- 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.                                                 ________________________


While writing the last two posts, - as ridiculous as it may apparently be, - I did not yet know that Nishijima is no longer with us.

On the 1st of October I asked Nissim Amon [by e-mail, - that is] whether he knows where could he be found. - Then I learned that Gudo Wafu Nishijima Roshi is no longer residing on the physical plane.

Having checked Brad’s blog I came across this, which mentions the date January 28. I haven’t been reading Brad’s blog for a few years recently.

I recall at the time I was in the Dojo, Nishijima said sometime “If I die I just die”.

This has to do with something that was on Tricycle just at the time. Still he said that. I am quite sure someone there - then - was puzzled about something a “Zen” master said according to that article. I won’t get into it. This not what made me write this post.

I’ll bring some of what Brad said first. I didn’t originally intend to but he talks about what I was going to write about anyway. So here it is. It is not essential, - I’ll write quite the same I would otherwise, - but since he already did relate to the matter it seems more appropriate and also more serious that I do: -

I talked to him about death on a number of occasions. Many people who have read my stuff are already familiar with the fact that he very strongly denied that the theory of reincarnation had any legitimate place in Buddhism. But I also know that his view of what happened after a person died was more nuanced than one might expect from knowing only that he denied reincarnation (as well as rebirth, transmigration, etc., it didn’t matter what you called it!).

Once we were talking about something I do not recall. We were in the room he stayed in during retreats at Tokei-in temple, just the two of us. He started to say “When I die,” but stopped himself before saying the word “die.” Instead, he paused and said, “When I… move on to another realm.” I thought that was fascinating. I’d never heard him describe death that way before and I never heard him say anything like that again.


- He relates to the subject in the two next paragraphs too, somewhat. But for here there is no need for the further quote. That which appears in small characters is not smaller originally.

Nishijima is known for denying the occult. He generally denied the existence of anything outside the physical plane. By “known” I don’t mean famous, - those who know him usually know that.

His successors, as far as I know, follow this line. Though there may be more of them I don’t know than those I do.

At the time I was in the Dojo, which means ’96, - Nishijima was not particularly looking for discussing these matters. Quite obviously - he did not want to lie and he did not want to affirm their existence on the other hand. He obviously too did not want to make his reluctance concerning this evident to many.

So when he was asked he would answer but he himself did not raise the subject.

Nishijima knew (and knows) the occult exists perfectly well. And so does Brad.

Nishijima knew that far better than all sorts of chatters who might talk about it endlessly, not knowing much about it for real. - He did not want himself, or his Dojo or Sangha or teaching-in-general, - or Buddhism-itself in general - to gain an image of being strange or eccentric. - Normality was in a way - you might perhaps say, - quite a central point in the spirit of his teaching. When I say “in the spirit” I mean it was something he did not necessarily relate to explicitly.
- But further than that he did not want the path itself, - in all ways mentioned just above, - to be hindered by such an image.

And there is another point: - Paying attention to the related issues and matters would not be what he would consider beneficial for the practice of his disciples and those who follow him (or might follow him) in general.
- Ramana Maharshi, - whom I mentioned earlier on the #9 post on this blog, - would not deny the existence of the out-of-the-physical elements or phenomena, but would still ask why do people prefer to find interest in them rather than in what I-might-call the true aim of the path.

- Nishijima preferred to lie. - Beside what has been said so far referring to the occult might have caused potential practitioners to keep away or flee off the way of what we refer to as the Dharma, or the spirit - the way is one whatever you call it - either way.

I’d say it would generally be wrong to just pick up his way without applying concrete consideration to the situation or particular state one is in. - He was not violating “right speech”, - but his attitude, - given that you accept what I’m saying here, - was definitely not the standard as for it.
- One who understands the matter I am generally relating to here will inevitably know that humanity will unavoidably recover from its present view as for the true form of the universe and its construction. Nishijima acted under certain conditions which gradually change as time progresses. - Plus: - in Japan.
- The Japanese are not always that adherent to the truth as it is in there manner of life.

- So what was right for him would not necessarily be right for his successors living in a different society or a different situation.

I do not criticize Nishijima, I do not even assume he was wrong, I do trust his judgment regarding this was better than mine, but I do not even - on the other hand, - doubt the rightness of the revealance I have made here.

Still - the question I would - as I had earlier thought - put to those particularly wise humans who apparently deny the existence of all-but-the-physical-plain as part of what is supposed to be spiritual (- that is to say, - or “Dharma”, - which is quite the same here) teaching or guidance, - is - how would they view the first lane of the eightfold-path?

- That is to say, - how could they consider - that by hindering a person’s structure and system of views in a way that would inevitably be misleading for him as for his understanding of his surroundings and familiarity with it, - they would still be practically performing an act of that which they are supposed to carry out within the duty they chose? - What [tf] do they think “right views” is?

I believe this point is generally not considered.

- Another matter: -
As for those who actually believe in all standard secular materialistic views, - and as for those who pretend to too: -
- And I mean (- of course) particularly among those who have chosen the path as instructed by Master Dogen and others within the school or the stream today generally known as “Zen”, running through Bodhidharma and his successors within that house: -

Master Dogen - how would they view him?

- Was he a fool who believed in all he referred to in the Shobogenzo (and generally) due to a primitive and undeveloped state corresponding appropriately to the time he lived in? Was his mental ability due-to-which-we-follow-his-tracks irrelevant to the depth-of-mind and ability-of-realistic-thinking necessary for the discerning of the actual facts with regard to which determining has to be made?

- I am not relating here to any matter of respect or esteem you might have or not have toward our beloved Eihei Dogen Zenji. - Disregard that. - That would be completely bending or ruining my point. - My intention refers to your common sense, - to its consistency of view. Intellectuals would say they only adopt the philosophical structure presented, which is true in itself, but does not answer the question. Master Dogen was a real person, not a fictional figure a writer made up, and not a computer software written somewhat-randomly-perhaps according to what the programmers might have in mind. - The question is whether it would have been possible for him to be such a man of inferior quality, and it is not him alone - of course. - And not “Zen” masters only - too, - it would be most great figures of humanity until sometime - I guess - during the 18th century. Such figures were men (or women) of faith - both in East and west.

I won’t name, anyone can easily do that. I might relate to that some other time. My focus here is on master Dogen. Though the point would of course not be that considerably different. - Could he have been so severely mistaken as for his world view? - The truth is people to-a great-extent absorb their view off their surroundings, rather than rationally construct them as they quite obviously imagine they do. So both today and in older times everyone generally think the same. I won’t generally relate to that, [here] but the reason I am mentioning this is this is the reason why (in my view) many think it reasonable that a person of the stature of Dogen would still hold reasonlessly the same ideas held mistakenly within the general society during his time. Of course I don’t mean they analyze things and come to the conclusion consciously as presented here. - I’d assume this is the situation. Thus the great deal of humanity is able to believe or assume its evident highlights are simultaneously a bunch of idiots. As for Master Dogen you might try and consider yourselves - it depend on one’s depth of mind and thoroughness of attitude, among other things, - clarity mainly - never on intelligence alone which may be a misleading tool in the hands of the unable.

This was meant to be a short post. - However, - then I came across what Brad said, and also while writing there seemed to be points I had to relate to, - unexpectedly - somewhat at least. - That which brought me to the writing of this is the following. - The story I will bring here. This is what made me dedicate a post to Nishijima’s entering Nirvana - otherwise I would have not come to that.

No disrespect to Nishijima - of course, - just a matter of having nothing to say. Readers arriving at this blog would usually - I assume - know Nishijima and have read about his death elsewhere by now. So here is the main point and the ground or foundation of this post:

At the time I was at the Dojo, (Nishijima’s Ida Ryogokudo Zazen Dojo in Ichikawa, which no longer exists) ’96, - as I said earlier, - Nishijima would spend the weekends with us at the Dojo and midweeks with his family in Osaka, where he would also work. The weekends would not have been equal in length, - he might sometimes arrive on Thursday - evening or afternoon, - or sometimes on Friday. - He might leave on Sunday or he might leave on Monday morning.

One day I was talking with him in his room at the Dojo. As you will understand it inevitably had to be Monday. Though I don’t remember the day otherwise. He had to go out, since it was morning it had to be Monday, - he was leaving at the end of the weekend, as I wanted to continue the conversation I went out with him. We were talking about Buddhism, or somewhere in the vicinity, - I don’t remember exactly, - but it was generally about his teaching - I don’t remember at all where exactly was the conversation in particular at this point - but it was generally about matters of the spirit (though Nishijima naturally wouldn’t call it this in my place here) or the path. The train station - JR, - I don’t remember its name - was a few minutes from the Dojo as far as I am able to remember. I was wearing a samugi, which people in the Dojo didn’t usually, - but I had two and I’d were them sometimes. - I’m saying that because I did not have time to change, - obviously, - before going out, and I got the impression some people on the street found it a bit amusing that I was wearing it, - but it has really no importance in itself or anything to do with what I have to say here.

The station is underground. There is a stairway down and then, shortly after, there is the entrance where you can’t get in unless you get a platform ticket, - or an ordinary train ticket - of course.
We were still talking, - all the way, and after we got down the stairs we stoped about a meter or two before the gate were I can’t get in, - as I had no intention of getting a platform ticket which does cost a small sum.

- Just on our right was a massive concrete pillar, - about 40 centimeters wide in each way - (that is to say about 40 cm wide by about 40 cm deep, - square roughly) supporting the ceiling above us at the ground level.

There were some papers attached to it, I recall folding one of them in order to demonstrate the way I saw self consciousness - “divided mind” as it is known in the field of “Zen”.

At that time we were already talking about the phenomena exceeding the physical plain - beings or whatever may reside in other worlds, - never in such detail but in general reference to what would generally be called “the occult”, as the term I used in the beginning.

I can’t remember what I said but Nishijima - apparently - tried to deny the idea as he usually would - implicitly I suppose and not actually explicitly - imagining - it seems - that I might accept such an attitude.
And here we come to the actual point: - I tapped on the pillar with my hand and said “These things are just as real as this”. Nishijima was not at all resenting. - On the contrary, - he was very happy. He made no attempt of hiding that.

At that he said “So, you can talk to me any time”, - and then he added - “when I have time” - since he knew I might run sometimes at the vicinity of the rough borders of being a neg.

This is the point. He was very happy to find out I could not be misled in that way and that I actually knew what-I-expressed and had solid confidence in this matter which could not be shaken so easily in that silly manner as he knowingly attempted.

Nishijima never tried or had any attempt, - of course - to mislead or fool anyone who did know the truth about these matters. Even when denying what he did he did not intend for anyone who knows to take him seriously. I heard him speak these denials more than once.

I am not getting back to repeat what I said at the beginning. But this is clearly the situation.

And just a remark - as for the way I expressed myself: - I do not remember off where I recall that - but it is said that for those who are able to perceive the higher plains, - they are more real than our physical world with which most of us are familiar. That is to relate to the question likely put by many materialists, - how could one tell it is real and not imagination?

So far for that. The solidity and somewhat significant presence of the concrete pillar did make their contribution, I suppose.

The reason I put Nishijima’s picture above, which I cut off the video Brad put on his post, (clicking on the picture takes you there too) is that there you can see how amused he is off what he himself is saying there. It may evidently be - supposedly - that this is just due to the fact that it might have been amusing anyway. - But this is just why he is making no attempt to hide it. Since he expects the incapable will so assume. You can try and watch it and see for yourselves. It does tell, as far as I remember. (- Off watching it over a month ago, about the time I started writing this post)

I liked the picture Brad put on his post, - so I’m putting it here too.

1 comment:

Ran K. said...

I wanted to add something to what I said in the post:

Sometime before the incident I referred to in the post Nishijima first (I think) related to the Mulamadhyamakakarika in a talk he gave in a seshin in Tokei-in temple. (where he would normally have seshins)

There he spoke of Nagarjuna denying “the world” and affirming “the universe”.
“The world” means the phenomenal world. “The universe” means the Reality. He did not make this interpretation as far as I recall, there and then at least, but it is obvious and could not be otherwise.

(There may have been a second denial – denial of “the world” would have been denial of materialism and there may have been a second denial which would be the denial of idealism. I don’t remember.)

The place where he spoke, giving his lecture, was a tatami room, or hall. And he was using a blackboard for the purpose of it. So in his denial of “the world” he related to tatami-mats and blackboards not existing according to Nagarjuna. At the same time the “universe” – the Reality – I could not say “as we know it” since we don’t – else than Buddhas exclusively, - does exist according to Nagarjuna.

He never made any indication in what “the universe” is different from tatami-mats and blackboards, and though it did make me wonder I did not ask.

However, - still, - it is the same use of the term “Universe” that I borrowed in the use of the title of this blog.

– As we stood in the train station near the entrance in the story I told in the post, - thing were not exactly as I brought them: – After he was denying what he did as I was saying there, I first said “These things are just as real as tatami-mats and blackboards”. Nishijima was apparently puzzled, I might guess the lecture I mentioned here was about 2-3 weeks earlier. It seems he did not remember his talk there just at the moment and did not understand what I was talking about.

Then, - after a short pause, I said “These things are just as real as this” tapping on the pillar as written in the original post.

Things continued as said, Nishijima went in the station, and I guess I saw him again the next weekend when he came back from Osaka. So far for this correction.