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Thread: 2/22 -The Self that Lives the Whole Truth p. 27

  1. #1

    2/22 -The Self that Lives the Whole Truth p. 27

    The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth ...

    Gassho, J

  2. #2
    Jenny asked in the previous thread (viewtopic.php?t=516):
    “Am I understanding Uchiyama correctly when I think he is telling us that we are actually each living our own unique life experience, and the "oneness" is in fact where Universal Self is living freshly through each one of us, but our experience of that, moment by moment, is ours alone?”


    And Jundo replied “…go sit with that. I mean, you could say it like you said it. Just don't get too caught up in ideas of it….”

    In this section of the book, Uchiyama says “Self is what is before you cook it up with thought.” And footnote 12 added this:
    “A fish swimming in a stream is alive and fresh, but once it is caught it gets processed. In the same way, all the terms we use to discuss universal self are a sort of processing or categorizing of what is always alive, fresh, and unprocessable.”
    That quote resonated with me. And I believe that Jundo was conveying this same idea when he said to Jenny “just go sit with that.”

    Sometimes when teaching the concepts of product costing and costs of quality in the classroom, we use a production simulation where students build vehicles with LEGOs. The experiential exercise conveys the nature of manufacturing (which can seem too abstract until this point) and provides some insight into the activities and resources that give rise to costs.

    After reading footnote 12, I considered the differences between the flow of thought in “just sitting” and the flow of material through a production line. In zazen, we do not pick up the pieces, nor combine them, nor evaluate the quality. Nothing is made. Nothing is constructed.

    At times I can be with what is without being carried away by my own stories or evaluation if I'm alert to the nature of this habitual processing. But the universe is the entire flow.

  3. #3
    This section of the book also reminded me of Dogen: "To study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to become one with all beings."

    Seeing beyond concepts about my identity, I may recall that I am this but not only this.

  4. #4

    The Self that lives the whole truth

    Janice thanks for your comments re Jundo's apt reply to me regarding
    Uchiyama's "Self". I now realise studying P 27 onwards that I was in fact trying to rationalise or get clear in my mind (cooking it up with thought, in fact!) his explanation of something alive and ungraspable which I wanted to process and "know" for myself. It's a bit like dropping an old, stale concept or belief but then putting a new one in its place, I imagine, instead of letting go of all concepts. Ah well - back to "Don't know" again!

  5. #5
    Jenny,

    I was glad you said what you said in posing that question. You had seen something I hadn't seen and had difficulty comprehending. And it set the stage for this week’s reading.

    But what we are unavoidably doing here on the forum is processing. We are trying to express our own understandings and experience and that requires communication in words that separate. At the same time, we know that there's always more; there is the ineffable.

    Janice

  6. #6

    The Self that lives the Whole Truth

    Janice. Thank you again re communicating in words about something
    that is inexpressible.
    I was interested in your example of providing insight to your students with an experiential exercise to explain something abstract using Lego.
    It reminded me of my difficulty at school with mathematics, particularly
    fractions. If only my teacher had cut up an orange into quarters etc., I
    would have "got it"!
    Uchiyama for me, in his explanation of what the Self means to him
    in his own experience, is cutting up the orange. This helps me "see"
    differently, but I then have to live my own moment-to-moment
    experience of "what is".
    Jenny

  7. #7
    I agree with what Jenny and Janice are saying here. But I'm afraid I can't come up with anything 'alive and fresh' or new to add to that. The 'universal self and individual self' idea sounds pretty much like the ocean and waves analogy to me,

    Gassho,
    John

  8. #8
    Maybe this is just pointing out that the "self" we think is ourself is not the whole picture, that what we truly are is realized once we learn to open up that clenched fist we create with our thoughts and self obsessed stories.

  9. #9
    Everyone's individual life is its own unique experiences (with their unique perspective truths), and is also the universal self where it is one with everyone else's individual life (with all of their unique perspective truths).

    In an existential sense, the first part is very easy for me to understand. But without appealing to metaphysics (the author says it's concrete), I just cannot comprehend how there can be a unity with all lives. It's a stumbling block for me.

    Perhaps it cannot be truly conceptualized at all, and that's why there is zazen? :?

    Gassho,
    Tony

  10. #10
    Every leaf is it's own individual leaf, but if we take a step backwards we see that they are all part of the same tree.

    Maybe that helps make it more concrete?

  11. #11
    Yes Greg. I can understand the theory provided by the metaphors. It's just seeing it, applying the idea in daily life, or even acting as if it were true that I find so hard - and isn't that what Tony is saying too?

    Gassho,
    John

  12. #12
    Maybe it's our individualistic Western societal enculturation that causes us problems with this? I hate being dependent on others.

    "...Buddhists do not think that "I" is "I" and "you" is "you" when each of us is Separated from the other. "I" is possible when "you" exists, so with "you" who is possible through the existence of "I." This consideration is very important, as it constitutes one of the fundamental principles of Buddhist ethics. For according to Buddhism an unconditional assertion of egoism is due to the ignorance of the significance of the individual. Most people imagine that the individual is a final reality, stands by itself, has nothing to do with other fellow-individuals; in fact their existence is tolerated only so far as it does not interfere with his own interests. They first build a formidable fort around individualism and look down at their surroundings, thinking that the position must be defended at all costs. For it is their conception of life that with the downfall of individualism the universe goes to pieces.

    The Oriental mode of thinking, however, differs from this. We take our standpoint first on that which transcends individuals, or we take into our consideration first that which comprehends all finite things, that which determines the destiny of the universe; and then we come down into this world of relativity and conditionality, and believe that the earth will sooner or later pass away according to the will of that which controls it. That is to say, individuals will not stay here forever, though the whole which comprises individuals will. Therefore, Oriental ethics considers it of paramount importance to preserve the whole at all hazards, whatever may be the fate of individuals.

    For instance, suppose my country is threatened by a powerful enemy, and I will, when called for, sacrifice everything personal and try to do my best for the conservation of my national honor and safety. This is what is called patriotism. My parents are old and they are not able to take care of themselves, and I will do everything for their comfort and alleviate the loneliness of their declining age. Did they not bring me up to this stage of manhood? Did they not go through all forms of hardship for my sake? Did they not care for me with infinite tenderness of heart? Do I not owe them all that I am to-day? Did they not help me to this position and enable me to do whatever is within my power for the welfare and preservation of the whole to which I belong? When I think of this, the feeling of gratitude weighs heavily on me, and I endeavor to be relieved of it by doing all acts of lovingkindness to my parents. This is what you call filial piety, and the same consideration will apply to the cases of teachers, elder people, friends, and family.

    Whatever be the defects of Oriental ethics,--and I think they are not a few,--I firmly believe that what makes Oriental culture so unique is due to the emphasis laid upon patriotism, filial piety, faithfulness, and abnegation of self......"

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/zfa/zfa18.htm

    Gassho,
    John

  13. #13
    Well, I'm stumbling a bit with the following passage:

    The whole or universal self is the force that functions to make the heart continue beating and the lungs continue breathing, and it is also the source of what is referred to as the subconscious.

    This inclusive self is at heart the creative power of life. It is related to what the Judeo-Christian tradition calls the creative power of God. That power--what is immediately alive and also what is created--that is self too.




    Is he saying our universal self is nothing more than our subconscious?? Is he really equating the subconscious to the creative power of God??? :shock:

    Jundo?

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn

  14. #14
    Hello,

    I acquired a copy of the book, and I've been trying to catch up so I can join the discussions. I was quite confused by the schedule until I realized that I'm reading the 1993 printing. Many of the sections and chapter titles are in a radically different order.

    Oops.

  15. #15
    Hello Lynn,

    I read this in the context of the 8 consciousnesses, as laid out in some early Zen texts. I've heard the ālāyavijñāna (store-conciousness) equated with the Judeo-Christian 'soul' or the subconscious/ unconscious mind (sometimes even in the Jungian sense!).

    I personally think that these are somewhat tortured analogies, and create more confusion.

    I could also be way out to lunch, maybe Uchiyama isn't talking about the ālāyavijñāna at all!

  16. #16
    Hello Lynn and Paige,

    I remembered that Thich Nhat Hanh talks a lot about ‘store consciousness’, so I looked it up in his book ‘The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching’. I was surprised to find that in Buddhism, this idea of the subconscious is not only individual, but also collective.

    “ ….We may think that our agitation is ours alone, but if we look carefully, we’ll see that it is our inheritance from our whole society and many generations of our ancestors. Individual consciousness is made of the collective consciousness, and the collective consciousness is made of individual consciousnesses. They cannot be separated. Looking deeply into our individual consciousness, we catch the collective consciousness. Our ideas of beauty, goodness, and happiness, for example, are also the ideas of our society. Every winter, fashion designers show us the fashions for the coming spring, and we look at their creations through the lens of our collective consciousness. When we buy a fashionable dress, it is because we see with the eyes of the collective consciousness. Someone who lives deep in the upper Amazon would not spend that amount of money to buy such a dress. She would not see it as beautiful at all. When we produce a literary work, we produce it with both our collective consciousness and individual consciousness…..”

    Maybe that is the sense of the subconscious Uchiyama means?

    Gassho,
    John

  17. #17
    Hello again,

    I've never delved too deeply into the Yogacara/ Cittamatra (Mind Only) texts, so I'm pretty much just going off (what I remember of) the Lankavatara sutra. There are 6 sense consciousnesses (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind), and a 7th "ego" consciousness, that forms the sense of self via input from the sense consciousnesses, and backed up by the store-consciousness (as a kind of 'silent partner'). The 8th consciousness is passive and non-discriminating, it contains the actualised and potential karmic tendencies. The 8th consciousness is supposed to be what survives the death of the body, and the karmic tendencies stored within it determine the next rebirth.

    So it's 'collective' in the sense that it contains the stored-up impulses and characteristics of many lifetimes (but not in the Jungian sense of "collective unconscious"). And it's like a 'soul' in the sense that it survives the death of the body and the ego, but I think a 'soul' is usually thought of as independently aware, active, and discriminating.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by kalka2
    Hello,

    I acquired a copy of the book, and I've been trying to catch up so I can join the discussions. I was quite confused by the schedule until I realized that I'm reading the 1993 printing. Many of the sections and chapter titles are in a radically different order.

    Oops.
    Kalka, I also have the '93 edition (with the purple new-age looking cover ). Its not too bad, some minor differences here and there. This is the first chapter so far that is not included in our edition (but we also have a few chapters that they don't).

    G,
    -K

  19. #19
    Thanks, Paige and John!

    I very, very vaguely recall something about this teaching somewhere in my studies. I am kind of getting a sense of what you are explaining, but it is quite esoteric, so it's one of those teachings that seems to float like a moth on my peripheral vision and every time I turn to actually *look at it...it's not there.

    Either way, this is really interesting dharma to ponder....

    In Gassho~

    Lynn

  20. #20
    Hey,

    I have been so busy with our family's move this week that I could not join in until now. Anyway, good to see things develop in the conversation this week.

    So, what is this "BIG SELF"? That's a BIG question!

    Need we, and even can we, answer that BIG question completely?

    I think 'no' to both, and 'yes'. Human brains (even an 'Enlightened' brain like Shakyamuni Buddha's) are simply incapable of grasping such things, any more than an ant's brain can grasp physics or fly a plane. The Buddha realized, however, that there is no need to fully grasp such things. It is not necessary to life. Further, by giving up trying to fully grasp all of it, the Buddha was able to fully grasp it in another way (just as we realize some things in Shikantaza or a Koan when we -stop- looking for them!).

    For example, do we need to know every aspect of the ocean, every inch of its coastlines, all the mysterious creatures it contains in its depths ... in order to savor and appreciate the saltiness of a single drop of sea water on our tongue right here and now? That saltiness is a way to know the whole ocean right here, the whole universe in a single drop. We are that single drop of the ocean, and the "tasting" is the living of our life. No need to know the whole ocean, and thus we know the whole ocean showing itself right here. (Another example might be how we cannot grasp the full power of our sun, all the light and heat it produces, yet we can fully grasp the warm sunshine that falls on our shoulders). Furthermore, we can allow ourselves to 'go with the flow' of the ocean, let it carry us 'where it will', without even needing to know that there's a reason or destination in doing so ... we can float along even if there is not reason behind it.

    My point is merely that we need not define or grasp every aspect of this 'Big Self' ... or even what 'it' is (assuming it is an 'it') ... in order to know that we are just 'it'. To not know that you and I are each 'it' may be compared to two drops of sea water (self aware drops!) that, while knowing they are individual drops, cannot see that they are also the sea.

    But, going further, perhaps we should not think if 'it' even as an 'it' ...

    Throughout the history of Buddhism (and all of Eastern philosophy really) they has been a tug-o-war between those folks who wished to make our 'essence' into a 'thing' (a 'pure life force', perhaps, or an 'ocean' or a 'garden' or a 'god' etc.) and those who saw it as more of a verb or experience of life (instead of a noun).

    For example, let's look at the ocean again ...

    So, some folks might teach that our "individual self" is like a wave or drop of water of an ocean, and our BIG Self is this 'thing' that is the whole ocean. But Dogen (and others ... it is related to the Buddha's opposition to anatman if you know that) felt that a better way to approach this is by tasting the saltiness and richness of the ocean on your own tongue (that's what we do in Zazen). THAT is who you are, without subtle dualisms. It is not so much learning to think of yourself as part of something greater (and trying to define exactly what that is), but instead 'tasting' that something that is immediately, vibrantly and completely, right here and now, underlying the immediate experience of your life.

    Taste the ocean, and you have found the ocean.

    Then, without even knowing exactly what 'it' is, we yield to it, allow it, saying "do with me as will be done, whatever 'you' are or are not" ... rather as a child trusts its parent before even having a clear idea of 'mom' or 'dad'. Something is placing food in its mouth, something has given the infant life ... nothing to do but trust in that and live that life.

    Again, we are as a drop of ocean water that allows the ocean tides to carry us where they will ... without even caring what the ocean is, or calling it 'ocean'. In fact, more than a ocean, it is just some grand 'flowing' of tides and current of events that we are part of.

    So I think that Uchiyama, when he says things like ...

    The whole or universal self is the force that functions to make the heart continue beating and the lungs continue breathing, and it is also the source of what is referred to as the subconscious.

    This inclusive self is at heart the creative power of life. It is related to what the Judeo-Christian tradition calls the creative power of God. That power--what is immediately alive and also what is created--that is self too.


    ... Uchiyama is not saying that this 'source' is the subconcious itself (he says "source of the subconscious"), or that it is 'god'. Instead, he is saying that it is the mysterious, wondrous flowing that makes the heart beat, creates a mind and subconscious, and is the 'creative power of life'. No need to define 'mom & dad' more (nor can a small human mind grasp 'its' true nature).

    Finally ... "store consciousness' and related ideas ...

    After the time of Buddha, various folks with good imaginations cooked up all kinds of 'models' of human consciousness and creative theories to explain how the mind might work and reincarnation might work. Dogen did not have much use for it ... I think it is not much more relevant than, for example, "phrenology" (the 19th century "science" that involved feeling the bumps in the skull to determine an individual's psychological attributes). Both are likely just very cute ideas invented by folks of centuries past to explain stuff, but ideas that don't pan out really. I am a skeptic. Some Buddhists feel they most cling to any old theory or idea just because it is old.

    For real Dogen-osophers, here is a very detailed discuession of the issue (from page 111). I don't recommend most folks to bother to read it, as it is too technical.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=j0byXF ... #PPA112,M1

    Gassho, Jundo

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by paige
    The 8th consciousness is supposed to be what survives the death of the body, and the karmic tendencies stored within it determine the next rebirth.

    So it's 'collective' in the sense that it contains the stored-up impulses and characteristics of many lifetimes (but not in the Jungian sense of "collective unconscious"). And it's like a 'soul' in the sense that it survives the death of the body and the ego, but I think a 'soul' is usually thought of as independently aware, active, and discriminating.
    Thanks Paige. This is making the idea of rebirth a bit clearer for me, I think. Not an enduring self that goes through a series of lives but just a 'karmic tendency' that sinks into a kind of sea of consciousnesses and surfaces again into another form?

    Gassho,
    John

    PS Sorry, I wrote this before I read Jundo's post and I can see I am philosophising again too much.

  22. #22
    Thanks for your post, Jundo. I found it very illuminating.

  23. #23
    Thanks Jundo for your explanation.

    Whenever I come across words or phrases such as "life-force" or "creative power of God", I assume, by habit, they are defining some kind of transcendent essense or entity.

    The "tasting" analogy was really helpful. Nothing to be mentally grasped.


    Gassho,
    Tony

  24. #24
    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    ... But Dogen (and others ... it is related to the Buddha's opposition to anatman if you know that) felt that a better way to approach this is by tasting the saltiness and richness of the ocean on your own tongue (that's what we do in Zazen).
    Buddha's opposition to atman. Sorry, couldn't resist. :wink:

    Gassho
    Ken

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth
    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    ... But Dogen (and others ... it is related to the Buddha's opposition to anatman if you know that) felt that a better way to approach this is by tasting the saltiness and richness of the ocean on your own tongue (that's what we do in Zazen).
    Buddha's opposition to atman. Sorry, couldn't resist. :wink:

    Gassho
    Ken
    Absolutely right Batman. I meant anatman opposition to atman. Attaboy.

    http://www.babylon.com/definition/ANATMAN/English

    Gassho, J

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