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Thread: NEW BOOK - Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 1

  1. #1

    NEW BOOK - Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 1

    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=...s:frNVC6VQyA0C

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-03-2016 at 07:08 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Thank you Jundo, will start to dive in. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  3. #3
    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

  4. #4
    Hello,

    Thank you for the link.


    Gassho
    Myosha sat today
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  5. #5
    Looking forward to reading it.

    Gassho

    Clarisse


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    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.

  7. #7
    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. This is why Zen folks are advised to stay away from philosophizing about words.


    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-04-2016 at 05:29 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Thank you Jundo!

    wsqzr.jpg

    Gassho
    Ongen

    Sat Today
    Ongen (音源) - Sound Source

  9. #9
    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
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  10. #10
    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-

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    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
    Last edited by Myosha; 01-04-2016 at 11:47 PM.
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  12. #12
    Kyotai
    Guest
    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

  13. #13
    Member ForestDweller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Beltrami Island Forest in Minnesota
    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^^

  14. #14
    Thank you Jundo !

    Gassho
    omom

    sattoday
    SatToday

  15. #15
    Joyo
    Guest
    Thank you, Jundo, and all for joining. Will start to read chapter 1 this week.

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  16. #16
    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

  17. #17
    Joyo
    Guest
    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

  18. #18
    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--_/|\_
    "Nothing is so beautiful as spring--/ When weeds in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush: Thrush eggs look little low heavens, and thrush/ Through the echoing timber does not rise and wring/ The ear it strikes like lightening to hear him sing;.." Hopkins

  19. #19
    Member ForestDweller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Beltrami Island Forest in Minnesota
    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^^

  20. #20
    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

  21. #21
    Eishuu
    Guest
    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

  22. #22
    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.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidou Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean that my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  23. #23
    Hi all,

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

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    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
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Lucy View Post

    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.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-06-2016 at 02:20 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  26. #26
    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.
    "Nothing is so beautiful as spring--/ When weeds in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush: Thrush eggs look little low heavens, and thrush/ Through the echoing timber does not rise and wring/ The ear it strikes like lightening to hear him sing;.." Hopkins

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    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

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Sierra529 View Post
    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.

    And that is the Quantum Truth!


    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-06-2016 at 06:06 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  29. #29
    Eishuu
    Guest
    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

  30. #30
    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

  31. #31
    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
    "Nothing is so beautiful as spring--/ When weeds in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush: Thrush eggs look little low heavens, and thrush/ Through the echoing timber does not rise and wring/ The ear it strikes like lightening to hear him sing;.." Hopkins

  32. #32
    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
    Gassho,Walter

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Daiyo View Post
    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.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Si, si, por supuesto. Le lengua no es importante. No es una cosa de qualquier palabra,


    Gassho, Jishin, ST

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Lucy View Post
    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/2010/1...xist-in-space/
    http://www.universetoday.com/111007/...ce-of-gravity/
    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  36. #36
    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

  37. #37
    Eishuu
    Guest
    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 .

    Gassho
    Lucy
    Sat today

  38. #38
    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

  39. #39
    Will purchase the book today, and join in shortly
    Gassho
    Frank


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  40. #40
    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
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    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

  42. #42
    Ok got the book....lets get to reading


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    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
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  44. #44
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    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

  45. #45
    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

  46. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    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

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    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
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Dude View Post
    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

  49. #49
    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
    Last edited by Jwroberts27; 01-08-2016 at 06:18 AM. Reason: correction

  50. #50
    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

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