Sunday, February 26, 2006

Note to Self: Don't Try to Be Buddha

Thanks to all who have contributed, in various ways, to the discussion of what Master Dogen meant by MU-I.

The only thing I feel really confident in concluding about it is this: when the buddhas realize the supreme awakening, they do not do so by doing something unconsciously. The subtle method which is present in them, at the time of their supreme awakening, must be free of unconscious doing.

An unconscious person cannot become truly conscious just by doing something unconsciously. A person whose body is not awake, a person who is a slave to unconscious habit, does not get that body out of its unconscious, slumbering, automatic-pilot mode of being by, for example, running around the block in his or her habitual way. (Running around the block in a non-habitual way might be a different matter.)

In order to wake up in the true sense, in the sense of liberating oneself from unconsciousness, one has to be guided by a principle other than the principle of just doing one's old thing unconsciously.

So I think that MU-I, however one decides to translate it for oneself into English, inevitably includes the meaning of absence of unconscious doing. Going deeper, it must also include the absence of the roots of that unconscious doing, by which I mean any hidden agenda that one has, any fish to fry, any secret intention to achieve something, to become something, to be someone.

Over the course of the discussions of MU-I, I saw again, with renewed clarity, in my reaction to Pierre's comments, that one of my own particular fish that I have to fry is the desire always to be the One who Knows. This causes me, on a very deep level, to try to be Buddha. But such trying is death and destruction to the true enjoyment of just sitting in the lotus posture.

This is why I call myself a fraud. Calling myself a fraud is not a double bluff. I AM a fraud. Here I am subscribing to a principle, and actively promoting to others, a principle that is too difficult for me to follow. I preach what I don't practice. The principle I am preaching, the principle of non-doing, is a wonderful principle, a beautifully simple principle, the Truth itself made into a principle, the Supreme Principle. But in practice, in the innermost core of my being, I don't follow it. This is probably why Joe Walsh's old lyric rings so true in my inner ear:

My Maserati does one-eighty-five.
I lost my license, now I don't drive.

16 Comments:

Blogger zero said...

Gautama said that to see the Dharma is to see Dependent Arising, and that to see Dependent Arising is to see the Dharma. And your words

Going deeper, it must also include the absence of the roots of that unconscious doing, by which I mean any hidden agenda that one has, any fish to fry, any secret intention to achieve something, to become something, to be someone.

hits exactly the point. Seeing (rather than understanding intellectually) Dependent Arising is the same as the absence of the roots of unconscious doing.

_/\_

Sunday, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you, zero.

As you say, the difference between truly seeing and understanding intellectually is the all-important point.

Gudo once told me that the whole of Buddhist philosophy boils down just to this one point, the difference between thinking and reality.

The great irony has been Gudo's total inability to recognize any difference between his own intellectual understanding and reality -- equating his theory of balance of the autonomic nervous system with the Real Content of Enlightenment being the most obvious manifestation of this blind spot.

Thanks again, zero.

Sunday, February 26, 2006  
Blogger zero said...

Mike,

Thank you. Your Gudo quote is quite revealing, I think. And listen to how Michael Luetchford, in his MMK book, explains Dependent Arising:

It is a causal, or process-based view of the world; an interpretation of the process of development of the individual, and can be seen as a primitive scientific view of the world.

This, if anything, is an insult to the Dharma - referring to core of the Dharma as “a primitive scientific view of the world.” And Luetchford goes on to say, in his introduction to Nagarjuna’s chapter on Dependent Arising:

His comments in the last two verses suggest that we can rid ourselves of unhappiness in a single stroke by understanding the difference between our conceptualizations of reality, and reality itself.

Well, rather by understanding Dependent Arising…But here we see the connection to your Gudo quote, and also blatant evidence that these guys don’t even have an intellectual understanding of Gautama’s teaching. Cult indeed.

As a counterweight to Luetchford’s gibberish, let’s finish off with the last two verses of Nagarjuna’s chapter in proper interpretation:

When ignorance ceases,
Karmic actions cease.
The cessation of ignorance
Is the result of meditating with knowledge of reality’s precise nature.

When the earlier links cease,
The later links do not occur,
And that which is only a heap of suffering
Perfectly comes to and end.


_/\_

Sunday, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you, zero.

I do not deny that MJL has offended me in the past. Still, you do him a disservice if you say that he has insulted the Dharma with the words you quoted. The 12 links of Dependent Arising were, as MJL says, a means of expressing the law of cause and effect. Yes, you can say, with Master Dogen, that Cause-and-Effect is just Reality itself. But in that case, there are no 12 links. Reality is not 12.

That "we can rid ourselves of unhappiness in a single stroke by understanding the difference between our conceptualizations of reality, and reality itself," seems to me to ring true. From what I can make of Nagarjuna’s words in chapter 26 of MMK, it also seems to be what Nagarjuna is saying.

But the understanding, in order to be real, has to be a function of the whole self; it has to be an awakening through the whole self. This, I suspect, MJL has not clearly understood. But not having met him face-to-face for several years, I am not totally sure about MJL. In the case of Brad Warner and James Cohen, I am sure. I am sure enough to stake my life on it. When I read their words, I know that they have not understood.

It is easy for anyone to pay lip-service to the difference between conceptions and reality, while still remaining in reality a slave to blind conceptions which are deeply woven into the fabric of the self.

By blind conceptions I mean not only intellectual theories, but fundamental conceptions formed from infancy, having to do with balance, gravity, mass, weight, et cetera.

My problem with Gudo has been not that he preaches the difference between conceptions and reality, but rather that he is not only unable but seems also to be unwilling to see his own failure to see the difference between his own conceptions and reality. He is cock-sure that he is always "living in reality," even when he is acting purely on the basis of his own deluded suspicions, even when he is just propogating as the Dharma his own view of human physiology.

The tendency of Gudo's Dharma-heirs, MJL included, and myself also included, is to imitate Gudo's false confidence. So in criticizing Gudo and MJL, I am also criticizing myself. Alexander work has helped me to see more clearly this failing, this fundamental hypocrisy, first in myself and then in others.

Also, while agreeing with you that there have been definite cultish tendencies within Dogen Sangha, emanating from the centre outwards, I wouldn't necessarily say that MJL is an integral part of that crap. The reason Gudo fell out with MJL, as I understand it, is that MJL stuck to his own guns in regard to the MMK translation.

The reason I fell out with MJL was not so much because of any tendency MJL has to follow the herd instinct, but more because of what I saw as his opposite tendency,, his individualistic tendency to want to piss on my turf.

When you write: "Seeing (rather than understanding intellectually) Dependent Arising is the same as the absence of the roots of unconscious doing," I wonder exactly what you are expressing.

When you write of "understanding Dependent Arising," I wonder what exactly you are expressing.

The true "cessation of earlier links"?

Or just your own intellectual understanding?

"Meditating with knowledge of reality’s precise nature" looks to me to be a very suspect phrase. Isn't the precise nature of reality always unknowable? At least speaking for myself, I know when I sit is that a long breath is long, that a short breath is short. I don’t know “reality’s precise nature.”

Sunday, February 26, 2006  
Blogger zero said...

Mike,

Thank you. First of all, I have to say that in my understanding there’s a lot more to Dependent Arising than simply the law of cause and effect, and also a lot more to it than understanding the difference between our conceptualizations of reality and reality itself. And even though I would agree with Dogen’s “Cause-and-Effect is Reality itself”, that doesn’t capture the full meaning of Dependent Arising.

When you write: "Seeing (rather than understanding intellectually) Dependent Arising is the same as the absence of the roots of unconscious doing," I wonder exactly what you are expressing.

Seeing Dependent Arising means to see that even though reality exists, it is empty of inherent existence, like an illusion. And it means to see the interdependence between existence and non-existence, real and non-real, even though things are neither real nor non-real. Ignorantly believing that things actually exist is the root of (unconscious) doing. Seeing that it isn’t so brings peace. Is this just my intellectual understanding? A bit more than that, I’d say. But I am still working on it!

"Meditating with knowledge of reality’s precise nature" looks to me to be a very suspect phrase. Isn't the precise nature of reality always unknowable?

In my understanding the suspect phrase means meditating with certainty of Dependent Arising, i.e. the true nature of reality, based on logical analysis (such as Nagarjuna’s) or direct seeing.

_/\_

Sunday, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Ordinary bloke said...

Zero, how do you know that Mike Luetchford does not have an intellectual understanding of Gautama’s teaching? From reading a book, a book which may be beyond your intellectual grasp? At least Mike Cross has a personal axe to grind when he lays into Gudo Nishijima and Mike Luetchford. Do you? If you are unhappy with your current teacher, that is if you have one, I suggest that you pick up your zafu and make your way poste haste to Mike Cross to receive his teaching face to face. That is if he will have you. You will not be disappointed. I learned to sew the kesa face to face from Pierre Turlur for which I am eternally grateful. I have received the merit of (some) hands on instruction face to face from Mike Cross for which I will remain eternally grateful. I have received face to face teaching from Mike Luetchford for which I will remain eternally grateful. Please, please think twice before insulting sincere teachers. As someone who is really confused about Buddhist philosophy all I read in your comment is intellectual vanity, fancy words, showing off, brown nosing. It is like looking in a mirror.

Monday, February 27, 2006  
Blogger zero said...

Dear Ordinary Bloke,

Thank you for your response. I have no axes to grind with Michael Luetchford. As I have never met him, how could I? And if what I wrote could be interpreted as being personal, I sincerely apologize to anyone who might have been offended. All I meant to say was that from what ML is writing in his book it is blatantly obvious that he's missed the point when it comes to the core of the Dharma. And I see no reason to change that - indeed I think it should be pointed out. In saying that I do not mean to imply any lack of sincerity or honor in anyone, and I have no reason to believe that ML is not the most respectable person.

As you are referring to my possible motivations, let me tell you a little bit about them. I found out about Dogen Sangha through Brad’s book, which I really enjoyed. I got curious and bought a couple more books, and started following Brad’s web publishing. As I’ve said before, it was clear to me early on that this phenomenon, DS, had all the signs of a cult. And I believe cults should be debunked. They harm people. Then Mike’s blog appears, and I hear the voice of somebody trying to rid himself of the influence of this cult. I sincerely respect and honor Mike for doing so, and it is only out of that respect that I bother wasting time on this blogging at all, and I will continue for as long as I see fit, or until Mike tells me to stop.

Thank you again.

Monday, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you, zero.

I am afraid that Ordinary Bloke is only doing his best to tell you the truth. You are clinging to a view of Dependent Arising. Nagarjuna is telling you that to relinquish your view is just the teaching of the wonderful Dharma itself. But you are clinging to a view that you have grasped with your intellect.

Your words "even though reality exists, it is empty of inherent existence, like an illusion" are totally wrong. Reality is full of inherent existence, like a cement mixer hitting you on the head.

If you wish to meditate with certainty of something, you should meditate with certainty of that.

Having said all this, I am grateful to you for trying to make a connection between Nagarjuna's teaching on the 12 links and what I have been struggling to say about MU-I. Reading Buddhist teaching has evidently caused you to stray off into the intellectual area. I know all about that in my own experience. You have evidently gone wrong -- but don't be too despondent about it. Being wrong is our best friend in this work --check out my next post.

Monday, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you, ordinary bloke.

I have been wondering for some time who taught you. I have been thinking to myself, "It is as if that guy has gone through the same process as me!" Like the scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when they say to each other, "Who are those guys?"

Ordinary Bloke...Who IS that guy?

Now suddenly I see. The efforts of the late Julian Fuller were not in vain.

Monday, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you, zero.

No, please don't stop. Carry on -- onward and upward. Your efforts to pursue the truth are valuable. Don't be discouraged.

Thank you again.

Monday, February 27, 2006  
Blogger zero said...

Mike,

thank you. A cement mixer hitting you in the head doesn't contradict what I was trying to say. And what makes me say these things has nothing to do with the conceptual mind. But I am eternally grateful to Gautama and Nagarjuna, as well as later teachers, for their insight into and rigorous intellectual analysis of the true nature of reality.

Thanks again.

Monday, February 27, 2006  
Blogger zero said...

Thanks, Mike. No, not discouraged at all. But I find your response a bit strange. All your saying relating to my earlier comments is that I am totally wrong, and then you go on to paint yourself a picture of me based upon which you explain things!?!? Why not stick to the matter at hand?

Monday, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Zero,

You are in danger of allowing your intellect to dig you into an ever-deepening hole.

Gautama, Nagarjuna, Gudo and MJL are all pointing you to the same principle -- the absolute gulf that exists between our conceptions and reality.

Our conceptions are all wrong and false. Reality is right and true.

I have come to see the wisdom of regarding my wrong and false conceptions as my best friend, because they ARE subject to rigorous investigation, of the kind which Alexander teachers have taught me. This investigation is performed with, through, and on the whole self, not by intellectual analysis.

My criticism of Gudo and MJL is that they have not been rigorous enough in this kind of rigorous investigation of their own wrong conceptions. I do not criticize them for pointing to the gulf between wrong conceptions and true reality.

In saying that you are "eternally grateful to Gautama and Nagarjuna, as well as later teachers, for their insight into and rigorous intellectual analysis of the true nature of reality," you are just proving the point made by Ordinary Bloke. The true nature of reality is never open to intellectual analsysis.

There is no longer any point in you trying to pretend that you and I are saying the same thing. It is now very evident that we are not.

Monday, February 27, 2006  
Blogger zero said...

"There is no longer any point in you trying to pretend that you and I are saying the same thing. It is now very evident that we are not."

???

Monday, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

A university lecturer in Buddhist studies who did his doctoral thesis on Sunyata, and a beggar with nothing in his bowl, can use the same word -- "emptiness" but not be saying the same thing.

Only one can truly say their bowl is empty.

Reading your comments on this post, anyone with eyes can tell that your state of zero is the result of a bowlful of logical analysis.

Monday, February 27, 2006  
Blogger zero said...

:-)

Monday, February 27, 2006  

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