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Thread: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

  1. #1

    Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    Hi guys....

    I have questions about philosophy of act, as the Gudo Roshi has said in his blog and about non-attainment, that Jundo Roshi has said.

    What is the relation between "non-attainment" and "Philosophy of act" ?

    I have my oppinion, (I don't know whether my opinion is right or wrong)
    Zazen is an action, so it has no relationship with any idealism and materialism at all. That's why, if we think about "non-attainment" during Zazen, the "non-attainment" idea can become idealism.

    I know, that we shouldn't see "non-attainment" as an idea. But to realize "non-attainment", we must forget about "non-attainment" too. Just Sit and shut up.
    To study the self, is to forget the self.

    Well, That's my opinion. But, I need your opinion too. Because I my self, not so sure about my own opinion.

    Thanks for the help.

    Gassho, ShuiDi

  2. #2

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    From my limited experience Shuidi. After practicing for a while, we can see the energy that is available to us. Why does action necessarily have to have a goal? We have all kinds of choices of what we can do with our time. Clean the house, repair something, write a book, work for a charity, play with the kids, do the laundry etc. Just know that although you are doing something, you are just doing it without worrying about the end result. You just do it and pay attention to what your doing. When it's time to stop, you stop. When it's time to eat, you eat.

    But you see, most of the time when we are doing something we rarely pay attention to it. We are usually focusing on our thoughts and stuff. We think about what we will do later, and what we did yesterday and so on. We think about what we will do when we finish writing the book or cleaning the house. We don't pay attention to the food we eat or the spoon we eat it with.

    Something like that.

    So where does Zazen fit in to all of this? Well, there is nothing to do when you sit. There is only sitting. There is really no action except the action of non action. This non action is very alive. It is all around. Inside and outside. Attention open without paying particular attention to anything.

    It is very subtle, so there is a lot of stuff you don't see, but eventually you start to see more and more about yourself and eventually that self that you were begins to diminish. What is in place of that self is action, moment, non self. When you sit, you have no choice but to face yourself and understand what that self is and eventually it gets lost.

    So...keep sitting and don't think that there is really any end to the sitting or enlightenment or any way of being. Just sit. Pay attention. Study the self.

    Gassho Will

  3. #3

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    Quote Originally Posted by Shui_Di
    Hi guys....

    I have questions about philosophy of act, as the Gudo Roshi has said in his blog and about non-attainment, that Jundo Roshi has said.

    What is the relation between "non-attainment" and "Philosophy of act" ?

    ...

    Gassho, ShuiDi
    Hi Shui Di,

    Tough question for your first question! Okay, let me try ...

    As I understand Nishijima's vision (I translated a book of his on this some years ago), all your life is just reality itself, and is just "action" (we could also say "just pure being" or the like, but the word "action" implies something more alive and 'active' than just some passive "being". So, Nishijima uses the term "action" instead). If you are standing, sitting, running, sleeping, moving or not moving, it is just reality itself, life itself, the universe itself. Even standing still is "action". On the Zafu, off the Zafu ... no difference if perceived correctly. It is your life in being, always becoming, thus it is "action". So, Nishijima's vision is of Buddhism as a kind of "existentialism" of 'pure being becoming' or 'being in motion' that is living.

    So, our life is "action" ... even if we are standing still!

    In life, we must live ... which means constant choosing. Even if we choose not to make a choice, that is a choice. Even if we choose not to act, that is an action of our life. So, all our life, when we perceive it clearly, is just constant "action" or "being in motion". Now, when we accept this life "as it is", we do not compare it mentally to how we wish the world were in our dreams or some "better" state we imagine ("idealism"), nor do we think that life is just meaningless, directionless, pointless, cold and dead based on blind atoms and molecules floating around in chaos (Nishijima calls this "materialism").

    Now, it is important to remember that, in Buddhism, we are constantly functioning on several channels that (to a non-Buddhist) might seem in conflict or contradictory. Thus, yes, even as we are moving forward, choosing, having goals to attain ... we know that there is no place to go, no forward or back, nothing to choose, no preferences, no goals to attain. We know both perspectives at the same time. Thus, there is "attainment" and "no attainment" simultaneously.

    That is "non-attainment". It is not an idea (unless we make it one), and is just a fact. Thus, it is also reality itself and not "idealism".

    I hope that helps.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- Please do not call me Roshi ... Call me Rabbi, maybe. Or "Chief Cook".

  4. #4

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    Hi Will,

    I would just add one comment on what you wrote:


    ...Why does action necessarily have to have a goal? We have all kinds of choices of what we can do with our time. Clean the house, repair something, write a book, work for a charity, play with the kids, do the laundry etc. Just know that although you are doing something, you are just doing it without worrying about the end result. You just do it and pay attention to what your doing. When it's time to stop, you stop. When it's time to eat, you eat.

    But you see, most of the time when we are doing something we rarely pay attention to it. We are usually focusing on our thoughts and stuff. We think about what we will do later, and what we did yesterday and so on. We think about what we will do when we finish writing the book or cleaning the house. We don't pay attention to the food we eat or the spoon we eat it with.
    There are two ways of Zen "mindfulness", I think. One is as you describe: To be fully present with one moment or one action at a time, thinking of nothing else. Do not think of the result or outcome.

    But, of course, to survive in life we have to think about outcomes, tomorrow, yesterday and even multi-task sometimes! So, we cannot live much or most of the time just focusing on one thing at once! Thus, our Zen Practice allows us another way of "mindfulness", also what I describe as operating on a couple of channels that (to a non-Buddhist) might seem in conflict or contradictory. We can, for example, think of future or past on one channel, while being "timeless" and "in the moment" on another. We can have "goals" and "no goals" at the same time, think about the hoped for outcome and drop all though of outcome ... all at the same time (non-attainment).

    It means we can get lots of stuff done ... while knowing that there is nothing to do, nothing that needs doing.

    Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    Thank you Jundo, and Will.

    Your posts really help me...

    Thanks very much...

    Gassho, Shui Di

  6. #6

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    We can, for example, think of future or past on one channel, while being "timeless" and "in the moment" on another. We can have "goals" and "no goals" at the same time, think about the hoped for outcome and drop all though of outcome ... all at the same time (non-attainment).
    Yes. We have to live in the world, so we have ways that we are at times that are not direct and fully mindful. I kind of was talking about that side of practice. Anyway, I'll keep sitting. I hope Damian enjoyed my lovely bed head this morning.

    Please do not call me Roshi ... Call me Rabbi, maybe. Or "Chief Cook".
    Or "MC JC"

  7. #7

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    I think it's being minful and aware of what you are doing, for example eating your breakfast, but also know what time you have to leave to catch the bus and eat your breakfast accordingly. Fast, slow etc.

    G,W

  8. #8

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment


    Yes. We have to live in the world, so we have ways that we are at times that are not direct and fully mindful. ...
    One thing is, by this "life on two channels, not even one", we may drop all thought of direct and not direct, mindful and not mindful and half mindful.

    There is a time to drink tea and just drink tea, tea-drinking being the only action in the whole universe in this only moment of all time and space.

    And there is a time to drink tea, gobble a sandwich, talk on the phone, be concerned about yesterday, and think about booking a plane tomorrow. That is the only tea-drinking-sandwiching-yesterdayconcerning-phone-talking-tomorrow-thinking in the whole universe in that moment of all time and space.

    Although in our Zen Practice, we often practice the former way of seeing more then the latter, do not think of one way of seeing as "mindful" or "complete" while the other is not. They are both your life in motion, "being becoming", completely and perfectly what they are in that only moment. If you come to perceive this correctly, you can be overworked, underpaid, time pressed and have heartburn on "one channel", while you are just being present, lacking nothing, beyond time and filled with a compassionate heart on "one channel".

    Does that make sense? You really can.

    Oh, and with regard to Nishijima Roshi's "Philosophy of Action" ... Tony wrote this in the book club thread:

    It seems that Zen shares the same worldview as Existentialism. Except in Existentialism, the individual is always isolated and/or alienated from the universe which is always "other". In Zen, this gulf between the individual and "other" is a fiction that can be seen through or dispelled.
    I think this is right.

    It took me a long time to figure out Nishijima's perspective, by the way, because he is a much more expressive and poetic speaker in his native Japanese than in his non-native English (in which he tends to limit himself to certain ways of saying things that are not always so fluid and clear. In fact, some of his favorite English phrases are downright clunky and confusing). That is one reason I translated one of his Japanese books into English, working with him daily over many months.

    http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Chat-Buddhi ... 690&sr=8-1

    I did not feel that some of his earlier English books (e.g., "To Meet the Real Dragon") did justice on a couple of points, for example, on clearly setting out what he means in describing Buddhism and Zen Practice as a "philosophy of action". But when I read Nishijima's books in Japanese, and sat down with him and went through the translation line by line and word for word, I found that life affirming, whole-istic, "dropping the gulf" view that I try to describe.

    Anyway, even Nishijima would say not to talk about all this philosophy too much and ... JUST SIT!

    Gassho, MC JC

  9. #9

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    It does make sense. Just a little difficult to express or find the correct words.

    There is being alive. I think this one is a big part of practice. Being alive to your experience and life through losing or "forgeting" that you are experiencing your life. You just are what you are. But to put it in words? You are also everything else. When your everything else, there is no saying "I am everything else and everything else is me" You just are what you are. No commentary. No Biography. Inside and outside. There is no ear and no bird only what there is. You can't really put a name to it. A certain amount of that flows into our life when we are off the cushion as well and we don't realize it. The moment we realize it, it's lost.

    What do we do when we are on a retreat or go to a monastery? We pay attention to what we do through our experience. When we clean the floor, there's alot more happening in your experience than just looking and thinking about getting the floor done. There's the smell of the soap and water. There's the feeling of the foot on the floor, the temperature of the room etc. Of course, to experience that, we have to let our self go. I guess practice can be seen from numerous perspectives and points of view, but the place where points of view and perspectives are just incorporated or lost in everything else is practicing the moment no? When we understand what points of view and perspectives,and cleaning the floor are, we have no choice but to live our life.

    Would you say it's an amount of losing the self and just being what you are, which incorporates all ways of being and all ways of doing? Having choices is a part of that. Our practice won't tell us which sandwich to eat. We make a choice.

    I forgot what your post said, so I'll have to go back and read it again. ops:

    G,W

  10. #10

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    I think I see part of what your getting at. As in correct and incorrect, this way not that way. Yes. If one practice or way of being is idealized than that can definitely be a hinderance to practice. You know. One of the best things anyone ever told me was to "just sit. OK?" because I was too goal oriented in my practice (that was you). But sometimes some of us are so focused or tense, or lost in thought that we need a bit more of a method to be able to do Shikantaza "just sit" with any benefit. Saying just sit is fine, but saying just sit and pay attention I think works for some.

    I think the common misrepresentation of practice is that it is something special or grand. I also think another part of practice is coming to understand that we are not what we "think" we are and part of that way of being is from not paying attention, and continuing to be lead down all kinds of roads without having a choice.

    I'll get back to you after 9 years so.

    Thanks
    Gassho Will

  11. #11

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    Well, ... Both of you is right. :lol:

    I have an example:

    If you only concern to see the leaf, you may not see the tree as a whole.
    If you only concern to see the tree, you may not see the forest as a whole.
    If you only concern to see the forest, you may not see the universe as a whole.
    But...
    The leaf can't be separated with the tree.
    The tree can't be separated with the forest.
    The forest can't be separated with the universe.
    so...
    seeing the leaf is seeing the universe, and seeing the universe is seeing the leaf and the tree.
    we see the tree, the leaf, and the universe as one, as it is, just reality is self.

    But, I think it's really difficult to express it into words. so, The best way is Just Sit...

    Gassho, Shui Di.

  12. #12

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    Quote Originally Posted by Shui_Di
    Well, ... Both of you is right. :lol:

    I have an example:

    If you only concern to see the leaf, you may not see the tree as a whole.
    If you only concern to see the tree, you may not see the forest as a whole.
    If you only concern to see the forest, you may not see the universe as a whole.
    But...
    The leaf can't be separated with the tree.
    The tree can't be separated with the forest.
    The forest can't be separated with the universe.
    so...
    seeing the leaf is seeing the universe, and seeing the universe is seeing the leaf and the tree.
    we see the tree, the leaf, and the universe as one, as it is, just reality is self.

    But, I think it's really difficult to express it into words. so, The best way is Just Sit...

    Gassho, Shui Di.
    Yes! That's Treeleaf!! :lol: And the leaf is just the tree, tree is just its leaves.

    Gassho, Jundo

    (seriously ... that's pretty much what the name means, and why I picked it)

  13. #13

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    If you only concern to see the leaf, you may not see the tree as a whole.
    If you only concern to see the tree, you may not see the forest as a whole.
    If you only concern to see the forest, you may not see the universe as a whole.
    Thanks Shui di.

    G,W

  14. #14

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    Truly too many words by me though. I should sit more today and say less.

    Gassho, Jundo

  15. #15

    Re: Question about philosophy of act non-attainment

    Beautifully expressed Shui Di.
    & welcome
    Jools

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