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Thread: Realizing Genjokoan - Chapter 5 - Middle Portion

  1. #1

    Realizing Genjokoan - Chapter 5 - Middle Portion

    First, before we begin, an informal survey: Are these readings too much for folks in light of the Jukai preparations and other activities? Should we continue, or wait and resume after Jukai in January? In a book partly about "dropping preferences" .... which would you prefer?

    Today we will read only a few pages of Chapter 5, pages 62 through 66 in the paper addition, which is only the section entitled "Buddha Actualizing Buddha without Thinking So." These few pages are also very rich.

    Maybe we could say that, when the dividing and categorizing and "self/other" divide is truly dropped from mind, there is no need to even say "Buddha" because there is no "not Buddha" with which to compare. That total immersion can be experienced sometimes in Zazen, but it is so even when we do not experience it (and most human beings do not usually experience so in our divided thinking, and even we Zen folks cannot or need not experience it much of the time). Even if we do experience so, there is the need to get up off the cushion and back to a daily world of divisions and categories, me and you and the other guy, good and bad, friend and opponent, win and lose, birth and death and all the rest ... and that is where the rubber of Buddhist practice meets the road.

    By the way, and a little off topic, I happen to be reading a pretty interesting book now called "The Idea of the World: A Multi-Disciplinary Argument for the Mental Nature of Reality" by Bernardo Kastrup. It is not a particularly "Buddhist book" at all, and more a work of western philosophy/metaphysics (I cannot attest to how it measures up on that front.) The only reason that I mention the book is the interesting core idea that the author presents, that the universe consists of some substrate that is giving rise to something akin to a "dissociative identity" (basically like the so called split or "multiple personality" disorder in psychiatry, with a whole bunch of very different "people" living ... and sometimes competing ... inside one single head and actually just that one head all along). It is as if our sense of being an individual self is all happening in one big hard drive that is dividing itself up behind individual firewalls that gives each individual within a firewall a rather false feeling of being separate and apart from the hard drive which it is! He posits that "mind" is primary, or something that actually transcends the whole "mind/matter" dichotomy. We are each those dissociated identities, and the underlying "mind" might have "thoughts," but not of a type we can easily relate too because ours are all divided and processed through sense experiences and our dividing/categorizing mind. In fact, maybe the underlying "mind" cannot have sense experiences without us. He resolves (or hints at a resolution of) certain issues in this way, such as the so called "hard problem" of how human sentience seems to arise from matter, and certain experimental results in quantum mechanics and the like.

    The author also does a better job of explaining all this than I am doing here!

    According to the author, the physical aspects we experience of the world as "things" are rather misleading, and are created mostly by our mind for survival, much as on your computer screen you might see an "icon" image of a file on your desktop that looks like a picture of a real paper manilla file, but actually there is no "paper manilla file" there and it merely stands for all the underlying electronic blips stored on microchips that are contained in the computer memory. Thus our experience of the world is basically our brain's desktop filled with "things" we experience so that it can understand a much more complicated underlying reality, e.g., there is no "green tree" outside your window, but rather the brain's creation of an image of "green tree" to summarize a vastly complex set of physical and chemical phenomena that are just summarized by the image of "green tree" on our mental desktop. We don't need to know all the details of the underlying chemistry etc. in order for us to live, any more than you need to know all the data and electron positions of 0's and 1's that are represented by the image of a paper file, or the atlas picture of "Greenland" that Okumura mentions as standing for the whole reality of actual Greenland.



    Actual size of Greenland compared to Africa, by the way, with map distortion removed ...


    I only recommend the book to folks who like to read books like that.

    https://books.google.co.jp/books/abo...on&redir_esc=y

    However, I believe that the author's conclusions will someday prove out to be more or less one key aspect of what is actually going on with this funny universe of ours. I believe that Yogacara Buddhism was in this same ballpark too, and I don't think that it is that far off from what Okuyama Roshi is pointing to in much of this section. The author does not really define much about the actual nature of this underlying substrate, except to say that it exists. Even "exists" or "thing" are strange words to use about it, because those are human created ideas and categories too (to contrast with our human idea of "not exist" or "not a thing".

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-28-2019 at 10:01 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    I am actually catching up on this so I can join in so selfishly I wouldnít mind the pause hahaha

    That book sounds fantastic! In your image you forgot the folder for painted rice cakes lol

    Seriously this immediately made me think of Dogen.

    Do you think Dogen thought something similar with his ďpainted rice cakesĒ? I think he was saying that thought is no substitute for real experience; simultaneously we can only experience reality through our mental pictures so on one hand to say painted rice cakes are real is mistaken; they donít satisfy hunger; on the other hand to say they donít nourish is also wrong because our ďpaintingsĒ are how we survive. Of course Iím painting a lot of my crap on Dogen and Iím a paint by numbers type right now lol

    Do you think thatís what Dogen was pointing to?

    gassho

    Risho
    -st
    Last edited by Risho; 10-28-2019 at 11:56 AM.

  3. #3
    Well personally I am not having trouble keeping up with the readings but Iíve noticed a steep drop off of discussion so I assume that people are generally feeling overwhelmed. I will likely continue to read through this book even if we pause then Iíll reread with the group once we restart. I typically read every chapter at least twice anyway.

    So no preference here.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah

  4. #4
    Member Anna's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Rural Queensland, Australia
    Due to doing Jukai prep and sewing my first Rakusu I'd prefer to be focusing just on that.
    I'm keeping up with the readings but feel I'm doing them a disservice by not being able to really reflect and process them as I'd like.
    So that's a vote for the wait until after Jukai option from me.
    Gassho
    Anna
    st

  5. #5
    Hi there - I'm happy to continue - or to wait - what ever's best for folks.

    Thanks for the link - had not come across Bernardo Kastrup but his you tube home site looks pretty awesome and he's written loads of books!
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeD...RQvzBlVR-oVVmA

    Gassho

    Jinyo

    Sat today

  6. #6
    The only reason that I mention the book is the interesting core idea that the author presents, that the universe consists of some substrate that is giving rise to something akin to a "dissociative identity" (basically like the so called split or "multiple personality" disorder in psychiatry, with a whole bunch of very different "people" living ... and sometimes competing ... inside one single head and actually just that one head all along). It is as if our sense of being an individual self is all happening in one big hard drive that is dividing itself up behind individual firewalls that gives each individual within a firewall a rather false feeling of being separate and apart from the hard drive which it is!
    That does sound really interesting, Jundo, and seems to be part of a school of thought that recognises self as a construction rather than absolute reality.

    Some psychologists are also arguing for multiple selves as the norm rather than a psychiatric disorder with, as you say, multiple subunits each working for their own ends within an overall system of 'self'.

    For anyone interested, this is a pretty good eight page summary of 'multiple self theory': https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf...2.09.28.CP.1.5

    In terms of our experience of reality it seems to make sense based on different needs and drives which are competing at the same time. I imagine that most of us have noted that our desire to sit can often conflict with a part of our brain that wants to eat cookies and watch Netflix!

    It is also apparent if we have a fight-or-flight response with the trigger for this coming from a pretty primal part of the brain in the limbic system. But, using rational thought in the cerebral cortex, we can calm ourselves by logically assessing the situation rather than acting on basic cues of threats.

    The German philosopher Thomas Metzinger also suggests that the notion of self is entirely constructed in his book The Ego Tunnel. He argues instead for a phenomenal self (what we would call the relative, or small, self) which is not fixed but in a constant state of development and goes on to say that everything we experience is ďa virtual self in a virtual realityĒ which is pretty much Dogen's dream within a dream!

    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.

  7. #7
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Hi Jundo,

    I'm OK with going forward as I've been able to keep up with the readings. But I also wouldn't object to stopping for a while if it would be easier for others. I'm also going to add the book you mentioned to my Amazon wish list. It sounds interesting.

    Gassho
    Sattoday
    Hoseki

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    That does sound really interesting, Jundo, and seems to be part of a school of thought that recognises self as a construction rather than absolute reality.

    Some psychologists are also arguing for multiple selves as the norm rather than a psychiatric disorder with, as you say, multiple subunits each working for their own ends within an overall system of 'self'.

    For anyone interested, this is a pretty good eight page summary of 'multiple self theory': https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf...2.09.28.CP.1.5

    In terms of our experience of reality it seems to make sense based on different needs and drives which are competing at the same time. I imagine that most of us have noted that our desire to sit can often conflict with a part of our brain that wants to eat cookies and watch Netflix!

    It is also apparent if we have a fight-or-flight response with the trigger for this coming from a pretty primal part of the brain in the limbic system. But, using rational thought in the cerebral cortex, we can calm ourselves by logically assessing the situation rather than acting on basic cues of threats.

    The German philosopher Thomas Metzinger also suggests that the notion of self is entirely constructed in his book The Ego Tunnel. He argues instead for a phenomenal self (what we would call the relative, or small, self) which is not fixed but in a constant state of development and goes on to say that everything we experience is “a virtual self in a virtual reality” which is pretty much Dogen's dream within a dream!

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    I think that the Bernardo Kastrup book I mention is a little different than that. He is not talking so much about how each of us, within ourselves, have several sometimes very different personalities. He means more that the universe itself is one big consciousness of some sort that is all divided like a house of mirrors to give us each the experience of being one separate, alive and sentient, individual. It is an idea that reeks a bit of Advaita and "Universal Consciousness" or "Godhead" and such, and most Buddhists won't go there and be that specific. However, because Kastrup never goes so far as to be specific about what is this underlying base, besides to say that it somehow leaps beyond both subject and object, even a Buddhist might be comfortable with the general gist of his proposition I feel.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I think that the Bernardo Kastrup book I mention is a little different than that. He is not talking so much about how each of us, within ourselves, have several sometimes very different personalities. He means more that the universe itself is one big consciousness of some sort that is all divided like a house of mirrors to give us each the experience of being one separate, alive and sentient, individual. It is an idea that reeks a bit of Advaita and "Universal Consciousness" or "Godhead" and such, and most Buddhists won't go there and be that specific. However, because Kastrup never goes so far as to be specific about what is this underlying base, besides to say that it somehow leaps beyond both subject and object, even a Buddhist might be comfortable with the general gist of his proposition I feel.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Hi - I decided to start with an earlier book 'More than Allegory: On religious Myth,Truth and Belief'.
    The more recent book seems to be far more analytic because he felt his earlier work had been taken too literally and readers were using his metaphors
    beyond his intent/original meaning.
    The book I'm reading is really lovely - and chimes a lot with Dogen. He writes passionately about the need for transcendence in our lives . He's a very interesting writer

    Gassho

    Jinyo

    sat today

  10. #10
    Genjokoan has been really opaque to me so I appreciate Okumura's help immensely. Have been reading and re-reading this to possibly the detriment of other readings. Gratitude for the assignment.

    gassho
    doyu sat today
    特別な人ではない

  11. #11
    Like Anna I feel that I'm doing the book a disservice by constantly playing catch up and would appreciate a pause. But as the thread will always be here and for the sake of continuity I'm OK either way.
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  12. #12
    Hello,

    I am ok with both options...
    I am following the readings, but have read the Jukai material several times before.
    Enough time to think about.
    Maybe I would be writing, discussing more with more time? Maybe not... I don't feel that I have much to add after reading the replies.

    Thank you! Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    古庭 KoTei / Ralf

  13. #13
    I think that the Bernardo Kastrup book I mention is a little different than that. He is not talking so much about how each of us, within ourselves, have several sometimes very different personalities. He means more that the universe itself is one big consciousness of some sort that is all divided like a house of mirrors to give us each the experience of being one separate, alive and sentient, individual. It is an idea that reeks a bit of Advaita and "Universal Consciousness" or "Godhead" and such, and most Buddhists won't go there and be that specific. However, because Kastrup never goes so far as to be specific about what is this underlying base, besides to say that it somehow leaps beyond both subject and object, even a Buddhist might be comfortable with the general gist of his proposition I feel.
    Thank you for the further explanation, Jundo, and the recommendation, Jinyo.

    He does sound like a really interesting author.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 10-30-2019 at 02:16 PM.
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  14. #14
    This is a fantastic section. It should be mandatory reading.

    I’ve read through it several times now. When I first started with this practice it was primarily to address some issues with my life, something missing, deal with stresses, deal with some anger or disappointment. I am not going to claim that all is gone but having a better understanding of the absolute reality and relative reality has helped put many of those issues into proper perspective. It helps me see many of the stories I’ve been telling myself and thus better able to put them down.

    Techie side note: Jundo your hard disk and firewall metaphor is a bit messed up. Hard disks are logically divided into partitions not firewalls. Firewalls are used with networking.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  15. #15
    Like Anna and Meitou I'm following along but with sewing and jukai reading am probably not in a position to add much to the discussion.

    Gassho,

    Neil

    StLah

  16. #16
    Well, let us wait a few weeks, until after Jukai.

    In Zen, going slow or sitting in one place is lovely. It is a time to appreciate.

    We will pick up again after the Jukai readings in a few weeks.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Thank you Jundo and everyone for your patience.
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  18. #18
    Member Anna's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Rural Queensland, Australia
    Thank you Jundo. I appreciate the pause. Having gotten used to Okumura's writing style I'm better able to appreciate the content so want to do it justice by not rushing. Thank you all for your patience.
    Gassho
    Anna
    st

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