- As for the blog's name: -

I was @ Gustav Ericsson's sight, - Anzenkai, and I was looking at Nishijima Roshi’s calligraphies over there. Particularly there is one - "seki shin hen pen" - about which Gustav has earlier said in a blog post that it is Nishijima's favorite phrase from Master Dogen.

This seemed strange to me. It was not what I would expect Nishijima Roshi's favorite phrase to be. It seemed it could be some Rinzai master's favorite quote, - it seems to express continuous and constant sincerity, - but it did not seem to fit my view of the way Nishijima Roshi saw things.

So - consequently - I tried to think what would I expect his favorite quote to be. But all phrases I could think of did not seem to fit just what I might have had in mind.

So I tried to come up with what I would see it as, - and what I have come up with - is - "this universe out here".

- And this seems to be the right name for this blog here too.

- Definitely.                                                 ________________________

The Inscription above the Internet’s Gate

The following is from Uchiyama Roshi. - It is from a book published in English as “the Zen Teaching of “Homeless” Kodo”. - I really don’t like the translation of the title. - There is no “Zen Teaching” in the original Japanese name Uchiyama Roshi called the book by. (- “Yadonashi Kodo Hokkusan” in Japanese)
- Still this has nothing to do with what I want to say.

- It seems the book is going to be published again in a new translation by Shohaku Okumura with some more commentary (- or intended elucidation, - perhaps just footnotes; - I don’t know) by him. - I don’t know how soon, but it’s not going to be very soon. (- this is off the Sanshin-ji newsletter) - I might hope he’d change the title this time, - but still again this has nothing to do with what I want to say here in this post.

- The following is from a chapter titled “Too much information and the abundance of life”.

- I brought Uchiyama Roshi’s words there in full: -

   - “Once a woman said to me, ‘You know quite a lot about the world even though you stay in your temple most of the time.’ I wonder how her statement can be true. Perhaps there are not many people my age who are as innocent of the world as I am. Up until now (and I am 60 years old), I have worked for a salary only half a year; the rest of the time, I have nothing to do with the world, but have spent my life doing zazen, begging, cleaning the temple, weeding the garden, making fire wood, and cooking. I read newspapers, but have no radio or TV, so there’s no reason why I should know much about what goes on in society. But considering the people who come to me for advice about their troubles, or who come to tell me that they are impressed with my writing, it seems that I know more about human society than people in the world do.

   People get so much information and experience so much excitement everyday, and are so paralyzed by it all that they cannot see the logical connection to the roots of events. They have often seen violent debates in the National Diet on TV, and their senses become numb from seeing them. They just watch TV thinking, ‘Oh well, the National Diet is that kind of place.’ If you lead a life of zazen in a temple, not watching TV, and you happen to see such a scene, naturally you would be surprised by it. You would come to understand this world is an absurd place when you see that even in national politics, problems are resolved with the kind of sordid violence you might find in Kamagasaki, one of the biggest slums in Osaka. If you live in a noisy situation, you cease to notice the noise. If you are in a quiet place, leading a life of zazen in a temple, you can perhaps see the true face of the world.

- This has been said before the Internet was even dreamed of. - Uchiyama Roshi was born in 1912; in the text he is saying he is 60 years old; - so this should have been in the ’70s.

According to Uchiyama Roshi’s prefaces the book was originally published as a series of articles in the Asahi newspaper, - later these articles were published in two booklets, - then later these were published as one item, - with 15 additional articles more written for this purpose. - And then again it was published, - around 1981 it seems, - with an additional appendix: - A lecture Uchiyama Roshi has given in Jinno-in (a temple, I don’t know where in Japan) sometime earlier. - The first printing of the English translation is from 1990.

- Now of course, - these days, - the situation would be much worse. - The amount of information enabled, and practically perhaps even rather inflicted, - by the almighty world wide web - would be far greater than in what might be said to be the normal situation we lived in until the rise of this apparently beloved monster, still in unpredictable growth.

- The rhythms of our world and culture also turned quite significantly further insane, which it doesn’t seem they could be said to be in the ’70s. Or ’80s. Before the birth of the Internet. - Though the computerized plague does no doubt not bear exclusive rights over the disharmony attained, - and in some ways of course still in progress.

My point in this post is not so much about people’s mind’s becoming numb (- i.e. and blunt) by witnessing abnormalities, - perhaps even extreme abnormalities, - as a matter of course - therefore and thereby excepting them - both consciously and unconsciously, - as if they were normalities; - and of course [- thereby, - wrongly] setting their corresponding views, - and having them set - (- mind you: - Both passively and actively) accordingly.
(- This is of course - just to avoid mistake, - not mainly about conscious conclusions and deductions, but rather about those the heart make internally make without - generally, - our head noticing the process or supervising it through our normal ego-consciousness most of us are used to in every-day-life; - those ignorant of this description would normally refer to it as “subconscious”, - which is not really altogether a wrong term in my view; though it certainly - practically - in any case I can think of, - does not reflect wisdom.)

- Rather the main point I want to relate to in Uchiyama Roshi’s words is excessive reading trashing our mind. - Too much information has never been good. - But the tendency to read beyond the capabilities of your mind seems to be far greater while surfing (- or perhaps, - rather literally, - being caught in) the web than it has been prior to the beginning of the use of the enormous and complex tool you are presently reading my post off.
(- Assumably - that is: - Personally I sometimes print stuff on paper to read it later.)

People often seem to imagine the more they read or study the better. - This is a very shallow attitude. - Our mind is neither a library nor a computer’s hard disc. - The reason we need sleep is (- in part at least) thinking itself damaging our brain, - which repeatedly recovers it during sleep. (- Just for the record: - I did not say thinking always damages our brain, - and I did not say its recovery is not possible else than in or during sleep.) Personally I feel it is somewhat like a slalom. - When you think you as if run yourself through some sort of tubes. - If you touch the walls while flowing through the turns and the curves you kill your mind. - Slightly. - This tires you. When you sleep life is reestablished. - Whether you think this is crap, or whether you heartily agree with every word, - it is undeniable that most of humanity knows nothing of it.

I would say through Zazen and through spiritual development you become somehow aware of this. You learn how not to tire your mind. And you become aware of the damage excessive thinking does to it. (- I might say intellectual-materialistic thinking too, - but this is inexact and might therefore be misleading and have my intention correspondingly be misinterpreted; - and beyond this - if one does not see it for himself - it would generally be quite useless trying to point it to him.)

Zazen (or other practices) makes you feel the damage disharmonious thinking does to your body and mind; - to your mental abilities.

Through it you are able to maintain your mental state throughout whatever you are doing, - not just during zazen.

- But I suppose people in the world in general do notice the way the evil web fucks (that is to say “ruins”; - pardon the expression) their mind. - If you read too much you feel like shit, - don’t you? - Obviously people are normally aware of this, - but still this is not the same thing.

- However, - the notice I wanted to relate to here in this post is with regard to the way the Internet pulls you into reading too much, - thereby ruining your mind, - quite the opposite of what happens during zazen.

Unlike those of a computer the functions of our mind are not independent of the incoming data perceived by the senses. Excessive input deteriorates the quality of the procession. - A phenomenon which might vary greatly, - it seems, - in its character or severity.

At first its effect would be contemporary, as just said - of possible different appearance or severity, - depending on how intensively and by what means you are ruining your relevant systems by which you think.

- Then there is a more permanent effect, - the result of the contemporary one being repeated continuously. - And again this one too can be of a more permanent or a more transient nature.

- Suppose you run a engine beyond its capacity as a matter of course. - Gradually you ruin it. - Unlike an engine the living being that we are has self-recovery and self-construction [and reconstruction] abilities, - which are also very flexible, - which enable it far greater and longer running through various destructive conditions.
- It can even benefit and strengthen itself through such conditions, which it might be unable to do otherwise. (- though this point does seem quite irrelevant with regard to the matter discussed here)
Also, - the great inner flexibility, - at the same time, - enables a reduction in the quality of the process ran; - which after further deterioration due to attempted use the system is unable to deal with, - can not any longer be that easily reversed - as might have been possible otherwise, had it not been for this further deterioration.
The permanence of the damage is not to be discussed, - as it seems to me, - in terms of one or zero, - but usually rather relatively.
- However, - those who would be harmed the most, - would generally be the ones who would do the least to cure it.
- Quite naturally, - perhaps.

- This is also the reason why for intellectuals and academics, - obviously quite intelligent sometimes too, - (though the last fact is also quite irrelevant here) it may be quite difficult to obtain “Zen” or any other kind of spiritual understanding. - The more shallow one’s personality is, - the more importance would he or she attach to intelligence - that person’s own in particular, - in this context at least; - unable to get what the thing or the matter is actually about.

I would also remark that depth of personality is quite related to wisdom, - not necessarily to intelligence.

- Obviously.

- There are several other points I might have made, - but I will not. - The post anyway grew far greater and longer than I expected. - My initial point was that Uchiyama Roshi’s words quoted at the beginning are the “caveat lector” - in an altogether different meaning than the existing of course, - to be inscribed and presented above the mountain gate to the world wide troublesome labyrinth where the snakes originating with the head of Medusa are still living in the darkness of your heart and that of other surfers.

Watch out.

- This only. -

-        -       -      -     -    -   -  - - -  -   -    -     -      -       -        -

I might still get back to matters I’ve discussed here and relate to them at another time.

Kalo on “Zen” II

- I translated the text in the last post rather meticulously sentence by sentence. - Unlike my habit is, - I did not attempt to fundamentally relate to the spirit of the whole unit to be translated, and try to reflect it in the translation to be done.

I did not think I could observe things from the point of view of enlightenment, and so I did not think I could grasp the fine intention of the passage and construct my translation in a living manner in its light.

Therefore I translated as I did. - I tried to remain as loyal as possible to the meaning of each sentence without relying on my own self confidence with regard to the understanding of the text.

However I had some second thoughts. - Generally this isn’t the best way to translate a spiritual text. - Definitely. - So I still don’t think I made a mistake, - and I knew earlier it could be translated more beautifully, but I thought I would present also a somewhat freer translation, not one that is as carful as the one in the last (main) post.

- So here it is, - in case you find interest: -

- “The truth, in the end, is eternally none but one and all who dwell in it know it. Words alone – which are ever incapable of presenting and describing this truth – are the source of the distortions and misrepresentations. Indeed, the measure of distortion is minimal as the speech is serving great teachers. On the other hand, the measure of distortion related anyway to all use of words, might arrive at enormous and hindering measures none the like. And that is about those men [and women] who innocently practice ‘Zen’, analyzing and interpreting its ways and purpose and sometimes – but translate a ‘Zen’ story from one language to another – without having attained Enlightenment. (- ‘Satory’, - as to avoid any misunderstanding) These men are as pseudo bakers unable to tell flour from waste and never the less – they dare and knead a bread of gravel and serve it to the hungry audience. The result – the consequence – severe damage to both the servers and the recipients alike.”.