Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Zen Monk's Alexander Experience

Gudo Nishijima is my father in Buddhism and I am his son. But when he writes on his blog entry today that my opinion "is based on the the theory of the Alexander Technique," I would like to make two points in response.

Firstly, Alexander work is a kind of effort to liberate myself from my own opinion. The fact that I fail does not change the essence of what Alexander work is.

Secondly, Alexander work is primarily practical rather than theoretical. So whatever understanding I have got from Alexander work is based not on theory of the Alexander Technique but on experience of one-to-one, face-to-face work with experienced Alexander teachers.

What an Alexander lesson entails cannot be put into words, any less than the content of Zazen can be put into words. But for what it is worth, here is an authentic record of questions and answers between a Zen monk and an Alexander master:

Monk: "Master, I have understood from your teaching that the most vital thing in my Zazen practice is my intention, the quality of my thought."

Master: "The quality of being. The quality of being."

Monk: "Do you not think that intention is vital?"

Master: "Intention is vital, because it leads you to shed intention. And leaves you open to this state of not minding that there is nothing to find."

Monk: "In this work, as we search for that free and open condition, the dropping off of body and mind, where is the starting point?"

Master: "Intention is the starting point, of course. Intention is the key to the door. But it is not the building that you enter."


Blogger Mike Cross said...

Here is Nishijima Roshi's original posting on the Dogen Sangha blog.

(Note) Mr. Mike Cross's opinion

After having begun my blog, my student called Mike Cross expressed his opinion, which is completely different from Gautama Buddha's teachings. The reason, why I do not answer his opinion recently at all, comes from that even though I expressed my Buddhist opinions to him for more than 10 years at least, his opinion was always an one-sided idea, which is based on the theory of Alexander Techinic, and so I have stopped almost all discussions with him. The reason, why I have begun to send my blog to all people on the earth, comes from that I want to explain the fundamental Buddhist principles to poeple, who are diligent to study true Buddhism whole-heartedly. I think that my blog will continue for a year at least, and after finished my blog, many people will understand why I refused Mr. Mike Cross's opinion from the view point of Buddhism.

Saturday, December 17, 2005  
Blogger g said...

I have copied and pasted sections of your last two posts to a text file so that I may read and reread them because I believe they contain truths that I want to incorporate into my own practices.

Thank you.

I have no idea what kind of sparring you and the roshi are doing.

Sunday, December 18, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you, g.

Perhaps it was the wisdom of the oak tree with the swing that enabled you just to thank me for passing on a true master's words of wisdom, while not claiming to have any idea about a relationship you know nothing about.

People who know nothing of the relationship between father and son express their useless opinions about what they know nothing about. They don't question what reality lies behind the appearances. They just jump to conclusions on the basis of their own deluded views. Who do they think they are?

What kind of opinion does the oak tree by the bend in the river have to express about it?

Maybe you would be so kind as to leave a link to the image in question (I lack the technical know-how to do it myself).

Sunday, December 18, 2005  
Blogger g said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sunday, December 18, 2005  
Blogger g said...

I'm afraid others do not see father and son. They see two monks scratching at each other.

Sunday, December 18, 2005  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

The centre of a Buddhist monk's life, the aim of his Zazen and the means whereby he teaches people whom he meets, is the samadhi of accepting and using the self.

Just this is the teaching that Gudo Nishijima taught to me. And my struggle to realize this teaching brought me to the FM Alexander Technique.

By endeavoring to enter into and experience the samadhi of accepting and using the self, I can change for the better the way that I see the world. This is Buddhist work.

How others see the world is up to them. I cannot change the way that others see the world, only the way that I see the world, and that is a difficult enough task in itself.

Sunday, December 18, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

"How others see the world is up to them. I cannot change the way that others see the world, only the way that I see the world, and that is a difficult enough task in itself. "

And this is the very heart of the matter and the one that causes me the most disappointment with both of you.

Mike, you refuse to look at reality directly and filter it through your anger and your hero worship and all sorts of other crap.

Nishijima Roshi IS NOT your father. He may have taught you much but HE IS NOT your father. To go with your analogy, you have been put up for adoption.

Mike, I look at you with decades of experience of zazen and yet you have not mastered your emotions and you do not know from where your anger arises.

I see two men fighting over their own egos. It saddens me. I can only conclude that you have both led very sheltered lives to be able to fight over so little and be so bitter.

If you follow some of the PTSD links from my blog or even read my blog you will read about people who have lived lives you have never imagined and have felt true anger that is based on reality, on violation, on violence and abuse not on some pathetic clash of Egoes.

The other people who write blogs on PTSD have had to come to terms with a reality that is ugly and brutal and very far from zazen or a fucking monastic self-serving lifestyle. From what I can read they and I know more about anger, compassion and acceptance than you can even comprehend.

For me (and to some extent for them) Zazen/Buddhism is not some nice ego-driven self-righteous trip into spirituality. No, it is the only viable alternative to medication, insanity or suicide.

Just fucking grow up.

[Last night I had bad nightmares. I was glad when I woke up. I went christmas shopping and found the crowds quite oppressive. I used mindfulness to keep the panic at bay.]

I have expressed some of my own anger because you are both little boys pretending you are big men who know all about life. You have no clue. Take a reality check. I may learn from both of you but I will never give either of you hero status. I have lived too much already to see heroes or villians, only people.

Sunday, December 18, 2005  
Blogger reallynotimportant said...

Four Noble Truths:

1. Life is filled with suffering
2. Suffering is caused by people's wants.
3. Suffering can be ended if people stop wanting things, like more pleasure or more power.
4. To stop wanting things, people must follow 8 basic laws, called the Eightfold Path.

Eightfold Path:
1.To know the truth
2.To intend to resist evil
3.To not say anything to hurt others
4.To respect life, property, and morality
5.To work at a job that does not injure others
6.To try to free one's mind from evil
7.To be in control of one's feelings and thoughts
8/To practice appropriate forms of concentration

The Middle Way is the name Buddhists call lives guided by the laws of the Eightfold Path.

Dont' both of you know this stuff?

Sunday, December 18, 2005  
Blogger Virtual Ain't Reality said...

reallynotimportant: Thank you so much for those last two posts, especially for remembering people who . . . have had to come to terms with a reality that is ugly and brutal and very far from zazen or a fucking monastic self-serving lifestyle, many of whom, it should be noted, don't even own a computer and have no idea that such important debates as the Future of Zen in the Universe take place as easily as normal people shit.

Sunday, December 18, 2005  

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