Saturday, May 12, 2012

When You Reach Pure Awareness You Will Have No Problems

My name is Brad and I subscribe to Deepak Chopra's Twitter feed.

Hi Brad!

I don't even really "get" Twitter. I'm not sure just what you're supposed to do with it. The best stuff I've seen there has been funny one-liners like Shit My Dad Says or my friend Precious Veal.  She's a hoot!

A lot of "spiritual" type guys are on Twitter these days throwing out little sound bytes of spirituality. But I doubt there's anything truly worthwhile in the realm of spiritual practice that can be reduced to 140 characters.

Of course, having said that I also have to mention that there is a tradition in Zen of so-called "turning words." These are short phrases that, when heard by just the right person at just the right time, have a profound effect. One such phrase that often gets quoted is, "From birth to death it's just like this." A lot of the koans end with "turning words." For me, hearing the phrase "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" really blew my head right off when I was about 18 years old.

But I seriously doubt that a Twitter feed is the best way to disseminate "turning words." It's not like those ancient Zen guys subscribed to a service that would sling random "turning words" at them from multiple sources of varying quality at a rate of four to six an hour popping up on their cell phones among fart jokes from drive time DJs and news about Paris Hilton's latest Brazilian wax job. It was a different sort of thing altogether.

I've responded to a couple of Deepak's tweets already. But one came up last night that I think really needs to be addressed in detail.

Right at the outset I want to emphasize that this is not about the man Mr. Deepak Chopra himself. It's about what he tweeted. It's not even about everything he tweets. It's about this one specific tweet. I don't know enough about Mr. Chopra to criticize him as a human being or even as a brand. I know he's got a comic book series and a bunch of TV shows and even a video game. As dubious as the spiritual applications of these things seem to me, I'm not even all that fussed about them. If someone wanted to make a graphic novel or a video game out of Hardcore Zen, I'd probably do it. So this isn't about that.

It's about what Mr. Chopra says in his tweet. And what he says is this:

When you reach pure awareness you will have no problems, therefore there will be no need for solutions.

Let's analyze that for a minute.

When (in the future, not now) you (who exist now and will continue to exist in the future) reach (whatever you imagine to be) pure awareness you (who exist now and will continue to exist in the future) will have (in the future) no problems (for your self), therefore there will be (in the future, not now) no need for (you to have) solutions (and won't that be wonderful, over there, past that hill, just out of sight, let me sell you a way to get there).

If it were only Deepak Chopra who believed this, it wouldn't really matter much. But this is how pretty much everyone approaches meditation practice and it's why meditation practice seems to fail those people. It is certainly how I myself thought of practice for a very long time. I wanted something for myself. I might have even thought of what I wanted to get in terms of "pure awareness." I read enough shitty books that used shitty phrases like that.

There is no pure awareness for you.

That might sound harsh. But really it's not. What you are can never enter that place. Because you are the subject that sees things in terms of objects. Joshu Sasaki put it like this in his book Buddha is the Center of Gravity; "The God that is standing in front of you as an object says, 'I am your God.' But he is not. Even if that God has great power, he is not the real God."

Pure awareness, whatever that is, or God (my preferred term), cannot be the object of you, cannot be the possession of you, it isn't in your future, it isn't something you can ever possibly reach. It will not solve all of your problems. It couldn't even if it wanted to. It's a fantastic dream that can never come true.

This doesn't mean everything is bleak and horrible and hopeless. It just means that approaching it in terms of you and the things you want to get cannot possibly work. It can't work precisely because thinking of things in terms of you and what you want to get is exactly the thing that blocks it.

The attitude expressed in Mr. Chopra's tweet sits right at the very epicenter of where things have gone wrong for mankind. It is the source of all of our troubles. The solution to what's wrong in the world is not some distant dream of pure awareness. It's the understanding that what exists right now is pure awareness, is God, whether you know it or not. We, who seek to know it and possess it, are the very thing that makes it so hard to understand that.

A couple of blogs ago Broken Yogi made a comment that, "Brad is mixing categories. I can't pole vault 18 feet like a top Olympic athlete, but I doubt that athlete would call me physically ill because I can't do that... Likewise, I'm not enlightened, but I'm not spiritually lame either."

In response I said something like, "Enlightenment (I hate that word) isn't like pole vaulting 18 feet. It's more like walking to the bathroom, if we were to continue that analogy. Most people, instead of walking to the bathroom, which (let's say) just happens to be 18 feet away instead try to pole vault to the bathroom. And they can't do it because the ceiling is too low. Yet they try anyway and keep injuring themselves. The pole keeps breaking, they keep hitting their heads, they keep beating themselves up over not being able to do it, and they still have to pee. The only thing an enlightened person (I hate that term) does differently is that she walks straight to the bathroom, does her business and then goes back to bed."

Enlightenment or pure awareness or God or whatever isn't some complicated thing we have to chase after far, far away. It's the chasing itself that gets in our way. We wear ourselves out running in circles to try to arrive at the place we already are.

292 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 292 of 292
Mark Foote said...

One of the idiosyncracies of the Gautamid's teachings would be that a described practice could be used to realize given relationships in personal experience:

"Whoever... should thus develop these four applications of mindfulness for seven days, one of two fruits is to be expected for (them): either profound knowledge here-now, or, if there is any residuum remaining, the state of non-returning.

What has been spoken in this way has been spoken in reference to this: There is the one way... for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrows and griefs, for the going down of sufferings and miseries, for winning the right path, for realizing nibbana, that is to say, the four applications of mindfulness." (MN I 63, PTS pg 82)

Dogen appears to have agreed that a
described practice could be used to realize given relationships in personal experience:

"When we let go of our minds and cast aside our views and understandings the Way will be actualized. One sage clarified True Mind (Reality) when he saw peach blossoms and another realized the Way when he heard the sound of tile hitting a bamboo. They attained the way through their bodies. Therefore, when we completely cast aside our thoughts and views and practice shikantaza, we will become intimate with the way… This is why I encourage you to practice zazen wholeheartedly."

(“Shobogenzo-zuimonki”, sayings recorded by Koun Ejo, translated by Shohaku Okumura, 2-26, pg 107-108, ©2004 Sotoshu Shumucho)

What Dogen describes as shikantaza, the Gautamid described as:

"knowing and seeing eye as it really is, knowing and seeing material shapes… visual consciousness… impact on the eye as it really is, and knowing, seeing as it really is the experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye, is not attached to the eye nor to material shapes nor to visual consciousness nor to impact on the eye; and that experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye—neither to that is (such a one) attached." (repeated for the other five senses- MN III 287, PTS volume 3 pg 337-338)

These relationships can only be witnessed in the state between waking and sleeping; is life a dream, do we stretch only when we wake or when we fall asleep too? I'm not crazy, I'm not going to answer!

Uku said...

Hi Roman

you wrote:
Do you Uku have doubts about Dogen recognizing the truth?

Hell yeah I have! A) No one of us knew Dogen. He is dead, you know B) Buddhism is not about believing who has recognized the truth or not. But I KNOW that Dogen's words are pointing to something that we all can recognize by ourselves and it doesn't matter a shit if Brad or Dogen ever recognized the truth because in the end, we have to test it by ourselves. You have to wipe your own ass, like Antaiji's Muho wrote.

Jibber Jabber said...

Gibberish.

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Here's a movie idea for your new thing... I dare you...

"Waiting for Gudo"
(Harry gets a title credit)

Documentary on Dogen Zen beginning with Gudo and Lineage and then moving on to interview Gudo's dharma peeps... you, Mike Cross, Jundo Cohen primarily. It's about turning the camera on yourselves and simply documenting everything that's happened over the past 20 some odd years.

I think it would be awesome and very popular at Sundance. Granted, it would also come off very close to 'Spinal Tap' of Zen but I know you guys could take it and some would lap it up :)

COME ON BRAD!!!! DO IT!!!! It would be AWESOME!!!

"Waiting for Gudo - The Story of Dogen Sangha International"

Anonymous said...

Holy shite! I step away for a few hours and come back to see that there has been quite a bit of activity.

I remain on Team Harry, as always. As I read back over what I've missed, I see that Harry, as usual, has revealed the Truth.

Roman is still full of it. Hey, Roman, pointing out that you've practiced for 20 years is basically pointing out that you have nothing of substance to say. Go groom your sideburns and leave this place. Never come back. That is EXPRESSLY what the regular posters here have emailed me that they would like to see happen.

Don't post anything else. Just go. WE want it that way. Brad wants it that way too.

Harry's Acolyte said...

Ha! I'm anonymous no more!

Respect me, people. Respect me as your superior overlord.

Anonymous said...

NO WAY

I LIKE IT BETTER WITH ROMAN (AND UKU) HERE

That way we can watch Harry in action!!

Harry's Acolyte said...

"Damn, Harry! I think we should mark this day as the day I agree with you wholeheartedly. Well said, you crazy Irish! :) "

You have finally opened your mind to the fact that Harry offers more wisdom here than any three others combined. Your acknowledgement of his greatness is refreshing, Uku.

Uku said...

Harry's Acolyte, thank you. You may now bite my Dharma wire.

roman said...

Uku wrote: "Hell yeah I have! A) No one of us knew Dogen. He is dead, you know B) Buddhism is not about believing who has recognized the truth or not. But I KNOW that Dogen's words are pointing to something that we all can recognize by ourselves and it doesn't matter a shit if Brad or Dogen ever recognized the truth because in the end, we have to test it by ourselves. You have to wipe your own ass, like Antaiji's Muho wrote."

Uku, of course we have to wipe our own asses. But that doesnt mean that recognizing the truth is not an important thing in Buddhism. dogen says that somebody recognized the truth or attained the truth about zillion times in Shobogenzo, it is dealt with in Shobogenzo Zuimonki, too. All those koans are after all about recognizing the truth. After all , the truth is just reality here and now so it is not so difficult to realize, but it takes some willpower to drop your garbage that we all carry in our heads.

roman said...

Also, Buddha Shakyamuni turned a flower and Mahakasyapa smiled. The truth was transmitted. Recognition of the truth is important, but it is not something we should worry about all the time.

Harry's Acolyte said...

That's an old tale signifying nothing, Roman.

Bye-bye now.

Anonymous said...

Sit more post less...read the original blog Brad wrote...that shouldn't spawn 95% of these comments. It's like most people comment because they want to comment but don't really have anything in particular to say. Which is cool since it's entertaining to read. Maybe i should sit more and read blogs less.

I do laugh my as$ off at posts like this "Mysterion will make more than 4 comments on this post."

Check out Spiritual Materilism...it will serioulsy help you zip these sometimes pointless point of views we all have.

roman said...

It would be absurd to imagine that it is not sure whether a Buddhist teacher like Dogen or Sawaki recognized the truth. Buddha is the one who woke up, in other words recognized the truth and the whole Buddhist philosophy is a system that should help one recognize the same truth that Buddha recognized. But I am happy that I came across this scepticism of Buddhist students here as it explains a lot of strange thigns I heard them say in the past. When Brad says Question everything, he says so that you don't believe any thing, but that means any concepts or words as final facts, so that is a way open to the final truth. If Brad had such doubts he would not write about Buddhism and his experience. There are ways how to wake up, Buddhism is a way how to find the reality.

Harry's Acolyte said...

I'm not even convinced there was an actual historical Buddha, Roman, and it actually does not matter to me in the slightest.

Harry's Acolyte said...

PS - I have received even MORE emails from the regular posters here and they all, TO A PERSON, have reiterated their wishes that you LEAVE and NEVER come back.

roman said...

Harry's Acolyte, I am grateful that you made me such an important person, but in fact, your dust collecting on your shelves is more important than myself. I am of no importance really. But something in me likes to do things that are opposite of what people tell me to do. Try asking me to write more and I will almost surely stop writing. This way or that way, your interest in my person made me very happy. So thank you.

SAM ADHI said...

In "The Essentials Of Buddhist Philosophy," dhyana is defined by Junjiro Takakusu as "pure intuitionalism." p. 19

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

Zen or Ch'an Buddhism is a movement within the Buddhist religion that stresses the practice of meditation as the means to Enlightenment. Zen and Ch'an are, respectively, Japanese and Chinese attempts to render the Sanskrit term for meditation: Zen or Ch'an Buddhism is a movement within the Buddhist religion that stresses the practice of meditation as the means to Enlightenment. Zen and Ch'an are, respectively, Japanese and Chinese attempts to render the Sanskrit term for meditation: Dhyana." Dhyana.

Anonymous said...

Is it not true that the Buddha stresses the practice of meditation as the means to Enlightenment?

Broken Yogi said...

Brad, even accepting that enlightenment is really only about accepting ourselves exactly the way we are, rather than trying to get somewhere else, that is still a very rare skill that few people seem to have mastered. So it really is like being a great athlete of "non-pole-vaulting" rather than of "pole-vaulting". The insight required to see the situation as it is, and the discipline to refrain from vaulting, is a very difficult thing to develop, much less get any good at.

So we are left in the same position as before, with a very difficult task to do. For example, try not thinking, not craving, not seeking, not pole-vaulting to enlightenment, etc. I bet you can't do it. Or not do it. And you know about these things, and have for years, and yet you still can't do (or not do) this simple thing. Why?

I'm not getting down on you, mind you. Hardly anyone can do this, so it's no big deal that you can't either. But you also can't pretend how simple and easy it is, and yet not do it yourself. If it really were simple and easy, you'd have been done with all those dumb ass pole-vaulting moves long ago, and just lived your natural enlightenment, like Buddha and numerous others have.

So what's the problem? Vasanas and samskaras are the problem. We have ingrained habits of mind and life that are very hard to release and be done with. There is no such thing as genuine enlightenment without the total release of these. Sure, you can get a glimpse of pure awareness as Deepak says, but until you are free from your own vasanas and samskaras, you aren't going to be enlightened, and you will continue to have problems. Because that's what problems are - vasanas and samskaras.

ANd that's what this "I" sense is - a whole lot of vasanas and samskaras creating the personal illusion of a self, when no such animal actually exists. And that's why "I" can't get enlightened. If these vasanas and samskaras are released, there's no "I" left to refer to as free or liberated or to solve a problem. So yes, no problems remain then, and only then.

Everything about actual practice is not about attaining pure awareness, but about releasing these vasanas and samskaras. As you say, pure awareness is already the case, and nothing but this exists. Even vasanas and samskaras are just illusions. But one must be released of their illusion nonetheless, and for real, not just by thinking really hard about these concepts.

And that's where the great spiritual "athletes" come from, from doing that very difficult and arduous sadhana that actually releases these vasanas and samskaras from our pure awareness. The hard part is not in coming to pure awareness, the hard part is in releasing our cravings and not living by those anymore.

Guys like Deepak and Genpo are guys who just want pure awareness, but without releasing their cravings, their vasanas and samskaras. So all they do is intensify their cravings for money and power and sex and fame and so on, by talking about pure awareness, as if that's what the big deal is about. But it's not. The big deal is about releasing all these cravings, all these vasanas and samskaras, and that's an entirely different kind of discipline than they are even aware exists, much less being capable of teaching it.

Which leaves a simply question for you, Brad. Do you know how to teach the release of cravings, vasanas, and samskaras? Not trying to put you on the spot, but it would be worth hearing about that from you, or if you even agree with my take on these essentials.

John Baker said...

Badly taught Buddhists or just raw beginners seem to believe that the Buddha taught that all creatures are Buddhas. To borrow from the Mahaparinirvana Sutra this is like believing fresh milk from a cow is already butter. Well, it is not and neither are sentient beings anuttara-samyak-sambuddhas.

It is one thing to have the potential to become a Buddha and quite another matter to actuallize the state of Buddha or buddhata. If the potential were identical with the actual state, as some Buddhists seem wont to believe, we might sell an acorn for the price of a cord of wood!

On the same thread, if we imagine the seed from a Bodhi-tree to be extremely rare, it isn’t going to be easy to search for it it even though we are not lacking the ability to find it. And even if we do find such a seed, it will take a huge effort on our part to insure that it matures and becomes fully grown.

Yes, all this is a dauting task. Furthermore, we have to exhaust every last one of our preconceived ideas about buddhata which even includes the belief that zazen is sufficient; that somehow if I manage to sit on my butt for thrity years this is enlightenment.

I can’t help but saying this: Buddhism involves realizing something so profoundly subtle that when it is realized, absolutely nothing ‘determinate’ is realized. On this note, if we were already Buddhas this subtlety would not be so subtle—it would be obvious and our confidence would flow from it with a lion’s roar. This is why we are not already Buddhas. We are totally clueless as to what buddhata is. Even overcoming layer upon layer of cluelessness is just part of the daunting task of working our way to Buddhaness (buddhatva) or buddhata.

Anonymous said...

the buddhist truth is:
1. life is suffering
2. there's a false way out of suffering
3. the false way is meditation etc
4. you will not get rid of suffering, because meditation is a way to stay with suffering, and people have the false thought that is defeating suffering with practices
5. EVERYONE EVEN BUDDHIST TEACHERS WILL DENY OR DISTORT THIS 4 TRUTHS

WAKE UP! There's no way out of suffering!!!!

any three others combined said...

no short haired-yellow bellied
son of tricky dicky
is gonna mother hubbard
soft soap me
with just a pocketful of hope

Mysterion said...

Konobaka (no way out):

"Looking for the tabernacle [body] maker,
through the many cycles of birth.
And in not finding him,
painful are the cycles of birth.

No more, maker of tabernacles [embodiments],
for you [Mara] have been seen.
You shall make my tabernacle [body] no more.

The rafters [ribs] are broken
the ridge-pole [spine] is sundered
the mind [understanding] approaches the Eternal.

[For] I [now] understand peace is the extinction of desire."
Dhammapada - verses 153 & 154

suffering is caused by desire (e.g. 'I want to live, again!')

Jinzang said...

So much talk, so much I would like to say.

Mahayana Buddhism talks about two truths, ultimate and relative. Ultimate truth is beyond words, relative is not. We need the relative to see the ultimate. To use the old analogy, ultimate truth is the moon, relative, the finger.

We need dualism to see the non-dual. If you try to explain the non-dual to beginners, all that happens is that they add a layer of pretense on top of ego. "Oh, I am beyond ego." Until you cross them. Before recognition, the instruction is practice hard so you can see your true nature. After recognition the instruction is true nature is only ordinary mind, and chasing after it is a fault.

On "Tibetan Magic." There really isn't anything in Tibetan Buddhism that isn't also in traditional Zen, just more of it. More bodhisattvas, more prostrations, more study and talk about the sutras. It's a difference of emphasis, not a difference in kind.

Misterfit said...

I think the endless controversy that seems to gather around Brad's blog posts is a perfect example of why I like him: Brad, sometimes I disagree with you (not in this case, but sometimes) and sometimes I think you are kind of a dick. And that is exactly why I know you are legitimate. No one who stands around with a holy grin on his face and presents himself as being all peaceful light and secret wisdom could ever be a real Zen teacher. Zen is about life....about how things really are. Zen is about "suchness," and suchness isn't really all that pretty. When I'm tired as hell from a long day at work and all I want to do is grab a beer and veg in front of the t.v., that's real karmic weight right there. And when I choose to just sit in zazen, there is enlightenment, right there in its suchness. Zen is the ultimate expression of "keeping it real", and I'm glad that you're around Brad, to do that in your own way....even if I or anyone else disagrees with you at times. All that being said, I have to add, Harry really needs to pull the stick out of his ass. I mean, good god, what a fuckin' goober that guy comes across as.

roman said...

Misterfit, well said, and Broken Yogi forgot that nirvana is samsara and vice versa.

Harry said...

Hi Jinz,

I see your two truths and raise you three!

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

The doctrine of the two truths has long been observed in zen, but the emphasis therein has been on our direct experience-practice of them (as can be opposed to 'truths' as remote principles that exist elsewhere i.e. in the 'sphere of the head'). This explains efforts like this (above) to contextualise them.

Regards,

Harry.

Dany said...

Well Brad...looks like you never experienced the state of "PURE AWARENESS (tm)" then! ;)

anon #108 said...

John Cage was once asked what he was trying to say with his music. He said:

'I've got nothing to say...And I'm saying it.'

Fred said...

On the path past the Buddha there
is no such thing as suffering.

Everything is just is what it is.
The cancer growing in your belly is
not suffering. It is what is suppose to happen.

Truth is a rigid position in the
everchanging flux of reality.

Broken Yogi said...

"Broken Yogi forgot that nirvana is samsara and vice versa"

Didn't forget it, because they aren't the same. That's another pop-Buddhist misconception. What Nagarjuna taught was that both are empty, and in that sense both are equally empty, since emptiness is the same no matter what. But he did not teach that they are literally the same in any other respect. One is the vision of reality that comes about when one is obsessed with craving, and the other is what remains when all craving has ceased. His point was that even so, enlightenment, nirvana, was not a "state" or a thing realized, but perfect emptiness continuous with all form. You don't realize that when you are filled with craving and living that kind of life. Even so, craving and its life are also empty, just as nirvana is. One just doesn't notice this when the mind is obsessed with craving.

roman said...

Broken Yogi, or, you can just go to the toilet and stop worrying about the amount of craving in your head.

It is interestin how in the history of Buddhism masters didn't check how good their students were when it comes to stopping craving, rather they checked how authentic they were when it came to realizing the truth. Reality is for everyone, both the craving folks and those who stopped craving. Ther is no discrimination in that respect, the moon is the same moon, no matter what. The truth is available here and now, pure and unconditioned, whether you have your penis in your hand or not.

Mark Foote said...

"When you reach pure awareness you will have no problems, therefore there will be no need for solutions."

"And again, Ananda, (a person), not attending to the perception of the plane of no-thing, not attending to the perception of the plane of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, attends to the solitude grounded on the concentration of mind that is signless. (That person's) mind is satisfied with, pleased with, set on and freed in the concentration of mind that is signless. (That person) comprehends thus, 'This concentration of mind that is signless is effected and thought out. But whatever is effected and thought out, that is impermanent, it is liable to stopping.' When (that person) knows thus, sees this thus, (their) mind is freed from the canker of sense-pleasures and (their) mind is freed from the canker of becoming and (their) mind is freed from the canker of ignorance. In freedom is the knowledge that (they are) freed and (they) comprehend: 'Destroyed is birth, brought to a close the Brahma-faring, done is what was to be done, there is no more of being such or so'. (Such a one) comprehends thus: 'The disturbances there might be resulting from the canker of sense-pleasures do not exist here; the disturbances there might be resulting from the canker of becoming do not exist here; the disturbances there might be resulting from the canker of ignorance do not exist here. And there is only this degree of disturbance, that is to say, the six sensory fields that, conditioned by life, are grounded on this body itself.' (Such a one) comprehends: 'This perceiving is empty of the canker of sense-pleasures.' (Such a one) comprehends: 'This perceiving is empty of the canker of becoming.' (Such a one) comprehends: 'This perceiving is empty of the canker of ignorance. And there is only this that is not emptiness, that is to say the six sensory fields that, conditioned by life, are grounded on this body itself.' (Such a one) regards that which is not there as empty of it. But in regard to what remains, (such a one) comprehends: 'That being, this is.' (MN III 109, PTS pg 151).

The Gautamid did not see a moment wherein a person was without the six sensory fields- so long as life existed. If what he saw based on his experience was correct, then there is never a moment of "pure awareness", if by pure awareness we mean an awareness unsullied by experience in the six sense fields. Neither did the Gautamid see a moment when the mind would cease to know "that being, this is".

There is a moment, as broken yogi pointed out, where experience occurs that is empty of some things. Not much to go for, is it, the lack of some things.

Harry said...

This [the first] rank describes the Absolute, insight into the empty nature or not-"thing"-ness of everything... According to Hakuin, this rank is only the beginning of Zen insight, but it can become a trapping for people who take the absolute to be the end-station: "Although inside and out may be perfectly clear as long as you are hidden away in an unfrequented place where there is absolute quiet and nothing to do, yet you are powerless as soon as perception touches upon different worldly situations, with all their clamor and emotion, and you are beset by a plethora of miseries".

Good old Hakuin. Now there was one interesting human being (by all accounts).

Regards,

Harry.

Mysterion said...

everything is the same.

and nothing is different.

Anonymous said...

You can't always get what you want.

Harry's Acolyte said...

Your new picture sucks, Roman

Anonymous said...

I like it. I was wondering if Roman did the painting. All of my ideas about Roman & his country come from the movie 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being', which may not have anything to do with that country. I can't remember. (Im American of course).

Harry said...

Here's an interesting (and not too long) article on a 'Five Ranks' take on Dogen's famous 'To study Buddhism is to study the self...' statement.

As stated therein, Dogen was wary of such schematic approaches to Buddhist teaching, but the article makes a good observation on how Dogen may have been influenced by and used this earlier, traditional Soto Zen model of the play between the 'relative' and 'absolute'.

http://www.firethroatpress.com/wp-content/files_mf/dogenandthefiveranks63.pdf

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

pure fucking awareness

Anonymous said...

242 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

Khru said...

Brad,

Please hurry up and write something else so that we can make some more snarky comments.

Thanks, bud.

Anonymous said...

Khru is correct.

If you don't put up another blog, I'll be forced to pose as "Khru Jr." again and post sexually explicit message involving Mysterion.

Anonymous said...

On the path past the Buddha there is no such thing as suffering.


All of us are dying. because we are alive, we are dying. Can you deny this?

Well, it's possible we deny suffering for the rest of our miserable life. Or not.

But, we are complete as we are. And we are filled with sadness, filled with despair, filled with fear...

Brad, why you are 50 and don't have grey hair? Impermanence doesn't apply to you?

Anonymous said...

Brad is on a strict kale-only diet, Anonymous. It's a way of eating that guarantees healthy passage into your 50s but is a certain death sentence that kicks in at about 64 or so.

R.I.P. Brad. :(

Mark Foote said...

Harry, I'll take Gudo's "zazen is action"- if we cannot move beyond doubt, where are we?

Broken Yogi said...

Roman, you need to acquaint yourself with the Four Noble Truths. The cessation of craving is the means by which Buddhists realize, so a Buddhist teacher who doesn't show his students how to cease craving is incapable of showing them how to realize truth.

Of course truth is for everyone, but unless we cease craving, we cannot see the truth or live it. The Buddhist life is about living free of the bondage created by our cravings. It isn't about claiming to know the truth, and then indulging our cravings as if they don't matter. That's where the frauds come in an take over. Maybe that includes you?

Anonymous said...

I like to suffer. Suffering is cool. Fuck Buddhism.

Anonymous said...

Instead of "Let it Be" I wish the Beatles had recorded "Let it Suck".

(please no M porn!!!)

Anonymous said...

That's right previous anonyomus. Life sucks. It's always going to suck. There's never a moment when things aren't sucking-- breathing in, taking the suck inside of you, breathing out, puking the suck back into the world. All for nothing. Meditation, compassion, relative truth vs. absolute, pleeeasssse, it all sucks, and even when you think you've transcended the suck, your sucky ego will find a way to turn that small spiritual attainment into a narcissistic trophy thing. Every Buddhist teacher who is teaching in the world today including the host of this blog has followed this path. They all suck, and we all suck for listening to them. Listen to the suck inside of you. Start there.

Anonymous said...

M-porn, like M-theory, hurts your head and proves nothing.

Mysterion said...

Broken Yogi said...
"The Buddhist life is about living free of the bondage created by our cravings."

yep...

no more:

I want a new car, this one is not prestigious enough...

I want a new TV, this one has a smaller screen...

I want a new house, this one isn't in a gated country club...

I want a new young wife, the old one stretched her female parts having 3 kids...

Anonymous said...

I've been poking around in this book lately...it's a pretty old stuffy book...but...it sort of ties in with this idea of reaching the Mind Ground, and Goal-less practice. Anywhys...Patriarch Ma(Baso in Japanese) said:

"Those who seek the Truth should realize that there is nothing to seek. There is no Buddha but Mind; there is no Mind but Buddha. Do not choose what is good, nor reject what is evil, but rather be free from purity and defilement. Then you will realize the emptiness of sin. Thoughts perpetually change and cannot be grasped because they possess no self-nature. The Triple World is nothing but the testimony of one Dharma. What are seen as forms are the reflections of the mind. The mind does not exist by itself; it's existence is manifested through forms. Whenever you speak about Mind you must realize that appearance and reality are perfectly inter-fused without impediment. This is what the achievement of bodhi is. That which is produced by Mind is called form. When you understand that forms are non-existent, that that which is birth is also no-birth. If you are aware of this mind, you will dress, eat, and act spontaneously in life as it transpires, and thereby cultivate your spiritual nature. There is nothing more that I can teach you. Please listen to my gatha:

Anytime you wish to speak about Mind, speak!
In this way, bodhi is tranquil.
When appearance and reality are perfectly inter-fused without impediment,
Birth is simultaneously no-birth.

It's a lot to digest...Patriarch Ma also use to do things like whack people back into 'reality' with impediment...like a person would ask "Why did BodhiDharma come from the West?" then Patriarch Ma would kick them in the chest. I gather that that one sudden shock brings them into awareness of the Mind of BodhiDharma(although, I am talking above my own head here), but I gather the kick in chest or the whack with the stick would cease the persistent tick-tock of (note the phrase l0l!) of mindless chatter in the brain.

I think another way of explaining it is a lay disciple of Patriarch Ma, Lay-man P'ang Yun asked "How is it possible that water without muscle or bones supports a vessel of ten thousand tons?" Master Ma replied "There is neither water nor a vessel. Why are you talking about muscle and bone?"

Anywhys...I could be wrong...but I assume that Patriarch Ma wasn't trying to sell anything, he was doing it for the benefit of all, and trying to keep himself and his monastics alive in process.

jason

Anonymous said...

I've been poking around in this book lately...it's a pretty old stuffy book...but...it sort of ties in with this idea of reaching the Mind Ground, and Goal-less practice. Anywhys...Patriarch Ma(Baso in Japanese) said:

"Those who seek the Truth should realize that there is nothing to seek. There is no Buddha but Mind; there is no Mind but Buddha. Do not choose what is good, nor reject what is evil, but rather be free from purity and defilement. Then you will realize the emptiness of sin. Thoughts perpetually change and cannot be grasped because they possess no self-nature. The Triple World is nothing but the testimony of one Dharma. What are seen as forms are the reflections of the mind. The mind does not exist by itself; it's existence is manifested through forms. Whenever you speak about Mind you must realize that appearance and reality are perfectly inter-fused without impediment. This is what the achievement of bodhi is. That which is produced by Mind is called form. When you understand that forms are non-existent, that that which is birth is also no-birth. If you are aware of this mind, you will dress, eat, and act spontaneously in life as it transpires, and thereby cultivate your spiritual nature. There is nothing more that I can teach you. Please listen to my gatha:

Anytime you wish to speak about Mind, speak!
In this way, bodhi is tranquil.
When appearance and reality are perfectly inter-fused without impediment,
Birth is simultaneously no-birth.

It's a lot to digest...Patriarch Ma also use to do things like whack people back into 'reality' with impediment...like a person would ask "Why did BodhiDharma come from the West?" then Patriarch Ma would kick them in the chest. I gather that that one sudden shock brings them into awareness of the Mind of BodhiDharma(although, I am talking above my own head here), but I gather the kick in chest or the whack with the stick would cease the persistent tick-tock of (note the phrase l0l!) of mindless chatter in the brain.

I think another way of explaining it is a lay disciple of Patriarch Ma, Lay-man P'ang Yun asked "How is it possible that water without muscle or bones supports a vessel of ten thousand tons?" Master Ma replied "There is neither water nor a vessel. Why are you talking about muscle and bone?"

Anywhys...I could be wrong...but I assume that Patriarch Ma wasn't trying to sell anything, he was doing it for the benefit of all, and trying to keep himself and his monastics alive in process.

jason

Anonymous said...

I've been poking around in this book lately...it's a pretty old stuffy book...but...it sort of ties in with this idea of reaching the Mind Ground, and Goal-less practice. Anywhys...Patriarch Ma(Baso in Japanese) said:

"Those who seek the Truth should realize that there is nothing to seek. There is no Buddha but Mind; there is no Mind but Buddha. Do not choose what is good, nor reject what is evil, but rather be free from purity and defilement. Then you will realize the emptiness of sin. Thoughts perpetually change and cannot be grasped because they possess no self-nature. The Triple World is nothing but the testimony of one Dharma. What are seen as forms are the reflections of the mind. The mind does not exist by itself; it's existence is manifested through forms. Whenever you speak about Mind you must realize that appearance and reality are perfectly inter-fused without impediment. This is what the achievement of bodhi is. That which is produced by Mind is called form. When you understand that forms are non-existent, that that which is birth is also no-birth. If you are aware of this mind, you will dress, eat, and act spontaneously in life as it transpires, and thereby cultivate your spiritual nature. There is nothing more that I can teach you. Please listen to my gatha:

Anytime you wish to speak about Mind, speak!
In this way, bodhi is tranquil.
When appearance and reality are perfectly inter-fused without impediment,
Birth is simultaneously no-birth.

It's a lot to digest...Patriarch Ma also use to do things like whack people back into 'reality' with impediment...like a person would ask "Why did BodhiDharma come from the West?" then Patriarch Ma would kick them in the chest. I gather that that one sudden shock brings them into awareness of the Mind of BodhiDharma(although, I am talking above my own head here), but I gather the kick in chest or the whack with the stick would cease the persistent tick-tock of (note the phrase l0l!) of mindless chatter in the brain.

I think another way of explaining it is a lay disciple of Patriarch Ma, Lay-man P'ang Yun asked "How is it possible that water without muscle or bones supports a vessel of ten thousand tons?" Master Ma replied "There is neither water nor a vessel. Why are you talking about muscle and bone?"

Anywhys...I could be wrong...but I assume that Patriarch Ma wasn't trying to sell anything, he was doing it for the benefit of all, and trying to keep himself and his monastics alive in process.

Anonymous said...

sorry...i didn't see the newest> button so i was like...dude,where is my post!

proulx michel said...

Harry wrote: I've seen the excesses of that system of privaleged spiritual barons up close myself in the person of the very same Sogyal Rinpoche. What a strange and dubious little man.

I'd have written "What a strange and dubious phoquer"...

Anonymous said...

Hi Brad, I found him and thought of you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8mQHotlaFo

Cheers,
René

Harry said...

"if we cannot move beyond doubt, where are we?"

Hi Mark F,

An important aspect of the message in Nishijima Sensei's 'zazen is action' may be that you can act whether you feel doubt or not. Now, clarfiying the nature of that action, and any doubt, is another matter. I suspect anyone who begins zazen will have to sit through a lot of initial doubt, but will clarify that doubt is no great hindrance fairly quickly (initially at least).

Master Nishijima has indicated that there are what he termed 'two enlightenments'. The first is zazen itself, the second occurs after years of practice when the practitioner understands intuitively the teachings of Buddhism.

http://gudoblog-e.blogspot.com/2009/04/what-is-enlightenment-or-satori.html

Acting whether we have doubt or not does not seem to be much of a problem. Acting under the assumption that we know everything there is to know about zazen, ourselves and Buddhism just because we've sat a bit of zazen may be more of a problem.

In Buddhist practice doubt may be a better friend than belief in this regards.

Regards,

Harry.

roman said...

Broken Yogi, master Dogen wrote that when we meet someone who has the Dharma, we should learn from them. You can learn from Nishijima roshi about the four noble truths and you can learn from Brad Warner about the Dharma, they both have the Dharma. Without meeting or learning from someone who has the Dharma, there is no chance for us to learn what the Dharma is. I hope you will find the Dharma soon and help others find it. Gassho.

Anonymous said...

When I find myself in times of trouble
Out of money, out of luck
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it Suck

Misterfit said...

It seems to me that a lot of people who comment here regularly are pretty well read in Buddhism. I've done quite a bit of reading myself, and I have tried to digest Buddhist Suttas from the Pali tradition in an effort to get to the really old "good stuff", but what I've found is that that old Buddhist stuff really has a limited usefulness for most people today. Frankly, it is written for a different era, and there is a real danger that by trying to co-op language from another time we are really just creating a sort of facsimile Buddhism. That is the real insight of Zen. By practicing Zazen now, we are able to extend the tradition and phrase the eternal truths of Buddhism in our own language and our own culture. When someone asks me about Buddhist meditation, I don't tell them that I'm seeking "Buddha Mind" or "The Dhamma Body" or any other ancient catchphrase, rather I tell them that when I look at the world everyday, the words I use to describe it are very limiting. My "truths" are all just limitations, and reality itself always overflows those truths and those concepts, so when I meditate, I am attempting to let go of my limitations and exist in that overflow of reality. That is the way I describe it, and my description is based in the language of my time and in my own educational experience. I believe that is more appropriate than all this quoting of ancient Masters and using of obnoxious Buddhist jargon.

roman said...

misterfit, excellent, except that it is possbile to "translate" the language of ancient masters into modern language, it is possible to translate and understand what Dogen means in Shobogenzo - and all Buddhist teachers up today who practiced shikantaza relied on the teaching of master Dogen - it is a challenge to decode some of master Dogen's ideas but Nishijima roshim ade a great job, Brad is doing a great job and my taecher is doing a great job explaining what Master Dogen said, in our modern English

on the other hand, absolutely, just parroting even the greatest ideas of master Dogen without having a clue what they mean is useless, while just sitting in zazen is expressing the truth clearly

Saikat Maitra said...

While Deepak chopra is snake oil salesman of "spirituality" and what he says is meaningless - arguing it to be meaningless is also not of much help in my mind.

"The transcendental unborn substratum of reality that buddhists and some non-buddhists are after is not achievable without practice. Yet it also not achievable by practice." (i just said that)

But more importantly, it no less clear or achievable through statements like above.

Talking about it is meaningful only in the correct context when the essence of what we are talking about is already known.

So buddhism makes sense as buddhists, but when these arguments are taken outside its context to criticize some other schools for example it doesn't make sense.

To cut the rant short, Deepak chopra can be making sense to his disciples if he is really capable of trasferring the essence of what he is talking about to the listener, just like vajrayana only makes sense after empowerment, zen only after mind-to-mind transfer.

Stand alone what he is saying is crap, but so is trying to argue against it.

Rather I would criticize Deepak chopra because what he says is vacous without context - so can't be criticized as such. But his money minting schemes, loose talks or his behaviors in general are objective enough to be criticized.

I'd rather criticize persons than doctrines, in this context.

Anonymous said...

266

mark of the mini-beast

Odion said...

Roman said, "I have no doubts Dogen recognized the truth, or that Brad recozniged the truth / it is impossible to prove scientifically."

Roman, It sounds like what you are saying is that because you believe that Dogen possessed the Buddha's truth and believe that Gudo and Brad got it from him, and now you too recognize this truth and have access to it, whatever it is.. That looks a lot like a belief based pyramid scheme, the key being that you have to purchase a ticket to take the ride. You have to invest in it with belief. Having no doubts about something that is impossible to prove is making an end run around the Buddhism's message isn't it? Or maybe it's a nesscessary step?

Mark Foote said...

"you can act whether you feel doubt or not."

Two minds, which one of them is Zen?

Anonymous said...

Yours!

Broken Yogi said...

Roman, I'm sure Brad is a good man and Nishijima was a good teacher, but neither of them "have the Dharma". The Dharma is no one's property, and you don't get it from anyone. You don't get it period. You have to "be a refuge unto yourself", as Buddha advised, to understand that.

Anonymous said...

I'm warning you, Bradley. We need a new post from you or else I go all "Khru Jr." on you!

Harry said...

"Two minds, which one of them is Zen?"

Well, if such feelings are seen as 'another mind' then, yes, that's doubt for you. In that case I wonder what good 'Zen' does at all.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

At this point it's pixels all the way down...

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

Mark Foote said...

("you can act whether you feel doubt or not..."- Harry)

(two minds, which one is Zen- Bozo)

"if such feelings are seen as 'another mind' then, yes, that's doubt for you. In that case I wonder what good 'Zen' does at all." -Harry

so if such feelings are seen as another mind, Zen does no good at all. Yes, wherever this mind goes, there I am! But the action that is zazen, is that apart from this mind, and where this mind is? That would be the point I'm standing on (Zippy the Pinhead's hat).

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

If there is no doubt as to where our awareness is at the moment, and if our actions must inevitably be grounded in where we are, then so long as we are waking up or falling asleep to where we are as the ground of our action we find ourselves moving beyond doubt.

Here's one from Kodo Sawaki's To You:

"The basis of all actions is to follow through to the end. If your mind is absent even just for a moment, you're no different from a corpse." (Antaiji: Kodo Sawaki- To You, 34)

That might sound like there's something to be done apart from waking up and falling asleep; Sawaki goes on to say:

"It's all about finding the correct tension for your muscles and tendons. It's about becoming a person without gaps, about developing the proper tension and placement of muscles and tendons."

Since the action that arises out of the proper tension and placement of muscles and tendons can only be witnessed waking up and falling asleep, I would say that what Sawaki is advising is close attention to awareness taking place.

Harry said...

Hi Mark,

I think we are moving full circle (eventually!) back to the original subject of this post, funnily enough.

Is realisation some sort of cut-off, remote, sanitised version of our current selves where we are 'beyond' normal human feelings such as doubt, fear, anger etc etc...?

Old Kodo was a great man, and he said a lot of things in a lot of different contexts, but I don't think he was an advocate of an inhuman or unrealistic philosophy.

The wild fox koan raises it's head again: Is the enlightened person beyond 'cause and effect'... or is he/she bound by cause and effect... or is there another way to look at this with our 'eye of practice' that isn't restricted by our crude 0/1, one-or-the-other type thinking?

Regards,

Harry.

roman said...

Odion, not sure what you mean. I don't believe, I experience.

Broken Yogi, to have the dharma means to see what is real. It is better to find a teacher that will help you to see what is real than spend time on the web with people who you don't consider your teachers. I am here as I can learn from Brad, who "has the dharma", in other words who recognized reality as reality.

Mark Foote said...

Harry,

Yeah, I was thinking this morning about the descriptions of the jhanas, and I had mistakenly thought that the description of the first jhana did not reference the entire body until I transcribed it here. "Rapture and absorption throughout the entire body", if I remember it correctly. So all the material jhanas reference the whole body, the second and the fourth laying particular emphasis on the surface of the body. Reading Dogen and he's quoting something old about "breaking out of this skin born of the womb".

I do see that the sense of location connected with consciousness depends on the body of referred sensation, the ability to feel rather than the substance of feeling. At the same time, it's an acquired taste, the ability to feel and the sense of location in consciousness over and above the good and the bad of what is felt and the self apart from any particular location of consciousness. Acceptance into the sense of location of what I feel, I return to this.

Broken Yogi said...

Roman, no teacher can do your seeing for you. You have to see for yourself.

Broken Yogi said...

Also, I think you are inflating Brad in a manner he would find very embarrassing.

Harry said...

Mark,

Like his references to the 'self', Dogen had various contexts in which he discussed the 'body'.

One particularly nice older phrase that he employed to describe the state of total inclusion and non-restriction was:

"The whole universe in ten directions is just one human body."

Regards,

Harry.

Dany said...

Hey Uku, nice to see you here. Just one thing, could you please please stop adding those "Gudo Nishijima Peter Rocca Brad Warner Kodo Sawaki" Tags to your youtube-videos? When you search for any of those these days like:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=videos&search_query=brad+warner+zen&search_sort=video_date_uploaded

All that comes up is your stuff. Really annoying. You're not brad warner. Brad warner is not even in the room, neither is Gudo Nishijima or Kodo Sawaki.

Thank you!

Dany

roman said...

Broken Yogi, of course no teacher can see for myself, that's exactly what Brad teaches, what Kodo Sawaki taught, that Dogen taught and that my teacher teaches, so thanks to them I can use my own eyes, my own ears, hands, etc. It was very difficult, if not impossible before I met these great teachers. Now I am freely myself.

roman said...

as for inflating Brad, Buddha Shakyamuni said something like / too lazy to find the quote/ "If you meet the true eacher, serve them the most delicious drinks and food, bring the best musicians, prostrate a thousand times in front of them, etc".

In other words, Shakyamuni said that we should kiss up to true teachers. Do you follow that Buddha's advice?
But maybe kissing up is too much, I think it is enough to say they are the right stuff and that they have realized the truth clearly without any doubts.

Misterfit said...

Roman, thanks for understanding where I'm coming from. I'm glad someone sees what I'm saying. And I know that you're right, of course we can translate Dogen for the present day, and Shakyamuni Buddha as well, for that matter, but I have to admit, that seems pretty hard to do....and I guess it bothers me a bit that a lot of people seem to think that understanding the Buddha or Dogen in their own words is as easy as just quoting them. I don't think that there is a proper level of respect for the barrier that really is there for us as modern practitioners. Zazen, since it is beyond words, is the only truly clear transmission, free from any possibility of linguistic confusion. I've always been more impressed by action anyway. I'll never forget the moment that Shakyamuni Buddha really became real for me, and it wasn't from anything that was ever written about what he said...it was in a documentary where the guy shooting the film took the camera to this beautiful cave and ledge of rock in the wilderness and said, "This was the Buddha's favorite place to meditate. He loved to come here and sit for hours." It hit me like a true Dhamma Thunderbolt....The Buddha had affection for a place. The Buddha, this character from a novel that I had created in my mind from reading a bunch of old quotes was more than a character, he was a real man who loved a place. He was just like me. It was a pretty damn profound experience for me.

Broken Yogi said...

Good luck with that, Roman. You'll need it.

roman said...

misterfit, i hope I can still catch you here as this comments section is probably ending, at last, but I just wanted to give you a link to a site of my teacher where you can find interesting talks and texts about the things we discussed here and Mike is great at translating and interpreting Dogen into modern life and understanding
http://www.dogensangha.org.uk/about.htm

Anonymous said...

If you want to build a rocket to reach the stars...you start from the ground up.

Each person has to build their own rocket.

jason

RougeBuddha said...

Set the captives free,Brad!

Anonymous said...

This comment section is now officially a Koan. David Lynch should make a movie out of it.

Criticisms bouncing constantly, touching no one, with no end in sight. Note, this post too is ironic. Eat a bagel.

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