Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Oneness of Practice and Enlightenment

Without the presence on the earth of a true teacher, there is no oneness of practice and enlightenment; it is only an idea in people's heads. Hearing the idea, people who are not enlightened like Michael Luetchford, Brad Warner, James Cohen think that their own practice of Zazen must be enlightened, and they transmit the idea to others, manifesting themselves in the world as "Dharma-heirs" of Gudo Nishijima. This is the general situation in the world of Zen today; it is not limited to Dogen Sangha. People enjoy their unenlightened Zazen and reinforce each other in their deluded beliefs. Master Dogen would say: KANASHIMU BESHI, KANASHIMU BESHI. It is lamentable. It is lamentable.

11 Comments:

Blogger NickM said...

Mike,
I seem to sense some discrimination in your words. The 'ole me and them routine. Reality looks different from every point of view. Try to be more accepting. Enlightenment is not the end of the Path...don't worry about it so much.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006  
Blogger Michael Tait said...

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Nickm,

A very old Alexander teacher, with more than 60 years in the Work, once said to me, after several years of giving me Alexander lessons, "You are an inveterate worrier Mike, aren't you?" She paused and then added: "I know. I am too." It was a good lesson in acceptance.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

It is true, FW, that my Buddhist quest hitherto has brought with it a lot of sadness. I have no wish to put on a smiley happy face. My wish rather is to bear witness.

I think that we all have blind spots. We see the blind spots of others, but we do not, by definition, see our own. So your perception is doubtless true. But I cannot see myself clinging. If I could, I wouldn't do it.

Oneness of practice and enlightenment is an idea which, when we first hear it, we struggle to believe. How can this crappy practice, full of worry about painful legs and miscellaneous thoughts, be enlightenment? Then, after some years, we begin to accept the idea. Then, after more years, in my own case, due to the input of Alexander teachers, I realized that my original doubt was true: the idea that even my first crappy practice was enlightenment, was just an idea, just an illusion I learnt to believe in.

The latter realization was, for me, a kind of enlightenment. So now when I practice there is oneness of practice and enlightenment. The enlightenment is the constant, never-ending realization of what a bloody fool I am.

Thank you for your kind concern. I love being punched. Always have done--as long as there is no malice behind it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006  
Blogger Ross said...

Does it really matter that much as to how we go about finding our own way in this world? As long as we’re not actually sticking knives into one another’s backs we shouldn’t complain too much. People will eventually find their own way, what works for them, and what they learn from their mistakes will do them good. What’s more, all this trying to convince people that one way is better than the other implies that there’s some wonderful experience to be had in the future, and everything that’s contrary to that is simply time wasted on the path. That said, it’s always healthy to hear two sides of an argument. It just goes to show that there’s a little bit of truth in everything.

What works for me is Zazen as I understand it through my sporadic contact with Mike Leutchford. This is mostly through emails and the occasional phone call, although I have met Mike twice in person. This combined with what I’ve read, my own experiences of what seems to work and what doesn’t, and regular kicks in the teeth have led me to a practice that’s right for me. It might not be perfect but hey what is. It helps get me by.

Having started out with grand delusions as to what Zazen was going to do for me, the more time passes and the more I am witness all this squabbling, not to mention some of the seriously alarm bell wringing hero worshiping that gets posted on these blogs, my Zazen is nothing more than something that, when practiced before bed, really puts me to sleep. I end up sleeping like a baby and feel reasonably refreshed in the morning, and being a probationer teacher I need all the energy I can get. It follows that Zazen has simply now become one part of a self promoting energy cycle I’m trying to incorporate into my daily life from Monday to Friday:

Zazen = good sleep = more energy in mornings = more inclined to prepare healthy food for lunch = improved diet = more energy = more inclination to exercise in evenings = healthy frame of mind = more inclined to practice Zazen before bed = good sleep …my experience of life improves a wee bit.

Despite where we all are now, let’s not forget why we got involved with this in the first place, that is, to get to know ourselves a bit better and close the gap between who we think we are and what we are. That’s a common bond between us all if nothing else is.

You’ve got to do what works for you, and you can only follow your own experience, no one else’s will do. No one out there is going to make things better for me, not Nishijima, not Mike Leutchford, not Mike Cross, and not Brad Pitt-Warner. The fact that these ‘heavyweights’ can’t agree is all good at the end of the day. What do you do now? Who do you believe? It just goes to show that you can’t believe anyone but yourself. Ah, it’s wonderful really. You’re telling the truth but at the same time you’re not. What a wonderful contradictory life we lead.

A final word. Don’t get too involved in this, it’ll screw you up if you do. Untie the knots as best you can and move on. Try to let go mate.

Best wishes to you all.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

Mike,

Your body posture is perfect. There is nothing more that you can do it that will make any difference.

Your mind seems incredibly rigid - like a beginner and yet you have translated the Shobogenzo.

You claim that you are a fool and yet do not believe it for a fool is not bitter or angry. A fool does not care that he is a fool.

I cannot help but agree with Floating_Weed.

You knowledge is vast (to the point of being worthy of Awe) and yet you cling to some beliefs so tightly that they obscure your view.

Zazen will not help you anymore. What you need to do is let go of some of your beliefs. They are the only thing that is holding your Self in place.

1. Enlightenment. Let go of whatever idea you have of what it should look like and how to recognise it in others and how to get there.

2. Brad. He may or may not be 'enlightened'. I have a view on that. So do you. Who cares! His finger seems to point roughly to where the moon is. It is the same moon. That is enough.

3. Let go of your dualism "I am Enlightened", "He is not Enlightened", "I am sane", "He is deluded". "I am right", "He is wrong". You care too much to see the truth.

4. What do you fear most - that you are enlightened and this is it or that you are not and that you have still something to unlearn?

5. You are probably the world authority on Dogen. If you found a missing closing paragraph that said "These are just my views, most of it is bollocks. I was a bit drunk when I wrote this." would it make any diference? Dogen is just another dead guy who held a finger up and said "Hey look, the moon. How cool is that!"

Mike, you hold a finger, but it keeps wavering. One moment it points to the moon, the next it points at Brad or Gudo Nishijima.

It is like watching your child take his/her first step. You so badly want him to do it and he is so close but he has to do it himself. That is the way that it must be.

One day, you may need to go and put bandages on all the fingers you have bitten for pointing at the 'wrong' moon or with the 'wrong finger. But that day is not today.

I wrote a lot more than I planned. I feel so frustrated for you.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

Mikey, I can't help but feel you are a perversely spiritual person. you really do seem to revel in staking out your position as the lonesome oddball of crazy wisdom. every time you say that you are just a bloody fool it is obvious you think just the opposite. That because you recognize the fact that you are a fool and the rest of us do not realize that we too are fools, that that some how makes you less foolish than we are. Not a lot there to hang your hat on. Maybe you are not as foolish as you are malicious. Please explain to me what your problems are with Brad Warner. Am I missing something there? Your thoughts and his on practice and enlightenment do not seem all that different. It seems to me that he is truly interested in helping people find their way. Or is it just his style that grates on you? Your being able to bear witness is dependant on your being able to interpret correctly what you see. Unless of course you don’t care about understanding what you are witnessing. Anyway, you are never boring. Your faithful reader, oxeye

Wednesday, January 04, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you Ross, JZD, and oxeye, for the above comments. All are welcome.

Oxeye: About Brad, looking at one or two things he wrote, I made my clear intuitive decision about him. I could be wrong, but I made my mind up clearly, and by such decisions I live or die--like riding a motor bike.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006  
Blogger Michael Tait said...

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

FW,

I do not know whether you are man or woman, young or old. You wrote about a baby daughter, but without a photo or some background information, it is difficult for me to relate to you. Anyway, I sense in your comment both true compassion and also a certain innocence.

I have been attacked already, and defeated already. As Nishijima Roshi himself used to say, "All human life is political." I think that what I am saying calls for a kind of revolution in the Zen world, an overturning of orthodoxy within Dogen Samgha anyway. For such insolence, I have had to pay a price. You do not know the half of it.

I am endeavoring to bear witness, to tell the truth. I have no virtual name; my name is Mike Cross. My photo is on my blog. Is this not good enough for you?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006  

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