Sunday, 16 March 2008

HI-SHIRYO: Non-Thinking

Shobogenzo chapter 28, Butsu-kojo-no-ji, incidentally, contains the teaching of HI-BUTSU, non-buddha. HI means "non-" as in HI-SHIRYO, "non-thinking."

Alexander work opened me to the possibility that, in the same way that non-buddha expresses true buddha, but not what people ordinarily expect buddha to be, non-thinking is an expression of thinking itself -- but not what we ordinarily understand thinking to be.

At a railway station in Tokyo in 1998 I tried to explain to Michael Luetchford what little I had understood, from three years Alexander training, about what Alexander meant when he described his work as "an exercise in finding out what thinking is."

Seeing Michael Luetchford seeming to shake his head in despair, I thought I had made him see his mistake, in which case, I thought I might like to embrace him. But no. "The situation is even more serious than I thought," the wanker pronounced pompously, as if he could see something that I couldn't. The source of Leutchford's pomposity at that time was only this: he had got his puny intellect securely round Gudo Nishijima's explanation of the gulf that exists between thinking and action.

This idea Leutchford understands. But Luetcford has never seen the Buddha's teaching even in a dream. All he has done is stolen some ideas from an old man in order to work for his own fame as a Zen Master.

The old man's idea is very simple. The intellect of any dumb arse from Michael Luetchford to James Cohen can grasp it at once, and parrot it out. HI-SHIRYO simply means action -- action which is different from thinking.

So, in the days before I began to be plagued by doubt about what else HI-SHIRYO might mean, in the days of translating the version of Fukan-zazengi in Shobogenzo Book 1, for example, I also confidently translated HISHIRYO as "It is different from thinking."

But, no, sorry -- that was my mistake.

HI-SHIRYO does not mean what you all think it means. Those of you who think you know what HI-SHIRYO means, and presume to teach others what it means -- from Gudo Nishijima, to Michael Luetchford,to Brad Warner, to Phillipe Coupey and all the rest of you AZI lot, as well as miscellaneous Japs in Japan, and pseudo-Japs in America --not one of you truly knows what HI-SHIRYO means.

HI-SHIRYO is non-thinking.

Whatever you think it is, it is not that.

This morning I saw an interview on TV with Seamus Heaney, a poet. He spoke eloquently of why he never signed up to be part of a political movement -- because movements require people to march together, shoulder to shoulder, with solidarity, to the beat of the same drum. Whereas the poetry, he said, springs from an individulal's inner struggle. He seemed to me to be speaking his own truth very eloquently.

If Brad Warner does his best for the rest of his life to transmit Gudo's understanding of what HI-SHIRYO means, and within Dogen Sangha International a consensus forms around Brad's view, HI-SHIRYO will not be that.

Whatever consensus forms around any individual's view of what HI-SHIRYO is, HI-SHIRYO will always be not that.

HI-SHIRYO is not what you think it is, and not what I think it is.

Any kind of group-think is most certainly not it.

HI-SHIRYO is non-thinking.

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