Saturday, February 11, 2006

JIJUYO-ZANMAI

The criterion of the Buddha’s true teaching is a state of being that Master Dogen expressed by quoting five chinese characters. In Japanese they are pronounced JI-JU-YO-ZAN-MAI. JI means the self. JU means to accept. YO means to use. ZANMAI represents the sound of the Sanskrit word samadhi.

Gudo Nishijima has taken a definite view on the meaning of samadhi, identifying it with the homeostatic function of the autonomic nervous system. According to this view, accepting the self corresponds to the function of the parasympathetic nerves, and using the self corresponds to the function of the sympathetic nerves.

Each person is free to make up their own mind about the usefulness to them of this view of Gudo. Some may feel that this view is useful for their Buddhist practice, just as some people feel it is useful in Alexander work to study anatomy and physiology. Later they may come to understand that the original teaching of both Gautama and FM calls upon us to relinquish all such views. Or they may not.

Either way, what one can say is that Gudo Nishijima, because of a lifetime spend reading, thinking about, translating, and lecturing on Shobogenzo, clearly understood the central importance of JIJUYO-ZANMAI in Master Dogen’s teaching. This centrality is not a view; it is the essence of the Buddhist tradition, as Master Dogen endeavored to describe and record it in Shobogenzo. It is just the pursuit of this centrality that requires us to stop holding views, to stop all our holding.

In his original instructions for Zazen, Master Dogen wrote, “When something arises in the mind, just wake up.” The question I have been asking on this blog, mainly of myself, is: What did Master Dogen mean by “just wake up”?

The true answer to this question does not lie in the dictionary, or in any post or comment that we might make on this blog. The true answer might be in the asking of the question itself. The supreme answer might be to ask the question with one’s whole being sitting in full lotus.

So the true answer might be the asking of an open question, or the open asking of a question. At the same time, the answer/question has a criterion for whether its asking is truly open or not. And that criterion is the samadhi of accepting and using the self.

As I have written in previous posts, I have come to see samadhi as having to do with stillness. Stillness in the sense of not, at least momentarily, being disturbed by unconscious reactions.
The habit of holding oneself still, of fixing, is the most pernicious of these unconscious reactions. What I want in Zazen, or what Zazen requires of me, is not this kind of unconsciously held stillness. What is called for is stillness without fixity.

Some bright spark will doubtless comment that I have relinquished one view of samadhi (autonomic balance) only to replace it with another view (stillness without fixity). Maybe that is true, but I haven’t experienced it like that. Rather, my experience has been that, as I have formed one view after another, the combination of Zazen and Alexander work has invited me to recognize every such view as just an impediment to freedom, an impediment that I should drop off.

When one sits in lotus and drops off all views, what is left?
Detachment -- “a bit of nothing.”
The true Dharma teaching itself.
Stillness without fixity.
The Samadhi that is King of Samadhis.

So JIJUYO-ZANMAI means to me something like “stillness (without fixity) in accepting and using the self.”

Accepting the self means accepting the head/spine, torso, arms, and legs, all together. Using the self means using the head/spine, torso, arms and legs, all together.

Waking up in Zazen has to do with not accepting and using the head/spine, torso, arms and legs in a habitual, automatic, instinctive, unconscious, way; and thereby allowing a new, non-habitual, consciously directed acceptance and use of the self.

The habitual way of accepting and using the self is a way that is bound up with old, obsolete views. The new way is the way of relinquishing all views, which is the way of samadhi, of stillness without fixity. To have realized this way is, as FM Alexander expressed it, to have experienced detachment in the basic sense.

Balance of the autonomic nervous system is a new idea in Buddhism, an innovation of Gudo Nishijima. But I do not think that I have expressed above any idea of my own that is new in Buddhism.

I would like to bear witness to the fact that the teaching of FM Alexander caused me to understand that I should not subscribe to any new idea in Buddhism, but should just drop off my own views and opinions about everything.

My first real understanding of this teaching came in the context of Alexander work. Then, when I came across this exact same teaching in the words of Master Nagarjuna, as translated by Michael Luetchford and quoted in Floating Weed’s blog, I was grabbed by them. It is one and the same teaching.

As a Buddhist, I should drop all views, including views whose holding I do not recognize. Because I hold, and am held, like this by views, there is nothing for it but to intend just to sit. Then, in that sitting, when something arises in the mind and I am tempted to react to it, the secret is not to react to it blindly on the basis of my habitual pattern of viewing/holding; but instead to allow something else.

Not to be perturbed by surface movements, be they raging surf of gentle waves; to acknowledge the deeper possibility of something else.

21 Comments:

Blogger Friend said...

JI means the self

Mike,

What do you understand 'self' to be?

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

Mike,

[I think..]

If you will accept that the heart of zazen is stop denying reality then it follows that when nothing has been left which is denied then what is left is just what you started with. The Self, Buddha-nature.

So, when you accept the self you are only continuing to do what you have already done in zazen.

When you accept and use the self you are taking the self that is the fullness of your being and manifesting in the world in any way that you see fit. This interaction of your true self with reality combined is Buddha Nature.

Uji describes Existence and Buddha-nature from the viewpoint of Existence. Buddha-nature can only by definition be expressed in time-existence. The samadhi of accepting and using the self is none other than buddha-nature being expressed in action in time-existence.



A separate question if you will humour me. I can see from the SBZ that Chodo must mean literally "the way of the top of the head". What I do not know is whether this actually means "the intellectual way" or "the way of deference(?)" Would you be willing to answer?

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger zero said...

Mike,

Another good post. Thanks. I fully agree that to take a definite view on the meaning of samadhi is a grave mistake, even if one doesn't come up with something as ridiculous as balance in the ANS equalling the state of the Buddhas. And one really has to relinquish all views, because the state of realization is a state of total ambiguity and infinite possibility. How could there be a non-ambiguous, limited description of it? What’s worse is that it cannot be known, it is never the known. Because of this, I think one is doing oneself a disservice by trying to grasp for it, be it through “stillness without fixity” or whatever. I wholeheartedly believe in Master Dogen’s words in Yui-butsu-yo-butsu: “Realization itself is nothing like we imagined. That being so, to imagine it beforehand is not useful.” Still, we can’t help ourselves - which is ok. It’s just a matter of exhausting that grasping habit.

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you for your question, addenda.

As I wrote in the original post:

Accepting the self means accepting the head/spine, torso, arms, and legs, all together. Using the self means using the head/spine, torso, arms and legs, all together.

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Ordinary bloke said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Ordinary bloke said...

Mike, I hope you enjoyed your breakfast. Could you to elaborate on the meaning of “one-to-one”. Wilfred Barlow said that the Alexander instruction is an individual matter, one-to-one; it cannot be skimped. Master Dogen said that the transmission of the Buddhist truth is one-to-one without deviation. Does this not mean that the criterion of the Buddha’s true teaching can only be learned from a true Buddhist teacher, and that teacher and pupil should experience each other one-to-one, face to face, and if this cannot be then it is better not to practice Zazen at all?

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you for your question, JD.

The literal meaning of Chodo is "Transcendent Way" or "Transcendent Truth." The character for CHO appears in Fukan-zazengi CHOBON OSSHO -- transcending the ordinary and transcedning the sacred.

It is as in Rumi's poem -- the field beyond right and wrong.

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Friend said...

thanks mike,

what about other phenomena in the totality of my awareness, such as feeling and thought? do these relate to 'self'?

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger MikeDoe said...

Thank you mike. I was always curious as to what your name meant.

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you, zero, for your eloquent comment.

You say that "to take a definite view on the meaning of samadhi is a grave mistake." Yes, I agree with the thrust of what you are saying.

But at the same time, sometimes in Shobogenzo samadhi is not represented phonetically as ZANMAI, but is translated into the Chinese character JO, which indicates something fixed, definite, or balanced.

In that case, as a translator one has to take a definite view on the meaning of samadhi, and choose a translation accordingly. Generally Gudo Nishijima selected the translation "balanced state" for JO, and I went with that.

Recently I feel that "stillness" might be a better translation of JO, in certain contexts anyway.

But, that doesn't mean that I think I have finally got my dirty paws on samadhi. Of course I haven't. So, yes, I agree with you. It is never the known.

As a daily reminder to myself of that truth, when I sway from side to side in my morning Zazen, I do so slowly with my eyes closed, so that when I am way over to the left, I know that I am left, and when I am way over to the right, I know that I am right, but as I gradually approach the middle, I don't know whether I am left or right. So there is no decisive middle -- the middle is a way of not knowing.

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you, OB, for another very pertinent question.

I think there is no need for me to elaborate. You got the point already without any interference from me.

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you again, addenda.

Yes, of course, our feelings and thoughts are part of us.

Acknowledging our emotional feelings and thoughts, not suppressing them, while not necessarily trusting them or reacting to them, is part of accepting the self in Zazen.

At the same time, thinking, in the sense of having clear intention, is a very vital starting point of using the self in Zazen.

Going further, all phenomena in the totality of our awareness may also be indivisible from our self.

So, in answer to your first question, some old Zen bastard in ancient China would probably have said, "The sun, the moon, and stars." Or whacked you with some suitably weighty object.

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

You are welcome, JD. Always happy to answer a straight question.

Saturday, February 11, 2006  
Blogger zero said...

Mike,

Thank you for quick response, and thank you for making a good point about zanmai/jo. Interestingly, Nagarjuna used two words in an almost identical way. In the 22nd chapter of the MMK, entitled Examination of Tathagatha/Buddha-nature, he uses the word cAnti much like Dogen is using jo, I think. cAnti means, among other things, “composure, tranquillity, peace”, but was also, in Nagarjuna’s days, a term used for the jainist arhats, i.e. a term used to describe the state of realization in that tradition. In the twelfth verse Nagarjuna uses it in relation to the ambiguity, freedom and open-ended possibility of realization:

Permanent, impermanent, and so forth, the four –
Where are they in this peace?
Finite, infinite, and so forth, the four –
Where are they in this peace?

The translation is Khenpo Tsultrim’s, and he explains “this peace” as “the true nature of enlightenment”. In Michael Luetchford’s interpretation “this peace” is replaced by “when in the balanced state”, which rings a bit too much of Nishjima for me. The term “balanced state” suggests to me something determined and introverted/self-centered (and ML’s interpretation suggests in addition an entity that is being in the balanced state). I like “stillness”, and I like your words “not…perturbed by surface movements, be they raging surf of gentle waves” even better, as they suggest a quality of relation/action rather than a (self-centered) experience. So I am fully agreeing – again! Thank you again for good post and comment.

Sunday, February 12, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

An Alexander teacher friend of mine, a submariner in his former life, once told me, "The deeper you go, the stiller it gets."

Profound thanks, zero, for your comment.

I really love the verse you quoted, and love it even more like this:

Permanent, impermanent, and so forth, the four –
Where are they in this stillness?
Finite, infinite, and so forth, the four –
Where are they in this stillness?

Checking in MJL's book, he has "in the undisturbed state."

In this matter, in the undisturbed state,
from where are the fourfold permanent, impermanent and the rest?
Also in this matter, in the undisturbed state,
From where are the fourfold, limited and the rest?

With regard to your doubt about the use of the word "state," I could not agree with you more.

There is a chapter of Shobogenzo entitled BUTSU-KOJO-JI which 12 years ago I stupidly translated as "The Ascendant State of Buddha."

When I began my Alexander training, I began to realize that what Master Dogen was describing was not something static and fixed, but rather a bit of nothing; in other words, an upward direction.

So during my revision of Book 3, I changed the translation of BUTSU-KOJO JI in one or two places where it appeared in Book 3, to "The Continuing Upwardness of Buddha." In retrospect, that also was a clumsy translation, but you see what I was getting at? It was my mistake, but that mistake was part of something unfolding out of Zazen. It was not, as Gudo saw it, the sign of some evil Alexandrian plan to subvert Master Dogen's true teaching.

It seems, however, that my clumsy translation raised a red flag to MJL, and when MJL raised the matter with Gudo, Gudo decided to take decisive action, and cut me out. Gudo saw it as a sign of an attempt on my part to secretly infiltrate the translation with "Alexander Technique theory." This came as a devastating shock to my system -- if he had wanted me to change anything, all he had to do was ask. I am still hurting from this now, as you can probably sense. I had felt that I was piling up good karma in loyal service of a Buddhist patriarch. What a shock I got!

I think there was a bit of evil operating in MJL at this time. He had watched me take over the Shobogenzo translation show and it always seemed to me that he was dying to make his own mark on the translation. I felt he wanted to leave his dirty pawprints on it. In my efforts to prevent him doing so, we antagonized each other.

Then, when Gudo became suspicious of my motives, MJL had his chance to trip me up, and it seems to me that he took it. Unfortunately he sabotaged my working relationship with Gudo in the process. MJL is truly his father's son, in the same way that all Gudo's Dharma-heirs are. We all have big fish to fry. I hope that, thanks to Alexander work, I am one who sees it.

Thus, with me sidelined, MJL had the opportunity to make his own mark by stepping into my shoes as Gudo's donkey for the MMK translation. But the two fell out. It was bound to end in tears, because neither Gudo nor MJL are cut out to translate Buddhist texts literally into English.

I was really grabbed by MJL's translation of the last verse of MMK. But when MJL sent me his book and I could see the original Sanskrit, even though I don't understand Sanskrit grammar, I could see that MJL had fluffed it.

Still, I am grateful to MJL to have this valuable resource of his MMK effort. It is a testament to his hard work and sincerity. At the same time, it is also a mark of something else. He wanted to make a mark, and he went right ahead and made one. He has left his dirty pawprints for all to see.

Incidentally, if I were to translate the chapter BUTSU-KOJO no JI now, I would translate the title as "The Matter of Buddha Ascending Beyond."

And the object of Ascending Beyond might be God, it might be the Universe, or it might be Buddha itself.

Having got the above off my chest, could I ask you to share Khenpo Tsultrim’s translation of the last verse of MMK? I will try and get hold of his translation, but in the meantime I would be very grateful to know how he handled the last verse.

I have really appreciated every word you have written on this blog, Zero, and especially this latest comment. Thank you again.

Sunday, February 12, 2006  
Blogger Pierre Turlur said...

Addenda,

Selflessness. All is impermanent, all is without a self. Mountains being mountains, rivers being rivers.

What does it mean? Does it mean there is a big void, empty core veiled by this ( emotions-thinking-body)? that is what I used to think. Mountains are not mountains anymore, rivers not being rivers.

There is nothing you cannot call " self". This whole thing when doing itself displays the universal self in every aspect of yourself: thoughts, emotion and body and beyond. Mountains are mountains again, rivers are rivers again. You cannot put your paws on it, grasp it, it will go through your fingers. The answer to the question "what is it?" cannot be verbal, and is not an answer. It is the formless form of your body-mind sitting when you wake up. it is a question asked with every fibre of this bodymind of yours. It is given through space and as such it is traceless, nameless.

Master Tendo Nyojo's poem of the wind bell manifests it all. It is the very essence of the Maka Hannya Haramita. Moved by space and space only, and the whole thing in the four directions will resonate.

On a wooden kotsu ( a stick for teachers) I asked a Japanese friend to write the following poem:

"The blue mountains are of themselves blue mountains,

The white clouds are of themselves the white clouds"

In this allowing ("of themselves") IT happens. Allowing the form of blue mountains and the play of clouds is IT. And this of course, I very seldom allow.

Self? Others? Don't even bother.
Wish, allow, have the clear intention of letting it ring and ring you.

Reed in the hands of Rumi
Bell of Nyojo
This one breath
Blows everywhere.

Sunday, February 12, 2006  
Blogger zero said...

Mike,

Thank you for kind response and valuable thoughts. Your wholeheartedness touches me. Thank you.

My MJL quote was referring to the “interpretation” part of “Between Heaven and Earth”, where it says “when in the balanced state.” Isn’t it remarkable that Nagarjuna’s text is treated in this way – first a “translation” that isn’t very accurate and, as you say, fluffed, and then an “interpretation” to improve on Nagarjuna’s understanding in view of recent advances in Buddhist theory, i.e. a la Nishijima? Anyhow, as we have said before, it is good that the truth is coming out. Thanks for adding more to the records.

It seems more than coincidental that you bring up Butsu-kojo-no-ji. Kojo is a verb, yet Nishijima wanted to translate it as a noun, going from something moving, in action, to something fixed - which goes against the thrust of the whole chapter, that of the continuing unfolding of realization. Or, as your friend put it, “the deeper you go, the stiller it gets.” Without that, Dogen says, one cannot discern the true and the false in the dharma, and one is left with the empty words of the past. And the words of Obaku that Dogen quotes seem almost ironical in the light of recent events: “If you have the eyes and brain of this state, you will be able to tell the false from the true among religious groups.”

Finally, as requested:

Holding us in your incredible wisdom and love,
You taught us the genuine Dharma
To help us abandon all views.
I prostrate before you, Gautama.

Sunday, February 12, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Many thanks again, Zero.

The first thing to say, to be fair, is that Nishijima Roshi's original translation, if I remember correctly, was "The Matter of Ascending Buddhas." If I had simply changed it to "The Matter of Buddha Ascending," that would have been better. Instead after much struggle we came up with "Ascendant State of Buddha." I suggested it, Gudo agreed. So I can't blame anybody else. I can either say that I fluffed the translation or that we fluffed it together.

In regard to the irony of recent events, I am again in complete agreement with you. It has been like a Shakespearean tragedy. The deepest irony is Gudo, having spent a lifetime fighting under the slogan of "realism," finds himself as an old man blinded by his groundless suspicions.

Where are his oldest students Joe Langdon and Jeffrey Bailey? They left him long ago. MJL and I have endeavored to stick with him to the end, but he has come to regard both of us both as his enemies, and the enemies of Buddhism. It is credit to MJL's loyalty and endurance that he looks like he will get to the finishing line, whereas I have dropped out on the run in.

Finally, thank you for transcribing the verse. Comparing the two efforts against the Sanskrit, MJL's effort looks more literal to me. But neither preserves the orginal order of (1) views, (2) Dharma, (3) compassionate means, (4) prostration.

I don't feel proud of myself, holding onto this bitterness against MJL after all these years. He has apologized after all. But those wounds run very deep. Between the five of us, Gudo, Michael and Yoko Luetchford, Jeremy Pearson, and me, we contrived to do much more than wound each other emotionally. We failed to perform a service to Nagarjuna that we might otherwise have performed. I find it difficult to stop blaming others for that -- I struggle to accept that I also was at fault.

Long may the truth continue to come out. Onwards and upwards...

Sunday, February 12, 2006  
Blogger zero said...

The tragedy is certainly sad, and, for an outsider, almost unbelievable when it comes to the amount of hurt and conflict that seems to have been caused. Then again, I know almost nothing about it.

So we may perhaps move on. One thing that stands out in Gudo's teaching is the slogan of "realism". It stands out against most other Masters, from Nagarjuna to Shunryu Suzuki to Khenpo Tsultrim, who all preach and believe in "emptiness". If what Gudo preaches on his blog is as subtle as it gets, then the topic might not be worth discussing, but I wonder if you have some insight to share on this?

Sunday, February 12, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Idealism, materialism, realism, and so forth, the four –
Where are they in this stillness?
Subjectivism, objectivism, realism, and so forth, the four –
Where are they in this stillness?

Sunday, February 12, 2006  
Blogger zero said...

:-)

Sunday, February 12, 2006  

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