Montag, 16. März 2015

The true Buddha Dharma was lost in the South

Mind here and now is Buddha, Part 2

What does the sentence “Mind here and now is Buddha” imply?
In the records of Master Daikan Eno the false or at least improper teachings are  discussed – within the course of a dialogue with a traveling Buddhist monk. Master Daikan Eno was highly regarded by Dogen and was given the honorable title Great National Teacher Daisho.

In this context the traveller explains to the National Teacher that Dharma teachers of the South state “Mind here and now is Buddha” only refers to the consciousness, not to the body.
Thus mind and consciousness are being equated and perceived as being separate from the body.

According to the teachings in the South, the core feature of a consciousness of this kind are the representation of the essence of seeing, hearing, perceiving and knowledge and above all knowledge.
It governs all actions - especially the realm of thought - of a human being and is therefore called “true, all-encompassing knowledge”.

This all-encompassing knowledge represents the Great Buddha himself and there is nothing else beside it.
For this reason, according to the Srenikan doctrine, this all-embracing knowledge represents the supreme and the essence of the universe.

By comparison, everything else, such as matter and the body, are marginal and less important. The spirit and knowledge are immortal. After death, the spirit  leaves the physical body, just like someone who abandons his burned, useless house, or like a snake, shedding its old skin and leaving it behind.
Hearing these explanations, the Great National Teacher Daisho found his opinion confirmed that, in the South, a false doctrine of the Buddha Dharma was common. He bemoaned the fact that students of so-called masters were taught in this way and therefore were headed in the completely wrong direction on the way to the Buddha Dharma.

For this reason the true Buddha Dharma was lost in the South.
The true teachings of the Buddha Dharma transcend knowledge, consciousness and sensory perception such as seeing, hearing, feeling etc.
We cannot go beyond the rigid limitations of thinking and reasoning relying just on the rational mind itself or on our sensory organs. We would not have access to the true Buddha Dharma.

That is why the doctrine of the South was its own dubious wishful thinking and the subjective, one-sided belief of the local masters. The great universal truth, taught by Gautama Buddha himself and the predecessors of Dharma, simply could not have been grasped and understood fully by the teachers of the South.

As mentioned, Nishijima Roshi regards the realm of thought and ideas as idealism and the realm of perception and sensory stimuli as materialism. Looking at them individually, both philosophies are not entirely wrong. But they cannot do justice to the wonderful diversity of life here and now, as they are one-sided and one-dimensional.

He, who aligns himself with one of the limited philosophies, won’t be able to escape the ongoing cycle of suffering and superficial pleasures. He will just be holding onto a straw, which is not reliable once you look at it closely. Therefore, Nishijima Roshi strongly advocates a third life philosophy, namely the philosophy of acting in the here and now, in the present moment. The fourth philosophy, in Buddhism regarded as the highest one, already contains the three philosophies previously mentioned. But it goes beyond them and is called awakening, enlightenment or emptiness. On this level, the highest of all, there is absolute unity and harmony in morality and universal laws.

Montag, 9. März 2015

Mind here and now is Buddha

(Soku-shin-ze-butsu, Part 1)

In this chapter, Dogen distinguishes the Buddhist teachings from ancient Indian philosophy, which was advocated at the time of Gautama Buddha by the Brahman, Srenika.

Several disputes between Gautama Buddha and Srenika took place, which define the essential core values of the new Buddhist teachings and distinguish them from the teachings of Brahmanism.

Brahman, Srenika believed that an eternal and unalterable soul existed and transmigrated from one body to another, independent of the particular physical body, through various incarnations.

He thought this to be the great principle, easy to recognize and understand. Moreover, he believed that the teachings of the immortal soul would liberate one immediately and effortlessly, without imposing the burden of practicing.
According to Srenika, this spirit-substance distinguishes between suffering and pleasure, warmth and coldness, pain and irritation.

It (the spirit substance of the Srenikan view ) is supposed to be completely independent of the physical body and fully self-dependent. Above all, it cannot be limited or restricted by any physical thing or accompanying condition.

Such an eternal spirit permeates the souls of normal and saintly humans. Srenika states that once you have attained this spiritual intelligence, illusions of body and mind will fade away and disappear. He believed that one would be immediately and effortlessly freed and would not have to suffer any longer. Also, it would be a chance to discern one’s innate spiritual consciousness clearly. According to Srenika, this spiritual intelligence is eternal and permeates through worlds and eons.

In contrast, manifestations of this world and universe are transient, they arise and perish, they have no persistence.
With regard to Srenika, you could call this spiritual intelligence the spiritual consciousness or the true self. Following his teachings, those who acquired this great wisdom could leave the miserable cycles of reincarnation and were able to return to eternity.

The agonizing cycle of life and death has finally come to an end once the spirit enters eternity. Then the spirit-substance is absorbed by the everlasting ocean of the essence.

These are the main propositions of the Srenikan view.

How does Master Dogen react to this, and how does he outline the teachings of the Buddha Dharma?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Srenika and his teachings were correct? A simple realization of the “spirit”, understood in this way, would liberate us and we could escape suffering and other dreadful experiences in life.

By the eighth century AD Buddhism in China had reached its peak, which was due to the time of Master Daikan Eno, who was Boddhidharma’s sixth successor in China.
In northern China, cultural life had reached remarkably high standards and thus differed from the under-developed South, which, at that time, included parts of Cambodia and Vietnam.

Dogen reports that Buddhism wasn’t practiced as accurately in the South as in the North of China, given the fact that the teachings of the so-called masters in the South came very close to Srenika’s teachings. Their teachings equated the spirit or the spiritual-essence with Buddha.

Dogen vigorously rejects these teachings and explains this on the basis of the famous statement,

“Mind here and now is Buddha”.

According to him, it is not about beliefs, wishful thinking and abstract ideas – but about the real truth, whether we like it or not. Fleeing reality into daydreams is one of the main causes of human suffering. A conclusion Sigmund Freud already came to decades ago.