Sunday, January 14, 2007

The 3rd and 4th Noble Truths: A Non-Buddhist Discourse

If you want to understand the 3rd noble truth, dukha-nirodha-satya, the truth of stopping suffering, simply understand the 4th noble truth, marga-satya, the truth of the pathway.

When I was in Japan, Gudo Nishijima taught me the philosophy of action. That is why I persist as I do in my present task to clarify the fundamental meaning of thinking, as opposed to feeling.

I didn’t get Gudo’s philosophy of action only from reading what he wrote; I got it from joining forces with him in the Shobogenzo translation. I got it from the inside.

For a concrete example of the philosophy of action, I remember Gudo saying, in a lecture to company employees, words to the effect of: “Your house burns down --> Build a new one.”

For another example: Your Zen master declares you to be a non-Buddhist --> Carry on your Zen practice as a non-Buddhist.

My Alexander teacher here in England taught me “Direction is the truest form of inhibition.”


That’s why I say: If you want to understand the 3rd noble truth, simply understand the 4th noble truth.

When you make a clear decision and form a clear and decisive intention, certain pathways are energized. The longer you wait, and renew your decision, the more those pathways are energized. The more resistance you meet, the more those passways are energized. The more those pathways are energized, the less energy is available to be dispersed on non-essential pathways.

For a more concrete illustration: If I’m £10 million in debt, the problem is too great for me to solve. When I think about it, I am inevitably discouraged. In that situation, to get a job for £5 an hour is one way. It is a way leading in the right direction. And in sincerely following that way.... at least lunch will taste good.

In that spirit, I offer the following teaching, to self and others:

As, when you wish to hear you listen and when you wish to see you look, when you wish to enter and experience samadhi, sit.

Really sit. Don’t just read about and think about and talk about sitting. Really sit -- sitting bones on a cushion, legs crossed.

And really think. Don’t just read about and think about and talk about thinking. Really think. Like wishing for something you really want, but cannot arrange.

When the sitting and the thinking become one, you have the 4th noble truth right there, in which case the 3rd noble truth is legs on a snake.

In a recent email Gudo wrote to me that Zazen is just the method to stop discussions.

Maybe that is true for a devout Buddhist. But as a non-Buddhist, I don’t worry about that. I say that Zazen is the beginning of all non-Buddhist discussion.

I love Zazen, and Iove non-Buddhist discussion. I liked the last comment of Ordinary Bloke Pete. Polite Buddhist discussion? You can keep it. It’s not for me. But if you want to step into the ring with me for a spot of Dharma combat, by all means have a go. You are sure to lose, but you may gain a bit of my respect in the process.

6 Comments:

Blogger Jordan&TheTurtle said...

Mike,
An interesting post.

Is there realy a loser in Dharma combat?

Be well and happy!
Gassho,
Jordan

Monday, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Good question J&T.

If you sincerely enter into Dharma combat with me, you will be the loser.

That is my guarantee. That is my promise.

But don't overlook the word "sincerely."

Monday, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Jordan&TheTurtle said...

If I were to loose I would call that it the highest victory, as I would have a new understanding.
For me to win you would have a new understanding. Is that a loss for you?

If we remain fixed in our views then we would share defeat. A sad outcome for sure.

Be well and happy!
Gassho,
Jordan

Monday, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Jordan&TheTurtle said...

Some horses must be whipped to the bone before they even discover a will to the truth.

The Buddha taught a means to an end. Zazen is a part of that.

Political correctness is a concern of mine, as it often appears to subvert honesty, but I do appreciate right speech. You seem to have discarded that. I am sure you feel there is a good reason for it.

I do not know James Cohen apart from some comments on the Dogen Sangha blog, I am sure you have good reason for you feelings towards him as well.

I won’t tell you how to be, and I will spare you the Gassho, as it seems to pain you so much to have someone wish you well and show some modicum of respect.
At least you have gained that.

Jordan

Tuesday, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you, J&T.

This morning my Zazen was not so good. I've got a bit of a headache.

I think we should hope to lose our misconceptions of what Zazen is.

And in that process, we should not be afraid to lose face.

But, yes, you are right we should not discard right speech. My mistake.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007  

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