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Thread: 1/18 - The Significance of Buddhist Practice p.3

  1. #1

    1/18 - The Significance of Buddhist Practice p.3

    I didn't think it had any significance! Jundo

  2. #2
    Dear Jundo,

    Your lucid explanation of Dogen's metaphysics was indeed helpful. I am reading Katagiri's Each Moment is the Universe concurrently with Opening the Hand of Thought, and your explanation should help me penetrate Katagiri's sometimes opaque statements.

    However, my immediate concern is of a more practical nature.

    One of my teachers once remarked that most people who come to Zen practice are not looking for a new religion. Or a new metaphysics, for that matter. They are looking, as he put it, "for a way to get through the day." And over the years I have found that many of the folks who come to our sittings are looking, at least initially, for relief from chronic unease.

    To that end, the emphasis of Thich Nhat Hanh and many others on "returning to the present moment" is extremely helpful. As you probably know, Thich Nhat Hanh often uses gathas ("I have arrived / I am home// In the here / and in the now") to facilitate that return. And he speaks often of the "present moment" as the "only moment in which life is available to us."

    The pitfall lies in taking that point of view too literally or stating it reductively. Thich Nhat Hanh is well aware that the "present moment" contains the past, or as he puts it, "is made up of the past." But it's easy to lose that perspective and to view practice as a matter of disregarding the past--or treating it as some kind of distraction. One thing I value in Uchiyama's statement is his respect for memory and his inclusion of past experiences in the context of Zen practice. However, I'm still uncertain as to what he means by "vivify."

    As you say, all this will become clearer later on. To return to the text at hand ("The Significance of Zen Practice"), I would like to question what Uchiyama means by "philosophical truth" as contrasted with the kinds of truth he was seeking. In the absence of references to particular Western philosophers or philosophical schools, I don't know quite what he means. Nor is it clear to me why Western philosophy, particularly ethical inquiry focused on daily life, should be seen as divorced from the reality of one's immediate experience.

    Gassho,

    Ben

  3. #3
    Hi Ben,

    Quote Originally Posted by Shiju

    One of my teachers once remarked that most people who come to Zen practice are not looking for a new religion. Or a new metaphysics, for that matter. They are looking, as he put it, "for a way to get through the day." And over the years I have found that many of the folks who come to our sittings are looking, at least initially, for relief from chronic unease.

    To that end, the emphasis of Thich Nhat Hanh and many others on "returning to the present moment" is extremely helpful. As you probably know, Thich Nhat Hanh often uses gathas ("I have arrived / I am home// In the here / and in the now") to facilitate that return. And he speaks often of the "present moment" as the "only moment in which life is available to us."
    "Living in the present moment" is but--one-- of the wondrous, magnificent perspectives of Buddhist Practice, and no more than one of the many strong medicines in a Buddhist Master's (including both Dogen and Thich Nhat Hanh)'s vast apothecary's cabinet of perspectives. All are important medicines for human "unease", as you put it and, anyway, how can we "only" live in the present?? That the past (and someone's abusive childhood) was "just what it was" and needs to be viewed as just what happened, that the future will be "just what it will be" and will take care of itself ... these are important perspectives too. As well, it must be taught that actions of people (perhaps an abusive parent during that bad childhood) are often driven by greed anger and ignorance. However, ultimate "dis-ease" is caused by the "self" in its rubbling up against what is deemed "not the self", and that "self' must be treated.

    To fail to teach these things is to prescribe an aspirin as a cure for cancer.

    If you fail to teach that, you risk teaching Bompu Zen. Although I do not agree with Kaplieu Roshi on many points (he was rather a fanatic for Kensho experiences), he wrote this:

    The first of these types is called bompu, or "ordinary," Zen ... . It is a Zen practiced purely in the belief that it can improve both physical and mental health. Since it can almost certainly have no ill effects, anyone can undertake it, whatever religious beliefs he happens to hold or if he holds none at all. Bompu Zen is bound to eliminate sickness of a psychosomatic nature and to improve the health generally.

    ... However, the fact remains that bompu Zen, although far more beneficial for the cultivation of the mind than the reading of countless books on ethics and philosophy, is unable to resolve the fundamental problem of man and his relation to the universe. Why? Because it cannot pierce the ordinary man's basic delusion of himself as distinctly other than the universe.


    I do not want to teach spiritual pablum to people just to make them feel good for an hour. I mean, cheap "relaxation" meditation tapes are available in every bookstore and gift shop. Buy 'em one and send em home, I say.

    Ben, you are a Professor of Poetry and Literature. If you have students in your poetry class who feel that all poems should be like a hallmark greeting card, do you give them an "A" just to make them feel good? I imagine not, and that you insist they take a stab at the hard and deep stuff, whether they want to or not.

    "I have arrived / I am home// In the here / and in the now", standing alone, are the slogans from a Hallmark "Get Well" card.

    As to Thich Nhat Hanh ... I have noticed the tendency of folks to pull out of his books the "easy" and "feel good" portions (like the "smile" during Zazen), and to skip over the more meaty or challenging portions (I assure you that his philosophy is pretty much the same as what Dogen and all the other Zen teachers preach).

    The pitfall lies in taking that point of view too literally or stating it reductively. Thich Nhat Hanh is well aware that the "present moment" contains the past, or as he puts it, "is made up of the past." But it's easy to lose that perspective and to view practice as a matter of disregarding the past--or treating it as some kind of distraction. One thing I value in Uchiyama's statement is his respect for memory and his inclusion of past experiences in the context of Zen practice. However, I'm still uncertain as to what he means by "vivify."
    I believe he means that we must treat the past as "real" and respect it for being what it was, even if we are living in the present.

    As you say, all this will become clearer later on. To return to the text at hand ("The Significance of Zen Practice"), I would like to question what Uchiyama means by "philosophical truth" as contrasted with the kinds of truth he was seeking. In the absence of references to particular Western philosophers or philosophical schools, I don't know quite what he means. Nor is it clear to me why Western philosophy, particularly ethical inquiry focused on daily life, should be seen as divorced from the reality of one's immediate experience.

    Gassho,

    Ben
    Well, there are a couple of issues here. First, Zen is considered a Way "Beyond Words and Letters", not because we don't study philosophy (quite the contrary, it is vital to study Buddhist philosophy), but because we do not seek "truth" merely by reading and intellectual understanding. It is Praxis, and must be put into Practice. Otherwise, it is like reading a book about ice cream versus actually tasting ice cream.

    Second, Western philosophy is very different in approach from Master Dogen, Zen Buddhism and Eastern philosophies in general. To state the difference much, much too simply, I would have to say that Western philosophy tries to understand that Self and its relationship to the world/god/etc., and Eastern philosophy tries to drop the "Self" and understand us "as the universe".

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Shiju
    Nor is it clear to me why Western philosophy, particularly ethical inquiry focused on daily life, should be seen as divorced from the reality of one's immediate experience.
    Perhaps the type of philosophy he studied was of an 'ivory tower' Analytic brand, far removed from the concerns of everyday life. Modern Applied Philososphy that examines ethical issues would be more relevant to daily life problems, I agree. I once studied a course called 'Life and Death' that was concerned with issues like Capital Punishment, Abortion, Euthanasia and Suicide. Of course it helps to apply some clear thinking to these problems, but is cold reason the best approach to these issues? Seems to me the empathy and compassion that arises through our practice might yield clearer and more relevant insights,

    Gassho,
    John

  5. #5
    Jundo,

    Thanks for your comments. Let me respond to a few of them.

    "I have arrived / I am home// In the here / and in the now", standing alone, are the slogans from a Hallmark "Get Well" card.

    Why should they stand alone? I am aware that Thich Nhat Hanh's gathas, taken out of context, are vulnerable to denigrating comparisons. But so, for that matter, are the sixteen exercises of the Anapanasati Sutra, on which some of those gathas are based. "I have arrived" is not a poem to be reviewed in a writing workshop; it is a tool for cultivating awareness of breathing and returning attention to the present moment. For a full explanation of the context, purpose, and spirit of "I have arrived," please see Thich Nhat Hanh's "Walking with Peace and Presence" at http://www.explorefaith.org/tnh/tnh_am.html

    As to Thich Nhat Hanh ... I have noticed the tendency of folks to pull out of his books the "easy" and "feel good" portions (like the "smile" during Zazen), and to skip over the more meaty or challenging portions (I assure you that his philosophy is pretty much the same as what Dogen and all the other Zen teachers preach).


    Thich Nhat Hanh is not responsible for the sentimentalizing of his teachings, which are grounded not only in rigorous monastic training but in the suffering of the Vietnam war. His view of life is as tough-minded as anyone's, however gentle his manner. Dogen's influence may indeed be felt in his books, though he rarely mentions Dogen. As you probably know, Thich Nhat Hanh was trained in Vietnamese Rinzai Zen, and one of his recent books, Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go is a detailed commentary on the Rinzai Record.


    I believe he means that we must treat the past as "real" and respect it for being what it was, even if we are living in the present.

    That is pretty much my own understanding of "vivify the past." As I was trying to say initially, this is a point that sometimes gets lost in Zen teachings, and I'm grateful to Uchiyama for making it. It echoes the Buddha's own teaching in the Bhaddekaratta Sutra, where he distinguishes between awareness of the past and "pursuing the past."

    John wrote:


    Perhaps the type of philosophy he studied was of an 'ivory tower' Analytic brand, far removed from the concerns of everyday life. Modern Applied Philososphy that examines ethical issues would be more relevant to daily life problems, I agree.


    John, that is just what I had in mind. A good test case might be Emrys Westacott's article "The Ethics of Gossping," which appeared in the International Journal of Applied Philosophy and received national attention. I would agree that empathy and compassion, if and when they do arise through practice, yield insights not available to logic alone. On the other hand, the rigors of professional philosophy can also expose the sentimentality Jundo has cautioned us against.

    Gassho,

    Ben

  6. #6
    Yes Ben, I agree wholeheartedly with you and Jundo that we have to try to get beyond a shallow approach to Zen. But in my experience philosophers are very good at generating endless distinctions and categories that usually take you further away from the truth and blur rather than clarify the original topic. For instance, you could write volumes about what the word 'sentimental' means and whether sentimentality is a desirable trait and in what context it might be valuable etc etc.

    I'm afraid I'll have to introduce another philosophical word here, namely, 'solipsism'.

    Uchiyama says (p.14):

    I am here only because my world is here. When I took my first breath, my world was born with me. When I die, my world dies with me. In other words, I wasn't born into a world that was already here before me, I do not live simply as one individual among millions of other individuals, and I do not leave everything behind to live on after me...
    Somehow I can't quite bring myself to believe that. It seems so solipsistic. If he had said 'when I die for me the world dies with me' it would make more sense. but I suppose to all intents and purposes the world will die when I die as far as I am concerned? I am finding it hard to get my head around that! But here's another quote from Wiki:

    The Buddha stated : "Within this fathom long body is the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world and the path leading to the cessation of the world." Whilst not rejecting the occurrence of external phenomena, the Buddha focused on the illusion of reality that is created within the mind of the perceiver by the process of ascribing permanence to impermanent phenomena, satisfaction to unsatisfying experiences, and a sense of reality to things that were effectively insubstantial.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism# ... ilosophies
    Did anyone else have trouble with that passage?

    Gassho,
    John

  7. #7
    Hi John,

    I think what Uchiyama Roshi is saying there is that the way we experience the world is very specific to each individual. He isn't denying the existence of a material world, but merely pointing out that our experience of external phenomena is always indirect through the distorting layer of our senses. The sky isn't inherently blue, grass isn't inherently green, nothing is inherently good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, it's just how we interpret the external world. Actually, from a Buddhist perspective, we don't really even care much about what the external world is actually like since we can never experience it directly, what matters most is our own personal interpretation.

    According to basic Buddhist teachings, the way we experience the world is based on external objects, sense organs and sense consciousness for each of the six senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking), so I think solipism is quite different than the Buddhadharma, as the latter confirms the existence of external phenomena/objects. I can understand where you may see some similarity though.

    Gassho
    Ken

  8. #8

    The significance of Buddhist practice

    Hi John, Re your comments about "when I took my first breath my world was born with me", I find this concept of Uchiyama's a new and intriguing one which I have been reflecting upon ever since I read it.
    Because I have always heard or read that "we are all one" I have had great difficulty with that because I always feel "separate" from everyone else.
    However in Uchiyama's book "How to Cook your Life" he discusses this same concept in greater detail and has several illustrations drawn to explain it.
    In Diagram 1 there are 4 human figures in a row and each is separated by a line in between. This precludes any exchange with others. e.g we both look at a cup but see it differently, hear a bird sing but "hear" it differently, so it is unique to us in our "created world" of the senses.
    However diagrams 2 and 3 show how we communicate based on language and thoughts. There is partial or superficial communication going on between people so that we feel we are "members" of that world.
    He then says "Buddhist teachings focus on our absolute Self and place the greater emphasis on the unique and fresh quality of life. One thing we can be sure of is that we will never discover it in the world of trading and exchange with others. The true Self has nothing to do with "others" -it is a Self that lives totally within itself. The world as experienced is the world which the Self alone, you alone, can experience".
    I'd like to read your comments on that and also Ken's - he gives a very clear explanation about the world of our senses.
    ps Are we not still supposed to be on page 6/7?

  9. #9
    Hi Jenny and Kenneth. I think I agree with most of what you say. I realise that we only understand the world through the filter of our senses and therefore each of us experiences a different world of our own mental constructions. It's when Uchiyama says 'I wasn't born into a world that was already here before me, I do not live simply as one individual among millions of other individuals, and I do not leave everything behind to live on after me...' It's as if he's saying that the world only exists as long as I/he exist(s)....that's the bit I find solipsistic. My take on this is that we exist in some kind of vast sea of interdependence. We rear up to assume an earthly identity of some sort for a short time and then subside back again. But we always 'exist'! (though I don't quite know what kind of existence that would be :-))

    TNH stresses the idea of interdependence. In one of his books he says that really we have always existed before the event we call birth and will exist after what we call death. How do I square that with '..I do not leave everything behind to live after me'?

    Gassho,
    John

  10. #10

    Re: The significance of Buddhist practice

    Hi Jenny,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny
    Re your comments about "when I took my first breath my world was born with me", I find this concept of Uchiyama's a new and intriguing one which I have been reflecting upon ever since I read it.
    Well, it's actually not new, as can be seen from the first verses (which underlines their importance) of the Dhammapada:

    We are what we think.
    All that we are arises with our thoughts.
    With our thoughts we make the world.
    Speak or act with an impure mind
    And trouble will follow you
    As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

    We are what we think.
    All that we are arises with our thoughts.
    With our thoughts we make the world.
    Speak or act with a pure mind
    And happiness will follow you
    As your shadow, unshakable.

    http://www.angelfire.com/ca/SHALOM/dhammapada.html
    Also, here's what Uchiyama Roshi's teacher, Sawaki Roshi, had to say about it:

    This world is your world, is my world. That is as if billions of lights, one for each individual person, were to illuminate each other. And when I die, then my Mount Fuji dies with me, my heaven and my earth die with me, and this cup of tea dies with me.

    I am my own world. When I die, the world dies with me. Because when I was born, this world was born with me. You say, "Even when you die, this world continues to exist!". No, my part of the world dies with me, for each of us is complete, nothing is missing. To follow the Buddha-Way means to clearly comprehend this fact.

    You come with your universe into the world. And when you die, the universe dies with you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny
    ps Are we not still supposed to be on page 6/7?
    Ehm, yep. ops:

    Anyway, I hope that helps.

    Gassho
    Ken

  11. #11

    The significence of Buddhist practice page 3

    John and Ken, Thanks for swift replies. The quotations from Ken I need to mull over - requiring yet more reflective thought!!! Sometimes I think maybe I read or hear things but they don't "impact "on me, and then perhaps something is read like the subject we are discussing when things are explained more clearly, and I get the feeling it is important to understand it. So that is where I am at the moment!
    Many thanks.
    Jenny

  12. #12
    Hi John,

    Quote Originally Posted by John

    I'm afraid I'll have to introduce another philosophical word here, namely, 'solipsism'.

    Uchiyama says (p.14):

    I am here only because my world is here. When I took my first breath, my world was born with me. When I die, my world dies with me. In other words, I wasn't born into a world that was already here before me, I do not live simply as one individual among millions of other individuals, and I do not leave everything behind to live on after me...
    Somehow I can't quite bring myself to believe that. It seems so solipsistic. If he had said 'when I die for me the world dies with me' it would make more sense. but I suppose to all intents and purposes the world will die when I die as far as I am concerned? I am finding it hard to get my head around that!
    May I make an attempt at this? I believe it become a little clearer if we think of it in terms of codependent origination. Let me try this analogy:

    First, I must "set the stage":

    Imagine that being born as a conscious human life in the universe is something like waking up to find yourself, for no known reason, an actor on a stage in a theater reciting lines in a play. (For our purposes, and so there is no confusion on my point, let us imagine that it is some kind of 'off-off-off Broadway', experimental "theatre of the absurd" in which there is only the barest scenery on a stage, and the actors are improvising the story moment to moment.) There may or may not be a playright, but the actors seem to be making the story up as they go along. When you were "born", you found yourself in some kind of role in the play ... with a name, family history, appearance , etc. But you have no way to know if you were given that role purely by chance or were assigned the role by some "playright". Nonetheless, here you are as "John" That play, with its actors (of which you are one) in that theater building represents "the universe".

    Okay, have the scene?

    Now, one way to look at this is that the play was likely going on before you appeared on the stage and will continue in some form after your character dies (and you leave the play). This is the way we are used to looking at our relationship to the universe.

    But here is another way:

    Could there be a "play" without its actors? (Especially this type of play which doesn't seem to have a script apart from its actors)? We might say that, in this case, "no" there could not be.

    But moreover, we might say that there is really not only 'one play', but a constant series of plays constantly beginning anew and ending. So, the play that began when you stepped on the stage is not the same play that first began when you left the stage (and the play with you in it ended) ... even though there were some shared characters (other human beings on the planet) in the play before your play and the play that followed your play. (In fact, we might say that a new play is constantly starting and ending at each moment within a moment within your life too) The play with you in it is just not the same play without you in it, just like "Gone With The Wind" would have been a completely different movie (universe) if the character of Rhett Butler had never been written into the story, or Macbeth would have been a very different story if Macduff had died in the first act.

    And do not confuse the theatre building with the theatre play. You might try to argue that the theatre building goes on with or without a particular play, but without plays it is just a barren, empty building. The true theatre (universe) is not just a building, but the play in the building. So we might say that the character of the whole changes, is born and dies, depending on you.It is just not the same "theatre" as it would be before or after you.

    So, John, you wrote ...

    If he had said 'when I die for me the world dies with me' it would make more sense

    But by the second perspective, it is actually that when you die the whole play ends.(Whether a new play starts at that point ... that is another story [pun intended]). Without you, the show with you cannot go on.

    And Ben, thank you very much for this link ...

    please see Thich Nhat Hanh's "Walking with Peace and Presence" at http://www.explorefaith.org/tnh/tnh_am.html

    It helped me have a better appreciation of the intent of Master TNH in this.

    Gassho, Jundo

  13. #13
    Thanks Jundo. That's a lot clearer - though I find it hard to think that someone as unimportant as me would make much difference to the world. It might be different if I was George Bush or somebody like that. But then, it might be like the Butterfly Effect of chaos theory. So all I have to do now is to learn to be comfortable with my minor role when I so wanted to play the lead in the play!

    Gassho,
    John

  14. #14
    Well, in honouring Jundo's request for all who are a part of the reading group to at least post *something each week, here is my post:

    Something.

    Whatever else all of y'all are discussing here...is this what we call "deep Buddhism?" (As oppossed, of course, to 'shallow and fluffy' Buddhism.) :? I ran screaming from 11 years in academia because of these types of 'deep' discussions. :lol:

    Well, if this is 'deep Buddhism' then I'm with Edie Brickell when she sings, "Choke me in the shallow water, before I get too deep...."
    :wink: Just a little Pop Rock Buddhism.

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn (Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box. Religion is the smile on a dog.)

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by John
    Thanks Jundo. That's a lot clearer - though I find it hard to think that someone as unimportant as me would make much difference to the world. It might be different if I was George Bush or somebody like that. But then, it might be like the Butterfly Effect of chaos theory. So all I have to do now is to learn to be comfortable with my minor role when I so wanted to play the lead in the play!

    Gassho,
    John
    Hi John and Lynn,

    Judgments of "important" or "unimportant" "major" and "minor" are your mind at work. Who made you judge? In "Just Sitting" Shikantaza, we drop such workings and churnings of the weighing mind. Sure, it is true that from one perspective we are unimportant in the grand scheme of things, nearly nothing in a seemingly vast universe. But from another perspective, this universe "with John" just isn't the same place as a universe without.

    Part of our Zen Practice has to be about tossing a monkey wrench in so many of our usual ways of looking at things (that's what all those Koan thingies are about). It is "important" to do so [ha ha]. We are so damn smug and self sure about who we are and how things are. So, for example, tell me where the "center" is to be found on the surface of a seamless, round balloon? Think of the surface. In fact, what portion of the seamless surface would be the "center" and what part not "a center"? Which micron of the surface of that ball is more or less important than any other? Take a pin and remove but a tiny bit, and you will see a radical change! For a change, experience your John-ness that way too!

    How dare you, little John, tell the universe which parts of creation are "more important" than others ... Who are you, you little meaningless bit of ignorant dust, to impose such a judgment on something so much greater than you!!!! Next you will tell me that a grain of sand on a California beach is more or less important than the stars scattered about like grains of sand. Who made you judge, and who are you to tell the universe what can or cannot be included or left out?? Be humble about being humble or not humble!

    This is where I both agree and disagree with Lynn ...

    Well, if this is 'deep Buddhism' then I'm with Edie Brickell when she sings, "Choke me in the shallow water, before I get too deep...."
    Wink Just a little Pop Rock Buddhism.


    An "important" [ha ha] part of Buddhist practice is to shake up our usual ways of thinking about our self & the universe, time, judgments of life/death, importance and unimportance. People like Dogen present other simultaneously true, alternate perspectives that we should consider on such questions. All those Zen Koans are but monkey wrenches in our normal ways of thinking about things. It is necessary to collapse all human judgments on these things because, well, we silly human beings are so smugly sure of things we should not be so sure about. There are other ways to experience, first hand (that is important ... that we can ourselves experience these other viewpoints first hand and not merely as rumors in some religious book) other ways of seeing these things.

    So, what time is it? Look at your watch and tell me. Then, know that there are other ways to experience time than just that.

    But this is where I so much agree with Lynn. At basis, we must also get back to just living our simple lives . Go chop wood and fetch water and let the "Big Questions" take care of themselves too (both address them and forget them). After all, dinner has to be on the table by 6:00.

    Gassho, Jundo

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    After all, dinner has to be on the table by 6:00.
    WOOT!! What are we having? P.S. Can we have ice cream for dessert??

    In Gassho~
    *Lynn[/b]

  17. #17
    I liked what was said in the beginning of this chapter, about how Buddhism or Buddhist practice is primarily concerned with how we decide to live our lives regardless of whether we choose to be "Buddhists", we're all humans first I suppose ---


    I've been inspired by many a "non-Buddhist".

    I think Buddhism is a wonderful way to live, and it has a tremendously rich and true philosophy . . . and I appreciate how there is no sense of superiority or division between "Buddhists" and "Non Buddhists" or "saved" versus the "damned"; we're all a bit of both I suppose. Destined to die, the act of life itself contains pain and suffering, but also great joy and peace. We live this life, it does matter deeply, what happens next? Nothing to worry about, especially if we do what we can to utilize the full potential of this life.

  18. #18
    Hi Jundo and others,

    I just realised I misunderstood the directions for these posts - I thought the 1/18 meant chapter 1 to page 18 - sorry!

    The discussion reminds me of the koan 'Alive or Dead?' The start of this author's explanation - "I am not part of the Whole; I am the Whole" is what, perhaps, you are trying to get through to me:

    “Alive or dead?

    Introduction

    “Quiet and secret, entirely One-- unimpeded action, immediate perception, everything manifests awakening. Like a dash of sparks, a flash of lightning, cutting through all confusion. Sitting on the tigers head, seizing its tail he is like cliff a thousand feet high. Can one help people by teaching a single way or not? To test, I cite this. Look!

    Case

    Dogo and Zen-gen went to a house to show sympathy. Zen-gen hit the coffin and asked, "Alive or dead?" Dogen replied, "I won't say alive, I won't say dead……"

    “.......Quiet and secret, entirely One.

    I am not part of the Whole; I am the Whole, the One. Most people find this so difficult. They believe things surround them and so think that they also are things among things. Then they generalize and believe further that all these things collectively make up a whole of which they are now a part. Such beliefs involve a separation, a dualism. They imply "me" and "it," "me and the world," "me and the Whole," "me and Cosmic consciousness" and so on. We must let go of this opposition, this separation if we want to see into this koan. This is why Engo starts right off saying, "quiet and secret, entirely One." This is it!…..”

    http://www.zenmontreal.ca/en/teacher/aliveordead.htm

    Gassho,
    John

  19. #19

    Re: 1/18 - The Significance of Buddhist Practice p.3

    I finally got the book and hope this time I am posting to the right thread :lol: .

    Uchiyama identifies three attitudes (persuit of material happeness, of Asolute or of some sort of permanent phylosophical Truth (p. 4) (body-spirit-mind?) and doesn't say on what grounds he makes this categorisation. It is not that it is a known fact, really.

    I did not take philosophy classes but from what I know about for example ancient Greeks they could believe in God(s) and engage in deep phylosophical discussions around a table fool of food and wine in a company of lovely young boys, after which many of them would return to their wives and nice homes, no controversy there! Even closer to our times may seekers of the truth could combine the three approaches, so to speak. To me what he is talking about is not so evident and when he then asks the question which of the three ways of life Buddhism fits in I cannot really say anything about the answer (none of them, according to Uchiyama) because I am not really aware of this division to start with.

    Also, I find the use of "we" in the text somewhat confusing: at one point Uchiyama writes "most people" (about those who look for happeness in material posessions or health) and in the next sentences uses "we" (speaking about those who look for God or some idea), identifying himself with the second and third groups rather than with the first one. I wonder who those "we" are? :?

    It is a fascinating reading, though and I look forward to reading the next chapter and the comments in the thread.

    Gassho,

    Irina




    What I liked about Buddhism from the start was that the Buddha encouraged people to go find out for themselves (and this is what Uchiyama did, staring on his own quest of searching for the truth "
    that was undeniably real
    .


    What throws me off a little is a way of presenting opinions as if they were facts (having been through a Westen educationla system I am used to ask: Says who?.

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