am. It's no use trying to get me to care because I just don't.

The big difference between Nishijima Roshi's MMK and the others I've read is that, once I got through all the Engrish, the Nishijima version actually spoke to me. The others did not. They were intermittently interesting and contained the occasional good idea. But they didn't move me. This one does.

Blah-blah-blah... Now even I'm getting bored with this discussion!

So anyway, after I get done in the backwoods of Minnesota I'm flying straight to Frankfurt, Germany (via Chicago again). After just under a week in Frankfurt I'm off to Finland. Then back to Germany. Then to England, and then to Japan. Yikes!

This will definitely be my last post for a week or so. Maybe longer than that. But I'll report here whenever I can.

280 comments:

1 – 200 of 280   Newer›   Newest»
Really said...

Thanks for explaining to us lot down here, what you up there are doing. I'm on your side, Brad - not that you give a poop - I won't worry my poor fevered brow no more. In fact, I've lost not a moment's sleep on anybody's MMK. Been fun writing about it tho.

Plz watch the condescension. Many thanks ;-)

Anonymous said...

Not too cold
Not too hot
Middle way
Problem not

Anonymous said...

I think this
I think that
Everyone else
Is a twat

Anonymous said...

Buddhist priest
Catholic nun
They could do
With bedtime fun

Anonymous said...

Slap my head
Slap my face
Make it like
The good old days
Hit me with
A piece of wood
Make me hurt
Like I should
Write me lines
Write me words
Take my mind
Oh how absurd

Anonymous said...

Do you aim to become a member of the literati, or do you wish to be a savant? Do you want to avoid being verbigerative and be succinct instead?

Search the Hutchinson Dictionary of Difficult Words' A-Z index of over 13,900 difficult words to increase your vocabulary or just find out what those words really mean!

http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/dictionaries/difficultwords/

Anonymous said...

Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words,

Anonymous said...

squiggly black lines

Anonymous said...

Facts are simple and facts are straight
Facts are lazy and facts are late
Facts all come with points of view
Facts don't do what I want them to
Facts just twist the truth around
Facts are living turned inside out
Facts are getting the best of them
Facts are nothing on the face of things!

Anonymous said...

We speak the way we breath.

Mysterion said...

Brad:

Well put.

You need not sell me Nishijima's interpretation of the MMK, I pre-ordered two copies a while back. (But, I recognize the myths and folklore behind the MMK to begin with.)

To translate any work is to get into the head of the original author within his/her native culture at the time s/he lived. Not an easy task. I proved that point long ago with my Haiku Ku with the translation department of a BIG Japanese multinational. "They" never did get close to figuring it out in the four years they tried. (I gave them the translation in the weeks just before I departed).

But I enjoy, somewhat, all the verbal masturbation that people on this blog, and elsewhere, are willing to participate in to go nowhere and prove nothing. All that effort for naught. It is that great exercise in futility that makes the existential life so rewarding.

Mumon said...

...the Nishijima version actually spoke to me...

I'm sure it had nothing to do with the effort you put into it. ;-)

Seriously, I'm not worrying either way, but the stuff on Nishijima's blog's well, it reads a bit like a babelfish translation.

And frankly, the from-Tibetan translation I had was quite profound.

And in some cases there's a slight overlap.

Anyhow, it's hard work you & Nishijima have done & I recognize that.

Harry said...

When's the MMK book due out, BTW?

Thanks,

H.

Mysterion said...

November 1, 2009

amazon

Max said...

Have a good time on your trip(s).

Max said...

Have a good time on your trip(s).

Anonymous said...

Mysterion wrote:

"But I enjoy, somewhat, all the verbal masturbation that people on this blog, and elsewhere, are willing to participate in to go nowhere and prove nothing. All that effort for naught."

Of which you are an excellent example, Chas. As are the rest of you "better than to take part in this nonsense" types, who do, of course, take part, but somehow convince yourselves you're better.

Thinking, writing, sharing opinions are great practices of human beings.

Rich said...

Brad, I'm looking forward to reading your MMK. In reading Nishi's blog every once in awhile I would catch something I never thought of before that would just stop me.
Enjoy your travels.

Anonymous said...

I always thought the edge of civilization was somewhere west of the los-angeles city limits.

A member of Dogen Sangha International said...

Brad wrote:

"I heard that..."
Suggestion: read the discussion on your blog for yourself, then you can make up your own mind whether the comments have any merit. A lot of it seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

"...some people are deeply concerned about the forthcoming translation of Nagarjuna's Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way (aka MMK) by Gudo Nishijima as rewritten by me."
No Brad. No one is "deeply concerned". Some people, who are interested, and care enough to write, have written and expressed views. That's all. It's what people do - I believe you've done it once or twice. Isn't that what this blog and its comments section are for?

You continue: "That's so cute! You guys are funny!" ...that is the most patronising, arrogant thing you've said for a long time.

Please don't lecture us about the nature of the translation process. Most of us are far from stupid. Or assume that the only people with concerns are members "of the Sanskrit scholarship community". Like that's a bad thing! Some people might know a thing or two about what sanskrit words mean, so they gotta be clueless nerds, right?

I'm not really bothered about the MMK. But I do find it a little disturbing that you can be so dismissive of constructive criticism.

Get off your high horse. Chill.

RDeWald said...

Nagarjuna points to reality, at best. Nothing about it can really be nailed down anyway.

Enjoy the sit.

Bacon Cheeseburger said...

I thought the edge of civilization was Stratford upon the River Avon.

Tom Jefferson said...

A member of Dogen Sangha International said...
"But I do find it a little disturbing..."

Why?

It neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg.

Holding Reigns said...

Who is on a high horse?

The pot or the kettle?

Anonymous said...

poop

Anonymous said...

'Mummy, Mummy What should I do?'
'Walk the Middle Way Darling'
'But what's that Mummy?'
'It's in the Nagarjuna book Sweetheart'
'Can you read it to me Mummy because the language is too deep to understand?'
'No, Lovely. I can't understand it either'
'What's it about then?'
'Well it's a very important Buddhist text'
'So did the Buddha write it?'
'No, Baby'
'Did he read it?'
'No'
'Why not?'
'Because he was dead'
'That's sad. So if he was dead, why is it so important then?'
'Because it's very complicated and it makes people look really clever if they say they can understand it'
'So they can become scholars?'
'That's exactly it, Gorgeous. It separates those who know from those who think they know'
'So what should I do?'
'Walk the Middle Way Darling'
'But what's that Mummy?'
'It's simply a matter of avoiding extremes'
'Oh. That makes sense.'

proulx michel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
proulx michel said...

A member of Dogen Sangha International said...

(among other offensive things)

"Please don't lecture us about the nature of the translation process. Most of us are far from stupid."

It is not a matter of being stupid. It's a matter of knowing what it's like to translate. Not many people do it or have done it, and among those who have done it, not so many have realised how difficult and biased a process it is. The Italian say, quite justly, "traduttore, traditore", that is, translator, traitor.

Please don't tell others to get down from their high horse when you're giving the impression you're perched up on a giraffe...

Justin said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with interpretative versions of classic texts as long as it's made clear that this is what they are. This is what Stephen Batchelor did with his version of the MMK 'Verses from the Center' which is a sort of poetic reinterpretation. I never finished it though because personally I was far more interested in what Nagarjuna actually said and meant as opposed to Batchelor changing and squeezing of it.

Of course there is interpretation involved in all translation, but that doesn't mean that there is no such thing as accuracy of translation. And that means excellent language skills and excellent scholarship. It's also necessary to have a truthful, unbiased attitude rather than being tempted to distort the meaning so that it supports your own beliefs.

It seems arrogant to casually dismiss the opinions of people who have devoted their lives to studying these things.

Good luck!

Harry said...

Hi,

Look at what Master Dogen did with the sayings of his Chinese ancestors ('polishing a tile' springs to mind... radical, Baby!) for a precedent in for what Gudo's doing with MMK... if you need that sort of thing... Or just don't.

Actually, Gudo's interpretation of MMK might be quite faithful and tame in comparison.

How lucky we are to have scholarly translations. How lucky we are to have interpretations composed by a living Master.

The Middle Way isn't just another intellectual position to wallow in.

Regards,

Harry.

proulx michel said...

Just consider for a comparison the Ancient Testament, first (?) translated from Hebrew to ancient Greek, then from Ancient Greek to late Empire Latin, then from that Latin to 17th Century English, and what with people who hold that as "word of God"!

Translators, willy nilly, have their own agenda. On top of that,we must consider that a translation faithful to the least letter can run completely amok of the real intention of the author. There are known cases of a coma ill understood that changed a lot of things.

The Gospels have "Jesus the Nazorean" which not a single scholar in the world has succeeded giving a satisfying interpretation of. Very early, it was replaced by "Jesus the Nazarean" which could mean "from Nazareth". However, even Christian archaeologists acknowledge that there is not a single trace of occupation on the site of Nazareth before the 1rst century of the Common Era, which can only mean that Nazareth was founded in order to justify the word...

Any translation is shaky ground and scholarship is not necessarily a guarantee.

Another example of this is Emperor Nero. The whole of the books written on the subject would fill whole libraries, all those books referring to other books who refer to still other books in a rather Borgesian perspective. But in the end, what does all that scholarship amount to? Two short articles (five inches of newspaper column at the most) from authors who lived three centuries after the times of the said Nero. Articles in which it is said that the bloody idiot was a wretch because he never accepted giving a gladiators match in the circus. He didn't like blood, and did all he could in order not to have to condemn (to death) those who had plotted against him. Where you also see that those writers (Suetonius and Titus-Livius) had a political agenda...

So much for scholarship...

Translator said...

I found the perfect software for translating Gudo's translation of the MMK. It takes an English phrase, translates back it into Japanese, then back into English and so on until equilibrium is reached. Try it.

http://translationparty.com/tp/

For example, Gudo's 1-7 "If there were no chance for everyone to do anything at all, it might be very happy" becomes

If there were no chance for everyone to do anything at all, it might be very happy

みんなにはチャンスがある場合は何もするが、非常に満足しているかもしれない

If everyone has a chance to do anything that might be satisfied with the very

もしチャンスがみんなに満足しているかもしれない何もするし、非常に

And nothing could have pleased everyone a chance, if very

そして、何も、誰もが満足している場合、非常にチャンスが
And also, if everyone is happy with the opportunity to

また、もし誰もがチャンスを喜んでいる

Also, anyone willing to chance if

また、誰になる可能性が

Also, could anyone

また、誰でもできる

Also, can anyone

また、誰でもすることができます

Also, can anyone
Equilibrium found!
This is a real translation party!

Anonymous said...

'The Middle Way isn't just another intellectual position to wallow in'

The Middle Way is an intellectual position between other intellectual positions. Wallowing is optional I guess...

Harry said...

Hi,

'The Middle Way', as in Buddhism, is not confined to, or by, the intellect at all.

Regards,

Harry.

A member of DSI said...

proulx michel,

And from your perch on top of which particular animal do you make your pronouncements? We all think we're right, don't we?

You don't find any of Brad's comments dimissive and patronising? I did, and I called him on it - not his explanation of his attitude to the project, but his expressions of his attitude to us, his readers - his sympathetic readers, his blog followers, his public, them that pays his wages, and the 'members' of the 'organisation' of which he is 'the leader'.

To tom jefferson - "disturbing" was a bad choice of words. Better would be "annoying"...I was annoyed that Brad could be so dismissive of constructive criticism. Because no one has been rude, dismissive or condescending to Brad during this debate. Yet he comes back with "don't worry your poor fevered brows...you...are so cute...so funny". Yes, I think such an attitude needs correcting. And yes, I'm happy to do it.

Why was I annoyed? Because I care, I guess. Why do I care? Because I'm alive...I guess. Just like everybody who makes a comment on this blog, or anywhere else. Not a bad thing, imo. Also, and more importantly, a book based
on a translation full of "schoolboy errors" may attract derision. I think Gudo's ideas are too important to be dismissed as the ramblings of an elderly Japanese zennist with some oddball notions about a sankrit text he can't read properly.

To PM - please tell me what "offensive things" I said. I think I was honest and direct, and annoyed...but not offensive. I'd be grateful for examples. Truly.

You say: It is not a matter of being stupid. It's a matter of knowing what it's like to translate." What makes you think I haven't translated? I have; I'm doing it at the moment - or that I don't know how treacherous words can be? Did you read Really's couple of examples of Gudo's errors in translation? Have you read the debate on this blog over the last 3 posts? (You probably have, if not, may I recommend it to you). Gudo has made some bad ERRORS...he's simply got it WRONG. He thinks a word means something that, in fact, it doesn't mean. We're not talking interpretation, or flexible meaning, we're talking mistakes. Mistakes that change the meaning of the text. Completely.

Justin put it very well:
"Of course there is interpretation involved in all translation, but that doesn't mean that there is no such thing as accuracy of translation."

I will certainly be buying the book. I expect to enjoy it and find it stimulating, even enlightening, like just about eveything else of Gudo's that I've read, in English or Engrish. But it's connection to Nagarjuna's MMK will be tenuous, that's all. The Anon with the half-finished copy lying on his bed says that the commentary is the meat of the book. It may be a wonderful book; a wonderful insight into Nagarjuna's Buddhism, into the "Middle Way", into what Sunyata means in action, in our real lives, as opposed to a theory on the dusty shelves of sanskrit scholarship. In which case, it didn't need to include a mistranslation of the MMK - did it?

Enough already! Just like Brad, "now even I'm getting bored with this discussion!"

Anonymous said...

"It seems arrogant to casually dismiss the opinions of people who have devoted their lives to studying these things."

Oh, the irony..

Anonymous said...

@ anon, 6.27am -

No irony. Are you suggesting that Brad has made a lifetime study of Nagarjuna's MMK? For it was Brad who was doing the dismissing. He freely, proudly even, admits he's not interested in the work done so far on the book, only in Gudo's views of it. That's fine - but it's surely "arrogant to casually dismiss (etc).."

Really said...

Hi harry (@3.04am),

Dogen, as I read the SBGZ, in the Nishijima/Cross translation - an example of a good translation - quotes a text and then comments. I suspect Dogen was very fastidious when it came to accuracy of text - he just seems that kind of guy to me...very keen on doing things well, whole-heartedly, with integrity. I like to think that if some lowly cook and bottle-washer had said to Dogen "Boss, I think you're reading that copy of the Daily Mirror (geddit?) upside-down", D would've chuckled at the sense things made when they were the wrong way up, and might even written a chapter about it. But he would then have got his glasses and read the thing properly, the right way up, so's he could put a bet on in the 3.30 at Epsom.

And then, yes...Dogen pulls that received, agreed text apart; deconstructs it; turns it round, to reveal something beyond/inside/outside/upside the original text.

That's a very different process, isn't it? In Dogen's case, the text was included in its original language (for the koans) and in translations (in the case of sutras) that endeavoured to be literal, and were, apparently, close enough to be useful.

Gudo's translation is not good, or literal, or close enough. Indeed, he thinks (he's said so)that all previous translators have completely misunderstood the sanskrit.

His commentary, however, with Brad's help, may be smashing. But I don't think he plans to "do a Dogen" on it.

To proulx-michel:
Yes, translations can be good, yet different. They can also be bad, and wrong. And leaders of DSI can be condescending. And we can say so.

To Translator;
Ha! Now that's what I'm talkin about!

Really said...

To PM, and others -

Original French text:
"Le chat est sur la table."

1) Literal, good translation:
'The cat is on the table.'

2) Interpretive translation (dependent on context):
'My pet cat, Tiddles, is sitting on the table.'

3) Mistaken, wrong translation:
'The table-ing of cats is to be on.'

4) Another Mistaken, wrong, translation:
'The train for Southampton departs from platform three.'


Unfortunately, Gudo's translation is too often closer to 3), or 4).

proulx michel said...

A member of DSI said...

proulx michel,
"You don't find any of Brad's comments dimissive and patronising?"

No. I have seen a ton of comments on the Old Man's tentative English for the MMK. I can quite understand that someone who has had to deal with it (and not only give an annoyed look to it) find the disquisitions on this subject amusing. I think you are putting upon him your own impressions.

You speak of "his expressions of his attitude to us, his readers"
"Sticks and stones can break my bones...", remember?

"- his sympathetic readers, his blog followers, his public, them that pays his wages, and the 'members' of the 'organisation' of which he is 'the leader'."
It really seems to me you are pushing the thing a bit too far. Not all his readers are sympathetic, I doubt we contribute much to his living, and I also think he has stated clear enough what was his stance about his being the "leader" of a "non-existent" organisation.

"To PM - please tell me what "offensive things" I said. I think I was honest and direct, and annoyed...but not offensive. I'd be grateful for examples. Truly."
You wrote : "...that is the most patronising, arrogant thing you've said for a long time."
Brad will have a ton of shortcomings, but I have never felt him to be either patronising nor arrogant. If you see those things in him, could it be that these are your shortcomings?

You wrote: "Please don't lecture us"
Where did you read a lecture on the translation process?

You wrote: "so dismissive of constructive criticism."
The book is in print, what constructive criticism?

And you also wrote: "Get off your high horse. Chill."
I resent it as offensive to someone who, to my knowledge, never acted as such. What with the abuse he suffers here and has never acted upon it? I would have had much less patience.

You say: "What makes you think I haven't translated? "
I never thought that. I only mentioned that most people who read this haven't. Isn't it a bit paranoid to take upon yourself as criticism what was not intended as such?

In which case, it didn't need to include a mistranslation of the MMK - did it?
I have read some early examples of Sensei's attempts and was not at all convinced because I found them utterly un-intelligible. Which is why I approved of Mike Luetchford's version and have enjoyed reading it.

Nonetheless, I was attracted by Gudo's first notes on the book, which were then available on line, where the general outline was interesting, and quite understandable. For this reason, I think that the Warner-Nishijima version will be interesting, especially compared to others.

At a moment when the book is printed or in the process of being printed, no criticism will change that. I know for one that discussing in person with Gudo can clear up a lot of misunderstandings, and it also seems that there was a lot of that in Brad's work. So I look forward to it, and know very well that, even if it were to be classified as the most unreliable version ever of the MMK, there will be many valuable insights in it.
But you don't say otherwise.

So why start calling names? And by the way, neither Brad nor I are hiding behind the curtains.

Another Member of DSI said...

Nobody in DSI had the guts to stop this train wreck before it was too late. Nobody in DSI had the guts to tell the emperor he had no clothes. Simple as that. People who do tell Gudo these days that something is amiss with his former skills risk being cut out of the Dharma will. Better to let the old man piss himself in public than risk being the one to tell him that he needs a diaper.

A member of DSI said...

PM -

Ok - you read one thing, I read another. Without doubt, my reaction was prompted by Brad's dismissive attitude (I'm still surprised that you can't see that!) to those who had written perfectly reasonable, polite comments here, on Brad's blog since July 31st, expressing concern over Gudo's translation. That's the 'consructive criticism' I referred to (have you read all the discussion? Brad clearly implied that he hadn't).

If you have no such concerns, or a sanguine confidence that it'll all be alright on the night (and it may well be), then I can see why Brad's post wouldn't annoy you.

I wrote a sincere reply prompted by a genuine reaction, none of which I retract. Calling someone 'patronising' and 'arrogant' isn't offensive if true, and advising them to get off their high horse, likewise. Am I patronising and arrogant? On occasions, yes; that doesn't let Brad off the hook.

Some have remarked that the comments on Brad's blog are sometimes snarky and angry because of the tone and standard set by him. I didn't use to share that opnion. I do now.

Even people who haven't translated are capable of understanding the issues involved, don't you think? It might be arrogant to think otherwise.

(And BTW, If I drew the curtains and stood naked in front of them, you still wouldn't know me ;-))

A member of DSI said...

I've just seen the contribution of "Another member of DSI" ^^^

I get the impression whoever that person is might know whereof they speak.

Not for the faint-hearted. Ha!

Mysterion said...

"If there were no chance for everyone to do anything at all, it might be very happy.:

This is, of course essentially correct. In the nihilism of Nagarjuna, happiness can only exist in the absence of free agency where all action is no action - e.g. all beings are in nirvana and no beings remain in "Buddhist Hell" (the land of shadow and light). MMK is what it is.

Anon 6:27 AM said...

Justin, So you think a person who has devoted his life to studying language is better qualified to translate the MMK than a person who has devoted his life to studying Buddhism?

Brad is arrogant for holding the first opinion and apparently you are reasonable for holding the second. :)

There is of course room for both views on the translation. Neither will not be wholly wrong or right.

Really said...

Mysterion -

You know, all intelligent, informed commentators (there are such people) that I've read on the MMK - and I've read a few - would immediately conclude that anyone who thinks Nagarjuna is a "nihilist", or proposes some kind of "nihilism" doesn't understand Nagarjuna at all. But what do they know?

One thing I'm sure of: Gudo knows Nagarjuna is not a nihilist.

Anonymous said...

Harry said... 'The Middle Way', as in Buddhism, is not confined to, or by, the intellect at all.

It is whilst you are reading or writing about it...

Anonymous said...

'Mummy. What's a nihilist?'
'Well Darling, nihil is a Latin word meaning nothing so it's someone who thinks nothing is important and believes in it'
'But that's something to believe in Mummy isn't it?'
'Yes Sweetheart. It is all rather confusing isn't it?'
'So is that why Grandad died?'
'Yes Cherub. He believed in nothing, realised it was something and he disappeared up his own bottom in a cloud of smoke'
'So where is Grandad now then?'
'That's a jolly good question Poppet'

Mysterion said...

"Gudo knows Nagarjuna is not a nihilist."

I don't know what Gudo knows.

I know Nagarjuna - the serpent noble - descended into the nether world city called Bhogavati and the Nagas - serpent people - gave him a book. Also, Vasuki, the King of Serpents, presented a precious necklace to Nagarjuna during his stay in the Bhogavati.

Reminds me of the Golden Plates.

"Millions of people believe in faith that an angelic being named Maroni, Son of Morman, gave Joseph Smith golden tablets in Palmyra, NY." source

So if you don't see an arch-typical pattern in play here, perhaps you are not looking.

Mysterion said...

p.s. Nagarjuna was one of the more transparent nihilists in Buddhism (which, in itself is nihilistic).

Stop the cycles of births-deaths (e.g. stop producing offspring altogether).

"Having discovered the Truth, He opened the gates of Immortality to all who wish to hear Him and seek their Deliverance from this ever-recurring cycle of births and deaths..." source

***The Buddha told Demon King Master-of-Lives, "Because of your great mercy, you are able to take such a vow of great mercy to protect sentient beings at their births and at their deaths. In the future, at the time of the births and the deaths of men and women, do not shy away from your vow, but always liberate them so they will forever be happy." source

The original Pali term for suffering is dukkha, pain, but that in the first noble truth designates frustration, and the existential angst generated by the impermanence of life and the unavoidability of old age, disease, and death.

However, when the Buddha of the Pāli Nikāyas mentions birth, he seems to be referring to the fact that our psychophysical components are conditioned by grasping, within saṃsāra, the cycle of births and deaths. This interpretation is consistent with later Buddhist tradition.

So, grope for straws but never for life.

Jinzang said...

Judging by what he's written on his blog, Gudo Nishijima is in the process of writing a badly flawed translation of the MMK. That's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact. Some of the arguments supporting it have been laid out. More could be said, but what has been said is sufficient for the present. I haven't heard a defense of Gudo's translation other than, " liked it." or "I found it helpful." Your devotion to your teacher is inspiring, even if it is misplaced in this case. There are many stories in Tibet about students who misunderstood their teachers' instructions and still benefited because of their sincerity and devotion. But good scholarship still counts for something. There's a reason why studying Nagarjuna is important and it's to avoid falling into side traps as your meditation practice progresses. It's not merely a matter of scholars debating dusty minutia. Read Gudo's translation if you feel inspired to, but please also read a more standard translation, such as Jay Garfield's, so you know what all the fuss is about.

Another Another Member of DSI said...

Better to let the old man piss himself in public than risk being the one to tell him that he needs a diaper.

Plus you have this whole low budget "Howard Hughes" like thing around the old man, like the people (some well meaning, some not so much) who used to "yes yes" Mr. Hughes as he sat naked in a hotel room watching endless re-runs of "Ice Station Zebra" so that they could get some control of his wealth. In Gudo's case, there is no money involved, but the need for hangers on to prop Gudo up as still being of sound mind and thinking clearly. Some do it because they love him so much they cannot help it, some because they still need to stand in his light and prove that he was of sound mind when writing his Dharma will.

There is also a serious anti-intellectual bent here in the Bradster, and not in the intended Zen way of "beyond words and letter". He just don't like them uppidy "egg head" professory types with their "scolarship" and "facts" and Eastern elitist ways. He is to the MMK what Sarah Palin was to politics, translating like Joe the Plumber was a political commentator. He is in some ways to the MMK what the Bush administration was to global warming and all them "scientific facts". Kind of like a punk musician who is suspicious of anyone who actually can read music.

Well, punk music can be good for being a train wreck. So maybe something will come out of this mess.

Just my two cents.

Zenleo said...

Hey LaCrosse is a beautiful City. I know you are headed for the back-woods of Minnesota though. If you have the chance head to Trempealeau Wisconsin, and have one of their famous Walnut Burgers, the owners of Hotel Trempealeau are Vegetarian and that is their claim to fame. My daughter and I rode the bike trail from Trempealeau (http://www.trempealeauhotel.com/) to LaCrosse Wisconsin and it was great fun. All the translation verses interpretation I'll leave to those much wiser than myself.

Mysterion said...

Jinzang said:
"But good scholarship still counts for something."

Indeed, and so does a skeptical mind.

Read 5 or 6 translations before attempting to form an opinion.

Ya gotta walk a mile in a man's shoes before you criticize him. There are two good reasons for this:

1) He has to chase you without his shoes.
2) You have a full mile head start on him.

Gifted said...

"when writing his Dharma will."

Can we just be green without extruding envy?

Another Another Member of DSI said...

Any hateful ignorant dickhead with a hard-on for Brad can become a member of DSI. It's not that exclusive. They even let me join.

A member of DSI said...

By calling myself "A member of DSI", I was, of course, being (partly) ironic. As far as I'm aware all you gotta do is like Gudo's approach, and do zazen, preferably x2 per day. No $$, no obligatory course material, no obligatory membership card or rule book. I attend sesshin/retreats led by one of Gudo's dharma heirs, own all the Windbell (DS publishing) books, which I actually read, and do zazen daily. That's it. I've never asked to be "a member" so I may not, in fact, be a member. I think the idea is a bit daft, so...Oh! And I don't regard Brad as my "leader", but then neither does he. Hmm..

BTW, re other translations, Garfield's (from a "tibetan perspective", but who cares?) I like a lot; I also recommend, from a different (theravadan, but who cares?) perpective, David Kalapuhana's "[MMK] of Nagarjuna", and of course, Michael Luetchford's "Between Heaven and Earth" - word by word sanskrit translation (with a few very minor errors), plus Interpretaive translation, plus general and chapter introductions demonstrating correspondences/lineage to Dogen.

Really said...

Mysti -

You wrote: "Nagarjuna - the serpent noble". I'm guessing - so could be very wrong - that you think naAgArjuna means 'serpent noble' in sanskrit. It doesn't. It means, literally, 'nAga' = serpent or snake, (in some contexts) dragon...
'arjuna' = white, clear...OR tree...OR a serpent...Or, even, an eye infalmmation...

So: "serpent/Dragon tree", or "whitesnake" (fancy!), or snake snake ...take your pick, translation isn't an exact science, is it? But there are limits - arjuna doesn't mean noble. Are you confusing it with "arya"?

Unless you know something I don't ;-)

Stephanie said...

DSI @ 8:32 PM:

What a perfect example of Wrong Speech you have given us. And how clearly you show that you miss the point.

As Harry and others have pointed out here, there is wisdom to be found in Nishijima's words that goes beyond the virtues of literal translation.

Nagarjuna's point in writing the MMK was to teach the Dharma and help liberate sentient beings though a clear and accurate view of Reality. Nishijima's point in his efforts is the same.

The end result of whether these teachings serve as direct pointing is indeed much more important than the "scientific facts" of "uppity scholarship." Any Buddhist teacher would say the same. Teachers and sages have played around with words and changed meanings and re-translated to suit their purposes for centuries, with the goal of liberating beings through skillful wordplay that transcends the concerns of academic scholarship.

I say this as someone steeped in years of hardcore academic training who deeply appreciates scholars and intellectuals. But intellect and scholarship only go so far. Freud was a brilliant intellectual but it was his own original insight that changed the world and helped people. For all the people who study Baudrillard and other postmodern critical theorists, all the ones who can perform brilliant scholarship in these areas, it is only the folks who have and develop a living understanding of the disappearance of the Real who will truly 'get it.' And that takes something other than egg-headed devotion to facts and cleverness.

You have obviously not understood this point. Your ill-intentioned and cruel, demeaning speech toward Nishijima and your assumption that Brad's motives are impure and Machiavellian says more about you than either Brad or Nishijima. I suspect you are rather a vile person in real life. You might want to work on that, and perhaps one day you will understand why kindness and intuitive wisdom are more important than intellectual dick-waving.

Mysterion said...

Steph:

And Jung, for all his errors, was a far greater contribution to humanity than Freud (Joy). Not to denigrate Erickson...

Rated by APA, is this list. Freud would not have appeared had I prepared the list.

1 Freud, Sigmund ... Freud, Sigmund
2 Skinner, B. F. ... Piaget, Jean
3 Bandura, Albert ... Eysenck, H. J.
4 Piaget, Jean ... Winer, B. J.
5 Rogers, Carl ... Bandura, Albert
6 Schachter, Stanley ... Jung, Carl
7 Harlow, Harry F. ... Erikson, Erik H.
8 Brown, Roger
9 Miller, Neal E.
10 Erikson, Erik H.

Mysterion said...

Steph:

without dick waving, no seminal discoveries would have been made.

amanda said...

Oh, man. I hope that's just a really bad pun.

Speaking of which, why the hell isn't Horney on any of those lists?

Hint: it starts with "vagina."

Harry said...

"His commentary, however, with Brad's help, may be smashing. But I don't think he plans to "do a Dogen" on it."

Hi, Really.

I don't think, and I didn't mean to say, that Master Nishijima is going to 'do a Dogen' on it in any similar methodical or formulaic way, but I think Master Dogen's treatment of the records of his ancestors sets a real precedent and standard for an inspired, reconstructive and free approach to the 'authority' of scripture and tradition. I don't expect that a lot of the 'Counters of grains of sand' (Buddhists-who-had-it-all-sussed-ON-PAPER) liked what Master Dogen did back in the day... he did slag the shit out of them too of course! :-))

BTW, Piss Comment Person, it's quite normal and common for older people to wet themselves in public. There's no reason to wary of them for this, it's just the way it is. Hopefully we'll all be old some day.

I once pissed myself in public. I wasn't old, just drunk.

Regards,

Harry.

Mysterion said...

Blogger amanda said...
"Oh, man. I hope that's just a really bad pun."

Thank you for 'getting it' right away. I will not delve into the 'root' of the word.

Mysterion said...

"...it's quite normal and common for older people to wet themselves in public."

Two physicians were walking along a street one day when an old man walked by in the opposite direction. He was all stooped over and exhibiting some difficulty in walking.

After a brief discussion, the physicians went back, stopped the old man and asked him:

Excuse us, but my colleague Dr. Davis here thinks you suffer from hemorrhoids while I think you are suffering from Crohn's.

"Well, we are all wrong," spoke the old man. "You see, I thought it was gas."

Perception.

Anonymous said...

Wow Mysterion, You must have really been embarrassed. But it could happen to anyone..

Another Another Member of DSI said...

Steph wrote ...


As Harry and others have pointed out here, there is wisdom to be found in Nishijima's words that goes beyond the virtues of literal translation.


One can even find meaning in a totally random sequence of words strung together, so I am sure you can find some meaning in Nishijima's translation despite the faults. After all, the words are not random, just based on misunderstood Sanskrit, expressed in nearly incomprehensible English, then fixed by Bradley playing the role of interpreter of the nearly incomprehensible mutterings of the Oracle of Delphi.

Anyway, Nishijima Sensei does not need to understand Sanskrit well to know Nagarjuna's true intentions. You see, Nishijima has expressed to several of his students that he now hears Nagarjuna come to him in his dreams and tell him what to write (this is true), so I am sure he is getting the MMK direct from the horse's mouth despite the language barrier and centuries. You can't be wrong when the author is telling you what to write in your sleep, can you?

Some of us have been around Sensei for 15 or 20 years, so we know the present situation better than you.

Steph, you and Harry and Mysterion and some others again prove that you are willing to defend Nishijima and Brad through thick and thin, hell and high water. That is an admirable quality on your parts.

Harry said...

Hi,

Admirable or not, I don't think I'm blanket 'defending' anyone at all and that is never my intention and I don't think it's a very good idea.

I would certainly 'defend' the value that we should treat older people with respect and dignity; I would 'defend' fruitful honest effort of any sort and prize it above anonymous, bitchy, internet criticism; I would 'defend' lots of things like that, but I'd also (and I have and I will) criticise Master Nishijima and Bradley-san Warner when it seems like criticism is due, or helpful/useful, or unavoidable... take it as it comes, know what I mean?

Jesus, people and their fucking tiny little personality religions.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rich said...

"You see, Nishijima has expressed to several of his students that he now hears Nagarjuna come to him in his dreams and tell him what to write (this is true), so I am sure he is getting the MMK direct from the horse's mouth despite the language barrier and centuries. You can't be wrong when the author is telling you what to write in your sleep, can you?"

You were once a dream yourself so I wouldn't be too critical, arrogant and sarcastic.

"Some of us have been around Sensei for 15 or 20 years, so we know the present situation better than you. "

That's your problem, familiarity breeds contempt. What you fail to understand is that Nargarjuna and Nishijima have provided us with mirrors to see ourselves. It doesn't matter that we don't know them personally or have never met them.

As far as the scholars, if they don't practice all their learning is useless.

transfer THIS said...

Rich said:
"As far as the scholars, if they don't practice all their learning is useless."

Haven't you heard?

1) If you can't do it, teach it.

2) If you can't teach it, teach P.E.

"I have been calling "Senesh's Law" - That if you can't teach it to the second grade it probably isn't true." -- Kenneth Boulding

Stephanie said...

I would certainly 'defend' the value that we should treat older people with respect and dignity; I would 'defend' fruitful honest effort of any sort and prize it above anonymous, bitchy, internet criticism; I would 'defend' lots of things like that, but I'd also (and I have and I will) criticise Master Nishijima and Bradley-san Warner when it seems like criticism is due, or helpful/useful, or unavoidable... take it as it comes, know what I mean?

Jesus, people and their fucking tiny little personality religions.


+1

I've taken Brad to task many a time; I hardly see him as infallible.

And I have respect for the tradition of being visited by the Muse in one's sleeping or waking moments. Many a young Romantic has experienced the same thing--it is hardly exclusive to the elderly.

Perhaps having a bit of magic and mystery in your own life would soothe the bitterness?

Anonymous said...

Hi Steph -

You took "DSI @8.32pm" to task - rather unfairly, I thought - for "wrong speech".

I notice you wrote this in he course of your comments:

"I suspect you are rather a vile person in real life."

Hmm...

Harry's whining Dipshit of a friend said...

Wassup Harry!

...Oh Ok - Harry @ 4.04pm was a rant.

Thank God for that, coz it made no sense whatsoever. A real mess.

Pass the jelly babies :-)

Anonymous said...

Vileness is us!

Another Another Member of DSI said... said...

Steph, you and Harry and Mysterion and some others again prove that you are willing to defend Nishijima and Brad through thick and thin, hell and high water. That is an admirable quality on your parts.

Oh, I forgot to mention Rich

I believe the who issue is made clear as a bell by Nishijima Sensei in his MMK I-7

When a person, who acts, is criticized,

A problem of the Real Action to do, does not appear actually to be
the special object discussed at all.

If there were no chance for everyone to do anything at all,
it might be very happy,

But where is it possible for anyone to have such a happy condition, even anywhere at all?


_____________________________

(By the way, just to see how bad those scholars can muddle it, and how much Gudo is straightening things out, here is the Kalupahana version. I am not even sure that they are writing on the same subject now:

Since a thing that is existent or non-existent or both existent and non-existent is not produced, how pertinent in that context would a producing cause be?

Garfield version:

When neither existents nor non-existents nor existent non-existents are established, how could one propose a "productive cause?" If there were one, it would be pointless

Here is Nishijima's July version, which seems somewhere more or less in the ballpark

What is not stable and what is not unstable, are different from what is Real or what is not Real.

And in such a real situation the System of the Universe will be accomplished.

How is it possible for the Accomplishment of the Universe is reasonable?

Because even being Real might be fixed exactly.

Really said...

Another Another DSI member -

Unfortunately, Gudo has (I'm sure, from comparing the sanskrit) made a copy/paste error here. What appears as Verses 3 to 7 of chapter one on his blog are, in fact from chapter 2 (verse 8 onwards is back to chapter 1, I think).

So, the verse translated by Gudo that you quote is verse 7 from chapter 2, and should be compared with this one (from Kalupahana):

"If it is thought that movement seperated from a mover is not appropriate,
then, whe no movement exists, how could there be a mover?"

OR (from Garfield):

"If without a mover
It would not be correct to say that there is motion.
Then is there were no motion,
How could there be a mover?"

OR (from Luetchford):

"If movement is not plausible seperate from the mover,
While there is no movement, from where, then, will the mover come into being."

Hmm...still not much help in explaining how Gudo got to where he got to. (I Know how he got to "criticized", and wrote about it @7,55am, previous Bradblog... the rest I'm stuck on.)

Sadly, AADSI, I think we're banging out heads against a wall. I suspect those rushing to Gudo's defence don't know anything about the book, or sanskrit, so don't understand the objections. They'll tell me if I'm wrong.

Really said...

I believe we'll get a smashing book, which will have been inspired by Gudo's unique take on the MMK, informed by his mistranslation of the sanskrit text.

Done.

For the time being.

Scott R. Etard said...

You see, Nishijima has expressed to several of his students that he now hears Nagarjuna come to him in his dreams and tell him what to write (this is true), so I am sure he is getting the MMK direct from the horse's mouth despite the language barrier and centuries.

If this is serious it negates everything he and brad have taught concerning reincarnation. Screw reading brad's books, I'll just get out my Ouija board and contact Gotama directly.

Anonymous said...

it isn't true. It's a bad translation.

Harry said...

I went into the local shop today and asked for my morning paper as usual. How upset I was when the lady behind the counter corrected me on my Sanskrit; I was completely affronted as I like to think I am somewhat of an expert.

This episode, and nothing at all on this blog, has convinced me that I must try harder to master this vibrant, living language and try also to employ it more in my daily life.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Harry -

Don't go hating on the sanskrit, bro! The universe includes your local shop and books in sanskrit, even if your shop don't sell em.

Please do not dismiss the relevance of understanding the meaning of words when seeking to translate from one language into another (Gudo doesn't - he's just bad at it, in this case). Please do not get all sarcy about old books in dead languages, or I'll have to call you on all the time you spend on that obscure, incomprehensible, medieval Japanese book you've got a thing about.

So you don't know and don't care about sanskrit. Thought so. How about that medieval Japanese? Ever tempted? Think it might get you closer to Dogen's meaning - maybe to clarify something, somewhere, sometime? If not, great - I understand where you're coming from. But others do find a grasp of the original language of an author helpful, and interesting. And essential when translating.

Harry said...

... Oh dear, the milkman called round looking to be paid. I thought I had said "Yes, certainly Mike, I'll just get if for you now" but what I actually said was "Yes, definite Mike, I just got it for you". Thankfully he laughed, but another Latin speaker might have taken me to task on it.

Oh, if only I'd concentrated in school more and hadn't been so distracted by what the other kids were doing!

On the other hand, the dry, convoluted efforts of some of my old classmates still provides encouragement to continue.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

No Harry. What the milkman heard was, "Payment is never actually a getting and so it can be happy". Never mind. He got paid, didn't he? And that's all that matters...when paying milkmen.

Harry said...

...you won't believe this one...

I was pottering about the garden, my two kids, Apollo and Boudica, were playing one of their silly games, reenacting the sack of Constantinople or something. Suddenly my wife, Minerva, came out and asked me if I'd like some lunch. Now, we usually speak Middle English around the house on weekdays, but, before I could think I said clearly a fluently in perfect Old Irish "No, you bitch, you've ruined my fucking life."

It's really quite amazing what we can learn from our use of language if we read between the lines somewhat.

Regards,

Harry.

Yueheng said...

Reading this as an "outsider" (being neither a Zen Buddhist or anyone familiar with the works of Nagarjuna), here's my understanding of the "controversy" brewing here:

a) Brad's teacher is coming out with a translation+ commentary of a book by Nagarjuna. This book was originally written in Sanskrit centuries ago.

b) Brad suggests that it does not matter to him whether or not his teacher's translation is faithful to the Sanskrit original. As long as the translation speaks to him, that's cool.

c) Some people say that the translation is horribly off-tangent and that scholarship does matter.

d) Some people say that scholarship is irrelevant.

e) There is a claim that Brad's teacher is receiving some special revelation from Nagarjuna himself.

My take:

Scholarship is important when in translation. If one does not know Sanskrit, one has no business translating a Sanskrit text.

It is beyond our human ability to verify whether or not Brad's teacher really believes himself to be hearing Nagarjuna's disembodied voice in his head. It shouldn't even be part of any rational discussion of Buddhism. If Nargarjuna can start appointing posthumous secretaries, then why not Shakyamuni?

Anonymous said...

Harry!

You may be pleased to hear that Mike the Milkman attained satori back at the depot. The 'turning words' were, of course "Payment is never actually a getting and so it can be happy", which matured whilst Mike was indulging himself in a copy of Nuts.

Unfortunately, because of the misunderstanding, Mike's manager will no longer accept your promises of "pay you next week". It's direct debit, or no milk.

Your turn :-)

Harry said...

I don't have time for silly games; I'm still waiting for the viewpoint or opinion on this that will completely liberate me and make my life complete and whole.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Nov 1st 2009, Harry - that's not too long to wait.

Love and kisses,
you know who ;-)

Harry said...

Too late, I just read of something in a Times supplement that will make my hair grow back and increase my virility with no effort on my part at all.

Regards,

H.

Anonymous said...

Please post the link.

Anonymous said...

I must decide on whether to purchase the new translation of MMK by the Dalai Lama or the one by Pope Benny XVI. Benny knows some Latin which seems similar to Sanskrit so I'm leaning in that direction. But then again, The Dalai Lama studies something similar to Buddhism, so he's got that going for him. Hard decision.

Anonymous said...

Is that the milkman with vestibular issues?

gniz said...

Harry,

Honestly, what's your point? That nobody speaks middle english or sanskrit so all this fuss about it is silly? Nobody is arguing that people today need to have a solid grasp of latin, sanskrit, or any other ancient language in order to function properly in the world.

You know that was never the disagreement here, so why do you keep attacking a straw man?

The earlier anony poster (who claimed objectivity) broke it all down quite succinctly. Is scholarship important, is having the proper understanding of the original text important when trying to translate it?

I think most people would tend to say yes. Now, it seems to me, the argument could be made that we're still not sure if Gudo is trying for an accurate translation. He might be. Unless we are closely involved or have seen the manuscript, how can we know for sure?

But the idea that you can approach a complex piece of work in any language and try to translate it without knowing said language, is silly on the face of it. You know this, Harry. The way you parse at Dogen's work day and night, taking it apart and worrying over each little turn of phrase proves it.

Anonymous said...

'Mummy, what are the Buddhists arguing about?'
'Well, I'm not too sure Darling'
'But they keep talking about Sam's Script'
'Oh that. Well, I typed "Sam's Script" into Google and found this:'

Sam, still in his white apron, walks down the busy street. He has a fast, loping gait that doesn't slow or hesitate for anyone. A COUPLE argue on the sidewalk. Sam WALKS RIGHT BETWEEN THEM.

'So Sam's Script points to the Middle Way?'
'We'd better ask the Buddhists about that Honey...'

Anonymous said...

oh man.

gniz said...

You're right, real buddhists dont argue...

Jinzang said...

Thanks folks, for confirming all my prejudices about Zen.

Anonymous said...

100

Anonymous said...

OK jinzang, I'll bite.. What are your three top prejudges about zen?

Harry said...

Well here's my three:

1. That it doesn't affirm the antiquated systems of religious/state governance installed to subjugate a superstitious and devout people in Tibet.

2. That it does not affirm the existence of magic water, magic white pills, or literal reincarnation.

3. That it is not practiced by David Hasselhoff.

... and I'd have to add...

4. That it does not require a good grasp of Latin, or as we call it in Ireland 'Godspeak'.

Gniz, my point is this (if indeed I have one):

*It's always like this.*

I'm pretty used to silliness in a silly world. I'm more-or-less cool with it, Babe. Gudo's 'trans' has potentials. I prefer to see the potentials in such silliness.

Okay, if it makes you feel better, Gudo and Brad are terrible terrible men, so don't but the book, and run away, and sue them, have them struck off, and sue me, they're Bad Buddhists, they're evil, and they run a brothel, and I work in it just for kicks, I'm an idiot, and you're great, I'm wrong, you're right, the scary invisible book that every one knows so well (is Nagajuna channeling it to us as well?) is a waste of time, effort and trees etc etc etc... enlightened yet kiddies?

Now that good has prevailed over evil in the eternal battle for the front seat on the bus that's hurtling towards the grave, can we have the next straw man please?

(I'm still gonna get the book, and I might even read it too!)

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, I'm Nagarjuna and this man knows nothing of my work.

Anonymous said...

... and here's the reference...

gniz said...

Harry, Did I say that Brad and Gudo are terrible mean--is that what you think I (or anyone on this blog) is getting at?

I still dont see your point.

Its not silly to discuss these things, anymore than its silly to discuss sports or politics or anything else.

Why is it silly to you? Because you cant really answer the questions posed in an honest fashion without admitting that maybe--just maybe--the "naysayers" and "doubters" have a point?

gniz said...

edit: meant to say, terrible men but wrote "mean"

gniz said...

Harry sez: "Gniz, my point is this (if indeed I have one):

*It's always like this.* "

Is that your great realization, Harry? And what has it led you to do? Mock people, take the piss constantly, make snide passive-agressive comments and then ridicule people who "take everything so seriously."

I think there is a kind of nihilism in your brand of zen, your "everything is this" which strikes me as insincere at its core.

Because, as you well know, some things still matter--to you, and to others as well. Your above it all attitude is clearly a farce--it doesnt even hold water over the internet, so i cant see it playing well in "real time" so to speak.

Just my 2 cents--or rather, just me being as i am, and everything being as it is, here on Brad's blog.

Harry said...

Yeah, Gniz, feels good, don't it... NOT!

...winning I mean, being right and that. Till the next crusade.

What do you want, and why aren't you doint it?

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

everything ought to be doubted, no one revered or beyond question. that leads to worship and loss of freedom to explore for oneself.

oh woman ;)

Kyla

gniz said...

Harry, I should be writing my book, and this is what i'm doing instead.

What about you?

Harry said...

I'm noticing our buffoonery here.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

yes, get to that book Aaron!!! internet things can be distracting. fortunately I can't enter into the Sanskrit foray because I know nothing about it and glad of it.
All I can say is that in the last months that i've been sitting in practice regularly, morning and evening, my digestion has improved and I don't have a bloody panic attack when I go to walk my wonderful dog. That is enough for me.

I said "oh man" when I read that comment about so-and-so getting their instructions via a ghost?!

That made me laugh and the first thought that came into my head was "oh man", so I typed that.

Take Care

Kyla

gniz said...

it may be bufoonery, and much of it useless--but that doesnt mean its ALL useless...dont throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Yes, i'd be better served writing my book rather than arguing with Harry or others--but still--sometimes what we say might matter. Even the stupid stuff.

Disregarding everything simply because most of it is silly is also silly...now lets all stop with this silliness!

Harry said...

What baby? Your or my deeply cherished opinion, or the little chemical rush we get when we get one up on some other bozo with a not-so-watertight opinion..? Ha!

'Lion's Roar' my bollocks.

When I see a genuine and earnest 'baby' amidst the dribble I'll recognise it as such and be thankful.

Regards,

Harry.

James said...

I'm sure Brad/Gudo's book will be a very good, perhaps even great piece of Buddhist literature. Gudo is a great teacher, with a deep understanding of Buddhist teachings and Brad is a pretty damned good writer who knows a thing or two about Buddhism himself - I'm sure the book will reflect that.

But...

it will not be a translation of MMK and anyone who says otherwise is either blinded by loyalty to Gudo/Brad or suffering from a head injury - perhaps even both. You can't put blatant mistakes down to 'interpretation' - 2+2 never equals 5 and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change the fact that any book that proclaims that 2+2=5 is wrong.

Brad comes across as a bit of a jerk in this post - but I'm sure if a load of strangers were attacking something I'd invested a lot of time and energy in, I'd struggle to avoid sounding overly defensive myself.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Can't you people find something better to do with your time..........go make your bed...wash the dishes....move your bowels....?

Arguing points of philosophic reality is like putting a diaper on a puppy-dog. It might subdue some shit for a little while....but in the end, you've still gotta come face to face with a butt-load of poop.

Anonymous said...

'Mummy. The Buddhists are still arguing about Sam Script and saying that they should be busy writing their books. You told me that Buddhists sit down and meditate. But they don't talk about that. Is it dirty or something?'
'It is confusing isn't it Poppet? Some Buddhists sit down but that's boring so mostly they do it for a bit and then get up and read and write about it.'
'Why?'
'Because that's much more interesting and they think their experiences are very special.'
'Mummy. The lady in the library likes books and stuff. Is she a Buddhist?'
'No Blossom. She's a librarian.'
'But she likes books?'
'Yes she likes books.'
'So she could be a Buddhist?'
'I guess so. But her job is just to move books around the library.'
'So she doesn't get to read them all then?'
'No. I guess she doesn't really get much time to read them - even if she likes them.'
'So why doesn't she become a Buddhist then?'
'Because she's a Christian.'
'But if she was a Buddhist she could meditate in the library and then when no-one was looking she could read books and then go on the Interweb and talk to people about it and stuff.'
'But she's a Christian.'
'What do they do then?'
'Well. They read old books and talk about a man who is dead and then plan the best way to get to heaven.'
'So they are the same as Buddhists?'
'Kind of...but Buddhists meditate'
'But you said they get bored with that and so they read old books and talk about a man who is dead and then plan the best way to get to heaven...'
'Time for bed Poppet.'

Jinzang said...

What are your three top prejudges about zen?

Only that Zen Buddhists don't take scholarship seriously. Brad's remark that he can't be bothered to care if Gudo's translation is accurate or not proves my point.

The only point in a new translation of the MMK is that it's in some way better than those that came before. And I have yet to hear anyone argue that point. I've heard people say the unreleased version is better than the version on Gudo's blog. I have heard people say the translation inspired them. But what I haven't heard is why Gudo's translation of some particular verse is clearer or more correct than the older translations.

Even us crazy homeopaths do a better job when arguing about translations of Hahnemann's Organon of Medicine. We'll compare one translation of an aphorism to another and argue over the merits. This seems to be something that Zen Buddhists are either unprepared or unwilling to do. So Zen Buddhism ranks somewhat lower than homeopathy in that regard.

And for those of you who would grasp the other end of that argument and declare scholarship a waste of time that could have been spent practicing, it wasn't I who decided to do a new translation of the MMK, it was Gudo Nishijima. If you have an argument with scholarship, you have an argument not only with Gudo, but also with Dogen and the many other Zen teachers who have commented on or translated the Buddhist teachings.

Mumon said...

Only that Zen Buddhists don't take scholarship seriously.

A bit of a sweeping generalization; sweeps away D.T. Suzuki, or Philip Yampolsky, not to mention others who did laborious translations of Chinese and Japanese masters.

I don't even think you can include Dogen as a "nonserious" scholar.

Anonymous said...

PhilBob pleads.. "Can't you people find something better to do with your time..........go make your bed...wash the dishes....move your bowels....?"

Right PhilBob.. Wouldn't that make for an interesting blog.. You must be fun on a date.

I guess we could talk about the weather.. Or discuss dog poop or moving our bowels or even speculate on Gniz's mysterious attempt at a book.

Anonymous said...

I think G's book will be a exposé. Showing Zen Buddhists to be the fawning toadies that they are, unable to see the evil in Brad's plan for world domination.

Not Uninvolved Observor said...

Now, it seems to me, the argument could be made that we're still not sure if Gudo is trying for an accurate translation. He might be. Unless we are closely involved or have seen the manuscript, how can we know for sure?

Gudo has regularly stated to students that it is the first accurate translation of Nargarjuna, and that he is the first person in all of history to understand the MMK. If you don't believe me, write him and ask him. He is the first truly to understand Dogen. In fact, he will regularly these days tell anyone who asks that he is the first person in all of history to truly understand Buddhism.

If you don't believe me, write Gudo and ask him.

It is all part of Gudo's efforts to squeeze Nargarjuna into a line by line match with Gudo 3P1R theory and the balanced autonomic nervous system. You can read some about that in Gudo's post and his response here

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=16723429&postID=113867704430441803

Some of the Gudo's loyal students recently pushed to put the "interpretive translation" on this pile of rubble because they knew the problems. I do think that it is a step forward that someone got Gudo to call it an "interpretive translation" on his blog this week, although I wonder if he truly understands why they have him calling it that. He tends to move along with whatever is whispered in his ears these days.

Harry said...

... and besides, Jinz, there is the growing area of 'Dogen Studies' being the (sometimes painful, sometimes highly illuminating, sometimes painfully illuminating...) English language academic 'wing' of Zen Buddhism in the West.

I doubt the MMK trans that someone mentioned briefly earlier (ahem) is meant to play to that stall. It will likely be it's own eccentric sort of thing (personally, I like eccentric).

The growing body of Zen academia is serious stuff which, yes, maybe takes itself too seriously oft times and is very inflated at others, but, you know, that's the nature of that beastie as often as not.

There's lots going on really.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

BTW, I heard that a twelve year old kid read just two lines of Master Gudo's MMK translation and he got POSSESED by THE DEVIL.* That's what's at stake here folks, won't somebody please think of the children!

(*Don't fear, he's currently recovering in an intensive care ward where he is undergoing a strict course of holy water and academically approved industrial strength magic white pills).

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...


(*Don't fear, he's currently recovering in an intensive care ward where he is undergoing a strict course of holy water and academically approved industrial strength magic white pills).

Regards,

Harry.


Harry,

Maybe you could ask Brad to rewrite your postings so that we might understand what the hell you are talking about.

Harry said...

How's your intestinal flora?

gniz said...

"I think G's book will be a exposé. Showing Zen Buddhists to be the fawning toadies that they are, unable to see the evil in Brad's plan for world domination."

Thank god, I write pop fiction...although i am drawn to writing about cults and indoctrination, guru's that sort of thing. I find it all fascinating. Probably why i spend so much time on this blog and others like it...seriously

Mr. Reee said...

I like Harry.

Mysterion said...

"the evil in Brad's plan"

Well, i'm uncertain about the presence of absence of evil (whatever that evil is or is perceived to be) but i am certain about the plan - there isn't one beyond: "What's next?"

Ask Brad where he will be three years from now and what he will be doing...

i rest my case.

Steve said...

Where's your nose?

Mysterion said...

There's an old saying, from the "North Town Magistrate" in Edo.

"Do not pay for a flounder with a gold coin."

In short, nobody should spend a lifetime exclusively studying ANYTHING. Study a bit of this, a bit of that... a little of a lot and - for a specialization - a lot of a little.

Anonymous said...

I like Harry too. That and a dollar will buy him a cup of coffee.

Anonymous said...

Bartender! Give me a drink of
whatever Harry's drinking!
That's some funny stuff!

BTW, in case you didn't know,
lobsters LOVE Guinness!

Really said...

BTW -

You can find an excellent example of a fresh, insightful translation of another dusty old sanskrit text here:

http://nothingbutthelifeblood.blogspot.com

The translation is word for word "accurate" - by which I mean that no "sanskrit scholar" would seriously challenge the choices Mike Cross has made. Within the limits of that accuracy and with total commitment to the integrity of the original, MC has found a meaning, an interpretion, if you like, that confirms his own experience of sitting. No distortion or substitution has been necessary. He is also very open to suggestions and corrections.

I see that Harry is a follower.

Really said...

Er...interpretation.

Harry said...

Yes, a follower being pulled, and a pusher pushing, as are you, Mr./Mrs. Not-so-Really.

I think you'll find we're pushed around and pulled around by things all day. Old Dogen wrote nicely about this. And he was also sophisticated and adult enough to realise that the situation is not a simple 0/1 scenario (as we might think it) and so he recognised the fact that we can 'turn the wheel' even while we're being turned.

Such subtleties are lost when we completely denigrate it in favour of the usual old shit though.

We just 'follow' different things it seems. But, if you like, you can win on this occasion.

Regards,

Harry.

gniz said...

I love it when Harry lets me win.

One of the few times all day when anyone does.

You could set up a service, Harry, of arguing with people and then letting them win at the end. I swear you could make millions off this idea. Maybe we can set it up together?

Harry said...

I think that would be contrary to the 5th Precept.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Harry,

I swear you sound more like Mysterion every post.
And, in common with Chas, you clearly know something the rest of us don't.
So, although it is good of you (and Chas) to let us sometimes win, I'd prefer it if you gave us your teaching in a form we can understand, even if that means we sometimes lose.

Thank you,
A follower.

Harry said...

Anon,

I know that I don't know something you don't know.

This sort of knowing is really quite unrestricted/unrestricting if it's fully known.

I fear I may be free of the realm of Chas and into the land of Donald Rumsfeld.

Don't mention it.

Regards,

H.

Anonymous said...

I woke up this morning aware of deeply help fear in my body and mind. This is not really the fear of something, it's more like a habitual clenching by the entire muscular system at a very low level. Mentally, the thought-murmurs are saying 'there's no escape', 'there's no hope', 'go back to sleep'.

Anyone here ever tune into this vibe?

Do you think that just becoming more aware of it will help to influence relaxation?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I always have a wank when I wake up feeling like that.

Harry said...

Hi Anon,

I think I know that feeling well. What being aware of it might contribute to is ensuring that it doesn't determine what you actually do (so that we don't stay in bed all the time for e.g.)

It might be valuable to consider what really constitutes 'awareness' in this context though.

'Awareness' is a big Buddhist buzzword, but what's the big deal? We could act like a complete asshole to everyone in our life while being completely aware of it to what better end or advantage? 'Awareness' might represent a fractured situation where there's one 'me' doing something and another 'me' being aware of it. Buddha, on the other hand, became enlightened together with all beings at once.

I'm not at all sure that Buddhist practice eradicates such feelings as you report (I don't think it does that at least), but we might realise that those feelings are transitory and need not determine the way we really act.

I often have trouble getting out of bed.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

p.s. A traditional remedy to this sort of thing is to set the alarm and just get up when it goes off regardless of what you think or feel (actually just to 'get up when you hear the bell' as it would be in a monastery) and so your 'getting up' action 'transcends' your thoughts and feelings or your lack of thoughts and feelings... not exactly rocket science, but not always easy to do.

I'll do it if you'll do it. What time shall we say?

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Harry!

we might realise that those feelings are transitory and need not determine the way we really act.

Right on. Thank you.

I've recently stared to get up at 5am to do some pranayama and go to a yoga class. That's when I discovered all this low level tension. I feel like I'm finally seeing a big boundary that usually keeps me running back to make-a-good-feeling-now actions, (like a wank, yes).

Guess I'll just keep on and watch what comes up each day. It was a bit of a shock this morning to realize I've got a deep fear thing that's been calling the shots for a looonnnggg time now. Well, I guess I've known that at one level, but deciding not to let it run the show is sort of scary... haha, I guess that's what working with fear's all about.

Mysterion said...

You ALWAYS win.

You are learning NOTHING from a NOBODY when you are errant enough to constantly pay attention to my posts. If 1 out of 20 actually contains something worthwhile in it, then I am outperforming my target.

Remember, the Buddha said to doubt everything, believe nothing, but by your own trial and error, work it out for yourself. Cited by both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhists, Kalama sutra Buddha's charter for YOU.

For me @62, the race is run. I have nowhere else to go, nothing else to do. If called upon to teach for a day, I help students learn. Learning it what you do, teaching is a myth.

Anonymous said...

Why not go for stream entry?

Mysterion said...

Not to rain on your parade, but the tension you feel might just be anxiety (properly German - angst - fear).

Anxiety comes from thinking to excess about the future. There's an old song...

Anticipation (Carly Simon)

We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway
And I wonder if I'm really with you now
Or just chasing after some finer day.

Anticipation, Anticipation
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting

And I tell you how easy it is to be with you
And how right your arms feel around me.
Bit I rehearsed those words just late last night
When I was thinking about how right tonight might be.

Anticipation, Anticipation
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting

And tomorrow we might not be together
I'm no prophet, I don't know natures way
So I'll try to see into your eyes right now
And stay right here, 'cause these are the good old days.

And yes, I suspect habitual Zazen will attenuate that angst - anxiety - fear.

Harry said...

Anon,

Are you sure you are getting enough quality sleep time? Some people need 8 or even 9 hours in order to be on good form. Just a thought.

If I don't get my quota the day can really seem off kilter.

Sleep deprivation and/or interrupted sleep patterns can have strange and pervasive effects.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Thanks guys. Just working (willingly) with the visceral experience of fear, which I am averse to. Noticing how powerful the reactivity is (99% of actions?). Thankful for this glimpse, but daunted by the prospect of working with it. Humbled by admission of how difficult it is for me. Sudden compassion for many people who's reactive behavior I have found offernsive, thus judging their intent while not seeing that so much issues from unconscious reactivity to fear. That sort of moment.

Rich said...

Anon 9:42

"I woke up this morning aware of deeply help fear in my body and mind. This is not really the fear of something, it's more like a habitual clenching by the entire muscular system at a very low level. Mentally, the thought-murmurs are saying 'there's no escape', 'there's no hope', 'go back to sleep'.

Anyone here ever tune into this vibe?"

Yes I have. The fact that you noticed this means you are going in a positive direction. Just keep sitting regularly.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rich

now setting controls for heart of sun
hands of wheel
adjusting zafu
cough

aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!

Harry said...

Dear All,

Master Nishijima seems keen to hear any criticism of his MMK translation via his blog. He posted this message (below) there in response to a message I sent pointing out that his work was being criticised here. I hope that the more substantial criticisms can be the source of some reasonable exchanges regarding the text and translations of it.

Regards,

Harry.

Dear Harry San,

Thank you very much for your advice, but I am very busy now, and so it is difficult for me to read other's comments in other's blog.

Therefore I would like to ask everyone that if anyone has question of my translation of MMK, it is better for them to show their opinions to my own "Dogen Sangha Blog" directly.

I would like to answer soon, and I would like to read those questions so enormously.

Rich said...

This is so great I wanted to share it with you here in case you don't read his blog -). Nishijima's interpretative translation of MMK v1.

A Song of The Fundamental Truth on The Middle Way


[1] Examination of The Real Truth (14 Verse)

1. The Real Truth is different from subjective ideas, which have been produced in human brain, or the Real Truth is never sense stimuli, which have been received from the external world.

The Real Truth is not the mixture of the subjective ideas or the
objective sense stimuli, but The Real Truth is never anything
illogical.

Miscellaneous things and phenomena are always manifesting
themselves as they are.

And what is called existence does never exist really anywhere, or
does not exist in anything.

Mysterion said...

I trust Brad, and his helpers, with the task of turning Nishijima-roshi's effort into California (or Midwestern) English.

Western English is still the preferred dialect in Japan.

Thank whatever gods may be that Brad has a year (or 2?) as a JET ALT.

Japan English Teaching - Alternate Language Teacher. This is a GREAT time to go... only ¥95 to the $US.

Anonymous said...

Harry - This link to an early attempt to open the discussion with Gudo was posted a while back ^^^

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=16723429&p

Gudo's response may explain why the dialogue didn't progress.

Anonymous said...

Try again :

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=16723429&postID=113867704430441803

Anonymous said...

eh, what's that post id #?

Anonymous said...

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=16723429&postID=113867704430441803

OK. That should work.

sixT said...

Is there anyone here who is sick and tired of buddhist speak? I fucking hate Nishijimas blog. Its full of broken concepts glued together by imagination of an old japanese man.

Who knows if his interpretation is correct or not. I for one don't give a shit.

The only thing that matters is zazen. It gives us something tangible, like the peace of mind and focus.

sixT said...

"Can't you people find something better to do with your time..........go make your bed...wash the dishes....move your bowels....?

Arguing points of philosophic reality is like putting a diaper on a puppy-dog. It might subdue some shit for a little while....but in the end, you've still gotta come face to face with a butt-load of poop."

Only the dualistic and ignorant mind thinks in terms of better or worse. We all do this, but its not welcome in buddhism.

Washing dishes or cleaning the floor is boring as hell. Why would anyone want to do that over discussing philosophy?

Mindfulness is for assholes who think that they are better when washing dishes or whatever. Fuck them.

Anonymous said...

Harry,

Just because Nishijima expresses a willingness to hear criticism, doesn't mean he takes a blind bit of notice of it. If you knew the guy, at all, or had experience of working with him, you would know this. He's been warned by his students (original students) that if he publishes the MMK in its current state, he will damage his reputation. But he doesn't take any notice at all. This stubbornness is a quality which enabled him to spend 70 years studying and teaching the Shobogenzo, but it has another, less valuable side. You should listen to Anon, he knows what he's talking about. Although Nishijima's understanding of Buddhism is complete, he is mistranslating the MMK.

Harry said...

Anon,

I don't know what you think I hope to gain, but personally I think it would be worth putting valid criticisms to Master Gudo's blog. More valuable (and certainly more dignified) than idly bitching here.

Nishijima is Nishijima as he is. I'm not trying to fool anyone. Maybe this would be best represented on the internet by letting the man himself answer the questions/ criticisms.

I was forgetting that 'Anons' vociferous or otherwise can't post to Dogen Sangha Blog though. So, no dice maybe.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

Anon 2 (or the same one),

I think the posters in that thread on the DS blog must have been avoiding specific criticisms of the translation (or maybe it wasn't their intention to criticise?) There were no specific lines or words discussed in any detail (in terms of word meaning and how this might effect the content of lines etc etc) I see people just offering alternative translations, and some opinions as to the meaning of aspects of Buddhist philosophy, but no substantial and direct criticism of the text.

Gudo's reply seems to be a reasonable reflection of his position given what little was said there.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

Oh,and here's a pet theory:

I think these faceless critics 'from Dogen Sangha' may actually be the one/ones who are protecting some cushy little position they have within 'Dogen Sangha'.

Why else would they not make themselves and their views know to Gudo?

Are they afraid of the little old man? Might he throw his false teeth at them? ooooooooh, scary.

What else but the fear of being cut out of the Dharma Will, or loosing a stripe, would cause them to guttersnipe here like bottom feeders?

The sheep-like 'followers defending Nishijima at all costs' mightn't be the only ones wallowing in self interest.

Now, Baaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Q to Gudo: Sensei, In verses 6 and 7 of chapter 2, why do you translate the word "tiraskRtya" as "criticized", when it seems clear, from the context, that the more usual meaning, "seperate(d from)", is more appropriate, and the one chosen by all previous tranlators of the MMK?

Gudo's answer: Thank you for your question. I have consulted the text directly, and the Monier-Williams dictionary. I chose to translate as "critized" because I believe this is the correct meaning. I think the previous translators are mistaken.

Q: And why did you translate the word "..." as "..."?
A: Because I think this is the correct meaning.

What else can any translator say?

Not Uninvolved Observor said...

Harry,

You are very good at apple polishing with Gudo, Gudo polishing, polishing Gudo's knob.

In fact, this has been discussed with Sensei for years. In detail. Look at the archives. Mike Cross posted this as far back as 2006.

[Gudo]has remained firmly in denial with regard to who did what in the English translation of Shobogenzo. He likes to think he did it himself, with a bit of assistance from me on the re-writing side. --- But the truth is that when he translates Buddhist texts into English, what he writes is not a translation but rather his own interpretation and opinion. If Brad Warner re-writes the Nishijima translation of Nagarjuna's MMK, without going back to the original Sanskrit, it will be very interesting to see what Sanskrit scholars make of it. I suppose that Brad, having apparently accepted the re-writing task, will never actually bring the project to fruition. If he does, then I strongly suppose that the translation will not stand up to the scrutiny of anyone who knows Sanskrit. I suppose these things because I know very well what kind of English translator Gudo Nishijima is.

http://the-middle-way.blogspot.com/2006/02/teetering-stillness.html

Harry said...

Now, Mike Cross, there is a man who never felt the need to hide behind an 'Anon' when posting an unpopular and offensive opinion.

I respect Mike's great efforts and bravery, and identify with his opinionated stupidity, and am very happy that he seems to be diligently and fruitfully working away without too much concern about Gudo etc.

I know this has been talked about for some time. I'm merely hoping that we can continue to talk about it like Buddhist patriarchs, and less like cowardly guttersnipes.

Despite his considerable knowledge and experience I think it fair to say that Mike was never great in a heated debate on Buddhist issues (he often swung to the offensive end of the scale at the expense of reasoned argument). Maybe we can, and should, make our own efforts to improve on this.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Harry,

If your pet theory was true, then that would explain everything entirely satisfactorily wouldn't it? But any reasonable person would surely doubt your pet theory. Could it be that despite your interrogation of the SBGZ, your primary interest is not in truth; but is confined to the intellectual realm, in which you excel? Well done! You have cracked the intellectual realm! Now, what about the truth? Courage, mon brave, be ready to drop what you think you know, and don't worry, it's really not that much to lose.

Harry said...

Anon,

The truth cracking me might be none of my business. Even less yours.

Interesting how you turn 'Zen Master' to score a point, no?

Regards,

Harry.

Hey-nonny-nonny-mouse said...

I have posted before on this subject, always anonymously, although sometimes - to link points in an argument - with a "name". Why anonymously? Various reasons - my business - none of which have anything to do with my non-existent position or reputation within "Dogen Sangha", whatever anybody may suppose that thing to be.

My pet theory is that some of the anons with 'concerns' may be avoiding the appearance of 'ganging up' on Gudo, because they have great respect for the man and his teaching, and don't wish to see him humiliated. Staying anonymous is a way of distancing oneself, not always a sign of weakness. It may be a shit theory.

The points being made are valid, whether anonymously or not.

Harry said...

"...Don't wish to see him humiliated..."

Oh no, they don't wish him to see THEM humiliating him... and so they do it anonymously on a blog he does not even read in front of hundreds of people who do not know what the hell is going on but who are too happy to heckle and snipe from the sidelines based on the bloated opinions of self obsessed students.

How considerate of them.

Wakey, wakey my 'Zen Master' friend.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Harry,

You're right. What I wrote was stupid.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Harry, what all those who have disagreed with you, or with Gudo's translation, have written is stupid. Including this. I see that now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for straightening us all out.

Anonymous said...

I prostrate to Harry Tokuzan.

Harry said...

"Yes, Harry, what all those who have disagreed with you, or with Gudo's translation, have written is stupid."

I don't agree with that and never argued to that end.

I prostrate to your prostartion, and to all the inumerable dignified acts of Buddhist patriarchs.

Regards,

Harry.

Not Uninvolved Observor said... said...

I have discussed this with Gudo in person. He gets very upset at anyone who challenges him these days. He quickly becomes convinced that anyone critical of his translation or his ideas is out to get him for nefarious personal reasons. He was always like that, now more than ever. He cannot see any technical questioning of his translation as anything but a personal attack by enemies. I do not want to be another on a long list of enemies. It happened already to several people in Dogen Sangha, you know who.

So, I feel the urge to criticize the quality of his translation and his methods. I feel it is right to speak out about how people around him are acting. But I not to feed into his paranoia that I am another of the long list of people out to get him. I am not, and have not been for the many years I have known him.

Harry, it is obvious what you are doing or trying to do. Cut it out.

Harry said...

Anon number... whatever,

I simply don't and can't know who you are or what you know, so I really can't take you seriously at all I'm afraid.

The hurt feelings of an old man are not really a concern of mine here because I know they are not really a concern for Gudo for very long. I criticise and question Gudo all the time and we are still in contact and I don't see that changing. Sometimes he seems a bit 'off' with me (and this may just be my own perception)... big deal! I won't be taking any of his material, or anything else, as un-knockable gospel, any time soon regardless of how 'off' with me the Master is.

If you were sincere and were really concerned about essential matters I think we would know who you are by now despite your concerns for the feelings of an old man... some things more be more important than the feelings of an old man, or the feelings you have for him, and/or whatever else it is you're getting out of it.

Try 'speaking out' about the way you are acting. For clarity's sake. Try not to hold back.

Okay, Anon?

Harry.

Anonymous said...

I remain anonymous for very good reasons. When I said I was stupid, I meant it. What I wrote was stupid. Seems to me that, fun though it is, this discussion has little to do with anything other than its participants. So I withdraw. Peace, brothers.

Harry said...

"this discussion has little to do with anything other than its participants."

Ah, that's a nice start.

Regards,

Harry.

Cut the Bull said...

Harry, have you even met Gudo? For how long? Do you know Gudo now compared to 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago?

I have seen how, every time you and Gudo do end up disagreeing for even a moment, you immediately run back on your hands and knees with a groveling "Yes Master Nishijima, I see your wisdom now". What are you hoping for? To protect Peter? To get something? Ass kisser. Politician.

Harry said...

Ah, Anon, you've found a name (of sorts).

Maybe I'm trying to lance a boil.

I never claimed to have perfect motivations. You don't. That's something we have in common then.

Despite my disagreements with Master Gudo he is always a Buddhist patriarch, a realised Master, and so I have no choice but to defer to his actual experience. That's how the lineage thing works.

Is he infallible? Hell no.

His 'rightness' and my 'wrongness', or whatever, are not IT though. Otherwise the sutra scholars would be the true lineage and we'd just have to read for half an hour twice daily instead of hurting our asses and knees.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

p.s.

I am encouraged by the increase in anon personal attacks on me. I think this means that we may be getting somewhere... closer to the tender bit around the boil?

Don't back away yet, friends.

Regards,

Harry.

Answer the question said...

You ducked the first question. Have you ever met him in person? For how long?

Harry said...

No, I don't know Gudo 'in the flesh' even for a second.

It's true, I don't know the man 'in the flesh' at all.

Now that you feel you've completely invalidated me, what of your motivations is pointing out my grovelling, for example? Does that seem important to you?

Why send that message? To save me from Buddhist Hell? C'mon, be brave, Old Stick, there's still Bull to be cut yet.

What do you want?

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

I smell cowardice and maliciousness in many of these anonymous critical posts about Gudo. He might have a reason to be paranoid.

Back to the point said...

Well, Harry, your never have met Gudo in person even for a second, let alone having known and worked with the man for decades like some of us, shows clearly. You are shooting for something, hoping for something. Apple polishing.

Now that we have made that clear, let us get back to the main topic of the problems with this translation and the strange story of how it was allowed to be turned into a book.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"I smell cowardice and maliciousness in many of these anonymous critical posts about Gudo. He might have a reason to be paranoid."

Yep. I suspect Nishijima-roshi picked the ONLY Zen Buddhist among his following to be his dharma heir. It's only a suspicion, but it is being nurtured by postings I read here.

Anonomously Anonymous said...

Mysterion, another ass kisser heard from. How long have you known Gudo in the flesh? Do you have any other hobby besides pulling up worthless links from Wiki and defending Brad through thick or thin? Do you ever leave your apartment?

Anonymous said...

GUDO!

GUDO GUUDO GUUUUDO

gudo! gu-do! guuuuuudo

gudo gudo gudo gudo

it is a fun sound to make :-)

Goooooooodo

gudo gudo

gu do
do go
go do
gu do

Mysterion said...

LOL - ROFLMAO

I rest my case.

P.S. It's not an apartment, it's a single family house on a .125 acre lot about 3 minutes walk from the train station - and it's been paid off for a while. (usual amenities - koi, japanese garden, tea house)

P.P.S. I've known Gudo for 10 or 15 life cycles.

Anonymous said...

gew dough

guuuuuuu doh!

gudo
gudo
gudo
gudo
gudo
gudo

somebody else... type his name and think of how it sounds!

Anonymous said...

GGGGG U U DDDDDD OOOOO
G G U U D D O O
G U U D D O O
G U U D D O O
G GGGG U U D D O O
G G U U D D O O
G G U U D D O O
G G U U D D O O
GGGGG UUUUU DDDDDD OOOOO

Anonymous said...

Mysterion, you really are ignorant. Gudo has loads of Dharma heirs, about 40. Most of them you have never encountered and are unlikely to as they don't post on these daft exchanges. I have only seen 3 postings I recognize as dharma heirs on this blog.

Anonymous said...

-GGGGG- U-----U DDDDDD- -OOOOO-
G-----G U-----U D-----D O-----O
G-----G U-----U D-----D O-----O
G------ U-----U D-----D O-----O
G-GGGGG U-----U D-----D O-----O
G-----G U-----U D-----D O-----O
G-----G U-----U D-----D O-----O
G-----G U-----U D-----D O-----O
-GGGGG- -UUUUU- DDDDDD- -OOOOO-

Anonymous said...

Dharma Hair!

Anonymous said...

GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO GUDO

popsicle

insufferable lout said...

A little verse of Feynman's:

I wonder why. I wonder why.
I wonder why I wonder.
I wonder why I wonder why
I wonder why I wonder!

Mysterion said...

200

turn the wheel

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