Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Virtuous Circle?

The Lotus Sutra teaches us that the Universe in which we are living, and our living in it, are good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end.

Experience shows, however, that our efforts to do good can never be successful. Why not? Because good is not something we do.

The good things in life take care of themselves. (Have you ever watched a woman grow and a child being born, for example?)

What is very easy for us to do is our bad habits. So the primary intention which Gautama Buddha recommended us to have is not the intention to practice good. The primary intention in Buddhism is rather the intention NOT TO DO what is so easy for us to do--our wrong unconscious habits.

So-called Zen teachers who recommend in regard to Zazen that we should "do it right," or who proclaim "proper posture required," fail to understand this most fundamental point in Buddhism. What they are teaching is not true Buddhism.

For people who profoundly believe in cause and effect, I would like to try again to express in English the fundamental teaching of Gautama Buddha, perhaps more accurately than it was expressed in our original translation of Shobogenzo chap. 10, like this:

Not to do bad habits,

To let all the good things happen,

Naturally causes this very intention to become clear;

This is the teaching of the buddhas.
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14 Comments:

Blogger oxeye said...

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

Mike, you wrote on Pierre's blog:

"During the second world war, when Gudo Nishijima was a young officer in China, what happened between Japan and her enemies was truly ugly. If Oxeye paid attention to the twirling flower of history, he might think that recent Anglo-Japanese disagreements were no big deal. Indeed, seeing the twirling flower, he might just smile."

Your taking the name of your Zen teacher and implying something by placing it next to your statement about the ugliness of what happened between China and Japan in war renders me speechless.

And I think I pay pay too much attention to the twirling flower of history. I hope to get the point some day where it all just makes me smile.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Friend said...

My impression is that the Buddha recommends a gas pedal as well as a brake. Right Intention and Right Effort work in two directions:
1) To cultivate wholesome acts, and
2) To abstain from unwholesome acts

Wednesday, January 18, 2006  
Blogger THE SNOWLION'S TAIL said...

MIKE,

Doing good and not to do wrong.
This is still looking at things in opposition. There are no two ways in Buddhism only the "Middle way".

All phenomena from thier very origin,

Always have the aspect of stillness and extinction.

When the disciple of the Buddha walks this path,

He will become a Buddha in future lives.

"Being rather than doing"

Thursday, January 19, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Oxeye,

It's just the force of deluded habit. Someone punches me and my instinct is to punch them back, twice.

That's all it is. A Buddhist monk who fails to practice what he preaches.

You can't pay too much attention to the twirling flower. We all tend to jump to wrong conclusions,on the basis of too little attention to actual events. That has always been my way--jumping in where wise men fear to tread.

Thursday, January 19, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Addenda,

Yes, I basically agree with you.

The stillness of samadhi, as I understand it, is a kind of dynamic balance between inhibition and excitation.

But in the Buddha's original teaching it is always that way round: 1) dukha, inhibition, not to do; 2) marga, right direction, allowing the right thing to do itself.

You expressed it the wrong way round. But worse things have happened at sea.

Thursday, January 19, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Hello Snowlion's Tail,

What can I say? Welcome!

Thursday, January 19, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

The stillness of samadhi, as I understand it, is a kind of dynamic balance between inhibition and excitation.
It IS a dynamic balance between the two. Because it is dynamic and in balance a move in either direction is the same. Movement and stillness are just a shift of the balance in one direction. Nothing changes.

But in the Buddha's original teaching it is always that way round: 1) dukha, inhibition, not to do; 2) marga, right direction, allowing the right thing to do itself.
That is close but not quite right. Again, there is a dynamic balance here. At any one point in time, there is always a myriad number of actions available to you. What actually happens is that an action arises out of your whole being at that point in time. It would be cleaner to say that you allow one action and inhibit all of the others. A bit like the lotto machine. One action is called 'right' because of its consequences in the real world not because a priori you 'believe' it to be right. It is not the subconscious suggesting and the conscious inhibiting it is more that the conscious and subconscious have merged into one.

Actions arise because there is no longer an observer who watches the thoughts and then picks one.

There is no magic. You are always making choices. These choices arise out of the wholeness of who you are.

Thursday, January 19, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

johndoe,

Nowadays you write fluently but years ago you had to learn the letters of the alphabet, one by one.

Similarly, before trying to hit the target in discussing Buddhist philosophy, one has to learn the ABC of Buddhism--which might be, for example, Attention, Balance, Coordination.

In what you write, I sense no hint of such application or discipline, but rather a kind of intellectual wildness. My advice to you is to find a practical teacher of some art or way that interests you, and devote yourself to that.

An ancient master said: "Flowers in space open up from the ground."

Thursday, January 19, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

Mike,
thank you. I think you are right in most of what you write about me.

Thursday, January 19, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

Dogen gave quite clear instructions about how to "Just Wake Up". Floating Weed posting them. I saw them for what they were and followed them.

Maybe if I'd spent longer doing zazen it would be easier settling in. Waking up takes a while. Maybe I am delusional. Who knows.

Thank you for the feedback. Enjoy your own quest and I will leave you some questions.

You have spent maybe 20 years doing zazen. Are you sure you are looking in the right place? Are you sure you want to find what you are looking for?

Do I write fluently because I have
'worked out' the 'correct' answers or do I write fluently because I can write from my own experience?

My exposure to Dogen began two weeks ago (roughly). When FW posted extracts from Dogen, that was the first time I had EVER read any of them.

All food for thought.

Thursday, January 19, 2006  
Blogger Muso said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, January 21, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you for your comment, muso. It looks to me like the words of someone who is trying to be right, not the true mumbling of earthworms. If you investigate the problem in more detail, you may find that real enlightenment has to do with finding the body to be wrong.

Saturday, January 21, 2006  
Blogger Muso said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sunday, January 22, 2006  

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