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Jundo
01-03-2016, 07:04 PM
Dear All,

We begin a reading of Kosho Uchiyama Roshi's book "Opening the Hand of Thought", a modern classic for practitioners of Shikantaza and Soto Zen. This is the second time we have looked at this book here in the "Beyond Words" Book Club (the last time was in 2008), but it is a rich resource worth going back to again and again. We had several requests in recent weeks.

This time, we will go at a rather brisk pace, about a Chapter per week (maybe a portion of a Chapter sometimes).

We will being this week with Chapter 1 - Practice and Persimmons.

Anything resonate for you here? Any particular passages or ideas? Any questions or difficult to understand portions?

Please drop in a comment with anything that strikes you, and don't be shy. Please don't be quiet out of hesitancy.

Enjoy!

For those awaiting their copy (all Shikantaza sitters are encouraged to read it), it is available partially online while you wait.

https://www.google.co.jp/search?tbo=p&tbm=bks&q=inauthor:%22Kosho+Uchiyama+Roshi%22#tbm=bks&q=editions:frNVC6VQyA0C

Gassho, Jundo

SatToday

Mp
01-03-2016, 07:06 PM
Thank you Jundo, will start to dive in. =)

Gassho
Shingen

#sattoday

Washin
01-03-2016, 07:51 PM
Thank you Jundo.
I would like to participate in the reading.
I am planning to order this book from Amazon some next days
while using the google link for this beginning..

Gassho
Sergey
sat-today

Myosha
01-03-2016, 10:12 PM
Hello,

Thank you for the link.


Gassho
Myosha sat today

CK732
01-04-2016, 12:21 AM
Looking forward to reading it.

Gassho

Clarisse


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Onkai
01-04-2016, 02:02 AM
I enjoyed the chapter. what struck me was the discussion of accidental and undeniable realities and how that relates to practice. I liked the following statement:
The Buddhist approach from a Mahayana perspective might be described this way: By accepting and properly understanding the true nature of both accidental and undeniable realities, and by living in accord with this understanding, the matter of living and dying will cease to be such a terrible problem. (p 11) That is saying a lot. And yet,
...the little we become aware of in life is just scratching the surface...We just continue to practice, aiming to live a true way of life as best we can, neither worrying nor gauging what we are doing (p 20) I was also struck by the statement that thoughts and feelings are secretions of the mind. (p 16) That is good to be aware of. Sometimes thoughts and feelings seem to be reality, when they don't actually reflect their surroundings.

I had been meaning to read this book, and am glad to have the opportunity to discuss it.

Jundo
01-04-2016, 04:42 AM
The Buddhist approach from a Mahayana perspective might be described this way: By accepting and properly understanding the true nature of both accidental and undeniable realities, and by living in accord with this understanding, the matter of living and dying will cease to be such a terrible problem. (p 11)

I wonder if I may make one comment without muddling this up. I wonder as a translator whether the "accidental" here (implying that something was "unintended" or without a clear cause or human plan or scheduling behind it) might mean something more in the philosophical sense of something that is changing and impermanent, might happen or not happen, comes and goes. More a "contingent" event:


contingent

1. Liable but not certain to occur; possible: The parade is contingent on the weather.
2. Dependent on other conditions or circumstances; conditional: arms sales contingent on the approval of Congress.
3. Happening by or subject to chance or accident; unpredictable: contingent developments that jeopardized the negotiations.
4. Logic True only under certain conditions; not necessarily or universally true: a contingent proposition.

So, for example, when we have the Jukai Ceremony next Sunday, it is not "accidental", in the sense that we are planning for it, I organize it intentionally, and the reasons for it are understood by us (to mark the receipt of Precepts). So, it is intended, planned and not "accidental".

However, the ceremony is "accidental" or "contingent" in the sense of something that might happen or (if life intervenes, I get sick, the power goes out) not happen, starts at midnight and ends an hour later, is limited to that certain time and place so is small and finite, is our Jukai and not about other people, is not an inevitability or a necessity. It has some significance for our group, but then we forget about it a day later. I think this is the meaning of Uchiyama's "accidental" events. Our very life, birth and death, seem contingent too in this way.

Beyond that, however, Uchiyama also points out that, to the Wise Buddha Eye, all these finite events and phenomena also have that suchness which is Boundless, Timeless about them, transcending coming and going and limited place and time, each grain of sand holding all the world, all time, the kitchen sink and that ain't all. So, nothing is simply limited or "accidental" or "contingent" in that way, even when simultaneously a passing and limited contingent and finite thing or event. That goes for our life and death too.


Maybe I just muddled the muddy waters more. :crushed: This is why Zen folks are advised to stay away from philosophizing about words.


Gassho, J

Ongen
01-04-2016, 11:44 AM
Thank you Jundo!

3231

Gassho
Ongen

Sat Today

Kokuu
01-04-2016, 11:54 AM
Great to look at this again. I often recommend it to people and remember it being good but can't actually recollect much of the content!

One teacher of mine recommended reading widely at first and then getting to know 10-12 essential texts really well. I suspect this is one of those 10-12 essentials.

Gassho
Kokuu
#sattoday

Anshu Bryson
01-04-2016, 02:01 PM
For those who don't yet have the book: (the ebook bundle is quick, handy and economical) - http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/opening-hand-thought

Gassho,
Anshu

-sat today-

Myosha
01-04-2016, 04:36 PM
I wonder if I may make one comment without muddling this up. I wonder as a translator whether the "accidental" here (implying that something was "unintended" or without a clear cause or human plan or scheduling behind it) might mean something more in the philosophical sense of something that is changing and impermanent, might happen or not happen, comes and goes. More a "contingent" event . . . .

Gassho, J

Hello,

It was helpful to consolidate the distinctive accident/undeniable realities as 'conditional'. For the talks' original audience, perhaps, distinction is more appropriate.

Every day is a good day.


Gassho
Myosha sat today

Kyotai
01-04-2016, 05:24 PM
I will join in a week or so when paperback arrives. (Wondering if those Amazon delivery drones work in -29 Celsius :) . .)

Gassho, Kyotai
Sat today

ForestDweller
01-04-2016, 05:47 PM
Ripeness is all. Readiness is everything. No wine before its time. And on the sentiment goes. Yet it seems, so many of us just want to get to the result - the fruit. "Wasting" time on selecting seeds, tilling the ground, nurturing the plant, and THEN harvesting at ripeness eludes best efforts. Then there are the tricky plants that, for example like the persimmon, need grafting or some other special treatment. Sounds like people. Yes? Relationships don’t just happen, and they certainly aren’t “purchased” in the produce department of life. To eventually dwell in a lasting, loving friendship or spousal partnership takes a lot of up-front tending and care. If I sound like I’m preaching a bit, it’s only to put down in writing what I want to remember. Up here, in the remote boreal Forest, true relationships are even harder to find, and due to the harsh conditions, they are even more essential than usual. So this construction of “self” duly remembers. – Forest Dweller (CatherineS) -^^ForestSatToday20degrees^^

omom
01-04-2016, 06:21 PM
Thank you Jundo !

Gassho
omom

sattoday

Joyo
01-04-2016, 07:29 PM
Thank you, Jundo, and all for joining. Will start to read chapter 1 this week.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Bodhi
01-04-2016, 07:37 PM
Thank you Jundo! This book has been staring at me on my bookshelf for a while now. It will be wonderful to have a chance to read it with a group.

Gassho,
Jason

Joyo
01-04-2016, 08:42 PM
Wonderful, wonderful reading! I liked his comparisons between Buddhism and Christianity. Coming from a Christian background (which many of us in the west can relate to) it made his writing easy to understand. His view of the Christian god and enlightenment is something I have never heard of before, but that resonated with me.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Tai Shi
01-04-2016, 09:22 PM
Yes, at one time I was a strong Christian, and I suppose that will never leave me though churches are not where I found faith. I remember trying to sleep in ICU with pints of blood pumping into my body, and praying so hard, "God, don't let me die. I have so much to give to my little family. I have failed so many times." And God answered my prayer. Today I am a different man. After leaving the hospital and not being able to sleep for months, it was to meditation I turned, and I began to know my own breath with simple breath counting, so eventually I could sleep a few hours, and now about every third night I sleep well. Thank you for welcoming me into this Sangha, for making me a friend though I hardly know some of you.
deep bows.
Elgwyn

Gassho--sat today--_/|\_

ForestDweller
01-04-2016, 11:48 PM
Welcome, Elgwyn, from another relatively new sangha member. Sounds like you have been up the river and back, so to speak. In my experience, this is always a good place to start or continue a spiritual journey. May I suggest that something called "the great matter of life and death" - the process we are all flowing through - is what answered your prayers. Having been raised Irish Catholic, I understand the residual effects of a Christian upbringing; however, I've also found that saying good-bye to any concept labeled "god" was a wild leap into the actual reality all around and a great liberation. Forgive me, if I intrude. Just offering a thought. Respectfully, Forest Dweller ^^Forest Sat Today^^

Jakuden
01-05-2016, 03:20 AM
It is precisely this, Zen in our daily lives, that Uchiyama Roshi stressed more than anything else. After all, when asked to introduce ourselves or identify ourselves upon meeting somebody for the first time, we will most likely be thought weird if we reply, "Hi, I'm the Entire Universe, nice to meet you."

(In discussing the translation of jiko) This is the idea I was trying to describe in another thread, we may all be the whole universe, but for purposes of learning and communication, sometimes the individual self and its colloquial way of expression better serves. :)

Gassho,
Sierra
SatToday

Eishuu
01-05-2016, 09:37 AM
I don't find this an easy book to read. Some of it seems really clear and other parts I struggle to understand. This chapter is quite dense and full of things to digest.

The one section that I've got really stuck on and can't get my head round is on page 14-15, where he talks about change and interconnection and then starts saying "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...and I do not leave everything behind to live on after me. ... I bring my own world ito existence, live it out, and take it with me when I die".

I can understand and accept (to some extent) that I am impermanent, insubstantial and lacking in self and that the whole universe is like this, but why would I take my world with me when I die? It's like the wave taking the ocean with it when it's done being a wave...it doesn't make sense to me. Maybe I'm not reading it right. What does he mean here by 'my world'?

I'd really appreciate hearing other people's understanding of this section, and particularly how it relates to the relative and absolute?

Thank you

Gassho
Lucy (very confused :))
sat today

Kotei
01-05-2016, 10:37 AM
Hi Lucy,
I am just starting to read this book, being one of the newer folks around.

Maybe another way to read the section, you mentioned, could be:
With my birth, the little self is starting it's existence. From that point on, it is starting to add "meaning", "feeling", "judgement", "views", "separation", etc..
It's not the same way, others might see or judge or smell the things around. It is a very limited perspective of my very human self.
Therefore, 'MY' universe, like my little self is experiencing it (making it up) is bound to my little self and stops existing when my little self stops making it up.

Maybe the ocean and wave analogy is referring to the "outside of self" view that will continue to exist like what we might experience while sitting Zazen.
It's not the ocean, the wave takes with it, it's the idea of the ocean separateness, as the self of the wave has experienced it with it's limited view, that is gone.
Reality is what's left, when we subtract ourselves.

Just thoughts,
Gassho,
Ralf sattoday.

Kyonin
01-05-2016, 12:50 PM
Hi all,

I will join as soon as I can get the book.

Gassho,

Kyonin

Jundo
01-05-2016, 03:05 PM
Hi all,

I will join as soon as I can get the book.

Gassho,

Kyonin

You don't have the book? Basic reading for all Priests here!

I believe I will open a thread for our Priests about what writings are indispensable.

Gassho, J

SatToday

Jundo
01-05-2016, 03:34 PM
The one section that I've got really stuck on and can't get my head round is on page 14-15, where he talks about change and interconnection and then starts saying "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...and I do not leave everything behind to live on after me. ... I bring my own world ito existence, live it out, and take it with me when I die".

I can understand and accept (to some extent) that I am impermanent, insubstantial and lacking in self and that the whole universe is like this, but why would I take my world with me when I die? It's like the wave taking the ocean with it when it's done being a wave...it doesn't make sense to me. Maybe I'm not reading it right. What does he mean here by 'my world'?

I'd really appreciate hearing other people's understanding of this section, and particularly how it relates to the relative and absolute?



Hi Lucy,

Ralf's description is very very lovely.

Late me take a swing too, as I understand Uchiyama.

In Mahayana Buddhism, there are many wonderful ways to look at the wholeness and interrelationships of life. Of course, there is most likely a "world" that existed before you were born and will go on after you die. (I don't think Uchiyama, already an old guy when he penned it, would have bothered to write that book if he thought nobody would be around to read it after he died).

Buddhist Practice also allows us to see that we are that world, and the world just us, much like a wave is just the sea, or a petal is just the flower. The wave arises from the sea, is the sea in motion and, when the wave finally crashes onto the shore, yet the sea goes on and on and on.

But also, your unique experience of the world is born with you, and will die with you. That's not "--the-- world", but rather, Uchiyama speaks of "his own world" and "your own world".

What's an example? England has had many Prime Ministers ... such as Disraeli, Churchill, Wilson, Thatcher, Blair and Brown. Of course, England existed before and after (I assume). But we might say, for example, that "Thatcher's England" was born when she was elected, had her very unique feel and stamp and vision, and died when she left office. Disraeli's England is not Thatcher's England. Same for your world, which is born and dies with you. Your world is your world, and nobody else's world can live and create your world.

Although I do not like to draw direct links between Buddhism and modern physics too often, Einstein also spoke of each being and thing in the universe as having its own space-time of the universe, in a sense, its own version of the universe. Time and space for you is not the same as the passing of time and shape of space for me. Dogen talked of all of use being in our own "being-time" which is unlike anyone else's being-time. In his essay, "Being-Time" Dogen wrote ...

The way the self arrays itself is the form of the entire world. See each thing in this entire world as a moment of time.
Things do not hinder one another, just as moments do not hinder one another. ... Know that in this way there are myriads of forms and hundreds of grasses throughout the entire earth, and yet each grass and each form itself is the entire earth. ...

Something like that. Your universe (or your experience or version of -the- universe) is thus your own.

By the way, I use "universe" here to mean "everything and then some". It is just a label for that. We Buddhists sometimes use the term to mean "the ultimate whatever and as far as that is". Whatever that "ultimate" or "absolute" is, there is also just "your ultimate absolute" too. [monk]

Gassho, J

SatToday

Tai Shi
01-05-2016, 09:52 PM
Go to "Community," then find the dropdown near the bottom. type in "Elgwyn" at add contacts. When you get to my name, just check the box saying friend--really pretty easy.

Jakuden
01-06-2016, 04:32 AM
Although I do not like to draw direct links between Buddhism and modern physics too often,

Why?
Just curious... My mind likes to try to fit Zen concepts in like puzzle pieces with science and math sometimes... I don't attach too much significance to it, but I don't try to actively avoid it either.

Gassho,
Sierra
SatToday

Jundo
01-06-2016, 05:57 AM
Why?
Just curious... My mind likes to try to fit Zen concepts in like puzzle pieces with science and math sometimes... I don't attach too much significance to it, but I don't try to actively avoid it either.

Gassho,
Sierra
SatToday

Well, there are definitely some parallels ... the fluidity of space time, the fact that both modern neuro-science and the Buddha speak to the radical degree in which we recreate our worldview between the ears based upon data from the senses, how much we are just the same stuff as the rest of the visible universe, the fact that Mahayana Sutras and modern astronomy seem to speak of worlds upon worlds, that biology and all the sciences point to the great interconnection and interflowing of all beings and things ...

... but also too much fluff in the Buddhist-New Age world that too easily draws parallels and bandies about words like "Quantum" this and "Quantum" that.


Be sure to catch the similar "Deepockets Chopra" page ...

http://www.wisdomofchopra.com/

Folks, if you even find me talking like this ... head for the hills as fast as your flying carpets will take you.


Consciousness consists of transmissions of quantum energy. “Quantum” means an awakening of the holistic. The stratosphere is bursting with bio-feedback.

I note that "Zen" is cool with "what is", no matter what is.

So, if the earth is round and we evolved from monkeys and a Big Bang 13.7 Billion years ago ... fetch water, chop wood, live gently. We are that.

If the earth is flat and we evolved from Adam and Eve and the Earth is 5000 years old ... fetch water, chop wood, live gently. We are that.

All is the Grand Wholeness-Emptiness Interflowing and Dancing, and you and me are just such. :buddha:

And that is the Quantum Truth! :)


Gassho, J

SatToday

Eishuu
01-06-2016, 11:29 AM
Thank you Ralf and Jundo. Your descriptions are really helpful. Still a lot to get my head around. Jundo, if there is also "your ultimate absolute" does that mean that everyone experiences enlightenment differently? Can you elaborate on that a bit more please? I assumed that there was one ultimate reality that everyone experienced when the self fell away. And are all these separate 'worlds' or 'individual space-times' also interconnected, like Indra's net, in that everybody affects everybody else, and Thatcher's England still affects the present day? Or am I making it too complicated? Thank you. :)

Gassho
Lucy
Sat today

Jinyo
01-06-2016, 12:17 PM
Hello Lucy,

thank you for your questions - they are encouraging me to re-read Uchiyama's book more carefully. The first time I read it I experienced at as
a gentle introduction to Zen Buddhist practice but I'm now feeling it's fairly multi-layered.

I prefer the word 'contingent' to 'accidental' - as Jundo suggested. From the moment we are born - and even in the womb - we begin creating our contingent world through our sense organs. Sometimes - in Buddhism - and on other psychologies - this comes across as a bit negative - but our personal contingency is what creates each unique individual - and this is also a positive and productive aspect of being a human being.

But our contingency is wholly impermanent - the knowledge of this can cause us suffering and pain. But there is another aspect to 'jiko' - our inherent Buddha nature - our 'whole self', - our 'universal identity'. This aspect is beyond birth and death and yet is wholly accessible to us in Zazen ( and by that I understand Uchiyama to mean Zazen as in every activity that makes up the fabric of our lived life).

Uchiyama set himself the task of actualizing the eternal self in every aspect of his life. He uses a very firm base for this - firstly a belief in an 'absolute truth' which is beyond logus (reason and therefore words). This is both a philosophical position and a religious teaching with a soteriological imperative.

For me - this is a bit of a sticking point - because I'm not at all convinced that one can call oneself a secular Buddhist - and practice from within this belief system. There is a metaphysical element and I've been chewing on this for the past four years. The metaphysical element isn't a problem for me personally - but when someone asks me if Zen Buddhism is a religion I honestly don't know how to answer. I think it is - I feel this is clearly revealed in Uchiyama's writing yet this aspect seems to get brushed aside.

I feel the metaphysical aspect is what separates Zen from secular mindfulness meditation?

Views on this would be much appreciated.

Gassho

Willow

sat today

Tai Shi
01-06-2016, 01:17 PM
Open Hand of Thought --I'm waiting for my copy of the book to arrive. Until it does, I will follow the postings in this book study. Elgwyn
sat today
Gassho

Daiyo
01-06-2016, 02:09 PM
Hi all!

May I join? I have the spanish edition in google books.
If it doesn't do, I will buy a kindle edition in english.


Gassho, Daiyo.

#SatToday

Jundo
01-06-2016, 02:36 PM
Hi all!

May I join? I have the spanish edition in google books.
If it doesn't do, I will buy a kindle edition in english.


Gassho, Daiyo.

#SatToday

Si, si, por supuesto. Le lengua no es importante. No es una cosa de qualquier palabra,

Gassho, J

Yo has sentado.

Jishin
01-06-2016, 03:27 PM
Si, si, por supuesto. Le lengua no es importante. No es una cosa de qualquier palabra,



https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/27/10/cb/2710cb3efe42243d4cdbf2928ddf9bc9.jpg

Gassho, Jishin, ST

Jundo
01-06-2016, 04:05 PM
Jundo, if there is also "your ultimate absolute" does that mean that everyone experiences enlightenment differently? Can you elaborate on that a bit more please? I assumed that there was one ultimate reality that everyone experienced when the self fell away.

This is where I am supposed to advise you to just sit, find out for oneself.

But, look, if the universe is just one great bowl of chicken soup which we all are, does that mean we all need taste that soup just the same on any given day? One soup, many flavors.

And what does this broth taste like when there are no separate mouths to taste? [A Koan]

In any event, holding all bitter and sweet of human life, Delicious.


And are all these separate 'worlds' or 'individual space-times' also interconnected, like Indra's net, in that everybody affects everybody else, and Thatcher's England still affects the present day? Or am I making it too complicated? Thank you. :)


We really are getting too philosophical here. However, basic Mahayana Buddhist teachings would say that, yes, everything impacts everything else (my understanding is that field theory in physics also concurs, and that even you have some gravitational effect across distant galaxies). Any place you tug on a net has some effect somehow, large or small, on every part of the network.


The premise of Einstein’s theory of general relativity can be used to explain gravity in space. Imagine the universe as a two-dimensional sheet that represents the space-time fabric. If one were to place a ball with mass m on this sheet, it would create a depression that alters the space-time fabric. This distortion in gravity changes the progression of an object that passes through the depression. A ball with mass 2m will create a bigger depression and thus have a greater force of gravity acting upon it. The further an object is from the ball, the less it will experience the distortion or the ball’s gravitational field. Einstein’s theory postulates that any object with mass distorts space time, including humans. Although we barely dent the sheet, we create a small gravitational field around us. As long as there is matter in space, there is gravity.
...

There’s no end to it. Gravity appears to be madly greedy and long armed. Members of the Virgo Super cluster are connected to each other, and they’re dozens of millions of light-years apart. Objects in the Pisces-Cetus Super cluster complex are even connected to each other by our invisible and obnoxiously possessive friend. And they are hundreds of millions of light years apart…

In fact, you’re so popular that you are gravitationally pulled towards even most distant object in the observable Universe. And they, in turn, are linked to you.

http://www.yalescientific.org/2010/10/mythbusters-does-zero-gravity-exist-in-space/
http://www.universetoday.com/111007/can-you-escape-the-force-of-gravity/

Gassho, J

Jeremy
01-06-2016, 05:51 PM
I agree that what Uchiyama says about 'self' and his use of 'absolute' is pretty confusing here :)

I read the passage highlighted by Lucy (p14, paragraph2) as saying that the 'universal self' is impermanent and constantly changing. This self is actually identified with subjective reality, i.e. the totality of one's experience. This is your nose and what's right in front of your nose, right here, right now. It's also everything else, including your memory of the past and your hopes and fears for the future, all bundled up inside the present moment.

This is a world view quite different from the materialistic world view of science. The starting point for science is the objective world 'out there' and subjective reality is dependent on the objective world. For example, psychologists would typically argue that mental states and processes (the stuff of subjectivity) are dependent on brain states and processes. According to the world view Uchiyama expresses here, it's the other way round - what's given is subjectivity. Objective reality is just an idea and it's dependent on subjectivity. The idea of brain states and processes are dependent on subjectivity, not the other way round.

As ever, just an opinion...
step lightly... stay free...
Jeremy
sattoday

Eishuu
01-06-2016, 06:00 PM
Thank you, Jundo. I really like that koan. Wonderful that there are so many parallels between Buddhism and physics. And thanks Willow for your comment...it was very clear. After all this thinking I shall go and sit...and then maybe have some chicken soup gassho2.

Gassho
Lucy
Sat today

Jishin
01-06-2016, 07:33 PM
Hi,

I like these passages from chapter 1:

p 16:

"For instance, imagine that you and I are sitting together talking. In talking to you, I’m not talking to some person who is other than myself. The face before me is reflected on the retinas of my eyes. You are within me. Facing you, I’m just facing myself. In other words, you exist within my universal self, and what I direct myself to is caring for the you that is not separate from me."

p. 13:

"genjō kōan, the koan of life becoming life. Genjō is the present becoming the present."


p. 13:

"The past and future are real and alive only in the present. This concept of time in Buddhist thought is very important. It is different from the notion in Western philosophy that time flows from the past, into the present, and on into a future in a linear way."


Gassho, Jishin, ST

Frank
01-06-2016, 08:27 PM
Will purchase the book today, and join in shortly :)
Gassho
Frank


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Kaishin
01-06-2016, 09:03 PM
I'm wondering if we should have a separate thread for each subsection in the chapters.

There is a lot of info in just the first chapter, and I am already having a hard time digesting everyone's comments.

-satToday

Mp
01-06-2016, 10:10 PM
I'm wondering if we should have a separate thread for each subsection in the chapters.

There is a lot of info in just the first chapter, and I am already having a hard time digesting everyone's comments.

-satToday

From my understanding that is the format Jundo does, thread per chapter ... sub-chapters might be a good idea though. =)

Gassho
Shingen

#sattoday

Frank
01-07-2016, 01:12 AM
Ok got the book....lets get to reading ;)


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Jundo
01-07-2016, 01:51 AM
I'm wondering if we should have a separate thread for each subsection in the chapters.

There is a lot of info in just the first chapter, and I am already having a hard time digesting everyone's comments.

-satToday

Hi Kaishin,

I think we are going to go pretty fast this time, about a Chapter a week. (Last time we did the book, it was section by section). Maybe just ask people to post page numbers like Jishin did if they quote?

Gassho, J

SatToday

Hoseki
01-07-2016, 08:29 PM
Hello Lucy,

thank you for your questions - they are encouraging me to re-read Uchiyama's book more carefully. The first time I read it I experienced at as
a gentle introduction to Zen Buddhist practice but I'm now feeling it's fairly multi-layered.

I prefer the word 'contingent' to 'accidental' - as Jundo suggested. From the moment we are born - and even in the womb - we begin creating our contingent world through our sense organs. Sometimes - in Buddhism - and on other psychologies - this comes across as a bit negative - but our personal contingency is what creates each unique individual - and this is also a positive and productive aspect of being a human being.

But our contingency is wholly impermanent - the knowledge of this can cause us suffering and pain. But there is another aspect to 'jiko' - our inherent Buddha nature - our 'whole self', - our 'universal identity'. This aspect is beyond birth and death and yet is wholly accessible to us in Zazen ( and by that I understand Uchiyama to mean Zazen as in every activity that makes up the fabric of our lived life).

Uchiyama set himself the task of actualizing the eternal self in every aspect of his life. He uses a very firm base for this - firstly a belief in an 'absolute truth' which is beyond logus (reason and therefore words). This is both a philosophical position and a religious teaching with a soteriological imperative.

For me - this is a bit of a sticking point - because I'm not at all convinced that one can call oneself a secular Buddhist - and practice from within this belief system. There is a metaphysical element and I've been chewing on this for the past four years. The metaphysical element isn't a problem for me personally - but when someone asks me if Zen Buddhism is a religion I honestly don't know how to answer. I think it is - I feel this is clearly revealed in Uchiyama's writing yet this aspect seems to get brushed aside.

I feel the metaphysical aspect is what separates Zen from secular mindfulness meditation?

Views on this would be much appreciated.

Gassho

Willow

sat today

Hi Willow,


I didn't read Uchiyama Roshi's writing as being about an absolute truth. I took to be more like Aristotle's accident/essence distinction (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accident_(philosophy)) in the context of a larger context. So the particulars of our life are accidental/contingent but the four seals point to undeniable/necessary parts of our lives. They are kind of absolutes but not in an unmoved mover or first principle kind of way. Its more like when one take a close look at our world, our lives, the lives of others most people can see these properties (3 marks of existence/ 3 seals.) They appear to be enduring properties of living things.

As for big jiko. I just took that for Being being Being:) In all seriousness, the world is kind of a busy place with lots of comings and goings as well periods and places of quite and stillness. They are all part of larger happening that is the cosmos. Either way, I think these ideas are there to help guide (inform) our lives rather than be a kind of revelation of the truth. So they are more the support for a creeping vine rather than the answer to a question.

At least those are the mental secretions I've had when thinking about and reading some of the posts. What do you think?

Gassho
Sat today
Adam

Risho
01-07-2016, 09:52 PM
I love this book. I really like what Jundo has been saying lately (or maybe I'm just paying more attention lately) about the danger of too much words and philosophizing. I love how Uchiyama says he's been practicing for 40 years and he feels like he can finally say something.

I've been practicing for 6 years, and I can say some pretty impressive things too; the difference is that my stuff would mainly be philosophizing BS. Jundo has been practicing for decades. So I think it's good advice to practice and avoid too many words. I think I can write pretty good -- we all can; we get lots of practice here; there are some impressive posts on here. But while words are awesome pointers, they are just pointers; this is about now, about right here, living truthfully.

It takes practice to get out of my head. I don't know if this makes sense, but words can give a very false impression, but our ultimate teacher is us; if we are sincere, we know where we are. And it really comes down to practice.

So to get down to truth - that's what I really got out of this chapter - there are so many things, but just to practice. The core of it is practice.

Gassho,

Risho
-sattoday

Mp
01-07-2016, 09:59 PM
So to get down to truth - that's what I really got out of this chapter - there are so many things, but just to practice. The core of it is practice.


I got the same feeling ... I also felt that to embody the teachings is to practice the teachings. =)

Gassho
Shingen

#sattoday

Kyonin
01-07-2016, 10:56 PM
You don't have the book? Basic reading for all Priests here!

I believe I will open a thread for our Priests about what writings are indispensable.

Gassho, J

SatToday

I have it now :)

Gassho,

Kyonin
#SatToday

Jakuden
01-08-2016, 02:54 AM
At least those are the mental secretions I've had when thinking about and reading some of the posts. What do you think?



(Thank you for reminding me to add "it's just a mental secretion" to my little list of helpful Buddhist phrases, along with Jishin's "past and the future are real and alive only in the present." The Treeleaf App somehow inspired me to keep my own catalog of helpful sayings)

Gassho,
Sierra
SatToday

Jwroberts27
01-08-2016, 06:15 AM
Hello All,

First, it's a pleasure to have this opportunity for discussions. I'm a long-time lurker, first-time poster! I look forward to future discussions and deeper understandings.

Currently, I'm using the free portion of the book on Google Books (as I await the hard copy), so I don't have page numbers. But one thing that really strikes me is under the sub-heading "The Four Seals".

I found this passage particularly interesting, "When we let go of our conceptions, there is no other possible reality than what is right now; in that sense, what is right now ad here is absolute, it's undeniable. Not only that, this undeniable reality is at the same time the reality of life that is fundamentally connected to everything in the universe. This is undeniable reality."

What strikes me about this is that this present undeniable reality is a consequence of chance/accident. Things happen, and we are constantly on an impermanent trajectory of chance happenings. In other words, I see the two realities as a false dichotomy. Could this be the karmic law, and right understanding (eight-fold path) at work as we sit?

Another interesting idea is the concept of time. Uchiyama writes of the past and future being alive in the present. I would just like to point out that there is a lot of Western thinking, particularly in Actor-Network Theory that are saying similar things. For instance when you observe a stop sign, it is not just a sign, and you are not only coming to a complete stop (hopefully), but you are also activating the "network" that made that sign possible, i.e., the people who manufactured it and hung it, the cultural conventions towards red and traffic, and future meanings the sign might evolve towards depending if people follow it or not. This is pretty dense stuff, but I only mention it to offer a perspective of the oneness of everything, or the "network" which Jundo mentions, that are not only spread out across the cosmos, but also contained within at the moment of sitting. i.e., in the present moment we are not only one with the universe, but also contain the universe's previous incarnations within. ...Hope this doesn't come off new-agey.

Thanks all for any comments and ideas!

Gassho,
John
SatToday

justdillon
01-08-2016, 06:15 PM
Hello everybody,

What a wonderful book, I have read this one during a retreat and look forward to reading it again! I agree that the idea of thought as a secretion like sweat is a useful metaphor. It helps me to remember that my thoughts are not permanent and do not need to be acted upon.

Gassho,
Dillon

Sat today

Doshin
01-08-2016, 10:51 PM
Have read the first chapter and everyone's post. Have nothing to add but did learn from the discussions I think I need to read it again and as Jundo suggest above, just sit. I also gravitated to Risho's summary to practice. Hopefully I too will ripen.


Gassho
Randy
sattoday

Getchi
01-09-2016, 11:34 AM
Beautiiful book, I kept finding myself wanting to read more as I worked my way through.

I have nothing to add apart from the idea of localised gravity effects, ie; the Mass of the Earth includes our own, and as matter can neither be create nor destroyed (only reconfigure from one configuration to the next) then from a certain perspective we are indistinguishable from every other living thing on this planet, and the planet Earth itself. I am you, you are me and we are all each other.

Always makes me feel a little happier :)



Gassho,
Geoff.

SatToday.

Washin
01-09-2016, 02:13 PM
This is the present reality of life. It is the reality of that which can not be grasped,
the reality about which nothing can be said. This very ungraspability is what is absolutely real
about things.

Excellent read! I enjoyed the first chapter very much.
Thank you all for the comments.
Now I'll have to hold it off until the paperback arrives
in a couple of weeks or so.

Gassho,
Sergey
sat-today

Joyo
01-09-2016, 06:10 PM
Have read the first chapter and everyone's post. Have nothing to add but did learn from the discussions I think I need to read it again and as Jundo suggest above, just sit. I also gravitated to Risho's summary to practice. Hopefully I too will ripen.


Gassho
Randy
sattoday

Me too, Randy. I may not have a lot to say in the book club, but the more I study and practice, the more I just sit.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Genki
01-09-2016, 08:43 PM
Thank you for the opportunity to read this book together with you all. It's a little bit blurry for me from time to time. But I'll sort it out.

Gassho
Genki

Getchi
01-09-2016, 09:46 PM
Me too, Randy. I may not have a lot to say in the book club, but the more I study and practice, the more I just sit.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

I absolutely feel the same Joyo, the more iv'e been sitting (regardless of the sessions length) the less Iv'e found I need to talk. My wife says it's a minor miracle :)

I am very grateful for it though, seems "just sit" has helped me a great deal.


Geoff,
SatToday.

Joyo
01-09-2016, 10:19 PM
I absolutely feel the same Joyo, the more iv'e been sitting (regardless of the sessions length) the less Iv'e found I need to talk. My wife says it's a minor miracle :)

I am very grateful for it though, seems "just sit" has helped me a great deal.


Geoff,
SatToday.

It's awesome when others share the same experience =) Although I still talk my husband's ear off, he gets tired of it lol!! Especially in the mornings, or when he is watching tv.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Jakuden
01-10-2016, 12:16 AM
Me too, Randy. I may not have a lot to say in the book club, but the more I study and practice, the more I just sit.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Yes same here too... Interesting to hear I'm not the only one, even while studying the Precepts and the Mind of Clover, I found I had less and less to say. Wasn't sure if I was just becoming more boring or what. LOL

Gassho,
Sierra
SatToday

Jinyo
01-10-2016, 11:30 AM
Hi Willow,


I didn't read Uchiyama Roshi's writing as being about an absolute truth. I took to be more like Aristotle's accident/essence distinction (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accident_(philosophy)) in the context of a larger context. So the particulars of our life are accidental/contingent but the four seals point to undeniable/necessary parts of our lives. They are kind of absolutes but not in an unmoved mover or first principle kind of way. Its more like when one take a close look at our world, our lives, the lives of others most people can see these properties (3 marks of existence/ 3 seals.) They appear to be enduring properties of living things.

As for big jiko. I just took that for Being being Being:) In all seriousness, the world is kind of a busy place with lots of comings and goings as well periods and places of quite and stillness. They are all part of larger happening that is the cosmos. Either way, I think these ideas are there to help guide (inform) our lives rather than be a kind of revelation of the truth. So they are more the support for a creeping vine rather than the answer to a question.

At least those are the mental secretions I've had when thinking about and reading some of the posts. What do you think?

Gassho
Sat today
Adam

Hello Adam,

thanks for that - I feel what you suggest is a clearer reading. Uchiyama Roshi's writing is about truth rather than 'absolute truth' in a first principle kind of way. I guess there is an 'absolute' in there in the sense that reality has 'an absolute or undeniable nature'. I prefer the term undeniable because it has a more human ring about it.

Regarding philosophy - or philosophizing - despite not aiming -or wanting - to throw his life into 'a philosophical pursuit of the truth' - as with Dogen and many
of our contemporary writers on Zen - the questioning is there between the lines. I feel Philosophy can also be a practice of the heart as well as the mind and can assist us as long as we are mindful of not getting too tied up with words.

I think it's a shame if we become over conscious of our own stumbling attempts because eventually words of wisdom are surely built upon this? It may have taken Uchiyama forty years before he felt confident to set his thoughts down - but I'm sure during that time he thought deeply. explored, studied, and discussed with others.

Anyway - enough words - sitting is of course of the essence.

Gassho

Willow

sat today

Bodhi
01-10-2016, 09:43 PM
First off I'd like to thank everyone for this accidental happenstance where we’re all reading and talking about this wonderful book. This is my first post, so please be gentle. This is my first reading of this book, so I appreciate the discussion on its interpretation. This is a bit of a dense book in my humble opinion.

It seems to me this chapter is a description of The Four Great Seals and their relevance to our life and practice (perhaps the same thing). Can we think of the seals as being Soto Zen’s condensation of the Four Noble Truths?

I also find the concepts of “accidental” vs “undeniable” reality and the interplay of this with the notion of two selfs (ego vs. jiko?), as well as the use of pronouns to seemingly switch between these two selfs, both fascinating and perplexing. Who is the “I” and “me” in the sentence: “when I took my first breath, my world was born with me.”? Similarly, at one point we read, “ If you and I are sitting together, you may think that we are looking at the same cup in front of us, but it’s not true. You look at it from your angle and from your perspective and I view it from mine. Later we read,” image that you and I are sitting together talking. In talking to you, I’m not talking to some person who is other than myself. At first I wondered at how we we can have two separate perspectives if we are really the same self. How can we be both two egos with two separate, accidental, realities and yet be the same. Then I thought, “aha!” Perhaps that is the point. We are but different facets of the same self.

Finally, I appreciate the focus on how our practice is for life. It is beautifully put to describe a prime point of this practice being to “wake up this self that is inclusive of everything.” Comparing zazen to prayer is poignant to me, coming from a Catholic background. I can only hope that my practice will lead to a wee bit of ripeness!

One question I have. The Mahayana perspective is described as : “By accepting and properly understanding the true nature of both accidental and undeniable realities, and by living in accord with this understanding, the matter of living and dying will cease to be such a terrible problem.” Does this understanding boil down to the third undeniable reality? If there is nothing to hold to anyway (including the salty water bag of anxiety that is you) why worry so much about living and dying?

Happy mental secretions!
Jason

Tai Shi
01-11-2016, 01:08 PM
The book is here, and so now I have two chapters to read--I've been busy with Jukai--thinking what this means to me, getting everything just so--learning a new name--Calm Poetry--so this is more of a direction, and when my wife says, "Why not try some hearts and flowers poetry?" I'm thinking it is time to put down time cudgel and participate in the Universe of Zen. The very basics of my universe are created when I write.

Calm Poetry
Elgwyn
sat this morning
Gassho
To learn to say my name in Japanese

Kyotai
01-11-2016, 04:32 PM
"In order to truly see that using your thoughts as a standard is invalid, you simply have to practice. And to sustain your practice over time..."

Lots of gems. This one spoke to me too.

Gassho, Kyotai
Sat today :)

Hoseki
01-11-2016, 07:19 PM
Hello Adam,

thanks for that - I feel what you suggest is a clearer reading. Uchiyama Roshi's writing is about truth rather than 'absolute truth' in a first principle kind of way. I guess there is an 'absolute' in there in the sense that reality has 'an absolute or undeniable nature'. I prefer the term undeniable because it has a more human ring about it.

Regarding philosophy - or philosophizing - despite not aiming -or wanting - to throw his life into 'a philosophical pursuit of the truth' - as with Dogen and many
of our contemporary writers on Zen - the questioning is there between the lines. I feel Philosophy can also be a practice of the heart as well as the mind and can assist us as long as we are mindful of not getting too tied up with words.

I think it's a shame if we become over conscious of our own stumbling attempts because eventually words of wisdom are surely built upon this? It may have taken Uchiyama forty years before he felt confident to set his thoughts down - but I'm sure during that time he thought deeply. explored, studied, and discussed with others.

Anyway - enough words - sitting is of course of the essence.

Gassho

Willow

sat today

Hi Willow,

I agree with you about the value of a philosophizing. I believe Jundo said something to the effect that most of the Zen masters read the old texts before they threw them away :) But for someone like me philosophizing can become the whole enterprise. I end up trying to take refuge in an abstract concept(s). I think my weariness came through in my reading. As a side note, I enjoyed and continue to enjoy reading about certain philosophical issues and ideas. Reading Plato made me want to be a better person... its a work in progress :)

Gassho
Adam
Sattoday

Jundo
01-12-2016, 02:14 AM
... But for someone like me philosophizing can become the whole enterprise. I end up trying to take refuge in an abstract concept(s). I think my weariness came through in my reading.

Hi Dude,

I believe that is the question. It is the difference between being tangled in abstract concepts and experiencing/living, being a Buddhist who sits in an armchair and one who sit on the Zafu then rises up to life. Uchiyama, Nishijima, Dogen, the 6th Ancestor ... I would call all great philosophers (Uchiyama was a student of Western Philosophy). The point is where to draw the line, and most importantly, how to see right through points and lines.

The old expression "A Way Beyond Words And Letters" simply meant to see through and tread lightly on traditional Buddhist Doctrines and Perspectives (such as Non-Self, Impermanence, Emptiness many others), not get tangled in the complications of philosophy and see through the mere words. Yes, most of the old monks had read or were familiar with the general content and perspectives of the old books before they "burned them".

Gassho, J

SatToday

Kyonin
01-12-2016, 11:18 PM
Hi all,

I just finished the first chapter. I got it in Spanish, so I might have lost something in translation.

It really really spoke to me in some parts like how accepting death as part of our experience is liberating. I have found that accepting the fact that I will die someday has ended a lot of fears I grew up with.

Roshi also speaks about how all ideas are just formations in our minds, like secretions. The mind will secrete thoughts because it's its job to do so. Realizing this helps us to let go of mental formations and just accept reality as it is, which is perfect.

Lastly, what made my mind spin was his concept of time and space. Past and future are only a part of our present experience.

Need to sit with all this a little bit more :)

Gassho,

Kyonin
#SatToday

Hoseki
01-13-2016, 12:41 AM
Hi Dude,

I believe that is the question. It is the difference between being tangled in abstract concepts and experiencing/living, being a Buddhist who sits in an armchair and one who sit on the Zafu then rises up to life. Uchiyama, Nishijima, Dogen, the 6th Ancestor ... I would call all great philosophers (Uchiyama was a student of Western Philosophy). The point is where to draw the line, and most importantly, how to see right through points and lines.

The old expression "A Way Beyond Words And Letters" simply meant to see through and tread lightly on traditional Buddhist Doctrines and Perspectives (such as Non-Self, Impermanence, Emptiness many others), not get tangled in the complications of philosophy and see through the mere words. Yes, most of the old monks had read or were familiar with the general content and perspectives of the old books before they "burned them".

Gassho, J

SatToday

Gassho
Adam
Sat today


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

CK732
01-15-2016, 02:56 AM
Excellent material.

Gassho

Nanto

Sat2Day


Sat2Day

Banto
01-16-2016, 05:13 PM
Grateful to read through this again and read through everyone's thoughts about it.

When I read the part in this chapter about seeing the cup from different angles I was reminded of my own pondering as a child if we see the same colors for example. Turns out, we probably don't, at least as far as I understand from reading and talking to people in the neuroscience fields. That what we perceive as color doesn't necessarily really exist on the object but rather when the reflected light hits the cells in our eyes and the signal is sent to the brain, the brain builds a perception for us to relate to this sensory input. What you see as green might not be what I see is green but we can relay the consistency through labeling. So how complex and disjointed it must be when we move from objects in the field of vision to situations or events or whatever we talk about and fight about and agree upon. Messy! That's a pretty hacked description but it came to mind reading this chapter, that we have layers of perception and notions of things in our minds, and I wonder if that's the world he talks about in the areas discussed of "when I die, my world dies with me" and so forth. It's all in my head in one sense.

I like the areas mentioned of the idea of letting go of our notions of things. And the fourth seal, first referred to as Nirvana, then mentioned as all things s they are, to let go of the artificial attachments.

My challenge is although I might at least partially understand the concept, am I completely blind to my own attachments and notions, and continue to grasp them? I'm sure. What remains when I do let go of the layers of concept and perception that I have on top of situations or people or the things right in front of me?

I feel I claim to want to meet the real dragon and too will faint when he peers down through my window. So I want to want to meet the real dragon ;) haha

Gassho
Banto SatToday