(Shoaku-Makusa) Part 2
In the first part of the chapter, Dogen emphasizes active individual action. But he also mentions that it is of due importance to let rightful action happen and not to tolerate unjust action. More observant behavior which lets things happen can often be morally rightful action.
In our lives we often come into contact with unjust action. This can happen through friends, relatives, but mostly through our enemies and rivals.
Buddhism teaches with utmost clarity that it is not correct to allow others to do injustice and to look on. Such behavior cannot be justified with the misunderstood comment, “it is how it is” – this is to shirk responsibility in this world.
Beneath rightful and wrongful action, according to Dogen, there is also neutral action – which is neither just nor unjust.
This is because injustice does not exist as a permanent, abstract reality, but is or is not generated through our own actions which can only happen in the present moment.
Therefore, the right or unjust action exists only in the present of the Now, and not permanently.
From a Buddhist perspective, the injustice of the past, which we can still remember, is only roughly comparable to the injustice of the present – it is not identical. Memories can never be the same as the reality of the present.
The same is true of the expected and anticipated injustice of the future. According to Dogen, we gain clarity about that through Buddhist practice, mainly Zazen.
In this connection he mentions that, regarding the question of justice and injustice, people of the Buddha-Dharma on the one hand and people of the ordinary world on the other , differ greatly compared to other differ more greatly from each other than in other areas within Buddhism.
As mentioned in detail in the chapter “Just for the Time Being, Just for a While, For the Whole of Time is the Whole of Existence (Uji)” in the Shobogenzo, the true time of the present moment is inseparably connected to rightful and wrongful action.
If you only hear the words that you should not commit wrong, this, according to Dogen, already changes your behavior and actions to some degree. It is important that the Buddhist practice of Zazen is carried out and that a moral code is not limited to thinking and talking only, because the power of practice enables us to gain more clarity and to transform our actions and behavior.
Due to this practice one gains an intuitive and moral clarity in the present moment, so that it is almost impossible to do wrong.
As we are always acting in the present moment, this creates the clarity and power in the Now.
But this moment is so short that we cannot reflect consciously on justice and injustice and act at the same time.
While we are acting rightfully, independent evil cannot evolve – at any place or at any time.
This is even true if we are living in an environment or get into a situation in which a lot of injustice is perpetrated, and we believe that injustice has won over action. Then, in fact, the thought or the idea injustice has become stronger and turned into an essence, which rules the mind.
Dogen speaks about it as follows:
“If we devote our whole mind and our whole body to the practice (of Zazen), eighty or ninety per cent are being realized (that no injustice is generated) just before (at) this moment. And there is (also) the fact that after the moment (no injustice) is generated”.
The practice of Zazen is realized through physical and mindful action. This way we avoid becoming contaminated.
As there is a unity between the universe and the world in Buddhist practice, we can overcome limitations and duality. According to Dogen, we can also say that mountains, rivers, the earth, the sun, the moon and the stars practice as well and that we let them practice.
In this sense, the Buddhas and their predecessors in the Dharma have never contaminated practice and experience. They are free and have never limited themselves. This means: do not commit wrong!
With regard to the Buddhist teachings, injustice as an independent entity is neither existent nor non-existent – but it is always generated immediately through the action itself.
In the same way, it does not have a material or immaterial quality because it is about generating action in the Now. One should not understand it as being too abstract, as it refers to a real and concrete act in the Here and Now. All too easily injustice is minimized and whitewashed. However, these are only assessments of people, which make things unclear.
While we regret having done wrong, the strength and the desire for the rightful action develop, according to Dogen.
If one has gained the necessary strength and clarity through practice, it is not possible to deliberately do wrong.
In the beginning of the poem mentioned above it is said that we can practice many kinds of right. This involves concrete action in the present moment – and the liberty we possess to do good and right things (by acting in the present moment).
Discussions as to whether right exists or not do not lead any further and necessarily become rather inflexible on a theoretical level, which is far removed from acting in the Here and Now in our everyday life. For then right is being discussed as a thing, which is not correct.
An interpretation here which emphasizes the existence of right action in the present: https://vimeo.com/202936620AntwortenLöschen