Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trashed on Amazon


I'm in Manchester, England now. I'll be speaking here on Friday evening and running an all-day zazen on Saturday. You can find the relevant likes by clicking here.

Gudo Nishijima’s translation and commentary on Nagarjuna’s Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way is finally out and available now at decent bookshops all over the USA as well as on the Barnes & Noble and Amazon websites. I helped Nishijima fix up his English and contributed extensively to the commentary so I received a co-writer credit.

But speaking of Amazon, the book has been getting a total trashing in their reader reviews section. It’s been so nasty and vindictive in there that I thought it would be good to address the matter.

There are now five extraordinarily mean-spirited and angry one star reviews of the book on Amazon. You can read them for yourself if you enjoy bile and vitrol. But I’ll try to summarize the key issues here without quite so much bitterness.

The main criticisms appear to be that 1) some believe the book is presented in such a way as to deliberately fool people who want to buy Jay Garfield’s translation of the same Nagarjuna poem into thinking this is his, and that 2) the book is not an accurate translation of the poem itself.

The first criticism is based on the fact that both Garfield and Nishijima chose to title their books Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way. This is one of the standard English translations of the Sanskrit title of the work, Mulamadhyamakakarika. While some scholarly translations such as the one by Kenneth Inada used the Sanskrit, Monkfish Books thought that would be too difficult for most readers and instead chose to go with a standard English translation. Other translations of the Sanskrit title include Root Stanzas of the Middle Way, Fundamental Verses of the Middle Way and Fundamental Song of the Middle Way. Personally I did not notice that the title was the same as Garfield’s and that his was the only currently available English version that used this specific translation. Had I noticed this, I probably would have substituted something like “poem” for the word “wisdom” in the title. I regret having not done so, but it’s too late to change it now.

Also some have said that the cover resembles the cover of the Garfield version. It’s true. It does. It also resembles the covers of about 80% of all books on Buddhism these days. Monkfish followed the very standard practice of illustrating the cover with an ancient Chinese painting of the master who wrote the original piece. Pretty much every publisher follows this practice when designing a cover for a translation of an ancient Buddhist work.

In any case none of this was an attempt to deceive the public into thinking they were buying Garfield’s translation. Why would anyone want to do that? It’s not as if the Garfield translation sells in Harry Potter-like or Twilight-like quantities, thus making it attractive to try and copy. It’s also not as if the intended readership are the kinds of people who’d buy the book without checking out who wrote it first. It’s an absurd allegation, but one that is repeated in four of the five negative reviews on Amazon.

Some of the other allegations are similarly absurd. One reviewer states that, “Dogen, Godzilla, and Nishijima--the autonomic nervous system-- are all more fully present than Nagarjuna.” Godzilla is mentioned once in my introductory essay in a sentence in which I apologize to readers familiar with my other books for not mentioning Godzilla in this one. There is one commentary in which Nishijima outlines his ideas about the autonomic nervous system. I quoted this commentary in full in an earlier posting on this blog, which can be found by clicking here and scrolling about halfway down the piece. This commentary is then referenced briefly several more times in later commentaries. Dogen is mentioned a lot. But Nishijima says right in his introduction, “My own thoughts regarding Buddhism rely solely upon what Master Dogen wrote about the philosophy. So when reading the Mulamadhyamakakarika it is impossible for me not to be influenced by Master Dogen’s Buddhist ideas.” Why then would it be surprising to find a lot of references to Dogen in the commentaries?

As for the book not being an accurate translation, this is a more complex issue. I address it in great detail in both my foreword and my afterword to the book. I have put those on a webpage so you can read them in full. Just click here.

In part I said there that, “We’ll never know Nagarjuna’s real intentions. We’ll only ever know what his words mean to us. This book represents what those words mean to Gudo Nishijima.” Further along I wrote, “Every translation of anything is an interpretation. For fifteen years I worked at a job where one of my main tasks was translating the dialogue of cheap Japanese monster movies into English. Even when doing this seemingly simple and straightforward work I had to change a lot of details to make them comprehensible to English speaking people. Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika is a lot more complex than any monster movie. For one thing it is a poem. A poem isn’t like an instruction manual in which there is only one correct way to interpret its meaning. There are as many ways to understand a poem as there are people to read it and all of them are valid in their own right.”

I also said in the afterword, “I still don’t know whether it will be accepted as a translation of Nagarjuna or not. I’m anticipating that a lot of scholarly types will debate its merits as a translation without ever giving the philosophical points contained within it much notice. If they do so, that would be a shame.” This seems to be precisely what is happening. The current critics on Amazon don’t really comment on the actual contents of the book. One even admits that he hasn’t read it! Is it fair to criticize a book you have not even bothered to read?

Kumarajiva was a fifth century Indian scholar who translated many of the canonical works of Buddhism into Chinese. His translation of the Heart Sutra is still chanted in Buddhist monasteries all over the world. Nishijima contends that when it came to Mulamadhyamikakarika, Kumarajiva got it wrong. He simply did not understand what Nagarjuna was talking about. Furthermore, Nishijima contends that all later translations and commentaries have relied upon Kumarajiva’s faulty understanding of the poem — even the very ancient ones. As evidence of this, Nishijima notes that Dogen quotes extensively from Nagarjuna’s other works but never mentions Mulamadhyamikakarika, which is regarded as Nagarjuna’s masterwork. This, he says, is because Dogen had access only to Kumarajiva’s translation and found it lacking. Therefore Nishijima deliberately avoided consulting any other translations of the work either in English or in Japanese. It’s no wonder then that his translation does not sound much like any of the others.

I said it before and I’ll say it again, this is a damned good book. If you are interested in knowing what I learned in fifteen years of studying Buddhism under Gudo Nishijima, most of it is in this book. It is deep and difficult Buddhist philosophy. Nishijima Roshi believes that all of these ideas are present in Nagarjuna’s poem. I trust that he found them there. But whether they are really there or not, I know that it’s valuable stuff. If he found all of this philosophy in the wood grain of the wall he sat in front of every day for seventy years it would still be valuable stuff. Maybe he did but he thought it would be more believable to say he found it in Nagarjuna! (That’s a joke, he was very methodical in his translation and he presents his translation methods to readers of the book very clearly. This is something few others have done.)

Some of you have written to me saying you’ve ordered the book or that you bought it in a store (hooray for you for supporting bookstores!). If you have read the book and you like it, please take a moment to go to Amazon and express your feelings. It would really help out a lot.

Thanks!

252 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 252 of 252
an3drew said...

"Emptiness was explained by the victorious ones as the abandonment of all views;
They declared those for whom emptiness is a view incurable."

Emptiness was explained by the victorious ones as the abandonment of all views, itself being a view they then abandoned, so they ceased to declare that those for whom emptiness was a view was incurable or indeed in need of curing or otherwise or even that it meant anything sensible, since it was itself a view !

anon #108 said...

AB: "...to speak without ulterior motive is damn near impossible IMO."

That's what I was trying to get at, AB. Thanks. That post of mine was strange mix of sarcasm and seriousness which might not have struck the right note.

I don't think "screwed-up, arrogant, deluded...full of prejudice, hate and insecurity..." is all any of us are. You can say that we are also well-adjusted, modest, clear-sighted, full of empathy, love and contentment. You can say that any one of us might be all those things to varying degrees at different times. I was trying to make the point that few of us, if any, are immune to the 'negative' side. And if we think we are immune, that’s probably our screwed-up, arrogant, deluded selves we’re listening to.

***********************************

Thanks for the plug, Fred! But I think you should give some credit to the guy who wrote it ;)

(dRSTi, BTW, doesn’t translate as “opinions” but as “views”, as in limited [philosophical] theories/systems. Some Buddhists - not saying you, Fred - seem to believe that having an opinion is non-Buddhist, and even quote Nagarjuna in support. Makes no sense to me.)

I think I might prefer the simpler "The victorious ones taught" to "...explained" Translation is a bitch.

***********************************

Brad,

Please turn moderation off as soon as you feel things are safe again. Just my vote.

anon #108 said...

Nope. "Explained" is better than "taught"...maybe.

"The victorious ones" is ok, I think - it's literal, but maybe needs a footnote [jina - "victorious/victor", ie, an arhat, or Buddha]. Asaadhya, "Incurable" is a problem. MW's Dictionary does give "incurable" as a specific meaning, but more generally asaadhya means "not proper or able to be accomplished" (also from MW) - and that's what Garfield, working from the Tibetan translation of the Sanskrit, goes with: "For whomever emptiness is a view, That one will accomplish nothing."

Translation really is a bitch. But not a completely crazy bitch.

anon #108 said...

Sonofabitch!!! "Buddha" in that last comment should not be capitalised. We're talking about any old emptiness-explaining buddha or arhat, not Mr G Buddha hisself. Damn it.

Fred said...

Zen thug priests gotta do what they
do. Mysterion, get rid of the name
and we can talk about the
emptiness of nothingness, or the
nothingness of emptiness.

Jiblet put some thumbtacks in your
pillow and atone for your shitty,
shitty gangsta ways.

And Brad, did you ban the 7th
Patriarch of Vertical Words, or
did Infinity smite his sorry ass?

Fred said...

Something from Nothing.

http://www.neatorama.com/2011/11/19/quantum-physicists-create-light-out-of-nothing/

Mysterion said...

Blogger Anonymous Bob said...
"Why do you think he wanted to review this particular book?"

Because rejection is a hard thing to take - especially among Jews who were, according to their folklore, rejected at various times by their storm god YawnWay.

He is in proximity to Gudo, could have edited the Jinglish (Japanese-English) into American English, and been listed as co-author (thus cementing his relationship to DSI).

As he has ultimately been ejected from DSI in a rather unceremonious manner - following his public craving and clinging after the diplomatic departure that was staged on his behalf. In short, he has neither overcome desire nor attachment. He is an embarrassment to the institution of Buddhism.

"All that expensive Zen training, gone to waste." - Richard Baker Roshi (speaking of David Chadwick)

Zen training was no waste on David, wait and see re. Jundo. He still has time before he casts of this mortal coil...

Fred said...

Haha, you can't get around the Buddha.

"So the photons may come "from nothing", but their energy does not."

Even something that comes from
nothing has a dependent origin.
Still I do not buy it, but the by
the time i goes past the Buddha,
which is the practice, it would
cease to matter.

Or the virtual matter would be a
virtual matter.

Charlotte A said...

I have just ordered a copy of this book. Hell knows how much of it I will understand!! But, it's important in my opinion to support a teacher like Brad.

What a breath of fresh air he is. I practise in the Rinzai tradition but travelled from London to Manchester for the Friday/Saturday he was there.

Quite a few things stood out for me. He is prepared to take risks, to not hide behind the 'teacher' role, but expose himself. He also came over to me as someone who had heaps of emotional intelligence, not just intellectual intelligence. He spoke of stuff that no other buddhist teacher I know of dares to go. All that 'mucky stuff' that is avoided...... he gets stuck in.

And, he is American but I feel his sense of humour translates well with a British audience.

I hope he is around and sharing his knowledge, experience, insights..... for a very long time to come.

Khru said...

Compassion and basic kindness sure seem to be in short supply these days.

Mysterion said...

Before time began, there was Hathor.

Then time began.

Thereafter, there was Isis, but no Hathor.

To some, Time zero (zero) plus one (1) = Time one. After time 1, it has become unthinkable that Time zero ever existed and that time one was just a reflection of time -1. Time before time as we think we know it.

No beginning, no end. Just continuations of time (and it's Siamese twin) space.

Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG)

What changes is consciousness.

And the negation of the need for the folklore of creation.

Fred said...

Brad said 2 months ago:
"Sasaki said, "it is said in our tradition that the Enlightened One taught his disciples using this word 'zero,' and he said the zero condition is this perfect complete condition in which plus and minus are unifying with one another and then facing one another over and over again. Plus and minus unify and face, unify and face, but there is no will—it’s a totally will-less activity. Of course human beings have will, but this activity of plus and minus is will-less."

I had a dream about this a couple
of nights ago but it was making
Gudo's balance happen.

Mysterion said...

Perhaps you do not understand a word of awakening (or council) for Jundo as compassion. It is. Unless he wakes up to his craving and clinging he will be reborn 10,000 times in a world of suffering and decay.

That's why I said wait and see. There may be enough time for him to come to the realization that his current situation is, for the most part, of his own making.

Is it my place to correct him? I doubt it. But unless someone does, he will only continue to suffer unnecessarily.

Remember: "When all the chips are down, you've got an empty buffalo*."

*Frontier wisdom.

an3drew said...

"For whomever emptiness is a view, That one will accomplish nothing."

reply

Bobby Byrd said...

In the book business I've learned that many people become experts about a book without reading the book. Worse, they don't buy it to become experts. It's a mysterious disease. There seems to be no cure. You would think that staring at a wall would help, but ...

Kyle said...

I've read some of the comments on here and lots of it is just laughable nonsense. It seems to me all of this, to use Suzuki Roshi's words, "stinks of Zen." In any case, rock on, Brad -- I may get the book in the future. Nagarjuna has always very much been of great interest to me.

Anonymous Bob said...

"Perhaps you do not understand a word of awakening (or council) for Jundo as compassion. It is."

Possibly so Mysterion.. but I'm not sure you know what you're talking about in this case. You said the reason for Jundo's recent behavior was, "Because rejection is a hard thing to take - especially among Jews."

Especially among Jews?

I hope you are capable of imaging other reasons for Jundo's recent behavior..

CAPTCHA : blinkr : I kid you not

an3drew said...

"you would think that staring at a wall would help, but ..."

staring at the wall does nothing, starting at the sea and dusk sky does something !

Anonymous said...

Under Dogen's teachings, I meditate. I sit under the bright moon and all that I have done. And nothing but a mere breath has left me. But perhaps...perhaps I feel that what is to leave me is so much more. What is to leave me is everything.

If only, if only.

Mumon said...

Umm...I think I read Garfield...and IIRC, he says, apologetically, that his translation's flavored by Tibetan Buddhism.

But I didn't notice.

But, one thing I will say: I'm sure you worked hard on this with Nishijima, 'cause I remember seeing some of this on his blog...or I should say early rumblings therefrom, which I'm sure are substantially changed by now.

Fred said...

" Stinks of Zen " is the best
stench in the world. Love it.

The conditionedness of the conditioned is itself conditioned.
See you in the silence where the
stench doesn't stink.

Mysterion said...

I was being extremely candid.

I have many many years of experience dealing with troubled Jews - who are in crisis intervention situations and the like. Not all of the serious cases get the professional help that they need. Many take an early out.

The entire manic-depressive OT is a story of acceptance and reward or rejection and punishment of Israel* by (revisionist) YHWH. I would call Israel the Yo-Yo people because of their ups and downs.

*Israel is the tribal group (e.g. 12 tribe lore) that Jacob stole from Esa.

I would add that I know a few expats who, as Jews, went to Israel (the state) to work and returned as atheists. At least their lives go on.

Mysterion said...

I think Brad takes Zen Buddhism as a Philosophy.

I suspect Jundo treats Zen more as a religion.

See my BLOG regarding religion and "feeling."

an3drew said...

"In the book business"

reply

WillyJake said...

While these comments are entertaining/childish/boring I'll refrain from offering any commentary at this time and simply ask you Brad if you will be visiting/ speaking in Virginia/DC area anytime in 2012?

Anonymous Bob said...

Chas said, "I think Brad takes Zen Buddhism as a Philosophy. I suspect Jundo treats Zen more as a religion."

Re Chas. Could be you're right.. but I think they both see the religious and philosophical sides of Buddhism. Having deeply held beliefs does not make a person religious. Taking vows and conducting rituals just might..

CAPTCHA : flaven : I kid you not

an3drew said...

"What is to leave me is everything.

If only, if only."

but the "me" doesn't leave me does it?

and zazen just adds to the me !

+

zen
me

+

dogen

me !

Anonymous said...

This is just torture Brad!
This blog is so disjointed now.
What the fuck are you doing with this comment moderation BS?
Can't a person just say what they want to without worrying about being correct?
IF SOMEONE GETS THEIR PANTIES IN A KNOT OVER WHAT I THINK, FUCK EM! IT'S NOT MY PROBLEM..

Fred said...

"but the "me" doesn't leave me does it?

and zazen just adds to the me !"

Sure the me exists if you feed it
every second. Others have used
methods such as zazen to break its
grasp.

Dropping the body and mind,
watching the self to forget the
self, transcending the ego,
pushing the ego to one side,
wearing down the me like the sole
on a shoe, sitting with no
purpose in mind the observer and
the observed are one, the witness
and the witnessed are one, the me
and the universe are one.

Harvey Daiho Hilbert-roshi said...

Hi Brad, Just got the book. Very impressive, I say. You know, no matter what, there will be those asswipes who just act like toilet paper in public. They'z "entitled."

Mysterion said...

Blogger Anonymous Bob said...
"Having deeply held beliefs does not make a person religious."

No, it makes them ill - mentally ill.

A healthy brain, with its fluidity of thoughts, THINKS. A sick brain, with its crystallized structures, believes.

In a primitive (fight or flight) world, beliefs could help someone survive - against all odds. In primitive cultures today, one can find beliefs.

an3drew said...

"sitting with no
purpose in mind the observer and
the observed are one"

absolute bloody crap !

if you are in communication with infinity why do you regurgitate cliches ?????????????

fred, you can post blather on a blog or messageboard forever who cares except you and what's the point?

you really don't care about your life do you?

why bullshit the way you do, what a total waste of time?

i keep telling you, you are stuck in a "ghost cave" for all your talk about the erosion of ego you don't have the basic insight or humility to even concede you are just plain way off base

try half a desertspoon of a quality fish oil daily , you need something to get your brain working ! good for the joints to !

i must be a real idiot to care more about you than you do !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

an3drew said...

i can't complain about fred when gudo nishijima spent all his life making the same mistake !

mad as hatters !

you can't move the root and the root was nishijima and his error

so it just can't change can it?

Makes me go Hmmm said...

Something occurs to me...

I find it ironic that Brad would criticize John Daido Loori for his translation and presentation of Dogen 300 Koan Shobogenzo... and yet bend over backwards to justify Gudo Nishijima's shoehorning a bad translation of Nagarjuna into his theories about the autonomous nervous system.

Brad Warner said...

I find it ironic that Brad would criticize John Daido Loori for his translation and presentation of Dogen 300 Koan Shobogenzo... and yet bend over backwards to justify Gudo Nishijima's shoehorning a bad translation of Nagarjuna into his theories about the autonomous nervous system.

Did Nishijima do that? I'm unaware of any examples of such a thing. Perhaps you can provide some?

Makes me go Hmm said...

"Did Nishijima do that? I'm unaware of any examples of such a thing. Perhaps you can provide some?"

Ok. From your book...

“Nirvåṇa is not a place to wish to enter, and our wandering through daily life is not a place to wish to depart.

The place where something that can never be expressed with words exists is just the place of our daily life, so how is it possible for us to exchange our daily life for the balanced state of Nirvåṇa?”

“The balanced state, or Nirvåṇa, is just the state, or the world, that naturally appears when we are neither too materialistic nor too spiritual. This occurs, I believe, when our autonomic nervous system has become balanced.

From (Chapter 16, verse 10)...

Bam.
Shoehorning Nagarjuna into Nishijima's theories about balancing the autonomic nervous system.
When it's your teacher, I guess every fault is excused away by you.

But Daido translating Dogen's 300 koan Shobogenzo as a Rinzai koan collection steps over the line?
You even criticized him for putting his own comments/verses on each koan saying that it would confuse people into thinking that Dogen said them - when Loori tells you what he's doing in the intro to his book... "Who reads the introduction anyway?" you said...

"May every copy burn in hell"....? Remember?

I mean, how dare Daido interpret Dogen and come to different conclusions than yourself... either he's not allowed because you think people will have a worse (different) understanding of holy Dogen... or there exists a "better" translation from your teacher - right...?

But I guess when your teacher has done a translation where in the very intro to the book you state "he (you) got the job of making Nishijima's English readable after Nishijima's two previous assistants quit, complaining the translation misrepresented Nagarjuna" all is forgiven/ignored? Buy his book and upvote it on amazon?

Pot.
May I introduce you to the kettle.

Brad Warner said...

N's ideas about the ANS occur only in the commentaries. These are very clearly his words and not Nagarjuna's. Loori presents his commentaries as if they were written by Dogen.

You Loori fans sure get hot under the collar when anyone says anything critical about your guy.

Makes me go Hmmm said...

N's ideas about the ANS occur only in the commentaries. These are very clearly his words and not Nagarjuna's. Loori presents his commentaries as if they were written by Dogen.

Hence, Gudo Nishijima's shoehorning a bad translation of Nagarjuna into his theories about the autonomous nervous system.

And Loori tells you how he is presenting it in the intro to his book, and on the cover, and inside the cover... and you are still trying to pin a dishonest label on him! As if he is hiding the fact he wrote commentary and verse, and is trying to say that Dogen said it...

I mean how many times does he have to put: With Commentary and Verse by John Daido Loori all over his book, dustjacket, and intro before you stop telling that lie. I doubt you even read the book...

You Loori fans sure get hot under the collar when anyone says anything critical about your guy.

And what are you doing right now?

Your discerning eye extends everywhere in the zen world until it comes to this stinker of a translation from your teacher - I am just pointing it out.

Andrew said...

Daido Loori doesn't understand Soto or Rinzai. What can you expect from a person who doesn't know which tradition to practice. Antaiji's abbot Muho has been highly critical of these Western Daido dudes who are creating their own tradition by mixing traditions. It's impossible to practice both. If you don't agree, just read Daido's and others texts. They don't understand...

Makes me go Hmmm said...

Let's take a closer look at your 1 star reviewers...

Guy M Newland - a scholar of Tibetan Buddhism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Newland

Dan Lusthaus - a graduate of Temple University's Department of Religion, is a specialist in Yogācāra Buddhism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Lusthaus

Daniel A Arnold - Dan Arnold is a scholar of Indian Buddhist philosophy at the University of Chicago, presently working on an anthology of Madhyamaka texts in translation.

http://divinity.uchicago.edu/faculty/arnold.shtml

Even Jay L Garfield is commenting... the guy who's title Nishijima copied for his book.


These guys are not trolls - they are Nishijima's peers.

Makes me go Hmmm said...

As a final aside... nothing shows your hypocrisy that your own words:

Nishijima Roshi has approached Nagarjuna’s work as a practitioner, not as a scholar. This is a completely different way of understanding it from what a scholar does. Nishijima’s take on MMK is formed not by decades of exhaustive textual study and research but by decades of physical and mental research into the human condition through the practice of zazen. What he has drawn out of the text comes from that practice. I believe that is every bit as legitimate a way of understanding the work as textual study.

Now let's turn them to Loori's 300 Koan Shobogenzo...

Daido Loori has approached Dogen's Shinji Shobogenzo work as a practitioner, not as a scholar. This is a completely different way of understanding it from what a scholar does. Daido Loori's take on Shinji Shobogenzo is formed not by decades of exhaustive textual study and research but by decades of physical and mental research into the human condition through the practice of zazen. What he has drawn out of the text comes from that practice. I believe that is every bit as legitimate a way of understanding the work as textual study.

That, and by doing everything but writing on a rock that the verse and commentary was done by him - and throwing the rock at you...

(seriously Brad... to keep affirming that Loori presents his commentaries as if they were written by Dogen. shows that you have not even seen the front cover or even opened the book...)

All this just shows exactly how biased you are to anything Nishijima does.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Mike Luetchford thinks about Nishijima's translation?

Brad Warner said...

I wonder what Mike Luetchford thinks about Nishijima's translation?

You could try asking him.

Anonymous said...

The kumarajiva hypothesis seems to be the crux of the matter. it seems to imply that all other existing translations are faulty, right? So if you're in the lineage of Dogen, Ven. Gudo's translation is the only one that can be trusted. that seems to be implied by the kumarajiva hypothesis.

am i reading this situation incorrectly Brad?

Andrew said...

To Daido Loori fans:

Dharma transmission can happen once, and only once, or never at all. Multiple dharma transmission is nonsense. If you receive dharma transmission from one teacher, from then on that is your one and only teacher, your real teacher (jap. hon-shi). The multiple lineage holders that you hear of in the West are bullshit.

and

You hear of that a lot in America though, where some peopleclaim to be "both Soto and Rinzai". Are they authorized by both Soto and Rinzai, as they actually exist in Japan today? No, in reality they are NEITHER Soto NOR Rinzai, but their own hybrid brand. That is OK, it is just a different thing. They play a different game with different rules. To me, saying that you have transmission from three different teachers in a way is like saying that none of these transmissions is for real. Because if only one of them was for real, why bother to shop around for the other two?

Muho http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/eng/201005.shtml

Maybe that's the reason why Daido Loori, Philip Kapleau and other alike haven't understood a single thing. Maybe that's why their interpretations and books are mostly fairytales.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap, lol. Chet on Treeleaf made a thread that many people were talking about and then someone put up a video of Brad Warner speaking about rebirth. Jundo immediately hops on, makes 3 posts, one of which was very obviously angry and critical of Brad and then promptly closes the thread. Then he deletes the one post where he slams Brad.

Werdna said...

To Muho fans:

All Muho can claim to speak with any authority about is Soto Zen... And he admits as much:

You hear of that a lot in America though, where some people claim to be "both Soto and Rinzai". Are they authorized by both Soto and Rinzai, as they actually exist in Japan today? No, in reality they are NEITHER Soto NOR Rinzai, but their own hybrid brand. That is OK, it is just a different thing. They play a different game with different rules. To me, saying that you have transmission from three different teachers in a way is like saying that none of these transmissions is for real. Because if only one of them was for real, why bother to shop around for the other two?


Notice the bolded bits...?
The Sanbo-Kyodan School is neither Soto or Rinzai, but a hybrid of both - because Soto Zen in Japan is by and large dead. No zazen at all, just eldest sons inheriting their father's temples, making big bucks performing services for the kami and funeral rites for the dead at local family butsudans. And for all his practice, Muho's temple Antai-ji is not even an official sodo-hall... In a big way, Muho is also "doing his own hybrid brand".
The "multiple lineage" thing came from Japan, not here.

Not everyone inherited the largely fictional Soto vs Rinzai prejudices.

By the Way said...

Those 4 scholars previously mentioned are most certainly not Nishijima's peers. As serious academics, their works are light years away from the amateurish attempts of Nishijima. There simply is no comparison and it is laughable to attempt to do so.

Makes me go Hmmm said...

Brad... Just want to apologize for my sarcastic/in your face angry tone.

It's just that reading your blog post where you say that Nishijima's book is being panned on Amazon and for people to buy it and give it a good vote if they like it... and to see you give reasoning excusing your teacher that, if the shoe were on the other foot, you would accept from nobody really ground my gears.

It made me question ANY and ALL book reviews you have done that have to do with Dogen or your teacher.

It seems to me that:

* If there is a book that has to do with Dogen - It's just not going to be really good unless Gudo Nishijima does it.

* If there is 2 books, let's say 2 different translations of anything having to do with Dogen that your teacher has already done... your teachers translation will always be better.

And...

* If anyone does anything Dogen that doesn't line up with your/Gudo's understanding then it gets panned by you - in your hardcore zen fashion.

(That's what pissed me off about your take on Loori's 300 Koan Shobogenzo, your issue wasn't the translation, your issue wasn't the commentary/verse per say. It was that Loori put the commentary/verse with each koan... making you think that Loori was trying to make it seem as if Dogen said it - which is so demonstrably wrong that it seems like evidence that you have never even held the book in your hands.)

All this makes me think that when it comes to certain domains (your teacher and/or Dogen) your reviews really cannot be considered informed or well reasoned - just cliquish, sectarian and biased.

At any rate, I should not have gotten insulting - I am sorry.

Brad Warner said...

The kumarajiva hypothesis seems to be the crux of the matter. it seems to imply that all other existing translations are faulty, right? So if you're in the lineage of Dogen, Ven. Gudo's translation is the only one that can be trusted. that seems to be implied by the kumarajiva hypothesis.

am i reading this situation incorrectly Brad?


I can't answer for Gudo. But he does say that he thinks the other translations are faulty for following Kumarajiva's interpretation.

I doubt, however, that he would go so far as to say his own is the only one to be trusted. Whether he might think so or not is another matter. But he wouldn't say so.

My opinion is only that I find more useful information for my practice in Gudo's book than I've found in other translations of MMK.

To be honest, though, even I will admit it's possible his interpretation is "wrong" according to the accepted standards of what makes a translation right or wrong. I have said before and I'll say again, I do not have enough of a grasp on Sanskrit to make that call.

Gudo is very clear in his introduction as to how he translated Nagarjuna's words. He shows you how he arrived at his conclusions. The other translations I've seen do not do this. They ask you to trust in the translator's expertise. The point of doing this is to allow the reader to decide for her or himself if the translation is correct or not.

But I suppose some would say only an authorized expert is competent to make such a judgement.

Brad Warner said...

Brad... Just want to apologize for my sarcastic/in your face angry tone.

No apology is needed. You get back what you put out. I was snarky in my comments about Loori's book. I thought the over-the-top-ness of my comments would be evidence enough that they were not intended to be taken at face value. I've learned this is often not the case. So you may have noticed I've been toning things down in general recently.

I still feel the presentation in the Loori translation makes it look too much like the entire thing is a translation of Dogen.

It reads almost exactly like previous translations of Rinzai koan collections like the Mumonkan with the capping verses and all that. There's little to indicate that those capping verses and suchlike are Loori's and not Dogen's. They're written in the same style as the translated koans. The ones I've read do not, for example, make any contemporary references that would clue readers in to their origin.

Eh. Whatever. It still outsold Nishijima's translation by a thousand to one anyway. So John Daido Loori wins! Hooray!

Brad Warner said...

Those 4 scholars previously mentioned are most certainly not Nishijima's peers. As serious academics, their works are light years away from the amateurish attempts of Nishijima. There simply is no comparison and it is laughable to attempt to do so.

Your mom is amateurish!

Nyah.

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