Montag, 14. April 2014

Support of the Buddha Dharma, A Talk about Pursuing the Truth (Bendowa, Part 2)

 When Dôgen came back from China he was aware of his great responsibility and his duty to devote himself to the teaching and dissemination of true Buddhism. Apparently he knew the essence of this Buddhist truth, which he had experienced himself and studied under his Master Tendô Nyojo. He gave many lectures in different monasteries in Japan and wrote many books, which are a substantial part of the greatest treasures of human civilization.

If false teachers and incorrect theories mislead students, who are in honest pursuit of the truth, this will be a great disaster for the learning process of human beings. And often it is impossible to repair the damage afterwards. Dôgen emphasizes that in this case it might be better not to study the Buddha Dharma than to pursue the wrong path of a false teacher. For this reason it is so important, that the Buddha Dharma be transmitted authentically from one Master to his successor.

This authentic transmission of the theory and practice was realized in a chain without any interruption from Gautama Buddha to the great Masters in India, China and Japan. This succession is documented precisely and with care, missing no Master. In the lineage of Dôgen we find the Masters Nâgârjuna, Bodhidharma, Daikan Enô and Tendô Nyojô and they are all of extraordinary importance. Dôgen speaks of them as “eternal Buddhas”.

Of Tendô Nyojô he says, “At last I have visited Zen – Master Nyojô Dai-byoku-hu”. And there he was able to complete the great task of a lifetime of Buddhism. Whoever sits in Zazen, experiences intuitively and totally that his body and thinking mind is dropped. His narrow anxious or aggressive Self fades away and his restrictive ideas, thoughts and emotions are not active any longer. Nishijima Roshi  uses the word “first enlightenment” for this true experience of practicing Zazen on a daily basis. No question, this is the experience of being a Buddha.

The first enlightenment is not attained by the conscious will and is not a goal which can be reached by a decision of the mind. To put it very clearly: it is the opposite of the will and thinking mind. If we are attached to a goal and are greedy for success, even in spiritual activity, we will fail and such energy will destroy the very thing we want to achieve. But it is very important to have a clear will for the truth and not to become weak in the course of training.

It is useful to be patient, not hasty and to trust that we can overcome the dull stupidity of our normal lives that are without the support of the Buddha Dharma. On the path towards truth people start to practice Zazen and in this way the first enlightenment happens immediately. As a result, normal thinking and unclear emotions fade away and especially the control of greed gives us new power and rids us of anger and fear. This also means that boring ideas and inflexible thoughts and images disappear.

In this chapter Dogen discusses several questions and criticism about the practice of Zazen; he wrote this as a dialog between a critical questioner and himself. His answers are of substantial clarity with regard to the Buddha Dharma and the power of Zazen practice. And he doesn’t tell us things and ideas which he has read in books or learned only from teachers, but which he has experienced himself in China under his own Master Tendô Nyojô. This is of great value for us because of his true and reliable experience, which he has put into words.
He uses the word “true gate to the Buddha Dharma” for the Zazen practice and answers critical questions by saying that all masters in India and China used this practice to realize the Way? He underlines that this is not a lazy sitting and doing nothing, but it is true activity in the correct position

And it is much more than just reading Sûtras and reciting the name of the Buddha, because it is full activity of body-and-mind. The sentence, “The Samâdhi of ‘receiving and experiencing the self” is of tremendous importance. He does not negate that we have a self, as is sometimes heard even in Buddhist groups. He says that with Zazen we see and experience our true self. And this intuitive clarity is beyond our normal thinking in our daily lives and because it is not romantic and will help us substantially, it may even sometimes look a little bit simple and dry. This fundamental understanding is of course not superficial because it is one of the great treasures of Buddhist living.