Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Don’t church it up!

My wife grew up in Japan, when to a Buddhist pre-school, Had been familiar with Buddhism all of her life. Mainly she has recognized the main purpose of Buddhism as a funeral service. And that is OK! Or at least I have told myself. Buddhism, as far as I know, has never really been about seeking out converts and is more interested in teaching to those truly interested.

Now over the course of her life she has probably heard the Heart Sutra chanted dozens if not hundreds of times, maybe even thousands considering how often I have overheard in on NHK. Hear is the kicker… she has no clue what they are chanting. I don’t mean that the dose not understand the profound nature of the sutra it self but she doesn’t know what the guy chanting is saying! Aren’t they chanting in Japanese???

They are kind of, but the chant is all churched up and pretty unintelligible for a country girl like her. This is one of the reasons why I have such aversion to chanting, singing, and the other advanced choreography that goes along with the temple business.

I am pretty sure that the heart sutra was not initially created just to be chanted by someone who dose not even have a clue what they are saying. It was likely trying to get a message across about the nature of reality. Maybe I am totally wrong, but I doubt it. I think this is a serious danger to Buddhism when we try and church things up and make them all pretty we confuse the message. We have a hard enough time with this practice with everyone’s different interpretations of this that and the other as it is.

I know, I am likely preaching to the quire here, but I felt like a rant.

I am very happy now though because I can actually talk to my wife about something she has heard all of her life but never understood. This, I think, is pretty cool.


Be well and happy,
Jordan

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20 Comments:

At January 20, 2008, Blogger Mike Doe said...

There is a lot of Churching going on in Buddhism. Lot's of people spout beliefs that they don't understand.

Lot's of people think that the beliefs are the things that are attained rather that the beliefs show that something has not been understood.

Religion is nice and safe and predictable and controllable. Beliefs can be held, changed, dropped at will.

Reality is not like that. Reality is the beautiful girl who walks over to you in the bar and gives you an eye-watering kiss. Her boyfriend sees this, walks over and gives you an eye-watering kick in the balls.

Reality is more like that - good or bad is often not in your control.

"I don't know what I've been told. I think this Zen is really old".

 
At February 11, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

Hi Mike,

You wrote that good or bad, reality is often not in our control.

Is it ever?

 
At February 12, 2008, Blogger Mysterion said...

Mike Doe said...
"Lot's of people spout beliefs that they don't understand."

It may be a matter of time. You sit Zazen. You go to a dharma talk, you go to Zazen (and reflect upon the talk), perhaps you understand the talk.

Next day, you sit zazen again, you go to another dharma talk, you go to Zazen (and reflect upon the talk), perhaps you understand the talk.

Next day, you sit zazen again, you go to yet another dharma talk, you go to Zazen (and reflect upon the talk), perhaps you understand the talk.

After perhaps 9 or 12 years of this, you begin to really understand the first few talks. You understand them because you have not only internalized the talks but you also start to externalize the talks.

Is it churchgoing? I don't know.

 
At February 13, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

"Time" is an interesting...concept, yes? Dogen devoted much space to it.

Something you might want to explore: does time exist outside of our thoughts about time (past, present, future)? Or is the only true "time" this very moment? (Which is gone before you've said "yes" or nodded your head.) Perhaps all the other moments of time (past, present, future), are the dream of the ego?

I find interest in exploring who (or what) it is that "does" the understanding? How does the understanding actually happen? What is the mechanism by which it occurs?

And, more pointedly, to whom (or to what) does the understanding happen?

From my understanding, these are some of the questions that the ancient masters pondered over (if the surviving texts can be believed).

 
At February 13, 2008, Blogger Mysterion said...

I suppose 'understanding' is still being debated.

As I understand it [pun], when information is internalized - in a sense you take ownership and that information now BELONGS to you like a heart or lung - then you understand. However, there's more than that (which monks pondered). When you become that information - teaching or training - (e.g. an advocate of peace through action) then you have externalized the lesson(s).

Is one willing to passively die for peace? Isn't that hidden in this fable?

 
At February 14, 2008, Blogger TedinAnacortes said...

Jordan,
I think it is important to know what I am saying if I chant something (or the reasoning behind any kind of practice or ritual for that matter). But if I am sitting with a group, or meeting a teacher for the first time, I usually don’t have a problem following the “procedures” (like 3 full bows to the alter, then I bow to the roshi when going for dokusan, etc.). But when I see people performing any kind of a regular practice routine without really understanding what they are doing I just have to shake my head. What is the use of that?

Clearly, people that enact rituals or practices without understanding are simply taking someone’s word that there is something useful in it. Okay, I can see trying something based on a source I trust, for a little while to evaluate it by the results----but just to brainlessly mimic some practice without understanding seems a little more than artificial to me.

I see a lot of this in the Zen community. I have met people that have been practicing “sitting meditation” for years, and they can’t even tell you the difference between cessation and observation (stopping and seeing), or discuss the meaning of “Zazen”, “Shikantaza”, “Koan-introspection”, etc. It seems that all that some of them know about is how to get into the “physical posture” of sitting upright. Some apparently believe that “sitting like” Buddha, is the same as “being” Buddha. Of course this notion is also perpetuated by some so-called Zen teachers that exhort students to “just sit” and have “no goal.”

I can’t imagine what Dogen or Hakuin would say to “teachers” like that. But thankfully we do have many of their records available to us, and we know that they exhorted students to read and study and put your knowledge into practice. “strive diligently” or as Dogen says, “Above all, attain the Bodhi mind."

Okay, enough ranting… Thanks again,
Ted

 
At February 14, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

tedinanacortes ~

You wrote, "But when I see people performing any kind of a regular practice routine without really understanding what they are doing I just have to shake my head. What is the use of that?"


The question arises: what is the use of performing any ritual, including practice, even WITH an understanding of what one is doing?"

I'm not being facetious here; this is a genuine inquiry: what is the USE of any practice (with, or without, understanding)? Who is there to benefit from such (or any) activities?

 
At February 14, 2008, Blogger Jordan said...

Ted,
Good to know you are alive!

Take good care,
Jordan

 
At February 15, 2008, Blogger TedinAnacortes said...

Hello Jordan!
Thanks for the welcoming words.
Glad to see you are still active here.

endofthedream wrote, "The question arises: what is the use of performing any ritual, including practice, even WITH an understanding of what one is doing?...
... Who is there to benefit from such (or any) activities?"

Yes, endofthedream, that really IS the question! What is the use of practice? This question has been at the heart of Zen, in one form or another, from its beginning.

It is the question that drove Eihei Dogen on his dangerous journey to China.

For Dogen Zenji, this question took shape around the apparent contradiction between 'original' enlightenment and 'acquired' enlightenment. For him it was the barrier to and eventually the catalyst of his own great awakening. Resolving this conflict became the central focus of his spiritual quest.

It was through his personal resolution of the seeming contradiction between the doctrine of original enlightenment and the need for spiritual practice that allowed him to—in his own words from Shobogenzo, Bendowa—‘complete the task of a lifetime.’

After the powerful awakening that resulted in his personal resolution of this question, it is only natural that the non-dual nature of practice and enlightenment became the central theme in Dogen Zenji’s teaching. By ‘non-dual’ I mean, empty of duality, I do not mean that practice and enlightenment are one, as is propagated by some. Practice and enlightenment in Buddhism are two aspects of one reality. It is important to understand that though they always go together, they each maintain their distinctive aspects.

Dogen Zenji’s earliest teachings are full of wonderful expressions that convey this principle. The very first paragraph of his very first teaching, Fukanzazengi, is constructed of four lines—each variations of this fundamental truth:

"Now, when we research it, the truth originally is all around: why should we rely upon practice and experience? The real vehicle exists naturally: why should we put forth great effort? Furthermore, the whole body far transcends dust and dirt: who could believe in the means of sweeping and polishing? In general, we do not stray from the right state: of what use, then, are the tip-toes of training?"
(Translation by Nishijima & Cross)

In light of the rest of this essay, as well as the rest of the Shobogenzo, this is not simply a series of rhetorical statements, but an expression of spiritual realization, urging us to deep contemplation. Dogen Zenji is not saying, ‘the truth is all around: we do not need to rely upon practice, put forth great effort, etcetra.’ Rather, he is saying, ‘the truth is all around: WHY do we need to practice, WHO could believe in the means, OF WHAT USE, and so on.’ His statements are neither rhetorical, nor are they conventional questions wanting answers. Master Dogen is indicating, at once, the revelation of a spiritual truth and an indication of the appropriate attitude for Zen practitioners to employ in their efforts.

Dogen Zenji taught what all the Buddhas and Zen ancestors taught; enlightenment is the essence of authentic practice, practice is the function of authentic enlightenment. Again, it is important to point out that the duality of practice and enlightenment is transcended, not annihilated. Dogen Zenji frequently uses the term ‘zazen’ in reference to the non-dual nature of practice and enlightenment, not just as sitting meditation.

Thank you for your comments, endofthedream. You have raised a very important question, one that we can all take up, and take to heart...

Gassho, Ted

 
At February 16, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At February 16, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

Hi Ted,

A wonderfully fleshed out explication. Thank you.

Yes, Dogen's a cool dude, no question about it.

The dualities that you talk about resonate here with the zen differentiation between the relative and Absolute, so there is no conflict with both co-existing (although there IS a more profound understanding that the relative is not "real" in any Real sense...it is a manifestation in phenomenality of the Absolute).

As a result of dabbling in the spiritual racket for over 25 years, it seems that MOST of the time, SOME kind of practice, precedes awakening. There are a few, rare exceptions that I know of (not directly, but from reading or talking to the individuals), but, in the main, SOME kind of "efforting" or directing the energy appears to be a precursor to clarity.

Certainly "practice" DOES happen through most bodymind mechanisms. Although the "form" that it takes can vary widely: dialogue, meditation, prayer, "good works" (i.e., the yoga path of karma), "surrender" (the yoga path of bhatki), etc. Whether any such practices will result in the desired acquisition (actually, really a loss, not an acquiring!), is dependent on the destiny of the particular bodymind mechanism under consideration. (It's not as if each has a choice in the matter! Ha!)

You mention "enlightenment." I wonder what this is understood to be on your part. Without some common, shared appreciation of the term, there is usually cross-talking and resultant confusion (and argumentation).

So, if you care to continue, what do you see as this "enlightenment" that is commonly pointed to?

 
At February 17, 2008, Blogger TedinAnacortes said...

endofthedream,
Thank you for your post.

Before I go flapping my jaw, just let me make a disclaimer:

I don't believe there are any definitive doctrines, or absolute truths. The best we can hope for from teachers or doctrines, are clues or hints.

I think that even if we memorized all the teachings, and understood every doctrine of every tradition, if we do not experience it directly, we will never find certainty.

For the simple reason that it is impossible to talk about anything without making divisions where divisions do not really exist. All teachings necessarily have to posit ‘this’ against ‘that’, or ‘self’ against ‘no self,’ ‘sacred’ against ‘mundane,’ and the like, which is fine as long as we remember that they are only temporary expedients for guiding us to the experience of reality where all divisions will finally been seen through.

Since delusion itself is illusory, all teachings to overcome delusion are also illusory.

For example, the notion of a ‘present moment’ only has meaning in contradistinction to the notions of ‘past’ and ‘future.’ If the concept of the ‘present’ is posited, the concepts of ‘past’ and ‘future’ are automatically validated. This goes for all doctrines, formulas, rules, practices, and the like.

Ultimately, reality transcends definitions, descriptions, and doctrines. It is beyond cause and effect and has nothing to do with the past, present, and future.

I do believe, however, that if we can truly cease conceptualization and step back into our own fundamental awareness (or see true nature, experience an awakening, or whatever term you want to apply) we can each personally resolve our doubts.

Okay, now I will try to share my own views on some of your comments.
First, you wrote:

"there IS a more profound understanding that the relative is not "real" in any Real sense...it is a manifestation in phenomenality of the Absolute."

It seems to me that the "relative" is just as real, or unreal as the "absolute." As I mentioned above, to posit one implies the other. You can only speak of an "absolute" in contradistinction to "relative." Otherwise, what would be the meaning of "absolute"? "Absolute" as compared to what?

Next, you wrote:

"it seems that MOST of the time, SOME kind of practice, precedes awakening. There are a few, rare exceptions ... but, in the main, SOME kind of "efforting" or directing the energy appears to be a precursor to clarity."

Yes. Of course when you speak of the "rare exceptions" I think of the Sixth Ancestor of Zen in China. Tradition has it that he simply heard a text (the Diamond Sutra) being recited and he had a profound enlightenment experience.

And this brings me to your question about what I mean by "enlightenment." I have to say that my view is pretty much the standard view expounded in the classic Zen texts. My favorite:

"Seeing your nature is Zen. Unless you see your nature, it’s not Zen."
~ Bodhidharma, Traditional founder of Zen
The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, Red Pine (Translator)

It seems to me that all the teachings, records, treatises, and commentaries by the classic Zen masters can be read as footnotes on this statement of Bodhidharma. His proclamation about “seeing your nature”, has been echoed by all the great masters throughout the history of Zen. In agreement with Bodhidharma, they insist that knowledge, conduct, and practice is of little or no value without the vital experience of awakening to true nature.

The classic Zen records are brimming with references to experiences that result in deep and immediate transformations. Indeed, such sudden transforming experiences are described and attributed to every single major figure of Zen.

If we want to break it down into conceptual formulas, the Five Ranks work pretty well.

According to that formula, our "initial" experience of the second rank reveals what we have unseeingly been gazing at all along (during our initial practice)in the First rank. Together the first two ranks overlap kensho (or, our initial awakening to our own true nature). By “overlap,” I mean that the border or demarcation between the first rank and the second rank is not a separation, but a connection, not a barrier, but a joint. In the first rank, we partially experience the Universal Mirror Prajna (or Universal Cognition, Mirroring Awareness, etc.). When this prajna becomes fully actualized, we have entered the second rank. When we enter the second rank, we discover the oneness of the universe and ourselves.

With our first experience of the second rank, an important shift occurs in our practice; we no longer merely rely on the teachings of others. We will now have actual experience and insight into what we have up to now only heard about. Although we will still rely on teachings to guide us in deepening and refining our realization, our practice will be based on our own experience.

Moreover, our experience will have confirmed the truth of the Dharma and thus strengthened our faith.

As the classic texts repeatedly warn us, it is important to understand clearly that this is not any kind of a final realization, but is where true Zen practice and enlightenment begins (practice and enlightenment, of course, being two aspects of one thing).

Anyway, I have rambled long enough.
Thanks again, hope to hear more from you soon.
Gassho, Ted

 
At February 17, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

Hello Ted ~

Again, an informative post. We'll continue...

Before I go flapping my jaw, just let me make a disclaimer:

I don't believe there are any definitive doctrines, or absolute truths. The best we can hope for from teachers or doctrines, are clues or hints.

*****Yes, of course. Here, in duality, we're swapping concepts. There is just no cure for that ~ except silence ~ which, while it may be the purest medium of transmission, makes for very short posts and terribly boring parties. :-)))

I think that even if we memorized all the teachings, and understood every doctrine of every tradition, if we do not experience it directly, we will never find certainty.


*****Absolutely! (being punny)
Either it is Seen, or it is not. And still, the conceptual understanding usually, not always, precedes genuine Understanding.


For the simple reason that it is impossible to talk about anything without making divisions where divisions do not really exist.

*****Right. This arises because that is the nature and function of thought: the vehicle through which such conceptualizing occurs.


All teachings necessarily have to posit ‘this’ against ‘that’, or ‘self’ against ‘no self,’ ‘sacred’ against ‘mundane,’ and the like, which is fine as long as we remember that they are only temporary expedients for guiding us to the experience of reality where all divisions will finally been seen through.

Since delusion itself is illusory, all teachings to overcome delusion are also illusory.


****Yep. This is why they're all yukking it up so much in zen monasteries. When the joke is gotten, there's really nothing left to do but eat rice and chop wood (or not).

For example, the notion of a ‘present moment’ only has meaning in contradistinction to the notions of ‘past’ and ‘future.’ If the concept of the ‘present’ is posited, the concepts of ‘past’ and ‘future’ are automatically validated. This goes for all doctrines, formulas, rules, practices, and the like.


*****Again, spot on. There can only be a "this" if there is a "that." But both "this" and "that" exist in thought. Prior to thought there is...

Ultimately, reality transcends definitions, descriptions, and doctrines. It is beyond cause and effect and has nothing to do with the past, present, and future.

I do believe, however, that if we can truly cease conceptualization and step back into our own fundamental awareness (or see true nature, experience an awakening, or whatever term you want to apply) we can each personally resolve our doubts.


*****"We" can't do any of that. Yet, it may occur. The resolution of doubts is not our doing, although it can happen.


Okay, now I will try to share my own views on some of your comments.
First, you wrote:

"there IS a more profound understanding that the relative is not "real" in any Real sense...it is a manifestation in phenomenality of the Absolute."

It seems to me that the "relative" is just as real, or unreal as the "absolute." As I mentioned above, to posit one implies the other. You can only speak of an "absolute" in contradistinction to "relative." Otherwise, what would be the meaning of "absolute"? "Absolute" as compared to what?


*****I was emplying the term "Absolute" in the manner you used "reality" a few lines above. To quote you, : "reality (the Absolute) transcends definitions, descriptions, and doctrines." Having been "infected" with the Advaita bug, my perspective on zen has been colored to see things as a kind of conglomeration of the two. "All there is, is Consciousness," mouths the Advaita sage. To me, translated into zen, that is the Absolute. It is the Unicity, the monobloc, AllThatIs, the energy field, out of which the manifestation we call "the universe" or "our world" or phenomenality arises. The Absolute is That which is beyond (or prior to) time, space, thought and out of which is birthed time, space, and thought.


Next, you wrote:

"it seems that MOST of the time, SOME kind of practice, precedes awakening. There are a few, rare exceptions ... but, in the main, SOME kind of "efforting" or directing the energy appears to be a precursor to clarity."

Yes. Of course when you speak of the "rare exceptions" I think of the Sixth Ancestor of Zen in China. Tradition has it that he simply heard a text (the Diamond Sutra) being recited and he had a profound enlightenment experience.


*****Right. And as to the veracity of such...stories...we have no evidence. Perhaps true, perhaps not. There is a modern teacher/sage, Byron Katie, whose sudden transformation is very well documented since it occurred pretty recently (about 1986). Apparently such things do happen.


And this brings me to your question about what I mean by "enlightenment." I have to say that my view is pretty much the standard view expounded in the classic Zen texts. My favorite:

"Seeing your nature is Zen. Unless you see your nature, it’s not Zen."
~ Bodhidharma, Traditional founder of Zen
The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, Red Pine (Translator)


*****OK. And that leads to the question, what is this "your nature" that he points to? Of course anything we write or say about it is not the Truth, but the statement has some validity, it must be translatable into something that communicates, or else it is just gibberish, like the conversation that takes place between oneself and couch. :-)) So....care to go further? What is this "nature" that can be Seen?



It seems to me that all the teachings, records, treatises, and commentaries by the classic Zen masters can be read as footnotes on this statement of Bodhidharma. His proclamation about “seeing your nature”, has been echoed by all the great masters throughout the history of Zen. In agreement with Bodhidharma, they insist that knowledge, conduct, and practice is of little or no value without the vital experience of awakening to true nature.


*****Agreed. The basic...Understanding...is very, very simple. Which is not to say it is easy to apperceive.


The classic Zen records are brimming with references to experiences that result in deep and immediate transformations. Indeed, such sudden transforming experiences are described and attributed to every single major figure of Zen.


*****And yet, out of all the earnest, arduous, zen practicioners, only a small minority ever truly Understand. Thus the wanting, and the trying, do not seem to produce a linear path to achieving. It seems that whether or not awakening happens is not up to us. It is not a function of our "will" (illusory as that is!) ;-)) To really See THAT........is the beginning of Genuine Understanding.



If we want to break it down into conceptual formulas, the Five Ranks work pretty well.


*****This is one structure. Vipassana has another. So does Tibetan Buddhism. As do many of the elaborate meditation "systems" espoused by certain teachings. They are all null and void, however, "working" (i.e., leading to awakening) ONLY when they are prescribed to "work." And that is NOT up to the apparent individual laboring at the task of waking up.


...snip...

As the classic texts repeatedly warn us, it is important to understand clearly that this is not any kind of a final realization, but is where true Zen practice and enlightenment begins (practice and enlightenment, of course, being two aspects of one thing).


*****The final realization is to See that there is no one "here" to "have" a final realization. Game. Set. Match. ;-))


Anyway, I have rambled long enough.

*****It didn't come across as rambling here. More like an introspective dialogue.


Thanks again, hope to hear more from you soon.

*****You're welcome.

Cheers!
Andy

 
At February 19, 2008, Blogger TedinAnacortes said...

Hi Andy, thanks for the post.

I see you don't like to mess around with the skin, flesh, bones, or even marrow; instead driving straight to the blood and guts.

I hope you find my response as enjoyable... But as you see, I can sometimes be a bit long-winded-- but you can just scan the highlights if you like. Here goes:

**Andy*****OK. And that leads to the question, what is this "your nature" that he points to? Of course anything we write or say about it is not the Truth, but the statement has some validity, it must be translatable into something that communicates, or else it is just gibberish, like the conversation that takes place between oneself and couch. :-)) So....care to go further? What is this "nature" that can be Seen?

$ Ted $$$ Yes, “what” is this nature---or maybe better, this nature is “what.” You may have guessed that Dogen is my favorite, and you may know that he often uses interrogatives (like “what”, and “how”) to “point” to what we have been calling “nature.” As, for instance in one of my recent comments. Nevertheless, as you point out, there are some real limitations when it comes to talking about it, or giving it a name. At the same time, refraining from talking about it or giving it a name it has its own limitations (and as you point out, is not much fun at parties).
In any case, since we are agreed that it cannot be contained by words, the term “nature” should work as well as any other. For when you say “nature”, I know (or at least I assume) that you do not mean nature, in the ordinary sense, but “nature” as in the vast unnamable fathomless void---or whatever else we might call it.
At the same time, “Buddha nature” or the “essence of reality” or “the Tao” or “God” or the whole plethora of utterances that humans use to refer to the ultimate, is no more limited than any other term in our language. That is to say, if you say “dog” to someone that has never seen or experienced a “dog”, they can only conjure up a concept, not truly relate to it. Of course you can help a reasonably intelligent person develop a concept about “dog” that is closer to the reality of “dog” than a neurologist could explain brain function to a kindergartner, much less the “essence” of the universe. But in either case, it would remain conceptual.
However, if you talk to someone that has experienced “dog”, even if you call it a “pot-licker”, or a “tire-biter”, they will understand what you mean.

Likewise, if you talk to someone that has seen “nature”, whether you call it Tao”, “consciousness”, “Buddha” or “essence”, they will intimately understand your meaning (being able to fill in the “inexpressible” aspects of what you are able to “express”).

So, if we agree that expressions indicating the true nature of “nature” (being punny also) are only expressing what is “expressible” and at the same time depend upon and imply the “inexpressible” nature or “nature”, then here are some things about “nature” that are expressible:

It is the vast unnamable fathomless void; the source, manifestation, and destination of the myriad things. At the same time, each particular thing, time, and event is one particular aspect of the whole. A cup is one aspect of all time and space. A flower is one aspect of all time and space. You are one aspect of all time and space. Your own awareness is the awareness of the universe. Your hands are the hands of the universe. And as Dogen says, further progress can be made…


**Andy ***And yet, out of all the earnest, arduous, zen practicioners, only a small minority ever truly Understand.


$$ Ted $$$$ Man, you really like to pick out the most complicated points to discuss! Ha! Cool! Okay, I will take a crack at it. First of all, I agree that most so-called “Zen-practitioners” never come to realization… But I have to qualify that---This is only true if one defines a “Zen-practitioner” as someone who joins a community, or follows a teacher, or goes through Jukai, or takes the Bodhisattva precepts, or any of the other “forms” that are popularly used to refer to “Zen-practitioners” in the modern world (especially the modern west).
On the other hand, if you use Bodhidharma’s definition of Zen (quoted in my last post) as your criterion, then it is not true. According to that definition “Seeing your nature is Zen. If you don’t see your nature it’s not Zen.” In that case, every true “Zen-practitioner” awakens, or as you say, “Understands.” If they do not “see nature”, it is not Zen, hence they are not “Zen” practitioners, but something else that is only called “Zen-practitioners.”
I think we are in agreement here, so on to your next point…

**Andy ****Thus the wanting, and the trying, do not seem to produce a linear path to achieving. It seems that whether or not awakening happens is not up to us. It is not a function of our "will" (illusory as that is!) ;-)) To really See THAT........is the beginning of Genuine Understanding.

$$ Ted $$$$$ Again, I love the way Dogen addresses this point. In Inmo, Shobogenzo, he opens with this koan:

“Great Master Kokaku … preaches to the assembly, ‘If you want to attain the matter which is it, you must be a person who is it. Already being a person who is it, why worry about the matter which is it?’”
(Nishijima & Cross)

I think you see where this is going, but indulge me anyway. Ha! Dogen’s first comment after citing this koan is:

“In other words, those who want to attain the matter which is it must themselves be people who are it. They are already people who are it: why should they worry about [attaining] the matter which is it? The point of this is that directing oneself straight for the supreme truth of bodhi is described, for the present, as ‘it.’”
(Nishijima & Cross)

My understanding of Dogen here (as well as throughout the Shobogenzo, and Buddhist literature generally) is that genuine aspiration (wanting “to attain the matter which is it”) is itself “true nature”, or whatever term you want to apply to “the matter which is it.”
So, I agree with you when you say, “whether or not awakening happens is not up to us. It is not a function of our ‘will’” if by “us” and “our” you mean some kind of a separate individual “self”, which of course cannot in reality exist.
On the other hand, because “awakening” or “bodhi” or “realization” or “practice and enlightenment” is our own true identity, or our true nature, or whatever you want to call it, then our “wanting” and “trying” and “willing” are themselves manifestations of “it” (true nature). Hence it is “up to us” ---that is the real “us”, and is a function of “our” will ---that is of the reality of what is indicated by the term “our.”
Which brings us back to Dogen’s constant reminder that “practice” and “enlightenment” are distinct, yet nondual. Or as he often puts it, “practice and enlightenment are not tainted.”
When the resonance between “ourselves” and the “universe” manifests as bodhicitta (“citta”: thought, or mind/heart, or will. “bodhi”: enlightenment) which Dogen translators often translate as “establishing the bodhi mind” then “ourself” and “the universe” or “it” both fall away and because the gap which distinguishes “ourself” from “it” is seen through and no longer applies. As Dogen says a little further along in Inmo, Shobogenzo,:

“Once this mind is established, abandoning our former playthings we hope to hear what we have not heard before and we seek to experience what we have not experienced before: this is not solely of our own doing.”
(Nishijima & Cross)

If, “abandoning”, “hoping to hear”, and “seeking to experience” is not “solely of our own doing”, then they must be, at least partially, the “doing” of “it.” Hence, wanting and trying are aspects of enlightenment, and if wanting and trying are not present, then enlightenment must not be present.

So rather than saying, “wanting and trying and using our will” do not result in enlightenment, it might be better to say, “GENUINE wanting and trying and using our will co-arise WITH enlightenment, or are “aspects of” enlightenment.” Of course keeping in mind that all such expressions depend upon and imply the inexpressible… Just for the sake of completion, let me quote the rest of Dogen’s paragraph on this—it is, in my opinion, one of the most profound expressions ever articulated on this subject. He says:

“Remember, it happens like this because we are people who are it. How do we know that we are people who are it? We know that we are people who are it just from the fact that we want to attain the matter which is it. Already we possess the real features of a person who is it: we should not worry about the already-present matter which is it. Even worry itself is just the matter which is it, and so it is beyond worry. Again, we should not be surprised that the matter which is it is present in such a state. Even if it is the object of surprise and wonderment, it is still just it. And there is it about which we should not be surprised. This state cannot be fathomed even by the consideration of buddha, it cannot be fathomed by the consideration of the mind, it cannot be fathomed by the consideration of the Dharma-world, and it cannot be fathomed by the consideration of the whole Universe. It can only be described "Already you are a person who is it: why worry about [attaining] the matter which is it?" Thus, the suchness of sound and form may be it; the suchness of body-and-mind may be it; and the suchness of the buddhas may be it.”
(Nishijima & Cross)

So, when you say, “It is not a function of our "will" (illusory as that is!) ;-)) To really See THAT........is the beginning of Genuine Understanding.”

I agree that it is not a function of “our” will, in the ordinary sense, however what we call “function” and “will” are real aspects of “our true self”, or “true essence”, “true nature” etc.

Okay, moving right along:

…..If we want to break it down …. the Five Ranks work pretty well…..

** Andy ***This is one structure. Vipassana has another. So does Tibetan Buddhism. As do many of the elaborate meditation "systems" espoused by certain teachings. They are all null and void, however, "working" (i.e., leading to awakening) ONLY when they are prescribed to "work." And that is NOT up to the apparent individual laboring at the task of waking up.

$$ Ted $$$$ I agree insofar that “the apparent individual” is illusory, and any GENUINE “laboring at the task” is not really “laboring at the task”, but the practice and enlightenment of the unnamable void, recently referred to as “it.” In this sense we might say that the unnamable void manifests as an “apparent individual laboring at the task of waking up.” Or, in Diamond sutra language we could say, an “apparent individual laboring at the task of waking up” is not really an “apparent individual laboring at the task of waking up”, it is just called an “apparent individual laboring at the task of waking up.”

** Andy ***The final realization is to See that there is no one "here" to "have" a final realization. Game. Set. Match. ;-))

Ha! This is where I must disagree. I would say, “The INITIAL realization is to See that there is no one "here" to "have" a final realization.

Thanks Andy. I have had a vast amount of fun with this. I look forward to hearing your comments.

Take care,
Ted

 
At February 20, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

Ted,

There is no issue with your loquacity. You express yourself clearly, if at length. It is not a problem here.

Now, you wrote, in regard to relating to a dog: "But in either case, it would remain conceptual.
However, if you talk to someone that has experienced “dog”, even if you call it a “pot-licker”, or a “tire-biter”, they will understand what you mean."

*****I will suggest that.....if it is known....that knowing occurs as a conceptual experience. What we know are thoughts, concepts, mental imagery. The actual essence of What Is...is never known by us directly, only through the mediation of thought. In the absence of thought, what is there? No thought, no world.

Regarding "true nature," a nice ... conceptual ... description occurs in the capping verse to Case 23 of the Mumonkon, "Eno's Good and Evil":

You can describe, but in vain.
Picture it, but to no avail.
You can never praise it fully.
Stop all your groping and manuevering!
There is nowhere to hide the true self.
When the universe collapses,
It, remains, indestructible.

Regarding one's "true nature." It can be seen that it is ~ at rock bottom ~ emptiness, an ever-changing flow, an impersonal identity with All-That-It. It is, essential, Impermanence. It is not a personal nature, an identity, or even a state. It is the momentary changing flux out of which each moment arises. And it's never "yours." It evolves, transforms, moment-to-moment.

You mention, regarding the discussion about why so few people awaken..."if you use Bodhidharma’s definition of Zen (quoted in my last post) as your criterion, then it is not true. According to that definition “Seeing your nature is Zen. If you don’t see your nature it’s not Zen.” In that case, every true “Zen-practitioner” awakens, or as you say, “Understands.” If they do not “see nature”, it is not Zen, hence they are not “Zen” practitioners, but something else that is only called “Zen-practitioners.”

That's a cute definition. Somewhat backward, but that's how it is for some. It basically posits the "conclusion" (seeing one's nature) as the definition of zen. But that Seeing often (usually) entails much prepartory..."practice." So what is that practice called? What is one doing whilst "practicing"?

You write:

My understanding of Dogen here (as well as throughout the Shobogenzo, and Buddhist literature generally) is that genuine aspiration (wanting “to attain the matter which is it”) is itself “true nature”, or whatever term you want to apply to “the matter which is it.”

*****I would submit that those who aspire towards money, or power, or are driven by lust ... that expression, arising in phenomenality, is also "true nature." It is an expression of What Is.


So, I agree with you when you say, “whether or not awakening happens is not up to us. It is not a function of our ‘will’” if by “us” and “our” you mean some kind of a separate individual “self”, which of course cannot in reality exist.


*****Eggs-actly.


On the other hand, because “awakening” or “bodhi” or “realization” or “practice and enlightenment” is our own true identity, or our true nature, or whatever you want to call it, then our “wanting” and “trying” and “willing” are themselves manifestations of “it” (true nature).

****As are violence, joy, anger, affection, confusion...the ten thousand things are manifestations of "it" also. There is nothing which is not a manifestation of it.


Hence it is “up to us” ---that is the real “us”,

*****There is a "real" us? What is the "unreal" us?


and is a function of “our” will ---that is of the reality of what is indicated by the term “our.”


*****There is no "our." It is a result of confusion to believe it to be so. Yes, "yours" "mine" "our" are convenient fictions we entertain because...because...well, actually because we have no choice (I was going to say "because it is convenient" but it is more clear to cut straight through to the bone which notes that we do what we do, we think what we think, we act as we act, not out of choice but out of destiny).

You write, "then “ourself” and “the universe” or “it” both fall away and because the gap which distinguishes “ourself” from “it” is seen through and no longer applies."

*****Yes, the hypnotic illusion of separation is Understood to be just that: an illusion (albeit a VERY convincing one, and one that can't be removed, else one would not be able to function in phenomenality...but the illusion need not be believed).

You write, "If, “abandoning”, “hoping to hear”, and “seeking to experience” is not “solely of our own doing”, then they must be, at least partially, the “doing” of “it.”


****Everything is the "doing" of "it." There is nothing else BUT "it." Everything else is the dream of the ego. "Your" thoughts are it, in motion. "My" actions are it, manifesting. It is useful to maintain the false identity with "yours" and "mine," but the Understanding points out the Origin of All.

Ted, that is a lovely quote you include from Dogen. He nails it in pointing out that "Even worry itself is just the matter which is it, and so it is beyond worry." Of course Seeing the validity of this insight is gist of the matter. The words convey a state of Understanding which is, for most who aren't awake, problematical at best. Nonsensical at worst. Oh well, ... that is how "it" will have it!

You write, "I agree that it is not a function of “our” will, in the ordinary sense, however what we call “function” and “will” are real aspects of “our true self”, or “true essence”, “true nature” etc."

*****There really isn't any "one" of us to "have" this "will." "Our true self" is simply the momentary arising of consciousness. This momentary arising does not persist (although thought tells us it does). Next moment, a new arising and a new “self” seems to appear. Rebirth consciousness, to use the Buddha’s words, is the conceptual “glue” that links these discrete moments together to create, in the localized consciousness that we each are, the felt sense that the “I” that was “here” a moment ago is the same “I” that is here now (and, by extension, via thought, the same “I” that will be here in the next, future, moment). But it’s all happening in thought, generated in the localized consciousness which is part of, and beholden to, Consciousness (our True Nature, the Buddha Nature, God, Totality, Source, Bozo the Clown if you prefer).

You wrote, "My understanding of Dogen here (as well as throughout the Shobogenzo, and Buddhist literature generally) is that genuine aspiration (wanting “to attain the matter which is it”) is itself “true nature”, or whatever term you want to apply to “the matter which is it.”


*****Is there anything that is not "true nature"? If so, what is the source of the "not-true-nature"?


You wrote, "In this sense we might say that the unnamable void manifests as an “apparent individual laboring at the task of waking up.”


*****Yes. That is it (or It, if you prefer). The only time "we" appear is when self-referential thought (the "thinking mind" to use Ramesh Balsekar's term) arises. And that too is not "our" doing, as we have no will to.......will.....anything to occur. I prefer to think of us as the driven, not the driver, ... but a "driven" that is in someway hypnotized to "believe" that we are the driver. It's a neat trick and the foundation of all the hoopla in the world ... as in he said, she said.........when, in Reality, it said. ;-))


* Andy ***The final realization is to See that there is no one "here" to "have" a final realization. Game. Set. Match. ;-))

Ha! This is where I must disagree. I would say, “The INITIAL realization is to See that there is no one "here" to "have" a final realization.


*****After this....Seeing....there is nothing left to do but chop wood, carry water, eat rice, drink tea (or Scotch, if that is your preference). You say it is the INITIAL realization. What then do you see following it?

Yes, thank you for the dialogue. It is a pleasure to interchange with one not mired in position defense.

~ Andy

 
At February 24, 2008, Blogger TedinAnacortes said...

Hello Andy,
Thanks for your thought provoking words.

---Andy--The actual essence of What Is...is never known by us directly, only through the mediation of thought. In the absence of thought, what is there? No thought, no world.

---Ted---Yes. I agree. But again, when I use the words like “know” etc. with you, I assume you will realize that I am necessarily leaving out the “inexpressible” aspect of my meaning.

---Andy--- “The actual essence of What Is… is never known by us directly…”

---Ted---I would say it is never known by us directly, because if it were there would be no “us.” That is to say, “knowing” and “known” would not be two separate things. Again, (as I try not to gag on my own words) “knowing it directly” is “being it”, which of course transcends ordinary intellectual knowledge.

It may be better to express this as direct “experience”, rather than knowledge. At least that reduces the connotations of intellectual understanding a bit.
Another fairly decent expression might be the one that Joseph Campbell favored: “Becoming transparent to transcendence.”
Just one more point I think merits some note: in a certain sense everything we do “know”, “perceive”, and “experience” IS the “actual essence of What Is” regardless of our knowing or not knowing. What else?

---Andy---But that Seeing often (usually) entails much prepartory..."practice." So what is that practice called? What is one doing whilst "practicing"?

---Ted---Yes, Andy, in this line I believe you have truly pinpointed the very limit of what can and cannot be discussed or even imagined. Each of us can only take up the hints of the sages and find our own way to do/not do, this. The best “hints” of the sages, I believe, are the ones that finally say things like, “cease conceptualization, and step back into your own fundamental awareness, without any notions of “ceasing conceptualization” or “fundamental awareness.””

---Andy---I would submit that those who aspire towards money, or power, or are driven by lust ... that expression, arising in phenomenality, is also "true nature." It is an expression of What Is.

---Ted---Yes, I agree with you totally (although there seems to be a tacit understanding amongst “teachers” to avoid discussing this openly). At the same time, I think it is important to add that those who do aspire to things that cause “others” to suffer, can only do so out of delusion---that is to say, when “Buddhas (true nature)” manifests as beings that cause harm to “others” (which demonstrates that they are under the delusion that “the other” is separate from their “self”) they are called “ordinary beings.” When ordinary beings realize the truth of “oneness”, they are called “Buddhas true nature.”

One good koan on this aspect (I can’t remember the participants names) goes something like this:

Monk: Is it true that all words are the words of Buddha?
Master: Yes, it is.
Monk: Then may I call your reverence an ass?
Master: Pow! (Strikes him with a stick.)
Monk: Is it true that all sounds are the voice of Buddha?
Master: Yes, it is.
Monk: How about the sounds of pissing and farts?
Master: Pow! (Strikes him with a stick.)

---Andy---As are violence, joy, anger, affection, confusion...the ten thousand things are manifestations of "it" also. There is nothing which is not a manifestation of it.

---Ted---Again, this is the same point we agree on. Again, I have to add something. Yes, “violence, joy, anger, affection, confusion” (and murder, rape, torture, war, and disease, etc..) are also a manifestation of IT--- But so is the desire---call it compassion--- to end “violence, anger, affection, confusion, etc” Those who manifest that kind of desire are called “Buddhas” (Awakened Ones) or enlightened beings (Bodhisattvas). Those who do not are called “ordinary beings.”

---Andy---There is a "real" us? What is the "unreal" us?

---Ted---The sutras often describe it in terms like, “Buddhas and Bodhisattvas deliver all beings from suffering, and yet they do not posit “all beings.”

A lovely koan here (from the Blue Cliff Record—I think case 13).

Monk: What is the deva (Zen) school?
Master: Snow in a sliver bowl.

---Andy---There is no "our." It is a result of confusion to believe it to be so.

Yes, "yours" "mine" "our" are convenient fictions we entertain because...because...well, actually because we have no choice (I was going to say "because it is convenient" but it is more clear to cut straight through to the bone which notes that we do what we do, we think what we think, we act as we act, not out of choice but out of destiny).

---Ted---Are you talking about destiny---or determinism? Now we are talking. Have you noticed how very few teachers will openly discuss the whole “free will” (or Buddhist, “causation”) aspect of reality?

It is a fascinating and intriguing point though. Nevertheless, I think the answer (or better, “resolution”) to this seemingly logical conclusion resides in your words that “there is no ‘our’.” Of course from the perspective of “the many” ---where we are stuck as far as language goes--- determinism does seem viable. Yet from the perspective of “the one”, it makes no sense at all---in oneness “who” could lack “free will.”

Yet, from the perspective of both “the one and the many” it could be formulated thus: The “one” (which is no other than my self) determines the fate of “me” (which is no other than the “one.” And if that is so, then I do as I do because I (the one) freely chose to have myself (me) do it. Hahahhah! I know, it sounds pretty convoluted, but the logic does hold.

The best resolution I have found on the whole “causation” (or freewill) issue is case 2 of the Mumonkan (the koan about the old man and the fox).

---Andy---Yes, the hypnotic illusion of separation is Understood to be just that: an illusion (albeit a VERY convincing one, and one that can't be removed, else one would not be able to function in phenomenality...but the illusion need not be believed).

---Ted---That is one way to say it. I would say “experienced” rather than “Understood” but I think we both mean the same thing…

---Andy---Everything is the "doing" of "it." There is nothing else BUT "it." Everything else is the dream of the ego. "Your" thoughts are it, in motion. "My" actions are it, manifesting. It is useful to maintain the false identity with "yours" and "mine," but the Understanding points out the Origin of All.

---Ted---Yes. I think we have covered most of this above…

---Andy---There really isn't any "one" of us to "have" this "will." "Our true self" is simply the momentary arising of consciousness. This momentary arising does not persist (although thought tells us it does). Next moment, a new arising and a new “self” seems to appear. Rebirth consciousness, to use the Buddha’s words, is the conceptual “glue” that links these discrete moments together to create, in the localized consciousness that we each are, the felt sense that the “I” that was “here” a moment ago is the same “I” that is here now (and, by extension, via thought, the same “I” that will be here in the next, future, moment). But it’s all happening in thought, generated in the localized consciousness which is part of, and beholden to, Consciousness (our True Nature, the Buddha Nature, God, Totality, Source, Bozo the Clown if you prefer).

---Ted---I am not quite sure I follow you here. If my understanding of your point is correct, I disagree. Each “momentary” arising is one with all space and time, and simultaneously a particular “momentary” arising (in Dogen’s terms, it abides in its dharma-position as a momentary arising).

---Andy---Is there anything that is not "true nature"? If so, what is the source of the "not-true-nature"?

---Ted---Everything is “true nature” EXCEPT “true nature.” That is “true nature” DEPENDS ON “not true nature.” If there was nothing that was “not true nature” what could possibly be called “true nature?” Hence, we can either choose to remain silent, or we can express “half.”

---Andy---Yes. That is it (or It, if you prefer). The only time "we" appear is when self-referential thought (the "thinking mind" to use Ramesh Balsekar's term) arises. And that too is not "our" doing, as we have no will to.......will.....anything to occur. I prefer to think of us as the driven, not the driver, ... but a "driven" that is in someway hypnotized to "believe" that we are the driver. It's a neat trick and the foundation of all the hoopla in the world ... as in he said, she said.........when, in Reality, it said. ;-))

---Ted---Okay. However, identifying with either the “driven” or the “driver” is only identifying with half of it. It seems most people mistakenly identify the “driven” as the “driver.” Some people identify the “driver” as the driven. Very few identify themselves as both driver and driven.

---Andy---After this....Seeing....there is nothing left to do but chop wood, carry water, eat rice, drink tea (or Scotch, if that is your preference). You say it is the INITIAL realization. What then do you see following it?

---Ted---Before, chopping wood and carrying water. Afterward, whistling while chopping wood and carrying water.

---Andy---Yes, thank you for the dialogue. It is a pleasure to interchange with one not mired in position defense.

---Ted---Thank you. Your points are taken to heart…

 
At February 24, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

Hello Ted.

As usual, a fruitful exchange.

You write, "At the same time, I think it is important to add that those who do aspire to things that cause “others” to suffer, can only do so out of delusion---that is to say, when “Buddhas (true nature)” manifests as beings that cause harm to “others” (which demonstrates that they are under the delusion that “the other” is separate from their “self”) they are called “ordinary beings.” When ordinary beings realize the truth of “oneness”, they are called “Buddhas true nature.”


*****Does "awakening" free from the movement of Consciousness? I think not. All there is, is Consciousness. So even while being "awake" things may be done which are inimical to others. (I was going to write "one may do things inimical to others" but I wanted to take the hint of personal will out of the statement.) Awakening does not confer any special powers on that which has awakened. Just a more Global Understanding. Still that "one" moves at God's will. If that one is to do harmful things to another, it will be done, regardless. It's not like being awake generates a free will. ;-)

I'll go further: what "one" does to another...causing "another" to suffer...is also confusion. The suffering arise in the other is not due to one's actions but, ultimately, to the movement of Consciousness "in" that "other." One may "do" something "harmful" to another and yet, that other may not even experience it AS "harm." Why? That is how Consciousness wants it to be.

Continuing along the same path, you wrote, "Yes, “violence, joy, anger, affection, confusion” (and murder, rape, torture, war, and disease, etc..) are also a manifestation of IT--- But so is the desire---call it compassion--- to end “violence, anger, affection, confusion, etc” Those who manifest that kind of desire are called “Buddhas” (Awakened Ones) or enlightened beings (Bodhisattvas). Those who do not are called “ordinary beings.”

*****No question. But these are useful conceptual distinctions. I always am pointed back to the Author of it all: Totality. That which generates both the ordinary and not-ordinary. It's not up to us. Ever. THAT is the biggest delusion, the last to go, as it is so disempowering.


You wrote, "The best resolution I have found on the whole “causation” (or freewill) issue is case 2 of the Mumonkan (the koan about the old man and the fox)."

*****Yes. I know that one. I'm not a big fan of it at all. I think it points in the wrong direction. Look: in order for there to be free will there has to be an on-going entity that "has" that will. But it is clearly established (with a little meditative work), that there are no on-going entities: just flow. The "me" who is here this moment, is not the same "me" who will be here in five minutes (or even one minute). As the saying goes, "things change." I would say, playing with the paradocks, that change is the only constant. So where does this "free will" reside? Another taboo shot down. Bummer. :-))))

You wrote, somewhat in dissension from me, "I am not quite sure I follow you here. If my understanding of your point is correct, I disagree. Each “momentary” arising is one with all space and time, and simultaneously a particular “momentary” arising (in Dogen’s terms, it abides in its dharma-position as a momentary arising).


*****I am not in disagreement with your words above. This "momentary" arising, thus, has no will to "do" anything. It is all done via the Vehicle out of which manifestation (the relative) is birthed. Thus, again, there is no free will because there is no "one" to "have" the free will.

The Buddha reportedly pointed this out most succinctly (although it is rarely alluded to): "Actions happen. Deeds are done. But there is no individual doer thereof."


Ted, you wrote, most sagely, "However, identifying with either the “driven” or the “driver” is only identifying with half of it. It seems most people mistakenly identify the “driven” as the “driver.” Some people identify the “driver” as the driven. Very few identify themselves as both driver and driven."

*****The Sandokai. Yes. The Identity of Relative and Absolute. This confusion happens sometimes as a function of the limitations of language (which you pointed out earlier).....and, of course, sometimes because the speaking party is....confused! :-)) Even the lovely Faith In Mind Sutra, which points over and over to the nondual nature of All, makes suggestions as to what "one can do" to Realize this. All the while stating that it isn't up to "one" whether or not it will, in fact, be Realized. In sum, there are profound limitations to talking about this using language (something zen really gets).


Ted, you wrote, "Before, chopping wood and carrying water. Afterward, whistling while chopping wood and carrying water."

Not being the sharpest knife in the drawer (pretty dull one, in fact), your.......distinction....is lost on me. Care to amplify for the slow learner?

(These.......dialogues......are a pleasure. Thank you.)

 
At February 26, 2008, Blogger TedinAnacortes said...

Hi Andy,

Another ride! Excellent!

---Andy---Does "awakening" free from the movement of Consciousness? I think not. All there is, is Consciousness. So even while being "awake" things may be done which are inimical to others. (I was going to write "one may do things inimical to others" but I wanted to take the hint of personal will out of the statement.) Awakening does not confer any special powers on that which has awakened. Just a more Global Understanding. Still that "one" moves at God's will. If that one is to do harmful things to another, it will be done, regardless. It's not like being awake generates a free will. ;-)

---Ted--- If by “Consciousness” you mean “totality” (rather than contrasted with “un-consciousness”) then that is the same as “true nature” right?

Which means that “one” and “God’s will” are not two separate things. So if “one” is awake then “God” and “the awakened one” are not two. Hence one’s free will is identical to God’s will. In other words, if you are aware of your identity as “God” you could say, “I did such and such” because I willed it.

---Andy---I'll go further: what "one" does to another...causing "another" to suffer...is also confusion. The suffering arise in the other is not due to one's actions but, ultimately, to the movement of Consciousness "in" that "other." One may "do" something "harmful" to another and yet, that other may not even experience it AS "harm." Why? That is how Consciousness wants it to be.

---Ted---Yes, I agree… The same goes for “saving another from suffering.” Nevertheless, as Dogen says, “Although Buddhas are not conscious of being Buddha, Buddhas go on being Buddha and the traces of enlightenment continue endlessly…” As long as we are “talking” about it (or talking about anything for that matter), we are forced to discriminate. Yet even discrimination must ultimately be included as one of the functions, or aspects of “Consciousness” if Consciousness is all there is.

---Andy---Continuing along the same path, you wrote, "Yes, “violence, joy, anger, affection, confusion” (and murder, rape, torture, war, and disease, etc..) are also a manifestation of IT--- But so is the desire---call it compassion--- to end “violence, anger, affection, confusion, etc” Those who manifest that kind of desire are called “Buddhas” (Awakened Ones) or enlightened beings (Bodhisattvas). Those who do not are called “ordinary beings.”

*****No question. But these are useful conceptual distinctions. I always am pointed back to the Author of it all: Totality. That which generates both the ordinary and not-ordinary. It's not up to us. Ever. THAT is the biggest delusion, the last to go, as it is so disempowering.

----Ted---- I understand what you are saying, but it seems to me that it is only the “biggest delusion” if by “us” you mean something other than the “Totality.” For the “medium” with which “Author of it all” works and the “Author of it all” are not two. That is to say, “That which generates” is identical with what is generated.

---Andy----You wrote, "The best resolution I have found on the whole “causation” (or freewill) issue is case 2 of the Mumonkan (the koan about the old man and the fox)."

*****Yes. I know that one. I'm not a big fan of it at all. I think it points in the wrong direction. Look: in order for there to be free will there has to be an on-going entity that "has" that will. But it is clearly established (with a little meditative work), that there are no on-going entities: just flow. The "me" who is here this moment, is not the same "me" who will be here in five minutes (or even one minute). As the saying goes, "things change." I would say, playing with the paradocks, that change is the only constant. So where does this "free will" reside? Another taboo shot down. Bummer. :-))))

----Ted---- I don’t think that koan contains anything that asserts “free-will” or “not-free-will” but includes and transcends both…
Also, as far as the “no on-going entities: just flow”, I agree, but it seems to me that this is one-perspective (which language limits us to) which is dependant on, yet, does not obstruct the opposite perspective. In other words, the “you” who is here this moment is not the same as the “you” of five minutes ago, but the “you” who is here this moment includes the “you” that was here five minutes ago---and vice versa--- Are you familiar with Dogen’s essay Uji (Being-Time)?


---Andy---You wrote, somewhat in dissension from me, "I am not quite sure I follow you here. If my understanding of your point is correct, I disagree. Each “momentary” arising is one with all space and time, and simultaneously a particular “momentary” arising (in Dogen’s terms, it abides in its dharma-position as a momentary arising).


*****I am not in disagreement with your words above. This "momentary" arising, thus, has no will to "do" anything. It is all done via the Vehicle out of which manifestation (the relative) is birthed. Thus, again, there is no free will because there is no "one" to "have" the free will.

----Ted---I agree that freewill is not really freewill, it is just called freewill (as a provisional term for one aspect of reality, which is abstracted from the whole of reality which cannot be talked about without resorting to conceptualization---which is also one aspect of the whole.

----Andy----The Buddha reportedly pointed this out most succinctly (although it is rarely alluded to): "Actions happen. Deeds are done. But there is no individual doer thereof."

-----Ted---- Beautiful!

---Andy-----Ted, you wrote, most sagely, "However, identifying with either the “driven” or the “driver” is only identifying with half of it. It seems most people mistakenly identify the “driven” as the “driver.” Some people identify the “driver” as the driven. Very few identify themselves as both driver and driven."

*****The Sandokai. Yes. The Identity of Relative and Absolute. This confusion happens sometimes as a function of the limitations of language (which you pointed out earlier).....and, of course, sometimes because the speaking party is....confused! :-)) Even the lovely Faith In Mind Sutra, which points over and over to the nondual nature of All, makes suggestions as to what "one can do" to Realize this. All the while stating that it isn't up to "one" whether or not it will, in fact, be Realized. In sum, there are profound limitations to talking about this using language (something zen really gets).

----Ted---- I agree fully!!! (except for the part about me writing “most sagely”… but I’ll take it)


----Andy----Ted, you wrote, "Before, chopping wood and carrying water. Afterward, whistling while chopping wood and carrying water."

Not being the sharpest knife in the drawer (pretty dull one, in fact), your.......distinction....is lost on me. Care to amplify for the slow learner?

----Ted----Zippity doo daa, Zippity aayy!!! My oh my what a wonderful daaaaay!

----Andy-----(These.......dialogues......are a pleasure. Thank you.)

----Ted----Yes, it has been a wonderful ride!! Hhahah!!

 
At February 26, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

Hey there Ted,

I think we near (or are at) the End of this Thread. A few comments, but not much...


You wrote, "Which means that “one” and “God’s will” are not two separate things."

----->Yes. Most certainly.

So if “one” is awake then “God” and “the awakened one” are not two.

----->Not two even if "one" is not awake.

Hence one’s free will is identical to God’s will. In other words, if you are aware of your identity as “God” you could say, “I did such and such” because I willed it.

----->But, ultimately, there is no separate "one" to "have" a free will. Basically we agree on this. We're just shootin the shit. :-)


Me, previously: I always am pointed back to the Author of it all: Totality. That which generates both the ordinary and not-ordinary. It's not up to us. Ever. THAT is the biggest delusion, the last to go, as it is so disempowering.

----Ted---- I understand what you are saying, but it seems to me that it is only the “biggest delusion” if by “us” you mean something other than the “Totality.” For the “medium” with which “Author of it all” works and the “Author of it all” are not two. That is to say, “That which generates” is identical with what is generated.

----->There is nothing except Totality. So the "us" I was referring to is that aspect of Totality which is imbued with a sense of will, with a feeling that it has an independent identity and will. Yes, I fully agree with you, "that which generates is identical with what is generated."

---Ted---- I don’t think that koan contains anything that asserts “free-will” or “not-free-will” but includes and transcends both…


----->I agree. I was extrapolating from it. And perhaps not doing a good job. Sorry.


Also, as far as the “no on-going entities: just flow”, I agree, but it seems to me that this is one-perspective (which language limits us to) which is dependant on, yet, does not obstruct the opposite perspective. In other words, the “you” who is here this moment is not the same as the “you” of five minutes ago, but the “you” who is here this moment includes the “you” that was here five minutes ago---and vice versa---

----->Any "you" includes All "yous," -- past, present, and future -- as there is and will always only be One you. ;-))


Are you familiar with Dogen’s essay Uji (Being-Time)?

----->Yes. I find it, like most of Dogen, difficult, but the gist of it has made some sense here and I can find nothing with which to disagree (from the small amount I understood! Ha!). As I've said before, Dogen is a cool dude, ... but much of his stuff doesn't speak to me (yet). Being lazy by nature, I prefer simplistic teachings and my experience with Dogen is that he is not, most of the time, simple. :-))

Ted, you wrote, "It seems most people mistakenly identify the “driven” as the “driver.” Some people identify the “driver” as the driven. Very few identify themselves as both driver and driven."

----->And yes, we agree. But another thought: 'most people' and 'some people' ... the more........comprehensive Understanding......realizes that they are not doing the identifying, that It is doing it, of ItSelf, through them. Something raises the thought of this reminder whenever I get uppity and sense a moment of pride. It's fun being cut down to size. :-))

Thanks for the ride my new friend. I'll check back to see if you've responded again. FYI, I did post a few comments, trivial stuff, regarding your last post (Zen a special? transmission), but you never responded to them. Did you see them or was their value.....valueless. :-))))

 
At March 06, 2008, Blogger TedinAnacortes said...

Hi Andy,

Sorry it took so long to get back.

You wrote:
"But, ultimately, there is no separate "one" to "have" a free will. Basically we agree on this. We're just shootin the shit. :-)"

I agree, and it has been a great ride. Thanks!
Ted

 

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