- 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 “X” in Search of the Past behind your Back

In Shōbōgenzō Shunjū Nishijima’s footnote number 31 refers to a “story of a man who dropped his sword from a boat on a river, and tried to mark the place by putting a notch in his boat. He stubbornly searched under the notch, even though the boat had moved downstream”. (- The link is on the right, - Book 3 there of the Nishijima-Cross translation)

- Today’s religion is like this. - I mean those who originally leave the marks are not at all necessarily this foolish man off the story. - And the boat doesn’t move in a flash and the boat doesn’t move in a rush. - The situation humanity’s in doesn’t change overnight. - But it does change. - No one can deny that.

Judaism may be the worst. - Countless writings aimed at just the opposite of what Master Dogen means when he is saying about Master Nan’yo Echu (Nanyang Huizhong) that his “elucidation” “is never one truth or two truths”. (- Or, - “one way or two ways”, - Nishijima translates the Japanese “dō” as “truth" but this is clearly not the only way to have it, to say the least. - Chapter 53 (54 in Nearman’s translation) in the Shobogenzo, - Mujo-seppo.)

The allegory is very exact, in a way, - and this is what made me come to write this. - The unreasonability of the person in the story is so obvious while similar phenomena are ever escaping judgement of reason by eyes seeing them for what they are. - The nature of the spirit is not as the nature of physical matter in this rigid and rough world we are living in. - Still this is where we are. - It may be natural to write down instructions and directions received on the path. - And as well descriptions by those who know of what we don’t.

When a child is 3 years old he is told certain things. When he is 5 he is told certain things. When he is 6. - Parents would tell their children legends. A young child would not, of course, in many cases, - be aware that these stories do not reflect direct reality. He believes fairies, magic, witches, or whatever contents of these tales to be perceptible objects he might witness under possible circumstances. - I recall myself, at an older age, being concerned by questions such as who is stronger, - Batman or Spider-Man? - A friend trying to point to the fact that they do not in practice exist did not end my concern. I did not think at the time that abstract ideas (as these figures children uphold) do not have real features enabling us to relate to them as we might to real objects. But this is beside the point. - The point is of legends - as mentioned before that, - is it a lie a father is telling his son? Or is it not? Parents, of course, - are not unaware that young children at the appropriate age take what they are told as truth. Is it wrong? Obviously not many would think so.

- But if, - due to some distorted circumstances, - a child at 12 is still positively convinced his views of an earlier age are valid and true, - and further, - he can certify himself since he knows there is no doubt he was explicitly told so by those he trusts, - his reliable parents, - than there is undeniably something evidently wrong here.

- Of course wronger at 15 and worse if one is at an older age - possibly even an adult. Thinking of religion the situation is many times, as it seems, - about as bad as that. - It ever goes unnoticed because religion and faith are usually and normally taken to be nothing by most people today. Most would consider the issue pointless. - And in many cases the spirit itself is twisted in a way which makes things practically undetectable. - Due to a materialistic attitude within religious groups too. Materialistic attitude means they don’t know what understanding is and rely intellectually on written words. - But it is not only and merely about this.

It is not just about description of facts. - You might expect a child of 3 to behave in a certain way. You might give him according directions accordingly. - You would tell an older child of 5 or 12 different things. The two criteria would be the correct way for the child to act or behave according to his level of development and the appropriate means of presenting things regarding his ability of comprehending what you present him with.

Rules the Buddha gave over 2,000 years ago are not necessarily what he would order today. Some would still be in place, but it takes a certain kind of inner understanding to be able to tell. And this is of course never achieved through any form or kind of mere intellectual study. It takes more than that. And Jesus too, equally, - might have spoken somewhat different in accordance with humanity’s current level of development today two millenniums after the time he spoke his words we know. He somewhat related to that too, - changing earlier instructions and referring to the reason of that too. Things are much worse still. - It is not only that. There is the situation that scholars or learned men (or women, though not so frequently) imagine that after learning and becoming familiar with mere words and letters and acquiring knowledge the acquiring-of demands no inner or unique particular ability, they are able to “enrich” the existing contents of the religious or spiritual writings or customs, and on the basis of their materialistic familiarity with the external form of the issues and matters they may be dealing with, - they would expand and reform the field within which believers and practitioners innocently seek their path and way.

If scholastic knowledge as acquired and gained in the academic institutes would have been enough in the field of spirit, - (and understanding of the Dharma explicitly demands spiritual abilities, construction of the spirit, whatever anyone might say) practice as we know it would never have been necessary.

It is not about mere empty knowing of this or that. - The situation is different than in the secular field. - There it is just about features or abilities we already know being perhaps sometimes somewhat improved. - Here practitioners are to acquire gradually something they are initially ignorant as for the nature of. The main point is to change yourself. Master Dogen might object to the expression in contexts existing at his time, but here the situation is - as it seems, - just calling for this point. I don’t know if he would find a better way of putting it, he very likely would, - but it does not in any way negate what I am saying. He somewhat refers to the point too but it would not be useful for us here as it seems.

- Anyway, - one needs to become able to understand, then he will. It is not about how much you heard or read as it may be in other shallower fields. Those unfamiliar with the field would normally be blind to the fact. - There is no inner change people are familiar with normally in adult life in the lives of most people today. - Spiritual development roots out some rigidity inside your guts enabling gradual changes to occur in your personality with time as you practice or live. There are other changes. People of course sometimes changes in ways that are not generally mysterious, - but it is not the same.

- It is not easy to explain. - Anyway, - through practice, sometimes, - the ability to bring about changes is introduced, - and actual changes too are brought about. - It is not the same as things that happen sometimes in the secular field. You might say psychiatry and psychology are idiotic, - but I won’t get into that.

As for the effect of “Zen”, - there is an idea I thought of long ago, - and I will present it here: -

      Suppose you live in a neighbourhood where houses are generally 3-4 stories high. - As is a great part of Tel Aviv. - And let’s say you wake up one morning, - and step out to the porch, - and you see in front of you, - where there was an empty yard yesterday, - between two houses just across the street as it sometimes happen, - a new building 8 or 9 stories high - fully completed, - there are even tenants living there, - as you can see from the windows half open or laundry hanging off porches there. The building is brand new, it is obvious it has just been completed, - but a few tenants at least have already moved in. - As you can see through the building’s general appearance, - As I said.

      Now let us suppose also that you speak to no one about it.

      First you would obviously - perhaps at least, - think you might be dreaming. Let us assume you live alone. - So you have no one to talk to at home, and let’s say you passed the ideas saying (if so) you might be dreaming and this might not be real and know this is just a fact.

      Now you go off to work. And I said let us suppose that you speak to no one about it. Here is the point: - Your view, - that day, - seeing things, - whatever you see and come across that day, - will be different. - Your mind will be somewhat more open. Things will enter you differently. The soft shock you received creates a different situation where your inner systems work in a different manner. All this is assuming you talk to no one about what you experienced. Otherwise your mental situation will be different. - But this is necessary for our story here, - to make it able to clarify and expound what it is designed to. - Thing enter your mind deeper, but not violently. - After a while the mood will fade. It does not last for ever. But through Zazen you enter a mental state, - very slowly and gradually, and not everyone will come to it, - but after years of practice you get a steady state which becomes your normal one, - where the virtue I was talking about is inherited within your being through practice.

There is no way to get to that through any new form of prescriptions by the ignorant professionals living and ruling the scene today.

It is not possible to bypass the spirit.

- Those blind to it are ever living in a somewhat 2-dimensional reality. - It is like a person living in world made up only of rigid solid cubes. You can’t tell him of other things unmatching phenomena his rigid mind is unaccustomed to. I related to a similar idea in an earlier post. - The Spirit is not something that could be devised by those who don’t know it by means of guessing. - I doesn’t work that way. Common men and scientists today take the spirit and all that may be in general associated with religion or faith or occultism to be reamains of a primitive attitude we have - in their view, - moved beyond. - It will not get serious attention. And even if it would, - they would not see it reasonable to apply the tools necessary to get anywhere in the field. - The main point I wish to make here is that there is something of a different nature, in the way clouds are different from plastic toys or robotricks, - which the materialistic rulers of our contemporary miserable society - in the cultural way I mean, - can not and will not fathom, - and the possible results the enabling-of-which they miss, - are unequal to whatever they may be able to construct through their materialistic means.

In other words, - materialism means superficiality. - But the post was supposed to be about another thing. - It is about how religious ideas stagnate and remain as a shell empty of its contents. - A dead sea creature could be a good allegory too.

These words observed for themselves devoid of the real context and meaning may be much like a clam where only the shell is left, - or some similar creature, - and where those dealing with it don’t get there was a living creature inside and the dead thing they are holding misses fundamentally the essential thing.

This is why I brought the story at the beginning. - Had things been so easy to present all that I am saying, or trying to say, - would have been already known. There are many who are aware of the funny situation. Even if these many can be very few. It depends what you call it. And it doesn’t matter. - Strict adherence to religious texts unaware of their living contents can mislead like a blind camel in the desert. The essence is not easily brought into words. If you take the words relying on which “Zen” students have been able to become “Zen” masters, - they may be the best examples: - They meant everything to the right person at the right time, they might mean very little or nothing at all otherwise. You can’t cling to words out of context.

This was intended to be one post. But I’ll cut it off here, I don’t know why, - and I’ll complete it some other time.

It will be on in October, I believe. Cheers.

1 comment:

Ran K. said...

I wanted to post the continuance of this post on Oct 3, but it didn’t work out. The post deleted on Sept 18 will be back on on Oct 30.