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Thread: Mindfulness, according to Nishijima

  1. #1
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Mindfulness, according to Nishijima

    Some time ago, there was a thread (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=837&p=11939) about someone who had asked Nishijima about mindfulness on his blog, and Nishijima had replied in a manner that was, well, surprising. It suggested that perhaps his understand of the term mindfulness was different from ours.

    In a recent post, he mentioned "the philosophy of Action", and I have been trying to figure out what he means. I found this document:

    http://www.dogensangha.org.uk/IBPZ/IBPZ-English.pdf

    which discusses this somewhat. It says:

    "Action in the moment of the present is utterly free. This is the philosophy of action, the philosophy of the present moment."

    Is this "Action" what we understand as mindfulness?

    Kirk

  2. #2

    Re: Mindfulness, according to Nishijima

    Hi,

    No time to answer in detail, but one thing I can say about Nishijima is that, when he says he thinks the universe is god is the universe, it is not an advaitic statement. He never, for example, speaks of universal consciousness or the like.

    Gassho, J

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    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Mindfulness, according to Nishijima

    To me, saying the universe is God is just a metaphor for saying that there is no god, but if one has to find one, it would be everything that exists... Unless his statement is meant to be more serious and concrete than that.

    Kirk

  4. #4

    Re: Mindfulness, according to Nishijima

    Saying 'God is the universe, the unverse is God' implies deliberate manifestation. It implies that God, or the formless, or whatever name you give it, intentionally manifests itself as form, as the universe. It essentially implies 'creation', though not from an external force or being. That is quite different to the universe being here kind of by accident and unintentionally.

    I don't know if that's what Nishijima wanted to say, but that's what the statement implies.

    Gassho,
    David

  5. #5

    Re: Mindfulness, according to Nishijima

    Perhaps these questions are best directed to Nishijima Roshi? I used to be pretty sure of an answer to what you are asking, but the safest bet is to ask him. :?

  6. #6

    Re: Mindfulness, according to Nishijima

    You're quite right, Jundo. Sorry. I don't think it's the right time for this either, I just got captured by a topic that fascinates me and couldn't resist sticking my oar in...

    Gassho,
    David

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    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Mindfulness, according to Nishijima

    You're talking a lot about god, but that wasn't my question; it was about mindfulness. Jundo, can you address what you understand about Nishijima's "action" and whether it is mindfulness as we know it?

    Kirk

  8. #8

    Re: Mindfulness, according to Nishijima

    I just pulled the post I wrote. I'm still too close to this situation to answer right now. But let me address the God part ...

    Saying 'God is the universe, the unverse is God' implies deliberate manifestation. It implies that God, or the formless, or whatever name you give it, intentionally manifests itself as form, as the universe. It essentially implies 'creation', though not from an external force or being. That is quite different to the universe being here kind of by accident and unintentionally.

    I don't know if that's what Nishijima wanted to say, but that's what the statement implies.

    Gassho,
    David
    I say the following with great love for Nishijima Roshi ...

    I am pretty sure that Nishijima Roshi never develops the idea that far. He means that god is the universe is god. Take it at that. He does not fill in the details of exactly how that works, and he probably does not know himself what he means beyond that.

    His thinking quite often is rather concrete and limited, as in "ice cream is tonight's dessert". That is all it means. God is the universe, ice cream is tonight's dessert (and that is just a direct statement, not a Koan or the like with some profound meaning). No "advaita", no "deliberate manifestation" ... just "ice cream is tonight's dessert".

    G, J

  9. #9

    Re: Mindfulness, according to Nishijima

    Quote Originally Posted by emptyzen

    Despite this, he does recognise it when the universe is working in his favour. A kind of mysterious helping hand from the depths of the cosmos! Brad talks similarly. He also talks about how it is God that sees through your eyes. Nishijima seems to be Ok with that explanation.

    Nothing is more advaitic than that.
    Whatever. I think you may be reading a lot into not much.

    Gassho, J

  10. #10

    Re: Mindfulness, according to Nishijima

    having not studied with Nishijima but with a different old japanese zen monk, (who was highly influenced by homeless kodo, and uchiyama so similar vien at least) i think jundo is probably right on the money, the universe just is, it happened, big bang whatever, and we're here, thats "god enough" it doesnt imply creation, or any other sense of a god that does. its a we're here, now get down to the matter at hand dont put another head on top of the one you already have.. sort of thing...

    Yet, there are zen teachers say the same thing about mindfulness. There is no spontaneity in action when one is mindful. Of course, it requires a deliberate effort to maintain attention during mindfulness, does it not?
    im not sure what the sanskrit is for mindfulness but the pali is sati. and i would have to say youve got a somewhat mistaken idea about sati. i guess you could break it down to a mature and immature mindfulness, an immature minfulness would be deliberate and lack spontaneity where as a mature would not.
    we can look at it from an uchiyama POV, the mind thinks. you can be aware of the thoughts with out being caught up in them, this would be an open hand, a mature mindfulness, one is not dead so one is still thinking, one just doesnt attach to them, but maybe an immature mindfullness would mentally note oh a thought oh a thought, not really grasping at them, but noting them, sort of the way the burmese teach beginners in vipasanna.

    the non meditator would attach to thoughts, be swayed and controlled by them
    the young meditator maybe sees "oh i'm thinking and lets go"
    the "old timer" simply lets go

    yet there is still an awareness, he's not dead or in a coma.

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