- 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.                                                 ________________________

Thinking at Rest

Master Dogen says in Fukanzazengi, - “(- …) Sitting immovably in the mountain-still state, ’Think about this concrete state beyond thinking.’ ’How can the state beyond thinking be thought about?’ ’It is different from thinking.’”, - “This is just the pivot of Zazen.”.* - I don’t know the original Japanese but I quite certainly assume the “about” appearing twice here would not be there. - It does seem wrong to me. Also the word “concrete” I guess has been added intentionally by Nishijima as to emphasize a point he would consider important there, - it is quite obvious. - This too is not in place in my view, but I don’t know if it is practically wrong, but we can see quite obviously that Dogen did not observe a need to express it explicitly in such a manner.[1]

In Shōbōgenzō Zazenshin he quotes the story as follows: - “While Great Master Yakusan Kōdō is sitting, a monk asks him, ‘What are you thinking in the still-still state?’ The master says, ‘Thinking the concrete state of not thinking.’ The monk says, ‘How can the state of not thinking be thought?’ The master says, ‘It is non-thinking.’”.

There is also another repetition in Shōbōgenzō Zazengi but I will not bring it here.** (else than in the footnote you can find below that is, to be more exact)

All translations [here] are of the Nishijima-Cross Shōbōgenzō. I might have checked more translations (mainly Okumura perhaps) for the purpose of writing this but I am off the web now and don’t have even the books I have (not many) with me at the place where I stay.

- The Fukanzazengi is appended to the first volume of the Nishijima-Cross translation.

It was already quite some time ago that the “about” above did not seem right to me, -
(- at the time of correcting this article I’d add thinking of no thinking is just what we do not do while we are sitting, - we do not think of that and we do not think of anything else, this is quite the point of sitting, isn’t it? - Otherwise we’d be ruining our sitting, - would we not[2]?) it seemed it should be think-no-thinking rather than think about no thinking, - but it is not that I could tell or see what does this idea of thinking-no-thinking mean, - it just sounded like a strange or an enigmatic expression.

As for what Master Dogen is saying in the text, - it’s obvious, - not from the text I mean, - but it is no secret: - The intention is generally clear: - We’re supposed to simply ignore whatever comes up in our mind. The reason for his use of the way he does is of course a different question. - I do admit I cannot see why does Dogen say in Shōbōgenzō Zazenshin about Master Yakusan’s words “This use of ’non-thinking‘ is brilliant”. - Also I do not understand much of what he is saying about the story in that chapter, but it would not negate what I am going to say here. - Again, letting go of thoughts and mental objects or pictures is in my view no complicated thing, - the thing to do is very simple and initially seems to be also very easy to explain, - If Master Dogen has chosen this apparently not-obvious way of relating to it, - (while in the rest of the Fukanzazengi he is speaking in a quite simple and immediate manner) there of course has to be something to it, but as for this question you will perhaps have to relate to his own words in the chapter I mentioned. - Though the point I am intending here might also point somehow regarding the issue.

As for Dogen’s praise of the expression of “non-thinking”, this ought to have to do with the way it is in Chinese. (which I don’t know, or Japanese, - which my knowledge of is very far from being able to relate to it, - as it seems at least)
- It is translated differently even in these examples I have here, by the same translators, which might tell of its untranslatable nature. - We might guess its subtlety or exquisiteness generally escapes translation. If we’d be checking other translations I believe we’d be getting other versions too, - this is not the point here anyway.***

Now to the point: - Not so long ago I got in touch
(by e-mail) with a person I met years ago by the name of Yuval Gil, - who has recently got authorization in the Kwam Um school of “Zen”, and is now teaching in Israel.

- Subsequently I had a look at their site.
(It’s all in Hebrew)

They say they have three main forms of practice, - bowing, singing and sitting meditation. (Quite obviously, - “singing” would refer to sutra chanting, - Korean and Japanese “Zen” are not that different; - but I never made sure)

They refer to bowing and singing as meditation as well. - When sitting, - we might think of our mind as standing still, - as stopped, as unmoving. - Observing the more active (if they may be so called) forms of practice or meditation, - and of course mainly the mental state therein, - it might not be necessarily so: - the mind would not necessarily be as-if-blocked or of course harsh at the time of the meditative exercise, - carrying out the action referred to, - though the state is not the usual state in disregarding activities unrelated to practice, - the mind inevitably needs to function, - it is not dead or lifeless, - it does carry out the mission of leading and guiding the being within which it takes place, - but of course in a different way. - We do not witness its rough (perhaps) steps we may be used to previously, - but the bowing or oral expression evidently needs to be guided by something, - and the same would be true of walking (as in kinhin) or performing a formed task such as the structured begging (takuhatsu) monks do in Japan, - or just generally carrying out any action. (- Such as in samu)

We do not kill thinking in bowing or chanting (or singing) or walking or begging or just performing any necessary action as meditative practice. - There is the refined stream within - though clear and undisturbing - which does live within us ever as we are to respond to anything in our surroundings.

Now, - considering Zazen, - would it be the same or different? - How about the seated meditation? I do believe this is what the expression used is about.

- At first view, - you might naturally think of sitting [in Zazen] as where all ceases, - as a break off the world, - as where no action is carried out and no motion takes place. Dogen does speak of “not moving a speck of dust and not breaking a single form(- here it’s Okumura’s translation, off my memory, - I like it better (- Shōbōgenzō Bendōwa)) but this could be done in the active practice as well. - When sitting it does feel a lot like I said in the first sentence here, - and I think it would be true of many forms of meditation, - but quite clearly this is where Dogen wants to make the difference. - Sitting is an action we do in daily life as well. - We do sit, occasionally, - and we get up, it does take place in our course of action. - The state in sitting Zazen (as directed in the house of Dogen) should not essentially be different from all other practiced forms of living meditation through an active fulfilment of a task. - It is obvious that practically just sitting in the [full] lotus posture (as Master Dogen’s expression) or anyway in an immovable one is a significant and central key holding most of the importance of our practice. - All other treasured active additions may come up to very little had this not been performed. And it need not be said. - But put that aside, - as a matter of principle, - when seated in Zazen, - should it be like cutting off all of our having to do with anything and leaving all motion and progress behind, - or should it be like a practice of sitting as part of everything? This is what thinking-no-thinking is about, I have come to understand after my glancing and looking through the web site I mentioned. It is not their intention, - but it crossed my mind subsequently. - It is not blocking thinking or any mental functioning, it is not like standing still and forcefully stopping anything from getting through, - it is letting go of any unnecessary thinking or dreaming of an absent mind while not preventing the allowance of the actual natural and real essential functioning - though just of the so-simple act of sitting. This is where Dogen is different, but I may be opening a different issue here.

- Just as we are walking in kinhin, just as we are doing our work in samu, just as we may gradually learn to make our usual state the clear and transparent hopefully (also gradually) known through the practice in the sitting posture, - so when we are sitting too it is fundamentally the same thing. - The string of time never brakes, the chain of life is not excluded out of, - harmony is not disregarded or broken too, - it is not a piece moved out and detached off our lives, - it is an integral part of it. Zazen, - practiced in the Buddhist meditation posture, - is also an active form of meditation or practice as the other various methods aforementioned. - It is just that unlike the other practices, - of walking or chanting or whatever, - it is so simple, - it is of an action that requires perhaps almost nothing (or sometimes just nothing) of our capabilities of sorting and organizing information received through the senses known as “thought”. - Regardless of the question of how different would it be practically, - the principle is the same principle. This may be closely linked to why Nishijima says (used to say that is) Buddhism is a religion of action. Crossed my mind just now.

- So far. See the following note. I’ll probably write this again sometime, if conditions are in favour. - But that’s the idea, - this is what Master Dogen wanted when using the expression I related to in the beginning. - I believe I have broken the encryption code of these words. See this page.

       I started writing this post on February 2nd this year. It seems it was close to being completed within a few days. But then for some reason (I don’t remember exactly, I have lots of trouble, or had, and things to do consequently) I put it aside for some time, - then it happened that since sometime later I could not remember things in the same way I would while writing continuously, - the little that was still left to be completed was not at all easily finished.

       - I also wanted to reread what I’ve already written and perfect what needs to be where I might have not expressed myself in the best way. - Eventually this did not work out. - It is not my habit [in this blog] but I am leaving things here (in this post) where I am not sure I have written them in the best way or as I should.

       - Beside that some things are not the way they were the time when I wrote them, - I said “I might have checked more translations (...) for the purpose of writing this but I am off the web now and don’t have even the books I have (...) with me at the place where I stay” but actually since I did come across another translation. - Also I am still without an Internet connection but I get to connect quite more frequently or conveniently and the books I mentioned are accessible. I said about Yuval Gil that I got in touch with him “Not so long ago” and that he got his authorization “recently” but this is not so much so now. - I said about Shōbōgenzō Zazenshin that “I do not understand much” of what Master Dogen is saying about the story (of master Yakusan and the monk) in that chapter, but I went through this again since and the situation is not the same as it was. - As for another issue see note ***.

       (Btw, - the note I added on the sixth paragraph I added a long time ago, - on Feb 12th as it seems)

       Had I wanted to correct all that might have been needed in the post it would practically take a rewriting of it all. I can not do that now. - I also wanted it to be on on August 2nd, - which eliminates this possibility. - It could not be regarded as a completed post. Still the message is there. - I think I will [have to] write it again. It will quite clearly be quite shorter. - But I am not in the right state for writing it or dealing with it now. This is the main issue. - Also my “Time” post I was quite unhappy with, and it is to be written again sometime. - So far.

[1] I might add relating to the “about” above, that sometimes expressions are apparently intended to be viewed in one manner at first view or by an incapable person, - and otherwise, in a more refined manner or less obvious one, - in a further observation or a more thorough or later listening or reading. Such seems to be the case relating to Master Daiman’s words to Daikan on their first meeting saying people from the south are without, according to Master Dogen that is. (- See note 53 to chapter 22 (- Busshō) in the Nishijima Shōbōgenzō translation, - else there may be a similar issue (relevant to the previous one too) when Master Daii (- the fourth patriarch) is meeting Daiman (who was still a child of seven at the time) earlier than that)

[2] Rudolf Steiner speaks in an old series of lectures translated to English as “at the Gates of Spiritual Science” - in the last of these lectures when relating to the practice of the Rosicrucian order in Europe, - of a stage in that practice in which he says about the pupil there that “the content of his thought falls away, but the activity of thought remains”. This sounds much like the same idea of what I am writing about here.
* Though “zazen” has not been capitalized originally in the translation, I have still capitalized it here.
** - “Sitting in balance in the mountain-still state, think the concrete state of not thinking. How can the state of not thinking be thought? It is non-thinking. This is the real secret of zazen. Sitting in zazen is not learning Zen meditation. It is the great peaceful and joyful gate of Dharma. It is untainted practice and experience.”.

*** After writing the above I came across Okumura’s translation to the relevant part of Shōbōgenzō Zazenshin and there the statement that “This use of ’non-thinking‘ is brilliant” does not appear at all. The relevant sentence is translated differently and actually makes more sense. So my whole discussion of this issue may actually be unnecessary.

על שלטון החוק

הביטוי "שלטון החוק" נשמע בימים הנוכחיים, ככלל, לחיוב, מפי גורמים שונים.

ראה לעניין זה (או ראי, או ראו, whatever) ספר מלכים ב', פרק א', פסוקים א'-טז'.

Happiness is Misery

It is often referred to happiness in the context of the spiritual path. The way. Some think of Buddhism as a way to avoid suffering, to flee from misery. This is somewhat of sanctifying dualism or even attachment, it might seem. Though not many may share my view, perhaps.

It seems as elementary as possible that pleasance or unpleasant could only exist in the existence of mind. If there isn’t any mind or consciousness nothing would naturally be joyful or painful. You don’t enjoy and you don’t suffer. It is quite funny that this point needs to be repeated or emphasized. Though practically when relating to the issue-here it might seem it is not - sometimes - so easily accepted.

- If you follow the path you come to notice, sometime, - that clear mind is no mind. Clean mind is no mind. In thorough cleaning no consciousness would remain. Self conscious mind is referred to in “Zen” fields as divided mind. When there is no divided mind - or perhaps you might say duplicated mind, - there is no mind at all. Who is there to witness that? I could not answer, I guess. Not at present, but I could not see a serious person negating the fact.

Uchiyama Roshi somewhere speaks opposing the intentional attempt to come to no-mind, but it seems to me he mainly objects to having the intention; - I don’t much like his reference there, (I don’t remember where it is, probably in his commentary to Bendowa) though I do like his words usually, and I won’t refer to it here. - We could only refer to and speak of pleasance, pleasure, joy and cheerfulness as long as we have a mind. Then we may be restricted by their nature and tied to them and their opposite phenomena many wish to avoid. If we, ideally, drop our mind completely, come to a state of “mindless mind” as that of the (ultimate) reality itself, - we would be naturally unable to experience these. Nothing is joyful for us, nothing is painful or feels bad mentally - depressive or sad or whatever, - since the extra layer of one’s personal experience added to the practical necessities of the mental structure is given up, is no longer necessary, has faded away.

The wish for absolute happiness is based on a wrong perception or understanding of things. Duality is forever relative. Good and bad spring out in opposite directions but are ever limited. And never eternal. This is their nature, I’d say. - So feeling good or feeling bad would accord too. No other way, again, I’d say.

- In a previous post relating to Master Seppo Gison I quoted four stories from the Shinji Shōbōgenzo. In the fourth story Master Joshu Jushin is asked “What is it like when we are in an eternal valley or a cold spring?”. - I would not have known this myself but the words used in the question symbolize enlightenment, - the state of one who has arrived at it, - the “ultimate state” as the commentary added to the translation has it in Nishijima’s translation I was quoting there. (https://www.aczc.org/shop-1/shinji-shobogenjo) Joshu is practically saying happiness is never something even to be sought after. He is fully negating the common expectations rooted in the common and normal state where feeling good is considered what is to be aspired through an absent minded state corresponding to the way everyone else see things. - Happiness is nothing. Feeling good or bad is very important as a guide through many different stages and states. - But eventually the best to be sought after is the total absence of mind, - a “mindless mind” as I would call it, - to make clear this doesn’t mean to imply any existence of matter as contrary to the mind. But preferring happiness over misery as a matter of principle - as for their experiences themselves, - is fundamentally wrong. Though of course preferring it due to what it may come as an expression of is different. Joshu is saying “Fuck joy”, it is all very nice but when coming to what may be related to as the ultimate thing to look for, the ultimate aim or purpose, the state human existence is created as a tool to come to, - this is not what it’s about. When we freely function without any need for a personal awareness the notion of pleasance, of feeling good or bad, of [our own] joy or sorrow, - is no longer there. Our mind has done its thing, - fulfilled its mission, - and it may fade off. Such is my understanding. It ought to be clarified that else than for the very meaning of “an eternal valley” and “a cold spring” as a metaphor or an imaginative what I brought here is not from the commentary in the book I mentioned and does not derive from there. It is my own view, I could not see could be wrong. (I also disagree with what the commentary says about Joshu’s answer to the monk’s further question there, and with its relating to Seppo’s response to Joshu’s answers, but I will not bring my relevant opinions or questioning regarding it here. This post is to be focused on one point, and so it has been.)

- the Language barrier, - minor point -

קיימת שגיאה נפוצה שישראלים דוברי עברית מחמיצים לעיתים קרובות ולמעלה מכך.

בשימוש בשפה האנגלית במלה "
Bible" הכוונה אינה לתנ"ך, כפי שהנזכרים מורגלים להניח ולחשב, - כי אם לתנ"ך ולברית החדשה, יחדיו זאת אומרת. - בשימוש בעולם דובר האנגלית הנוצרי כאשר הכוונה לתנ"ך בלבד יֵאֲמֶר "Jewish Bible". נכון שכאשר מדובר בחוגים יהודיים בינם לבין עצמם ישתמשו במלה Bible לציון התנ"ך בלבד, אבל כאשר נשמעת המלה בד"כ בציבור או בתקשורת שלא מפי יהודים דווקא, וידוע כי מרבית האוכלוסיה במערב אינה דווקא יהודית כמובן, אז הכוונה כמובן מאליו לספר הכולל גם את ספרי-הברית-החדשה. משמעות לדבר בעקר כאשר נשמעים דברים מפי גורמים שאינם נוצרים דווקא כי אם מכיוון דתות המזרח, הינדים או בודהיסטים, - שאז מדמה לעצמו המאזין העברי שהמדובר הוא בתנ"ך או - מכאן, - ביהדות, כאשר הכוונה היא כאמור לַסֶפֶר הכולל יותר. בפרט לאור העובדה שהדמות המרכזית בספר הכולל הינה ישוע הנוצרי, החשוב מאשר משה, אברהם, או אליהו הנביא, והספר החשוב מבין ספריו הוא הבשורה ע"פ יוחנן, ולא ספר מספרי התנ"ך. קרי מרכז הכבד של הספר הכולל אינו בתנ"ך דווקא, והטעות הנזכרת אינה שולית כי אם משמעותית, ככל שחשיבות לדברים ככלל.

The heart

According to contemporary modern so called “science” it apparently may be said all our human mental functions are performed within the head.

The brain is supposed, generally, - to be where everything goes. I have no particular knowledge about relevant issues in biology but the fact is widely known and no secrete.

- After sometime of practice, - spiritual practice or Dharma practice, - one may be able to become aware of the existence of his or her heart. In case you don’t know: - It is not the organ usually called by that name (I don’t know why) in secular society, not that in the left side of your chest, close to the centre, - in charge - so to speak, - of making the blood flow in its vessels. Rather it is in the right side, not so close to the centre, - and a bit higher, normally that is. I recall sometimes feeling it perhaps two or three meters up in the air, outside the body, in time of extreme pain. This is not important here, I am just making the remark.

- There must be at least about twenty people I know personally who know the heart. It is not something you talk about. - Normally, unless any particular reason to, - one does not mention it. And when one does, it often would be in a way or manner in which one-who-is-ignorant-of-it would generally (unless informed otherwise) assume it is just a metaphor, - in the form of speech common and usual among everyone generally. Nothing special. But otherwise it is a thing one generally feels it would not be right to freely speak of in the same manner everyone can refer to any other daily thing. - Those who are conscious of this element of their being are normally also aware of the natural situation in which it is better to take some caution in speech in referring to it. No disaster might occur but one easily feels it is for the better. Sometime it is possible to be aware of a better choice of action without analysis and without detailed knowledge of the practical reasoning behind it.

Anyway, - the main point is there are many who can testify as for the truth of the fact I am relating to here.
- The entire mental functioning is clearly not being performed in the head or the brain. So called materialistic “science” is ignorant. Is practically foolish and amazing, - but this is not the issue here. - Some of your mental functioning takes place in the heart. Emotions exist nowhere else. This does not deny of course some reflection of them in the brain. With development the heart can also learn certain capabilities of thinking. This does not mean mathematical calculations and the like, - but practical issues can clearly and unquestionably be related to. Not everyone will testify to that: - At first it will have nothing to do with it, - as it seems, to me at least. However the fact that your mind is not in any sort of whole-correlation with the functioning of what-takes-place-inside-your-head can be clearly and perfectly viewed.

There is a certain centre (energy centre) in the lower region of your body called “tanden” in Japanese and “dantian” in Chinese. - “Zen” meditation as practiced in the “Rinzai” sect depends on it, perhaps entirely. Master Tendo Nyojo also mentions it. - Serious martial artists could not be unaware of it. It is of primary importance there. I would say, generally, that it is easier to gain awareness of the tanden than of the heart. After that, - after this centre (related to the will and the origin of one’s being) it seems the heart (Some call it the spiritual heart, I generally do not) is the easiest to come to know. Of course the ability would differ from person to person. But it seems much easier to get to know than the chakras you might hear about or read about in Yoga fields or others.

- It is initially felt as if it is a physical organ, but practically it is not. - The functioning of our imagination takes place in the heart. This can be clearly felt. You can also feel that mathematical-like calculation or thoughts would be an action which does take place (partly at least) in your head. The mental sphere would correlate to a structure of more-than-one-element as it seems, that which is inside your head not denied as one of them, - but far from being the whole thing. The connection seems to me like between computers connected as a net, - but this is a matter still to be careful about, though the idea could not be entirely empty.

- So far for the matter. - There is the organ generally not known today taking place in the right side of your upper body, normally, responsible for a considerable and significant (and this is somewhat of an understatement too) part of the functioning of your mind. Most literal expressions referring to the heart originate with this. And are quite accurate too, generally at least. - There are quite many people who are able to directly testify as for this fact. Do notice: - Quite many can be still a very low percentage, - but even if we’d be speaking of something like 1/10%, - (one in a thousand) or even 1/10 of that, - this is no doubt still a very large number of people, - we are not speaking of a scant number where you have to search a lot in order to find every one person, - there are many, and those aware of the phenomenon themselves would generally know others who are too. - The reason the matter is still unknown, as it is, to the majority of humanity [today] and to funny individuals engaged in the study and research of the relevant field through common materialistic methods, - is (to a great extent) that those who possess the ability to acknowledge the phenomenon through personal experience are justifiably reluctant to generally relate to the matter, - both due to an inner notion referred-to-above having to do with the nature of non-physical [fundamentally] by all, and due to the easily predicted response off other individuals in society who might consider them abnormal or question their mental health. - Of course the situation would be different in the case of a few dozens (or a far greater number) making a similar statement where each one is independently relating to his (or hers) personal individual experience. Such a thing should be easily possible. I don’t know why it hasn’t taken place so far. Humanity lives in a funny pit, for a long time, it could not be forever, - but Sawaki Roshi’s words are clearly relevant: “Funny being, man is, - groping around in the dark with an intelligent look in his eyes”.