Thursday, January 05, 2006


Dukha-nirodha-satya means the truth of stopping suffering. I understand it as the stopping of habitual reaction. To stop habitual reaction, especially emotional reaction--greed, anger, worry and the like-- is a Buddhist monk's difficult practice. When a monk reacts badly, the fault is not with the stimulus; the fault is within the monk.

Recognizing the fault, a Buddhist monk can always go back to the beginning: The origin of the present unsatisfactory situation is my habitual reaction. Observing the unsatisfactory nature of my reaction, I renew my intention to stop reacting and to allow something else to happen, to surrender to something else -- I know not what.


Blogger MikeDoe said...

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Thursday, January 05, 2006  
Blogger Jundo Jim said...


This is a personal e-mail that I wrote to Nishijima. However, given the subject matter, I wish to post it here. Please let me know your non-thoughts about it!

Gassho, Jundo Jim Cohen


Hello Roshi,

New Year’s Greetings to You. Every Moment is New and New and New.

Thank you for ‘GudoBlog.’ It is very interesting to me, as you explain many subjects not mentioned in your other writings in English. You are very patient to just keep writing-and-writing. I believe that our Zen practice is to keep living-and-living, despite distractions and disturbances. In fact, life –is– endless distractions and disturbances, and the only question is how we transform them.

My wife and I are planning where we will establish our permanent Zendo. As my wife is a student of Zen and Ai-ki-do, we will also have an Ai-ki-do dojo and a Zendo. I am looking to purchase a farm, somewhere with water (I like rivers, waterfalls, oceans, rain, creeks, dripping sinks, leaky pipes). Right now, we are looking at many locations. Some are in the United States (North Carolina, northern Florida, New Mexico, California, Georgia. I think, however, we may go to New Zealand, for any place is a good place! What do you think about that?) It will not be large. I am hoping for a Zendo that can have 50 people sitting. Maybe there will be rooms for a few people to stay and practice for longer periods.

My wife and I are adopting a second baby, from China. Also, we hope to spend several months this year (2006) in France. I am hoping that I can meet and sit with my DogenSangha brothers in Europe.

Roshi, I am writing this e-mail from San Francisco. One of my best friends died. I was asked to perform the funeral. I explained to my sick friend, before he died, that I do not personally believe in funerals, because our Zen practice is about life, moment-by-moment. I explained that a teacher, Nishijima, usually refuses to do funerals, because our practice is about life, moment-by-moment. However, my friend’s family said that they wanted me to do some ceremony as they knew me best and trusted me, and it was the request of my friend who died. He was very young in calendar years, only 50 years old.

About 100 people came, from many religions – Catholic, other Christians, Jewish, Agnostic, Atheist, Whatever, Nothing Whatever. My hope was to have compassion to comfort my friend’s family, and to speak to all those people. However, I also wished to stay true to my beliefs about life-and-death. I did not wish to say anything during the ceremony other than my understanding of the Teachings.

The ceremony was simple … No incense, no chanting, no song and dance. Actually, my friend was a lover of Jazz music, so we played some Jazz.

We had a moment of silence in which we could all celebrate his life … tears and smiles, sorrow and contentment combined.

Then I spoke some words. Here is what I said …

- Life is not a matter of long or short. We live for as long as we live, not a moment more.
- What matters, perhaps, is what we do during that time. It is up to us. We can do good, acting to benefit others. Or, we can do harm, leaving this world less than it might be. It is our choice. My friend left this world better than it would have been without him, as known by the 100 people in the room who loved him and whose lives he touched.
- His goodness was shown by the 100 people who came to the funeral. He had touched them all in some way, left them all better by having known him. I said that our separation as individuals, the separation of the 100 people in the room, is not the only way to experience life. A lack of separation is shown by how we are all connected (At that point, someone in the audience raised his hand and made a little speech, unplanned, about how my friend had changed his life, helped him when he desperately needed help).
- My friend’s older brother is a farmer. I said to the brother: “This world has its ways. They are not our selfish ways, what we might wish as human beings. Thus, in life, the sun shines, and the rain falls. Despite that, life somehow goes on. However, the sun does not shine as we wish it, the rain does not fall when we demand its falling.”
- My friend’s wife is a sculptor (My friend was a translator of Japanese, and his wife is Japanese). I said to the wife: “You make pottery out of clay. It lasts for a time, then returns to the ground. In between, there may something beautiful if we are lucky and skillful. It cannot be perfect, for the best pottery is imperfect. It must be used, then broken. It is not to last forever.”
- I said that life is a mixture, or it is not life. Because there is life, there is death. Because there is happiness, thus there is sadness. Because we are together, thus we must be lonely. This is the human condition. But, can we see a reality in which life is just life, death is just death. Can we experience a reality in which we smile when we smile, cry when we cry? When we are together, we are together. Where apart, be apart.
- At the end, I told the story of what I discussed with my friend when he found out he had cancer. I said that we are born into a strange boat, our hands at the oars. There are other people in the boat, and we all seem connected. I told my friend that we do not know the reason we are in the boat, nor the direction of the mad river that is carrying us along. “However, my friend, since you are here … row row row! And, when you are too weak with your cancer, put the oars down … time to pass them to others.” That is what I said.
- I explained that I have no idea whatsoever about some “afterlife,” and I do not care. The universe brought us this far, and we can let the rest take care of itself. We need to trust that things are just as they are.

The ceremony then ended with the closing: “Go in peace.”

. Gassho, Jundo

Friday, January 06, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...


The question, as I see it, is not whether we have the ability to give a talk/ceremony of the sort that you describe, in such a way as to keep the participants happy. Any old Church of England vicar or stand-up comedian could do that.

The question is not whether we can put on a convincing show as a Zen Master.

The question is whether we, any one of us, has got the ability to transmit the true practice of Zazen to the next generation. Is there present in any one of us the "Subtle Method" which Master Dogen describes in the opening sentence of Shobogenzo? Is there any one of us who manifests in reality the Subtle Method's criterion, which is the samadhi of accepting and using the self?

If there is any one, then I call for that person to stand up and be counted.

In my view, Jim, you are clearly not that person. In that case, what is the point of you building a zendo in which to mislead 50 people?

My honest impression of you, Jim, is that you think that maybe you are enlightened, and Gudo Nishijima has been happy to encourage you in this delusion as long as you parrot his ideas. At the same time, some true part of you knows that you are not yet enlightened at all, and so maybe with this comment you are asking me to try and confirm your deep suspicion that you are indeed not enlightened. If so, good for you. Yes, I confirm that in my view you are evidently not yet enlightened.

However, by having the balls to broadcast your unenlightened views with such openness, by being so ready to make an utter fool of yourself, you have held up a mirror to me, and to all of us. Looking into your mirror, from last summer onwards I began to see myself clearly as also a kind of fraud, a trickster, a master of self-deceit.

So I do not claim to be a master of the Subtle Method. But here I am bearing witness to the fact that I found the existence of the Subtle Method in the teaching of FM Alexander. I am on the trail of the Subtle Method, and it is a trail that I recommend to others. If people do not believe me, what can I do about it?

Gudo Nishijima made a complete mess of the Shobogenzo translation. This fact is not generally known because I cleaned it up for him. I think he has also made a complete mess of transmitting the Buddha-Dharma, transmitting it to many people who are not true teachers at all. But to clean up this mess is a much more difficult proposition than cleaning up the Shobogenzo translation.

Friday, January 06, 2006  

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