Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dogen's Genjo Koan: Three Commentaries

The fine folks at Counterpoint Press sent me a copy of Dogen's Genjo Koan: Three Commentaries for my review. So here goes.

First off, the by-line on this thing is a doozy. Here's what it says under the title:

EIHEI DOGEN ZENJI
Translations and
Commentaries by
Nishiari Bokusan,
Shohaku Okamura,
Shunryu Suzuki,
Kosho Uchiyama,
Sojun Mel Weitsman.
Kazuaki Tanahashi, and
Dairyu Michael Wenger

Phew!

You always know the extent to which a movie is going to be a piece of garbage by the number of names in the writing credits. One writer can make a good movie with a specific point of view and something interesting to say. When movies are written by committee the committee always succeeds in removing anything worthwhile about the story and replacing it with whatever they've agreed on will appeal to, as well as avoid offending, the greatest number of people.

This book is the product of a large Zen institution. I almost wrote that it was the product of the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC). But the inclusion of material by Kosho Uchiyama and Shohaku Okamura widens things even further. Uchiyama and Okamura stem from the same root lineage as the folks at SFZC*, but do not belong to that institution itself. Because of its association with a big institution I was a little worried whether I'd be able to give this book a good review.

My problem with a lot of the stuff that comes out of SFZC these days is that it tends to be watered down. This was the trouble with their edition of Dogen's Shobogenzo (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Shobo Genzo). It's not that it's a bad translation. In fact it's one of the best around. But it's also a translation by committee. That committee sat together and worried about a lot of fairly ridiculous "problems" with the text such as whether or not the phrase usually rendered as "kingly bodhi tree" might be considered sexist. Which is the sort of thing you'd expect a bunch of uptight middle class liberals from San Francisco to wring their hands about. Thus in a number of areas of the text, rather than giving you what Dogen actually said, they give you what a bunch of uptight middle class liberals from San Francisco are comfortable with him saying. Fortunately they generally restrict themselves to fairly innocuous changes like making "kingly bodhi tree" into "royal bodhi tree," which I admit is pretty much the same thing. But still, the flavor of their translation is Rice-a-Roni (the San Francisco treat) rather than the kind of plain boiled rice Dogen would have served you.

Anyway, that's not what's going on with Dogen's Genjo Koan: Three Commentaries. So just forget I said any of that stuff. The reason there are so many authors in this book is because it is a compilation of three commentaries, each of which has two or three authors or editors attached. The first is by Nishiari Bokusan, who was the teacher of Shunryu Suzuki's teacher Kishizawa Ian. This is translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Mel Weitsman. Tanahashi is Japanese and speaks English but is not an ordained Zen teacher. Weitsman is American and does not speak Japanese but is an ordained Zen teacher. So one can guess that Tanahashi is responsible for the actual translation into English while Weitsman made it sound more Zen and that the two of them hashed out the translation to make sure the final piece was true to the original. Though I can't help wondering if they also removed any offending sexism or suchlike in the process.

The second commentary is attributed to Shunryu Suzuki, author of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and the first abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center. But Suzuki himself never prepared any commentary on Genjo Koan as such, at least not for publication. He did, however, give a number of lectures on Genjo Koan over a period of six years. So Michael Wenger and Mel Weitsman went through those lectures with the assistance of Jeffrey Schneider and stitched together a Frankenstein monster commentary that reads as if it were a single piece. They did a good job. It's very hard to spot where the sutures and the bolts in the neck are in this version. But, again, I can't help wondering what Suzuki himself would have made of it. I've heard that while he was happy with Zen Mind Beginner's Mind, which was put together in a similar fashion, he thought it was more what his students heard him say than what he actually said. I'd guess he'd feel the same way about this piece.

The final commentary is the purest. It was prepared as a single piece by Kosho Uchiyama and then translated by Shohaku Okamura. Okamura was not only a direct student of Uchiyama but is a Japanese Zen monk whose English is at such a high level that he didn't need help in preparing a readable translation. I suppose he had an editor, just like any English speaking author would. But this is still Okamura's own vision of the piece. So even though Uchiyama himself didn't approve it, we can be pretty sure this is very close to how he would have said things if he'd been able to speak English.

That being said, I find Suzuki's portion to be the most readable and easy to understand, while Bokusan's runs a close second. Unfortunately Uchiyama's commentary comes off a little too stilted and scholarly for my taste. This doesn't seem to be Okamura's fault since Okamura's sketch of Uchiyama's life, which precedes the commentary, is highly readable and very warm.

Although Uchiyama's commentary is the most scholarly-sounding of the three, none of these are really scholarly commentaries. A scholarly commentary on Genjo Koan would tell you about Dogen's life, about what was going on in Japan at the time, about Dogen's use of language, about the background of the various quotations he uses, and so on. In this book you get just enough of that stuff to follow along. These are commentaries by Zen practitioners whose main intent was to help other Zen practitioners deal with their practice.

In that, I feel these are very useful for those of us who practice Zen in the West today. Granted all three commentaries are by older Japanese men. But none of these commentaries are so ancient that they feel removed and distant from us the way a really old commentary might. The earliest of the three is Nishiari's, which dates from the early twentieth century. The most recent is Uchiyama's, which dates from the 1970s. They are all, therefore, modern looks at the 800 year old Genjo Koan. Contemporary life even intrudes into the commentaries themselves when Shunryu Suzuki refers to the traffic noises outside the hall in Northern California where he delivered his talks and relates this directly to what Dogen was writing about hundreds of years before cars were invented.

Some might feel this makes the commentaries less valuable since they are so far removed from Dogen's time. One could complain that people so distant from the author's own era can't possibly know what he was talking about. But I don't feel that's the case. It's more important that all three of the commentaries are by practitioners. What's more, like us, these practitioners have to deal with the kinds of things Dogen never had to deal with.

It's funny to me when people act like we, today in the West, have so much more trouble practicing Zen than the folks in Asia hundreds of years ago. In spite of traffic noises and blaring boomboxes, we really have it a lot easier than people in Dogen's time did. They had to deal with wars and famines and political uprisings the likes of which are seldom encountered by any of us these days. The distractions we have to deal with are, admittedly, a lot more attractive and easily available than those of Dogen's time. But our excuse for not practicing is because there are so many more websites to look at and besides there's a guy upstairs practicing Jimi Hendrix licks, rather than because we're about to starve to death since the rice crop failed and the Mongols are burning down the village. It's really no contest. We've got it very cushy by comparison.

The commentaries in this book are by people who understand the unique nature of the distractions to practice contemporary people face. Though they may not be as hip and pop culture savvy as the trash I put out, they're very useful to anyone serious about pursuing Zen practice in our time.


*Some people in the comments section insist that this is wrong. However, Michael Wenger says the following in his introduction, "(Nishiari Bokusan's) commentary is the first in this collection. In fact, all of the other commentaries in this volume are in his lineage." Until I find further clarification I'll take Michael Wenger's word on the matter.



****

Don't forget, if you want to practice some Zen, beginning Sunday January 15th 2012 I will be hosting Zazen every Sunday night at 7 pm at the Akron Shambhala Meditation Center. Maybe I'll even give you my take on Genjo Koan. The address is:

133 Portage Trail Ste. 202
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
44221

135 comments:

Anonymous said...

Might be useful to mention Okumura's Realizing Genjokoan, which you blurbed on the back cover, and which does, in fact come closer to being a scholarly commentary.

Integral Monastery said...

Great review. Thank you.

Mike McGeehon said...

So what would you suggest as a good translation of Treasury of True Dharma Mind? I'm looking for a collection that won't kill my checking account, but is high quality.

Mumon said...

Tanahashi has translated Dogen before; though its language in 2012 seems a bit early 70s-Esalen ...but it's the only Dogen I have in English...

That committee sat together and worried about a lot of fairly ridiculous "problems" with the text such as whether or not the phrase usually rendered as "kingly bodhi tree" might be considered sexist. Which is the sort of thing you'd expect a bunch of uptight middle class liberals from San Francisco to wring their hands about.

Ah, if only Henry Miller were alive & spoke Japanese.

Mumon said...

Plus, Tanahashi studied Zen longer than both of us put together.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Our inborn, agitated mind has discomforts which always attend. It causes both mental and carnal wounds, which Concentration can truly mend.

Anonymous said...

Your mother is an uptight middle class liberal.

proulx michel said...

Mike McGeehon said...

So what would you suggest as a good translation of Treasury of True Dharma Mind? I'm looking for a collection that won't kill my checking account, but is high quality.

Funny that on this blog, one would not know about the Nishijima-Cross translation!

buddy said...

just a small point of clarification: 'Uchiyama and Okamura stem from the same root lineage as the folks at SFZC, but do not belong to that institution itself.' Okamura is the dharma heir of Uchiyama, who was the dharma heir of Kodo Sawaki, a lineage that as far as i know has nothing to do with sfzc but is rather connected to your own??

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Khru said...

Goodie, Zen is so rad so I'll order the new book. I'm in desperate need of more good reading materials as I sit on the toilet and move my bowels.

Perhaps it will also be as horrible as this comment thread.

proulx michel said...

budh is the Sanskrit root for “awake” - “know” - “realize”

It is also akin to the English verb "to bud", aplied to flowers.

john e mumbles said...

(cont. from last blog commentary string:)

The Lectorium Rosicrucianum was an important link in my own inner development back in the day, Mysterion. But I ultimately got the most out of Paul Foster Case.

A lot of alchemists I worked with got their start with AMORC laboratory classes, moving on to Frater Albertus, when he had the only operating (as in organized) alchemical school in America.

I beat my head against Delmar Bryant's arcane work for years and then suddenly had an "aha" moment, or Satori in Paris or something...

And through it all I remained a Sufi, initiated into the Nimatullahi Order, hence the opportunity to see certain correspondences between these paths.

(Rebroadcast)
Blatant self-serving plug #18 (at least):

CADUCEUS journal, one of the best offbeat esoteric journals I contributed to in the 1990's is uploading its archives online. Here is a link to the issue with my first article, THE ARABIC PARTS OF THE ORIGINAL ROSICRUCIAN DOCUMENTS for them... I wrote more through 1997, those issues are still forthcoming.

http://hermetic.com/caduceus/articles/2/2/

anon #108 said...

I took a gander, john e. Very impressed I am, but it looks a bit beyond me...out of my comfort zone.

I still like ya, though...far as I can tell :)

john e mumbles said...

Hi Mark, What Sufi group is in your neck of the woods?

If you liked the article try my book Al Kimia (cheap via kindle!)lots more info in there!!! Thanks.

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=al-kimia&tag=mh0b-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=36746914&ref=pd_sl_1vpcm0aaza_e

The Ino said...

I assume that Brad meant that all the writers are part of Dogen's lineage, rather than anything more recent - I suspect the lineages separated with Gassan and Manzan

john e mumbles said...

Thanks for taking a look 108!!

Anonymous said...

Before I've read you review I planned to buy the book but now I won't. Thank you for saving my money. :-)

Zippy Rinpoche said...

EVERYTHING is interesting when viewed through th' twin openings of a common, household cinder block. This way, I can divide all time & space into two convenient rectilinear segments! It's edifying.

Pigasus said...

You know, the people who wrote this book are real. SFZC is also a home.

Anonymous said...

As Buddy points out, Uchiyama is NOT in the SFZC line. That's a big gaff. Both Soto; totally different lineages. I think you might have to go back many, many generations to find a common ancestor. But the two "families" are quite friendly with each other. One of Suzuki's earliest students to travel to Japan (Graham Petchey) became a student of Uchiyama; Suzuki said to Graham that Sawaki was only one of maybe 6 teachers who were worth looking up there.

So Brad, Nishijima roshi was a student with Uchiyama's teacher, Kodo Sawkai, though ordained by somebody else later, making you like a step child or something. Why do you make these silly distinctions anyway (esp when you get them wrong)? You are always bashing SFZC, and Kaz Tanahashi - and yet they keep being so nice to you! Kaz invited you to speak there. I have no idea why anyone would send a book to you for a blurb! Talk about "lowest common denominator". ; )

And Mysterion, there are (or were) many more "houses" of Zen than you list, even in Japan (where there are four main ones - two are quite small. Soto is largest, Rinzai a distant second, in terms of numbers of temples.)

In China, there were five main branches. I think all lineages today stem from only two, though a few specific teachings from the others exist in those schools.

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Zen Rasta said...

Read Dogen Zenji's Genjo Koan while smoking Bob Marley's Ganja Cone. Guaranteed enLIGHTenment.
I and I Jah Rastafari!

Anonymous said...

"Don't frighten the little children!"

F you mysterion. You are the littlest little child around here. What a douche-bag. just satin'...

Anonymous said...

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney claimed concerns about Wall Street, financial institutions and income inequality were the result of "envy."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/11/mitt-romney-envy-south-carolina-primary_n_1200454.html

Mysterion said...
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Mark Foote said...

wow, stew in three parts.

Hey, John, I was able to check a few pages of "Al Kimia", and it sounded like actual chemistry. Which it probably was. I going to have to find it, sometime, since I like your writing. Hard to believe you are an alchemist. Drew Hempel over on Tao Bums is a big advocate of Taoist Alchemy, but I'm still aiming at that Western description.

The girl tells me the local tribe is a mixture of Murshid Sam Lewis and Hazrat Anayt Khan (sp?). When I wrote The Mudra of Zen, I used the zikir bowing left and right with the bending and straightening knees as an illustration of the engagement of the ilio-lumbar ligaments (horizontally to the 5th lumbar vertebrae and vertically to the 4th, in alternation). Also the whirling practice:

"The whirling of the dancers demonstrates the relationship between the occurrence of consciousness and the reciprocal innervation of the rotators of the pelvis and sacrum, and how that innervation allows support to be realized for the structure of the spine from the soles of the feet to the crown of the head. "

Ok, my best guess- not that I can whirl, I'm afraid.

On the Wikipedia for Paul Foster Case, I like the part about Case's friend telling him that "The artist in you, which I recognize, and with whom I deeply sympathize, would probably choose to learn the Truth through the joy and beauty of physical life."

Me, too! :)

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Brad Warner said...

Anonymous said:
You are always bashing SFZC, and Kaz Tanahashi.

I'm not sure I understand your definition of "bashing."

I like SFZC! I like Kaz Tanahashi! I've said that Tanahashi's translations of Dogen's are the next best thing to the Nishijima/Cross translations. I consider Kaz himself a friend.

I have some reservations about both SFZC and about Tanahashi's translations and I've said what they are. That's far from bashing them.

Genpo Roshi I've bashed. Andrew Cohen I've bashed. Ken Wilber I've bashed. But not SFZC or Kaz Tanahashi.

Brad Warner said...

As far as the lineage stuff is concerned, I'm a bit confused now. Michael Wenger says the following in his introduction, "(Nishiari Bokusan's) commentary is the first in this collection. In fact, all of the other commentaries in this volume are in his lineage." That's on page 2 if anyone wants to check.

I assumed that meant that Kosho Uchiyama has some lineage connection to Nishiari Bokusan. Perhaps I'm reading that wrong. Maybe Michael Wenger just means that they're all Soto lineage people. Although that seems unlikely.

Brad Warner said...

Your mother is an uptight middle class liberal.

She was. She died on this day in 2007.

Nonetheless I chuckled at the joke. My mom had a good sense of humor and would not have been offended by "your mom" jokes. So neither am I.

proulx michel said...

What is interesting about Nishiari Bokuzan is that Nishijima roshi mentions him expressly in his historical highlights of the Buddhist teachings in Japan after the Meiji Restoration, as one of the important sources of his re-discovery of the fourfold philosophy which he has propounded.

This fourfold style of reading being also mentioned by Dante Alighieri, almost a contemporary of Dogen, as being staple for the Scholastic of European Middle Ages, I think this can barely be only by chance, and that it is only a too easily forgotten method which Aristotelician Dualism too easily supplants at times. Dualism is so much more comfy...

Anonymous said...

Thank you to Brad's mom for making all of this possible!

Honor to the memory of your mother.

_/|\_

Justin Jest said...

"Genpo Roshi I've bashed. Andrew Cohen I've bashed. Ken Wilber I've bashed." Brad

Coming soon from Integral Life Publications: Ken Wilber's Genpo Cohen.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Anonymous said...

Allegory: Ante-Purgatory, Purgatorio 2

As the souls arrive at the shores of Purgatory they are singing Psalm 114 (113 in the Vulgate), which begins "In exitu Isräel de Aegypto" [When Israel went out of Egypt] (2.46-8). This very Psalm, not coincidentally, is used to illustrate a way of interpreting the Divine Comedy in a letter believed to have been written either by Dante himself or by another learned person of his age:

Now if we look at the letter alone, what is signified to us is the departure of the sons of Israel from Egypt during the time of Moses; if at the allegory, what is signified to us is our redemption through Christ; if at the moral sense, what is signified to us is the conversion of the soul from the sorrow and misery of sin to the state of grace; if at the anagogical, what is signified to us is the departure of the sanctified soul from bondage to the corruption of this world into the freedom of eternal glory. And although these mystical senses are called by various names, they may all be called allegorical, since they are all different from the literal or historical.

Dante Alighieri - The Letter to Can Grande

This interpretive method, known as the "four-fold method" or the "allegory of theologians," was commonly applied to the Bible in the Middle Ages. The four senses could be remembered with the following medieval Latin ditty:

Littera gesta docet,
Quod credas allegoria.
Moralia quod agas,
Quo tendas anagogia.

The literal sense teaches what happened,
The allegorical what you believe.
The moral what you should do,
The anagogical where you are going.

The subject of the whole work, then, taken literally, is the state of souls after death, understood in a simple sense; for the movement of the whole work turns upon this and about this. If on the other hand the work is taken allegorically, the subject is man, in the exercise of his free will, earning or becoming liable to the rewards or punishments of justice.

http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/

Mark Foote said...
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Mark Foote said...

Anonymous, thanks for the explanation of the four-fold reading.

here's some from the Lancet of Meditation in Genjo Koan (not Genpo Cohen, I'm afraid):

* * * * *
LANCET OF SEATED MEDITATION
by Zhengjue
by imperial designation the Chan Master Spacious Wisdom

Essential function of buddha after buddha,
Functioning essence of ancestor after ancestor --
It knows without touching things;
It illumines without facing objects.
Knowing without touching things,
Its knowing is inherently subtle;
Illumining without facing objects,
Its illumining is inherently mysterious.
Its knowing inherently subtle,
It is ever without discriminatory thought;
Its illumining inherently mysterious,
It is ever without a hair's breadth of sign.
Ever without discriminatory thought,
Its knowing is rare without peer;
Ever without a hair's breadth of sign,
Its illumining comprehends without grasping.
The water is clear right through to the bottom;
A fish goes lazily along.
The sky is vast without horizon;
A bird flies far far away.

Ok, so that's not Dogen himself, but actually Reverend Zhenjue, the Chan Master Hongzhi of the Jingde Monastery at Tiantong, renowned Mt. Taipai, in the district of Jingyuan in the Great Song. I think as close as Dogen gets is quoting Nanyue and Jiangxi, around the same separation of knowing and illumining (is it not):

'Nanyue went on, "Are you studying seated meditation or are you studying seated buddha? If you're studying seated meditation, meditation is not sitting or reclining. If you're studying seated buddha, buddha is no fixed mark. If you're studying seated buddha, this is killing buddha. If you grasp the mark of sitting, you're not reaching its principle."
(thanks to Carl Bielefeldt and the Stanford Project, it's here)

So what have we established?

1) It was possible to write a manual of meditation that was acceptable by Dogen's standards

2) Dogen offers a manual that discusses knowing and illumining after his examination of Nanyue's two points, "if you're studying seated meditation, meditation is not sitting or reclining" and "if you're studying seated buddha, buddha is no fixed mark". Seems likely that the division into two aspects of human experience will be present in any manual on meditation that accords with Dogen's expectations.

3) Dogen actually strove to write a manual of zazen himself, there's something about a description in words that can be used that he found compelling, having perhaps experienced it himself (?).

Anonymous said...

@ Mysterion:
you list the Five Houses of Zen, that I spoke of. Only two still exist. All current lineages come from Tsao-Tung (Soto) and Linji (Rinzai) - including in Korea, elsewhere. Almost exclusively Linji outside of Japan. I have no idea what you are talking about with this "scaring children" stuff. But it reinforces the sense that you think you are the one here educating everyone else, which I'm apparently not the only one to find annoying.

And its not about numbers or the "best" style with the best understanding. When you actually devote yourself to a way of practice, its more about what you give than what you get, and you simply feel grateful to those who came before.

I think there should just be respect for places and people who are quietly doing what needs to be done to get Dharma firmly planted here - its still new, and not assured of success. SFZC/Tassajara is still an extraordinary, relatively young experiment; but I agree with Brad, I never wanted to live or practice there long term (I went to other, smaller places.) Still, I still think of them as the "mothership", and think they are a great corrective for a lot of other stuff out there.

And Kaz's translations are so much better than Nishijima's! Nishijima's are absolutely dead on arrival, and will never gain any traction here - they don't have the tone or flavor of Dogen (that Kaz's capture naturalistically, poetically, and beautifully.) Nishijima's read like an especially eccentric academic take on Dogen, sure to please no one but his own students (most academics have lots of problems with his take, and they are impenetrable to "lay people" not familiar with Nishijima's often weird take on Zen and Dogen.)

I like Nishijima's Dogen versions and his own ideas the way you like a wacky old uncle who tells kooky stories you don't wholly trust; you know his heart is in the right place, even if he's kind of crazy. Look at who he's given transmission to! Jundo Cohen and Brad Warner? Wha'?

john e mumbles said...

Hi Mark, I am very well acquainted with Sufi Sam Lewis and the Dances of Universal Peace, and his Sufi teacher, Hazrat Inyat Khan. I only "danced" with them once (well, I tried!), though, in Colorado in the 1990's, and found the darvishes I met to be exceptionally fine folks.

Sam was an American adept at both Sufism and Zen, famous for working with the hippies in San Francisco - he also founded an organization (Sufi International something? Can't remember)that has a famous heart with wings logo. I think they are based in New Mexico these days.

His teacher was a very famous Indian Sufi who emphasized music as a means to, er, "samadhi." Hazrat Inyat Khan's son, Pir Viliat Khan was a well known teacher as well.

What you described in your very interesting article The Mudra of Zen (want to explore the other links at that site, thanks!) about the "whirling dervishes" is associated with the Mevlevi school of Sufism founded by Jallaludin Rumi, which is Turkish.

I was initiated into a Persian Sufi order, the Nimatullahi Order. There were Shaykhs of this order (the Nimatullahi) who were also famous alchemists, I explore that in Al Kimia. Sufism and Alchemy kind of historically go hand in hand.

I studied Mantak Chia's Taoist Alchemy for several years, and would recommend it. If you are familiar with The Secret of the Golden Flower, you would already be familiar with some of those concepts. Red Pine hints at some practices in his excellent book, Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits.

Good stuff!

proulx michel said...

Anonymouse who wrote:

"I like Nishijima's Dogen versions and his own ideas the way you like a wacky old uncle who tells kooky stories you don't wholly trust; you know his heart is in the right place, even if he's kind of crazy. Look at who he's given transmission to! Jundo Cohen and Brad Warner? Wha'?"

You're showing your true heart here...

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Foote said...

@ John E

hey John- thanks for the nice comment, and especially for the history. I LOVE the history when it seems to relate to the struggle I'm in to make sense of it all, although I realize that's dangerous since the history is never really one thing and any attempt to make it that will distort the facts.

Yes, my girl mentioned the Sufi Order and the Sufi Ruhaniat. Thanks for correcting all my spelling, great to see it right. We will probably attend the Universal Dances of peace in Sebastopol in another two weekends; I think I still prefer the wicked afro-american pop tunes that the DJ spins at the pub in Petaluma, where I can start out writhing in the corner by myself and discover that I'm dancing with half the crowd before the night is done.

I find myself in agreement with Drew on Tao Bums when he speaks of heat under the kettle, and of enery up the spine, but I do not have a regular experience of energy shooting up the spine as so many there describe. Drew is a bit strange, heavy into internal orgasm which he says he experiences 1hr25min into his 2 hour lotus sitting with regularity. claims he used to be able to flex his pineal gland and cause members of the opposite sex to experience same.

I continue to work with the description in "The Mudra of Zen", and in "Translations of Motion in the Lotus". This morning I was able to correlate a feeling for the ilio-lumbars with relaxation in the extensors, and a certain uprightness in the area of the low back. Interesting, for me, as I have never followed the advice to "keep your back straight", in part because I don't seem to have the feeling to make that possible (yet). My take is that activity in the sartorius and gluts (caused by stretch in the ilio-tibial tract and sacro-spinous/sacro-tuberous ligaments) and similar involuntary activity in the psoas and extensors acts up the spine as the ilio-lumbars engage in inhalation and exhalation. Sitting today I recalled the Gautamid's description of the feeling of the first meditative state, like a bowl with a dusting of soap powder that is gathered, rolled and kneaded until it no longer oozes. My consciousness occurring in the area of the pelvis, letting the painful and pleasant feelings in and mindful of the sleepy wakefulness.

that's my alchemy, I guess, and I'm happy to be in the company of people who think there's something to an alchemy of the human elements.

Brad Warner said...

And Kaz's translations are so much better than Nishijima's! Nishijima's are absolutely dead on arrival, and will never gain any traction here - they don't have the tone or flavor of Dogen (that Kaz's capture naturalistically, poetically, and beautifully.) Nishijima's read like an especially eccentric academic take on Dogen, sure to please no one but his own students (most academics have lots of problems with his take, and they are impenetrable to "lay people" not familiar with Nishijima's often weird take on Zen and Dogen.)

I have to agree that Kaz Tanahashi's Dogen translations are much prettier than the Nishijima/Cross translations. Neither Nishijima nor Mike Cross have much of a flair for poetry while Kaz Tanahashi is an artist and many of his collaborators are poets. Kaz's versions are much nicer to read/

But to me it's like comparing the King James Bible with other more reliable translations. Hands down the King James versions win every time in terms of sheer poetry.

But when I learned to read Japanese that's when I really understood Mike Cross's genius. Kaz and his collaborators made beautiful poetry out of Dogen and got the meaning pretty close. But Mike Cross got it spot on. His translations (under Nishijima's guidance) are so close to the Japanese it's scary.

As for academics not accepting them, I've never heard any complaints from that community. People -- especially those who sign anonymously -- love to plant little seeds of doubt like that. Who are these academics? What exactly are their problems with Nishijima's take?

Anonymous said...

your mom prettier than the Nishijima.

verification ungsy

Anonymous said...

Brad, What is your reaction to the video of three US Marines urinating on three Taliban dead bodies.. Are you trembling with outrage?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-user-polls/post/should-these-marines-be-punished/2012/01/12/gIQA65CctP_blog.html

A Small Point of Order said...

Brad said:
"As for academics not accepting them, I've never heard any complaints from that community. People -- especially those who sign anonymously -- love to plant little seeds of doubt like that. Who are these academics? What exactly are their problems with Nishijima's take?"

I am sure that Dogen scholars are busy debating whatever it is they debate in academia... To be honest, unless Nishijima has a doctorate in Dogen/Philosophy they probably don't know who he is at all...

A Small Point of Order said...

Also, the above I hope didn't come across as snide - I was stating my thoughts on how insular academia can be.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous.

Find me your mother's face before she was born and tell me if she was an uptight middle class liberal.

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

Brad wrote:

But Mike Cross got it spot on. His translations (under Nishijima's guidance) are so close to the Japanese it's scary.

This is more or less what Eric Rommeluere, who reads Bungo (the ancient version of Japanese that Dogen wrote), told me. This ability to stick so near to the original makes it both uncanny and impossible to get around it.

Of course it's not very poetic. There are choices to be made, everytime one is translating. The choice Tanahashi made does not make it worthless. But it's not the same.

anon #108 said...

Calling all Brad Warner fans and detractors -

http://www.zenforuminternational.org/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=7660&p=115317#p115317

I'm posting, as I do over there, as 'jiblet'. Pay me some attention, godammit!

anon #108 said...

^ That link takes you the latest post, I believe. I meant to link the whole thread:

http://www.zenforuminternational.org/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=7660

Bat Guano said...

108: Why are you not Jiblet here then? Things get so confusing with all the multiple false identities.

Anonymous said...

oh jiblet...

why the link?

something else to learn.

how useful :(

anon #108 said...

…A discussion that is, so far, hardly a classic, and there have been some pretty interesting discussions stimulated by bits of Brad at ZFI (you can search the site from the box at the bottom of any page if you badly need to).

For some reason or other, I occasionally feel the need to challenge the hostility that something about Brad Warner generates in those who've not read more than an excerpt from something he's written.

It seems that using the Dharma to get rich and famous – you know, the way Brad Warner does – is the thing that really pisses people off.

So come on, Brad - fess up and I can stop wasting my time sticking up for you. Your only in it for the money and chicks, right? Why else would you bother?

anon #108 said...

Why 'jiblet'?

When I first got a computer (only about 5 years ago) and eventually started shooting my mouth off on blogs (about 3 years ago) I chose 'jiblet' as a moniker - my father's initials are/were J.I.B., so mummy and daddy used to call me their little jiblet when I was a baby :-D

Then I started to comment on Brad's blog. The anonymity gave me the chance to say what I really wanted to say; to be a dick if I wanted. I posted here using many different names and as "anonymous", settling on "anon #108" following a spell of impersonation.

Each name is registered with a different email, which is a nuisance, and as I've not felt the irresistible need to snipe anonymously for a while I've been thinking of giving up one or other name.

But I'm registered as 'jiblet' at ZFI. I don't hide that I post here as 'anon #108,' so that's how it will stay over there. The only other place I now and again comment is at Mike Cross's blog, "Nothing but the Lifeblood"/"Mining Asvagosa's Gold," where I am 'jiblet'.

Thanks for asking. Now you know :)

gniz said...

Hey 108, I checked out the link. To be honest, I didn't see much controversial there. You both made decent points. I didn't think the dude arguing against your points said anything too crazy.

He basically admitted that he was only vaguely familiar with Brad's work, but that the stuff he'd read or come in contact with just rubbed him the wrong way. He's entitled to his opinion and I don't take issue with how he framed it.

I did like the little section you wrote about what is typically considered zen and what isn't. That people like dewdrops and peaceful gardens and shaved heads and oryoki bowls and not godzilla, punk rock, foul language etc.

I think you hit at the core of something which I also find slightly off-putting about typical "zen culture."

Sometimes you even get those teachers and students like Genpo perhaps, who will be crass or say things and then smugly grin in a self-satisfied way at how they are so zen and free that they can even make dirty jokes! It can feel like a white, upper-class self-congratulatory masturbation session at times...

Anyway, all religions and points of view and cultures have these issues. It's not endemic solely to zen, but since zen buddhism seeks to go beyond such ridiculous identity crutches, you'd hope to see less of it rather than more.

Brad Warner said...

Anon #108, you are correct. I am only in the Zen game for the money and the chicks.

Although I think I may have been misled...

Mark Foote said...

Proulx Michel, I will have to check out the Nishijima/Cross translation, since you and Brad are in agreement that it is accurate and significantly different from other English renditions.

Apropos of nothing, I remember when the drummer from the Avengers asked me when I was going to peg my pants. Dan, if somebody mentions this to you, I still get a laugh.

anon #108 said...

gniz -

Yes indeed, there's nothing especially controversial about that ZFI chat as it stands (except perhaps use of the word "cunt"?)*. I was bored...

Thanks for liking the bit you like. I quite like it myself ;)


*Am I right in thinking that "cunt" isn't so unacceptable in the USA as it is in the UK? Here, "cunt" is still, in my book, the very worst thing you can call a fella (I believe my interlocutor and the one who used the word lives in England. Whatever, I was surprised...that it didn't get moderated).

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

Warner - You charlatan!!! I KNEW it!

john e mumbles said...

Whoa, way up there, now, thanks Mark!

Wow, I am impressed with your investigation of the physical/muscular aspects of sitting, and how the importance of this may be underestimated or neglected altogether. There are prescribed ways of sitting that Sufi’s typically do, in the Nimatullahi branch it matters little whether you do it lotus style, or knees forward, sitting on your heels, or in a chair. What is of more importance is how the hands are positioned, left hand grasping the right wrist, right hand resting on the left thigh. This forms the Arabic letter “la” or “no.” In other words, you are symbolically negating the self. “You” are not there. Nobody home. Just letting the mind rest. This is coupled with the zikr (dhikr, etc.), a mantram literally in-formed (on the breath) by the Shaykh during initiation. The sitting usually lasts at least 45 min. up to several hours. My knees ache as I write thinking about the long hours I sat this way for so many years! In a formal group sitting situation, this includes a talk and music that by turns is placid and impassioned, with drums, ney, vocals, and various stringed instruments. Have fun cuttin’ a rug at the Dances of Universal Peace!

Mumon said...

Brad-

I have a dumb question...yeah, here's my ignorance...

Did Dogen actually write all this stuff in Japanese?

For some reason I can't remember, I thought that at the time scholarly Japanese works - especially Buddhist works - were written in Chinese.

But if Dogen did write it in Japanese, wasn't it a kind of "medieval" Japanese (i.e., the language has evolved) - akin to Middle English?

At any rate, re: Tanahashi's translations - as I said, I like them, they're good; they're pretty much the only source I have of Dogen...but if Dogen wrote in Japanese, I could think of better ways to express "actualizing the fundamental point" better than, uh, "actualizing the fundamental point."

Anonymous Bob said...

108 asked, "Am I right in thinking that "cunt" isn't so unacceptable in the USA as it is in the UK? Here, "cunt" is still, in my book, the very worst thing you can call a fella"

It's different here 108. "cunt" is reserved for women or guys interested in modern dance. Calling someone a "bitch" is much much worse at least for men. If you call someone a cunt they might laugh nervously. Call someone a bitch you better get ready to fight. It's kind of like calling someone a MFer was back in the day. It used to be totally bad. Now "Hey MFer" is used as a friendly salutation. Things change.

CAPTCHA : ovizest : I kid you not

proulx michel said...

Mumon asked:

Did Dogen actually write all this stuff in Japanese?

Dogen wrote the Shobogenzo in Bungo, that is literate medieval Japanese. He wrote other books (the Shinji Shobogenzo, the Eihei Koroku) in Chinese. Both versions of the Fukanzazengi were written in Chinese.

His use of Japanese for the Shobogenzo makes it one of the first literate uses of the language by men. But Nishijima insists that one of his early surprises was his inability to read it directly despite its being written in Japanese. Which is why he spent his life translating it into modern Japanese.

anon #108 said...

Most interesting, AB. Thanks.

Wanker said...

What about "wanker"?

Where do wankers fit into this discussion?

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

Brad: "Unfortunately Uchiyama's commentary comes off a little too stilted and scholarly for my taste". This is a shame since Uchiyama Roshi's approach to zen was very practical. He devoted his life to the practice and promotion of zazen in daily life. Uchiyama Roshi was the leading student of Sawaki Roshi who trusted the leadership of Antaiji to him. His book "Opening the Hand of Thought" stands very well in comparison to anything Nishijima Roshi has written.

Anonymous said...

We're all wankers on this bus, anonymous.

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

And you're a cunt, Mysterion, and I mean that in the most English way possible, bitch.















Not really, just fun to say.

Mumon said...

proulx michel-

Thanks. Obviously I'm not the scholar on this that others are...

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad Warner said...

Aren't any of the people who said I was wrong about the lineage thing going to explain why Michael Wenger thinks Uchiyama, Suzuki and Nishiarai Bokusan are in the same lineage?

I actually want to know and am too lazy to try to dig up the info myself, especially when at least two people seem like they know already.

Mysterion said...

Brad:

I think the 'open theory' is based on Dogan applied broadly forward.

Remember, distinctions are the root of all evils - in mustard.

Mustard - it's not my main squeeze.

Lineage LINK 1 (Okumura-Uchiyama-Sawaki-Sawada Koho Osho)

Lineage LINK 2
Nishiari Bokusan Zenji (1821-1910) at Denshinji in Shimada, Shizuoka

Sogaku-Gyokujin-... See So-On in Chadwick's "Crooked Cucumber."

Suzuki was from a lineage at a "family temple." (grandfather-father-son-grandson)

Apparently Nishiari Bokusan was the teacher of (one of) Shunryu Suzuki's teacher(s) Kishizawa Ian.

MORE

There is as much father-son temple biz. in Japan as there is in the USA. Except Japanese Temples were traditionally more humble and the haircut was shorter.

In an aging Japan, there are a lot of funerals.

Nishijima objected to funeral services dominating the time of monks and overpowering the 'educational' aspect of Soto.

To the dead, does it matter what parent your Soto pedigree displays?

Anonymous said...

Brad: "Aren't any of the people who said I was wrong about the lineage thing going to explain why Michael Wenger thinks Uchiyama, Suzuki and Nishiarai Bokusan are in the same lineage?" - who cares why Michael Wenger thinks that?

I was just pointing that Uchiyama Roshi was not scholastic in his approach to zazen and that's it's a shame Brad got that impression.

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

"we really have it a lot easier than people in Dogen's time did. They had to deal with wars and famines and political uprisings the likes of which are seldom encountered by any of us these days."

you ain't seen nothin' yet

Anonymous said...

Why read the book
when you can see
the cheezy movie?

Mark Foote said...

I like that, left hand grasping the right wrist, right hand on the left thigh. Dogen I believe specified left leg on top, left hand on top. I heard a talk by a modern Tibetan Lama in Sonoma, he sat with his right leg I believe sideways and bent at the knee flat to the floor, and the left ankle over the right thigh with the sole of the foot on the floor. Sort of like one of the Egyptian goddesses in this illustration:

Isis-Nephthys

(love those baboons, truckin' up the sides!)

Thanks, John E., and thanks for the description. Not sure on "a mantram literally in-formed (on the breath) by the Shaykh during initiation"- spoken on an inhalation?

Anonymous said...

Amerika, Land of the Free?

Shaman Willie said...

Anonymous @ 9:19 PM,

That "cheezy movie" is on YouTube.

Part 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wNophiyNVo

Part 2 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=maynsl2UsKE

Dogen's "enlightenment" scene looked pretty trippy. Enjoy.

john e mumbles said...

Well, you know, Mark, that zikr/mantra-receiving business is tricky. It always depends on circumstance. I wrote about it at length a long time ago in an article The Philosophers of Nature (R.I.P.) published in their quarterly The Stone titled "Sacred Breath, Sound, and Form in Alchemical Initiation." Its akin to dharma transmission in Zen, in that it links the recipient to the lineage and perpetuates the lineage. You probably know all that and wonder what I meant by "informed" on the breath, etc.

It has to do with the one-on-one intimacy of the situation. The great Sufi poet Kabir tried and tried to get Ramananda to impart his mantra but, like Brad (witholding dharma transmission), the master was not inclined to pass it on to anyone, probably (like Brad?) he was tired of people like Kabir bugging him all the time about it. Now, Kabir knew that Ramananda walked down to the Ganges in the dark every morning to bathe, so he lay down on the sloping path he took and when Ramanada stepped on him, in alarm he cried "Ram! Ram!!" thus revealing and in so doing imparting his mantra on Kabir.

Touching, hearing, taking the sound into the faculties, breathing it, etc... there are many different ways it can happen, whats important is being fully Present in the moment when the transformation occurs, fixing the event in eternity. Cheers!

Enjoy the weekend everybody!

[Ha!! The very alchemical word verification is:]

materr

Anonymous said...

"...so he lay down on the sloping path..."

dratz! jem has exposed the motivation of us anonymous trolls!

gniz said...

Anon said: ""...so he lay down on the sloping path..."

dratz! jem has exposed the motivation of us anonymous trolls!"

Haha, that was super clever anonymous.

Anonymous said...

yeah but brad is more clever by far.

the most we've got out of him is the 'your mom' joke... hardly a useful mantra.

the man just won't crack. he must be cracked!

Anonymous said...

erm, ... he must be CRACKED!

Bat Guano said...

"the man just won't crack. he must be cracked!"

Your Mom is cracked.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaman Willie said...

Mysterion,

Actually, I was referring to when Dogen floated up into the sky on a giant lotus when "mind and body fall away, fall away, fall away" at about 22:00 minutes. I hope that isn't a spoiler for anyone who hasn't watched it yet.

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

I'm never entirely convinced by the argument about people having it easier in other places or times. We are not living in the abstract, we are all children of our times. The basic human issues translate across the ages, and the fundamental need for the infinite creates problems regardless of the relative ease or difficulty of the upbringing. You can always bring in the case of some other who had it 'worse', but the comparison is only theoretical. People can live in utter despair in the most outwardly content of situations and no amount of theorizing or imagining will necessarily counteract it. Also, the distraction of 'good times' is a toughie, whereas for myself, when things are rough and depressing, I don't hesitate to go to the cushion, and my sitting feels grounded. The barriers are within us.

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

Haha. One studies the self to forget the self, and is
enlightened by the myriad things,
said a 13th century man.

John said "
Touching, hearing, taking the sound into the faculties, breathing it, etc... there are many different ways it can happen, whats important is being fully Present in the moment when the transformation occurs, fixing the event in eternity."

Sounds like there are more ways of
arriving then merely sitting in
lotus. If there was someone to
arrive.

Anonymous said...

your mom just arrived.

One Hundred said...

100

Mark Foote said...

Ok, anon#108, I scratched out some graffiti on the ZFI wall, here. Just to keep you company!

anon #108 said...

My instinctive response is to say "Thank you, Mark"...for keeping me company. I often feel like a lone voice at ZFI - I guess most people do.

But it's Brad who should be thanking us. After all, there's no such thing as bad publicity; the more fuss about BW, the more moolah and nookie for our Dear Leader, right?

proulx michel said...

Anon #108 wrote

the more fuss about BW, the more moolah and nookie for our Dear Leader, right?

Indeed, especially with those who have nothing but bad things to say about Him. "Parlez de moi en mal, parlez de moi en bien, mais parlez de moi!"

Anonymous said...

votre mère parle de moi!

anon #108 said...

There's not much of me on the net, but here's an old curio I just came across (me on bass, in my folk-rock period):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZjYYVYGdzU&feature=related

It's from a BBC show called "A Little Night Music," recorded in '81 . I'm trying to find out where the rest of it is.

I am dancing...in my head. Honest.

john e mumbles said...

Great clip, Malcolm! You're looking sharp! &I love the occasional guitar riffing in the midst of the traditional march. Swingin'& surreal! A true time-capsule, thanks.

john e mumbles said...

(P.S. I was listening intently to this -and its ilk, Circle Jerks et al in 1981:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damaged_%28Black_Flag_album%29

...just to place things in context, I wouldn't have known what to make of your group at all!)

Anonymous said...

tonight

Anonymous said...

evidence

anon #108 said...

Thanks, John. That's Graeme Taylor (we left Gryphon at the same time, to go a rock-n-rollin) doing them inappropriate things on guitar.

Strange days (aren't they all?), the early 80s. I'd just exited the punk thing, which did excite me for a while, and found myself with these guys. I liked a lot of things about the band, but not so much other things...I left. I left lots of things :/

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

Thanks, 7.43am - delightful.

And 7.44am - Oh yeah. I'd forgotten about that.

Mumon said...

Mysterion-

I'm intrigued to try to learn archaic Japanese...but probably brushing up on my 関西弁 is a bit more useful...

Mark Foote said...

Anon108, so simple, and yet Brad stands to get laid and wealthy; why didn't Brad think of that!

I really enjoyed the march, and the sight of the guys in the 80's.

I went to a Dead Kennedys show down below the Mabuhay somewhere in the 80's, and thought they couldn't keep a beat to save their necks, which was probably true at least of that particular performance. Crowd was into it, though.

My favorite band at the time was S.V.T., the band Jack Cassady of the Airplane put together out of a young L.A. group, featuring Brian Marnell on lead and Jack himself on bass.

john e mumbles said...

I contributed some graphics, and many keyboard parts to a German band called Doc Wor Mirran back then abouts, appearing alongside Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) on a few lps, like FOR SERPENTINE I AM, info here:

http://www.empty.de/DWMvinylLPs.htm


He seemed to be able to keep a beat by then as I recall...

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anon #108 said...

Mark - I totally LUV Jack Casady's bass playing with JA (and, while we're in CA, Phil Lesh was an obsession of mine for a long time) but I confess I don't know anything about SVT. Thanks for the heads up.

Mark Foote said...

Something from "Tao Bums", for the hardcore skeleton crew:

THE EMPTY BOAT

He who rules men lives in confusion;
He who is ruled by men lives in sorrow.
Yao therefore desired
Neither to influence others
Nor to be influenced by them.
The way to get clear of confusion
And free of sorrow
Is to live with Tao
In the land of the great Void.

If a man is crossing a river
And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
Even though he be a bad-tempered man
He will not become very angry.
But if he sees a man in the boat,
He will shout at him to steer clear.
If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
And yet again, and begin cursing.
And all because there is somebody in the boat.
Yet if the boat were empty.
He would not be shouting, and not angry.

If you can empty your own boat
Crossing the river of the world,
No one will oppose you,
No one will seek to harm you.

The straight tree is the first to be cut down,
The spring of clear water is the first to be drained dry.
If you wish to improve your wisdom
And shame the ignorant,
To cultivate your character
And outshine others;
A light will shine around you
As if you had swallowed the sun and the moon:
You will not avoid calamity.

A wise man has said:
"He who is content with himself
Has done a worthless work.
Achievement is the beginning of failure.
Fame is beginning of disgrace."

Who can free himself from achievement
And from fame, descend and be lost
Amid the masses of men?
He will flow like Tao, unseen,
He will go about like Life itself
With no name and no home.
Simple is he, without distinction.
To all appearances he is a fool.
His steps leave no trace. He has no power.
He achieves nothing, has no reputation.
Since he judges no one
No one judges him.
Such is the perfect man:
His boat is empty.

- Zhuang Zi -

Yup, Taoism, or at least Chinese wisdom (at its finest, in my opinion).

Brad Warner said...

Malcom, you play bass with a pick!!!

Batmonkey said...

@Shaman Willie said...

Actually, I was referring to when Dogen floated up into the sky on a giant lotus when "mind and body fall away, fall away, fall away" at about 22:00 minutes. I hope that isn't a spoiler for anyone who hasn't watched it yet.

Dogen got enlightened? Man, you really did spoil that one for the rest of us...

Anonymous said...

the illustrations and movies included in the posts on this blog are simply fantastic!

anon #108 said...

I used to play with a pick all the time, Brad. My earliest influences were all pickers - Chris Squire, Lesh, Rick Danko, Macca. Mainly fingers these days, but I've grown the nails on those two fingers so there's a bit of a click with the boom. Still use a pick for some things. Whatever feels and sounds right, I say!

boubi said...

Every time i read some of your learned posts i'm simply dumbstruck by the level of knowledge (fourfold philosophy, old japanese etc).

So i thank you for the opportunity to be less dumb.

I have a problem with the big books, big sutras and big philosophical systems, are they so necessary in buddhism?

Isn't all, at least Soto, just a "sit down and shut up" thing?

Aren't people supposed to experience the real nature of their mind and not read a lot of words about it or about the nature of the world which should be a mere projection of our avidya?

Now another question.

Morality, as we understand it nowaday, doesn't come from exepriencing the true nature of our mind, it comes (in my opinion) from the 8 fold path, which is a way to clean ourselves while looking for the true nature of our mind.

Morality also change with time and places, what is immoral now could have been normal in other times.

I disagree with the lack of morality exposed by sycophants, mind manipulators and so on. I knew a couple myself.

boubi said...

About kensho.

You look very critic in relation to kensho, at least the "cinemascope, dolby stereo, 3D" version of it.

I don't have your level of achievement, but how would you define what happened to Gautama Siddharta that dawn under the tree?

That experience was the one that started all of it. Unless it is a fairy tale like the attributes of the "Enlightened one" as described here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_characteristics_of_the_Buddha

proulx michel said...

Boubi wrote:

I don't have your level of achievement, but how would you define what happened to Gautama Siddharta that dawn under the tree?

Sorry for answering in the place of Brad, but I merely think it was a "Gosh! SO, that was it!?!"

Because all the masters have always insisted that what we're looking for was never hidden: it was always there under our nose.

boubi said...

Thanks michel

The translations i found were more or less "What a marvel!" seeing Venus rising. Do you have any translation to direct me?

Of course it was always in front of us, where else? What changes is the look not the object.

boubi said...

Michel

Now thinking about your answer, could it be that the method influences the way the result is achieved?

Everybody is naturally fond of the way his/her school of meditation practice, and in my opinion everybody is right, because every school works.

You know i heard a lot of bull about each and every traditional school, and they all work and all the bull was bull.

Recently i was invited to a tibetan couple of days of speech and meditation.

Bottom line i didn't find any difference with what the "evil Linchi crew" (to which i belonged) was teaching or the Soto people or the Theravadas.

Brad Warner said...

I don't have your level of achievement, but how would you define what happened to Gautama Siddharta that dawn under the tree?

Michel is right I think.

Also, why do we need to define it? It's impossible to do so. To the extent that such a thing can be defined, Gautama already did it when he spent some 40 years talking about it. What can I add to that?

Linchi said...

How about:

"I don't know."

Fred said...

There were Buddhas before Buddha.
They didn't talk about it.

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

Some did:

bigmind.org

Mark Foote said...

from the link on Zen funerals (thanks so much, Mysterion!):

"What was really surprising was Hori's account of "informal side" of being a monk.

Monks look forward to begging days since they have a chance to remove themselves from the watchful eye of the head monk. Sometimes they enjoy themselves so much that they come back slightly drunk. Late at night, after meditation, some of the monks may gather for a cigarette where the firewood is stacked. Pulling a piece of wood from the stack, one will reach in and pull out a bottle of whiskey. Suddenly everyone has a teacup in hand and little pieces of dried fish are passed around. In monastery language this is sarei, "tea ceremony."

Other monks may climb over the wall to go to the local public bath and afterward enjoy a bowl of noodles. Some of the more adventurous ones may even head downtown to sing in the karioke bars, always mindful that wake-up is 3:30 or 4 A.M. Of course, in the monastery there will be one or two monks who are very fussy about keeping all the rules, and they will receive their share of good-natured kidding, perhaps even be dragged against their will on some outrageous escapade.

Hori explains that "few people can live he entirely and completely in the abrasive world of strict discipline". In fact, he argues, "one might even argue that monks can practice with such discipline only because they play so hard on the shadow side."

Hori explains that this aspect of monastery life has two purposes:

1."In addition to allowing the monks time and space for rest and relaxation, the behind-the -scenes life of play teaches monks not to make a religion out of Zen practice, not to treat the monastery as something holy.

2.While the formal life of monastery discipline often isolates a monk and tests his individual personal resources, the shadow life affirms that beyond distinctions of rank and office, all monks share common social bonds and a fundamental humanity."

Both the formal and the informal life of the monastery are thought to be equally important in Zen practice." (Hori being G. Victor Sogen Hori)

Isn't that interesting! Also the bit about giving the precepts to people after they've died, so they can have a Buddhist funeral; the lack of response, the perfect reply.

boubi said...

Brad Warner said...

I don't have your level of achievement, but how would you define what happened to Gautama Siddharta that dawn under the tree?

Michel is right I think.

Also, why do we need to define it? It's impossible to do so. To the extent that such a thing can be defined, Gautama already did it when he spent some 40 years talking about it. What can I add to that?


thanks Brad


You are right, but my meaning was: "was it a kensho?", and as such was it a "definitive" experience that changed his vision of the world?


Beyond this, i really like and appreciate your approach to "this thing".

Anonymous said...

How many people did zazen this morning?

Post your minutes!

Here's mine: 0

kinpa said...

I don't know if I should start with Okumura or with Nishiari Bokuzan.
Shohaku Okamura is a Japanese Soto Zen priest and the founder and guiding teacher of the Sanshin Zen Community, which is an administrative office of the Soto school of Japan (formerly located in Los Angeles California).
Okumura was ordained by his teacher Kosho Uchiyama, where he practiced until Uchiyama retired in 1975. He then traveled to the United States, where he continued Uchiyama's style off zazen practice.
To find the true self, we practice sitting just sitting. So all things which come up in our mind are just passing away. Guiding the thoughts so we can focus on our posture and breath.
Shikantaza is not easy anyone would say so, sometimes you are facing real difficulties,
struggling with addictions, other people and of course yourself. You are trying to remove the nails out of your brain, to not let the monster look like yourself. But then herman is catching you again and you wish he would have some brain. Dogen probably never had to deel with, neighbours putting shit into their inboxes, meditating next to flushing toilets or the new friend is fucking your mother. But grateful there is the cushion to whish you always can come back to. Timebombs are emerging and the only thing you can say is yes or no. They are ticking and through the ticking you are realizing the truth. The truth is sometimes misleading, but through the path you find the truth. The only thing there is everywhere.
When I do my daily zazen I'm staring through a window at a balcony, sometimes there are pearls at the window, there is a point in the middle of my window where I can always go and come back to, hear the water when my roommate is showering in the bathtub like a duck. Smashing water up and down and doing wired things.
Nishiari Bokuzan, an eminent Soto teacher of the Meiji era, calling it one of the most difficult of all the fascicles, said "This is Dogen's skin, flesh, bone, and marrow. His entire teaching begins and ends with this fascicle…the other ninety-five fascicles are all offshoots of this one."
The milestones passed, records are broken and lessons learned.

The king is back - Phew !