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Thread: Sangaku

  1. #1


    Hi all,

    Just wanted to share something that leaped out at me recently when re-reading Kōshō Uchiyama's "Deepest Practice, Deepest Wisdom".

    While re-reading the translation of Dōgen's Uji (Being Time, or in this version "Living Time") there is a footnote to the following line from Uji:

    "Sit and practice until it is thoroughly clear that if uji were not all the power of kyōryaku (moment by moment change/alive-ness) not a single thing would manifest, nor would there be any moment-by-moment [life]."

    In the footnote to "sit and practice" it is written:
    "the original term sangaku derives from the four character Chinese expression sanzen gakudō. This expression was often used by Dōgen as a sort of signal or signpost that the following sentence is very important. The English word "study" doesn't convey the impact of the original which means, literally, to sit zazen and practice the Way. The san of sangaku can also be read mairu, meaning "to go toward or approach something", although it can also mean "to give into or surrender"; Uchiyama Rōshi often defined sanzen in this way. "Surrendering to zazen" is the same as Rōshi's "opening the hand of thought". It demonstrates a truly religious attitude towards life as opposed to an attitude that would use such as in as a psychological or self-help tool. The use of zazen in the field of psychotherapy is fine, but then, it should be understood that such a use is only an example of utilitarian zen, not of Zen in the religious sense.

    This footnote holds significance for me. When I started Zen practice over a decade ago it was to get away from faith-based religions and to escape "the anxious quiver of being". Consequently I approached It in a purely utilitarian fashion with an attainment mindset. In hindsight the consequences were predictable. However after a long while of "just sitting", zazen became less of "something you do" and more of "something You let happen". Body & mind drop off and that-which-happens... simply happens. Surrendering to "that-which-happens" increases faith in "that-which-happens". And it is not a faith in the Judeo-Christian sense of "belief without requiring proof"; it's more of a faith in the sense of "proof without requiring belief".

    Thank you all for your practice.


    SatToday and LAH

    Sent from my SM-N975U using Tapatalk
    法 Dharma
    口 Mouth

  2. #2

    And, if someone is still bothered by words like "religious" or "sacred" or "faith" or "religion" there is not need to get hung up. They are just words. It is okay to turn to other words if those carry baggage for someone.

    Perfectly fine to substitute just "profound" or "wondrous" or "deep trust" or "Way" or the like.

    The point is that, as you say, it is not a "self-help" technique or therapy. It is a profound realization of the intimate identity of our self and all we do, and all things and all they do, with the wholeness of this life and world, and we have deep trust in Zazen that it embodies the same ... which we ultimately experience first hand in the bones and practice in our walking of this Way.

    Gassho, J


  3. #3
    Thank you, Hoko

    Kaido (有道) Every Way
    Washin (和信) Harmony Trust
    I am a novice priest-in-training. Anything what I say must not be considered as teaching
    and should be taken with a 'grain of salt'.

  4. #4
    Nicely expressed insight, Hoko. Thank you.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Lovely. Thank you for sharing that passage and your thoughts with us Hoko.

    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  6. #6
    Member Seikan's Avatar
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    Apr 2020
    Massachusetts, United States
    Quote Originally Posted by Hoko View Post's more of a faith in the sense of "proof without requiring belief".
    These words, in particular, really struck a chord with me. Thank you very much for this teaching Hoko.



    Sent from my Pixel 4a (5G) using Tapatalk
    聖簡 Seikan (Sacred Simplicity)

  7. #7

    Sat today. LAH.

  8. #8
    清 道 寂田
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  9. #9

  10. #10

    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)

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