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Thread: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

  1. #1
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    This may be nitpicking, but I have a question regarding this term. In Realizing Genjokoan, on p. 111, Shohaku Okumura defines this as "the process of body and mind arising (being born) and perishing (dying) over and over again, moment by moment."

    I'm just wondering if this arising and perishing is meant to be a solid, continuous process, or one more like a film running at a million frames a second, where each moment is a fixed moment that, through its motion, gives the illusion of movement.

  2. #2

    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    This may be nitpicking, but I have a question regarding this term. In Realizing Genjokoan, on p. 111, Shohaku Okumura defines this as "the process of body and mind arising (being born) and perishing (dying) over and over again, moment by moment."

    I'm just wondering if this arising and perishing is meant to be a solid, continuous process, or one more like a film running at a million frames a second, where each moment is a fixed moment that, through its motion, gives the illusion of movement.
    Well, for those wondering, a "setsuna" (ksana in sanskrit) is a tiny tiny unit of time, the smallest unit of time, so small that one cannot even cut it in two ... and "shoji" means "birth/life and death". So, this is something like "we are born and die moment by moment".

    Yes, I would think this question is not the point (like "does ice cream = creamy ice or icy cream?" ... Instead, just taste the ice cream!):

    I'm just wondering if this arising and perishing is meant to be a solid, continuous process, or one more like a film running at a million frames a second, where each moment is a fixed moment that, through its motion, gives the illusion of movement

    Does the river flow in discreet units drop by drop, or does it go in a continuous process?

    JUST FORGET ABOUT IT, DIVE IN AND GET SOAKING WET! FLOW WITH THE CHANGE! :shock:

    Gassho, J

  3. #3

    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    kirkmc, this is just the sort of question I've been asking around these and other parts, asking a bit too much, in fact. With more study and zazen under my belt, I'm starting to understand the responses of teachers like Jundo with a bit less confusion. I try to remind myself of my overthinking by recalling Thich Nhat Hanh's sweet admonition that "we don't really need to think a whole lot" -- though if I need a good ear-boxing, I remind myself of Dainin Katagiri's declaration, "Whatever you think is delusion" and grimace. :shock:

    So, if you think we might both harbor a jones/striving for overthought thoughts, and if you're willing to share, I'd be interested to know why you asked the question. What were you seeking in asking it?

    Thanks, either way!

  4. #4
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    The question was really a terminology question; I'm a word guy. In Realizing Genjokoan, Shohaku Okumura spent time defining this term and a couple of others that relate to time, to explain his choices in his translation. I really wasn't asking a question about time itself. Though Jundo's answer was certainly welcome. :-)

  5. #5

    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    Gotcha -- thanks!

  6. #6

    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedestrian
    I try to remind myself of my overthinking by recalling Thich Nhat Hanh's sweet admonition that "we don't really need to think a whole lot" -- though if I need a good ear-boxing, I remind myself of Dainin Katagiri's declaration, "Whatever you think is delusion" and grimace. :shock:

    Thanks, either way!
    Well I do think a whole lot but putting it down has become easier. Because thinking is a representation of something, Katagiri's 'Whatever you think is delusion' makes sense. the only way to truly realize Genjokoan is to just do it - we practice this with the action of just sitting and just doing whatever we do. So "the process of body and mind arising (being born) and perishing (dying) over and over again, moment by moment." is not a problem or even a question but just the universe doing what it does. I don't know, something like that - I'm not a word guy.

  7. #7
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    You are a word-guy...Nice to meet you.

    What we are interested in is what is beyond words.
    Or words that manifest the beyond.
    Words for words are mere shadows.

    I strongly feel and see that Jundo answered the real question, the question behind the question, and this is about time.

    Anyway, welcome,as we haven't met so far,

    gassho

    Taigu

  8. #8

    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    Methinks we need a word guy club!

  9. #9
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu

    Anyway, welcome,as we haven't met so far,
    You've seen me around. I just changed my avatar, so I look new. :-)

  10. #10
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    Indeed. You see how much i now care about words...
    :roll:


    gassho


    Taigu

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    Who was it that said you can never put your foot in the same river twice :mrgreen:

  12. #12
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    you can never put your foot in the same river twice
    Perhaps not, but you can put it in your mouth infinite times ops:
    Such is the double edge nature of those words we cling so tightly to!

    Gassho,
    John

  13. #13

    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    It was either Dick Van Patten or Heraclitus who said it. haahhaha

  14. #14

    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    So how do we know that the river is unchanged? What are we comparing this thing to, to see the change? Something must be unchanging for there to be change right?

  15. #15
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    Interestingly, I found the following in a book I'm reading, Principles of Digital Audio:

    "...physicists have suggested that time might come in discrete intervals. Specifically, the indivisible period of time might be 10 -43 second, known as Planck time. One theory is that no time interval can be shorter than this because the energy required to make the division would be so great that a black hole would be created and the event swallowed up inside it."

  16. #16

    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Interestingly, I found the following in a book I'm reading, Principles of Digital Audio:

    "...physicists have suggested that time might come in discrete intervals. Specifically, the indivisible period of time might be 10 -43 second, known as Planck time. One theory is that no time interval can be shorter than this because the energy required to make the division would be so great that a black hole would be created and the event swallowed up inside it."
    All time and space are swallowed up in each instant of sitting Zazen. Truly. Zazen is a singularity. 8)

    Gassho, J

  17. #17

    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    To Jundo's point, Dogen stated day consists of 6,400,099,180 moments, each of which provides an opportunity to be here, now, in practice-enlightenment. I wonder how that number compares to Planck time!

  18. #18

    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    To Jundo's point, Dogen stated day consists of 6,400,099,180 moments, each of which provides an opportunity to be here, now, in practice-enlightenment. I wonder how that number compares to Planck time!

    Hmmm. Seems to be some mystery on exactly where Dogen came up with that number ... and sounds a bit like that fellow who calculated that the world was to end a couple of weeks ago! :shock: Dainin Katagiri Roshi said:

    Eihei Dogen, the thirteenth-century Zen master who founded the Soto Zen school in Japan, always emphasized how important it is to see that human life is based on impermanence. In Gakudo Yojin-shu (Points to Watch in Buddhist Training), he mentions that the great patriarch Nagarjuna said, “The mind that sees into the flux of arising and decaying, and recognizes the transient nature of the world, is called the way-seeking mind.” In Shobogenzo, “Shukke-kudoku” (Merits of the Monastic’s Life), Dogen Zenji said that most people are not able to acquire the way-seeking mind of spiritual awareness without deeply understanding that a day consists of 6,400,099,180 moments. This is a wonderful number. I don’t know where Dogen found this number, but saying that there are 6,400,099,180 moments in a day is not talking about a mysterious idea; it is talking about something real. A moment is called ksana in Sanskrit. Sometimes we say that one finger snap has sixty moments, so one finger snap equals sixty ksana. A Buddhist dictionary may say that a moment equals one seventy-fifth of a second. According to the Abhidharma scriptures, a moment consists of sixty-five instants. The actual numbers are not so important, but we should have a sense of how quickly time goes.

    According to Buddhist teaching, all beings in the universe appear and disappear in a moment. The term impermanence expresses the functioning of moment, or the appearance and disappearance of all beings as a moment. It means that all life is transient, constantly appearing and disappearing, constantly changing. You are transient, I am transient, and Buddha is transient. Everything is transient. Wherever you may go, transiency follows you. Transiency is the naked nature of time.

    http://archive.thebuddhadharma.com/issu ... l/time.php
    So, sounds like Dogen calculated that a day consists of 106,668,32 finger snaps! (6,400,099,180 divided by 60 = 106,668,32). I wonder if he actually tried it out!? 8)

    Anyway, passing moments ... sounds pretty depressing perhaps, like sands through the hour glass. However, another way to look at such is as our passing away, and being freshly reborn, 6,400,099,180 times a day! 6,400,099,180 chances for a fresh start each day. Brad has a few nice pages on this in one of his books, pages 48 amd 49 here:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=y8JGv6 ... en&f=false

    Anyway, if the sands flow through the hour glass ... go with the flow!

    By the way, speaking of amazing numbers, the Buddha seems to have gotten one right (from National Public Radio):

    The Buddha Imagines The Unimaginable (And Gets It Right!)
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2010/ ... dha-counts

    Ezra: Well there's this episode about a counting contest between the Buddha and a mathematician named Arjuna where the prince is asked to calculate both a very big number and, yes, a very, very small number.

    Me: Is that hard?

    Ezra: Well, the small problem was to count the number of — I guess you could call them — atoms, the smallest possible unit, in a yojana.

    Me: What's a yojanda?

    Ezra: According to Alex Bellos, a journalist who included this tale in his new book Here's Looking at Euclid, a yojana is an ancient unit of length equivalent to around 10 kilometers.

    Me: So the question is, roughly: How many atoms are there in a line 10 kilometers long?

    Ezra: Kind of. And here, courtesy of the ancient texts, is his solution:

    A yojana, the Buddha said, is equivalent to:

    Four krosha, each of which was the length of
    One thousand arcs, each of which was the length of
    Four cubits, each of which was the length of
    Two spans, each of which was the length of
    Twelve phalanges of fingers, each of which was the length of
    Seven grains of barley, each of which was the length of
    Seven mustard seeds, each of which was the length of
    Seven particles of dust stirred up by a cow, each of which was the length of
    Seven specks of dust disturbed by a ram, each of which was the length of
    Seven specks of dust stirred up by a hare, each of which was the length of
    Seven specks of dust carried away by the wind, each of which was the length of
    Seven tiny specks of dust, each of which was the length of
    Seven minute specks of dust, each of which was the length of
    Seven particles of the first atoms.


    So here's the neat part: According to Alex Bellos, it turns out the Buddha's calculation got the size of an atom very close to right!

    This was, in fact, a pretty good estimate. Just say that a finger is 4 centimeters long. The Buddha's "first atoms" are, therefore, 4 centimeters divided by 7 ten times, which is 0.04 meter x 7 to the minus 10 or 0.00000000001416 meter, which is more or less the size of a carbon atom.

    Me: Wow!

    Ezra: Well, remember, this is a legend so I wouldn't like, fall on my knees or anything...

    Me: But still...

    Ezra: Maybe the neat thing here lies in the notion that the civilization that gave rise to Buddhism was also the same civilization and culture that had a thing for and a means to express — usefulness aside — infinitely large and small numbers. A number describing the size of a carbon atom would be meaningless in a society that had no notion of atoms or building blocks of that scale.

    Here's a group of ancient people (ancient Indians) trying not only to comprehend the infinite but somehow thought it important to name so many divisions of infinitely large and small.
    Snap of the fingers Gassho, Jundo

  19. #19

    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    Who was it that said you can never put your foot in the same river twice :mrgreen:
    You cannot even put the same foot in the river twice
    _()_
    Peter, playing with words

  20. #20

    Re: Terminology question: setsuna-shoji

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    you can never put your foot in the same river twice
    Perhaps not, but you can put it in your mouth infinite times ops:
    Such is the double edge nature of those words we cling so tightly to!

    Gassho,
    John
    This is funny. Funny thread.

    Gassho

    Will

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