Monday, January 22, 2007

Man's Supreme Inheritance

What is it?

On his blog, Gudo Roshi calls it balance of the autonomic nervous system. Master Dogen called it the samadhi of the ancestors. Freedom in action -- a plane to be reached. Being one piece with Nature. Being at ease in the Truth. There is no set of words that can definitively hit the target for everybody.

I don’t consider myself to be any great marvel at swimming or flying in it -- in that matter I defer to Gudo; I defer to Tich Nhat Hahn, and the Dalai Lama, and Ajahn Sumedho, and other Buddhist masters whose practice I suppose is deeper, more balanced, better integrated than mine; and I defer to the fish and birds.

But, as the Japanese proverb says: BAKA NI MO ICHI GE, Even a fool has one virtue.

My particular thing is clarity in regard to Master Dogen’s revised written instructions for how to realize man’s supreme inheritance.

While falling into the trap of showing disrespect to people I perceive as having in some way slighted, insulted, or disrespected me, I have continued, with regard to one thing in this world, to show genuine respect -- in the original sense of re- (again) spectare (to look). There is one thing I have looked into again and again, not just taking it at face value, not just following the conventional wisdom on it, not being content to accept anybody’s interpretation of it, including my own. That one thing I have continued to respect is the original text of Fukan-zazen-gi Rufu-bon -- ever since I memorized it in Japanese over 20 years ago.
My desire to get to the bottom of Fukan-zazen-gi has brought me on a journey. Not an intellectual journey, but a real journey, involving thousands of miles and months and years of separation from loved ones, taking wrong turns and getting lost, long frustrating periods of fruitless waiting, et cetera. I certainly haven’t got anywhere at all by myself. I have been incredibly fortunate to be guided along the way by teachers who seemed to think that I was worth an investment of their precious time -- to some of those teachers I will pay homage in my next post.

What has thus been clarified for me, and what I am now seeking to clarify for others, is how in Fukan-zazen-gi rufu-bon Master Dogen guides us, step by step, somersault following somersault, through the phases of sensory awareness and conscious volition, and thence to the realization of man’s supreme inheritance.

Through the phases of feeling and thinking into action.

Through the phases of effort to sit bodily in the lotus posture, mental effort not to sit bodily in the lotus posture, and thence into the state of effortless sitting in lotus in which body and mind spontaneously drop off.

As Gudo’s words indicate, man’s supreme inheritance is a state, a real state. Clarity in regard to how to realize it is not it. Even the clearest treasure map is not the treasure itself. Except, in the case of Fukan-zazen-gi, the map itself might also be a very rare and precious treasure.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jordan & The Tortoise said...

Mike,

I think another view I have often heard expressed would be that there are three treasures,
Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Some may see man’s supreme inheritance as their own Buddha nature, and the Fukan-zazen-gi as a (key) part of the Dharma, and all of us visiting here as part of a Sangha of sorts.

To clarify Fukan-zazen-gi is a noble task, and I appreciate your efforts.

~Jordan

Monday, January 22, 2007  
Blogger oxeye said...

"There is no set of words that can definitively hit the target for everybody."

except maybe the words you put together in the above sentence.. you hit that target.

"Even the clearest treasure map is not the treasure itself."

And things and people are not the labels we apply to them. Let us hope we can remember that.

Monday, January 22, 2007  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you Jordan, Oxeye.

I am not too keen on the idea of internet Sangha, because in a real Sangha there has to be face-to-face communication between teacher and student -- they have to sit together. But, yes, Master Dogen wrote Fukan-zazen-gi for EVERY BODY, and in that sense I agree that we are all part of a kind of Fukan-zazen-gi Sangha -- all of us who treasure that text. I also agree that EVERY single BODY, has their own individual reality which deserves to be respected, to be looked into beneath the label.

Grateful that my efforts are appreciated, I will carry on trying to explain what I think Master Dogen meant by thinking, when he wrote: "Think that state beyond thinking."

Thinking in Zazen means conscious volition, wishing. It is not only a function of the cerebral cortex.

I am not permitted to post questions on Gudo’s blog -- because of rude and disrespectful postings I made in the past. But I would like to ask him as follows:

When we want to drink water, from which part of the body does the wish arise?

When we want to enter and experience samadhi, from which part of the body does the wish arise?

At the beginning of Zazen, we are usually thinking about something. Then, as we begin to wake up, we bring our attention back to sensory awareness of sitting -- of our sitting posture, of the ears and shoulders in relation to each other, of the nose and navel in relation to each other, of the tongue, lips and teeth, of the eyes, of the breathe passing through the nostrils. And then we find that again we are thinking about things. This thinking about is invariably associated with feeling -- feeling of like or dislike, for example -- but it is not the kind of feeling that Master Dogen recommended us to practice, which is sensory awareness of sitting.

Having regulated our physical form, relying on sensory awareness, we regulate the breathing and sway left and right. This represents a transition to the volitional side. Regulation of the breathing, by performing a full exhalation, is an activity that requires a conscious decision, and conscious intervention. Swaying left and right reminds us that we cannot feel exactly where the middle is -- feeling is not the only criterion.

So, sitting still, we think that state beyond thinking.

The more truly we understand what thinking is, the more able we are just to think it, just to wish it, without getting drawn back into feeling. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can write that will help you to discover what thinking is. You have to find out for yourself.

The kind of thinking I am talking about now is not thinking about. It is not what people understand as thinking. It is thinking that somersaults us from volition into action. This is non-thinking. This is the secret of sitting/dhyana, sitting/thinking. Sitting/thinking is not some kind of thinking that has to be learned. But neither is it the blind effort to hold a correct posture. It is true freedom in action. It is the Dharma-gate of effortless ease.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007  
Blogger oxeye said...

mike - your sentence, "There is no set of words that can definitively hit the target for everybody." is accurate. It could very well be that when we go beyond thinking and words, the target is no longer a target. trying to verbalize this state beyond thinking might be to overshoot it. like trying to force a verbal square peg into a round hole.

"The more truly we understand what thinking is, the more able we are just to think it"

You might need your own original terminology to help you communicate your idea. Something outside of Buddhist or Alexander wording. Using the one word, "thinking" for two separate states confuses the matter.

When we think that state beyond thinking, thinking as commonly understood has been left behind. Thoughts arise but thinking never develops. The state of the Buddhas is unthinkable.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you, Oxeye. Your question goes to the heart of the problem.

Nishijima Roshi has seen my ideas as a potential threat to the purity of Buddhism, because he fears that I am trying to identify “Alexander theory” with Buddhist action, or “Western intellectual thinking” with Buddhist action.

But my true mission is only to identify feeling as feeling, thinking as thinking, and action as action.

Feeling is feeling. Thinking is thinking. Action is action.

Feeling sorry for myself, or observing breath passing through the nostrils, are both kinds of feeling.

Thinking what might have been, or thinking that unthinkable state of supreme integral enlightenment, are both kinds of thinking.

Drinking twelve pints of beer then swinging a punch at your friend and missing, or performing three dignified prostrations, are both kinds of action.

Human feeling is human feeling. Human thinking is human thinking. Human action is human action.

The feeling body is the feeling body. The thinking mind is the thinking mind. Action is either body and mind dropping off, or it isn’t.

So we should sit in the full lotus posture bodily, making an effort based on feeling. We should sit in the full lotus posture mentally, making an effort of thought. And we should sit in the full lotus posture dropping off body and mind. I know just this as the essence of Master Dogen’s teaching.

Gudo says that Zazen, from the beginning, is dropping off body and mind. It is a nice theory, and a true theory.

If sitting-meditation is truly sitting-meditation, it is just body and mind dropping off, from the beginning. Just to sit is to have it from the beginning.

But not all kinds of sitting are just sitting. In my actual practice, I seem to be quite capable of sitting in lotus for an hour of feeling miscellaneous emotions and thinking miscellaneous worries. I am free to sit like that if I want, without body and mind dropping off, just indulging in emotional feeling and randomly directed thinking. But that kind feeling and and that kind of thinking are not the only kinds of feeling and thinking available to us.

Thursday, January 25, 2007  

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