Friday, 11 April 2008

What Turns Its Opposite Into Freedom?

The answer is HI-SHIRYO, non-thinking.

Bodily full lotus sitting, dumbly squashing a black sitting-cushion, is non-thinking.

Mental full lotus sitting, thinking ears and shoulders apart, thinking nose and navel apart, making a mental decision not to do, is non-thinking.

Body and mind dropping off, losing the self just in sitting itself, is non-thinking.

Birdsong bouncing around spacetime is non-thinking.

For 750 years between Master Dogen's writing of Shobobenzo chapter 72, Zanmai-o-zanmai, and the existence in the world of my problem-solving ability, nobody has clearly understood the above.

I have tried to clarify the above to my teacher Gudo Nishijima, but weighed down by his wrong view about the autonomic nervous system, he has not been able to understand. Rather, he has responded to my efforts by violating the Dharma without reason, and causing himself and others to slander me, willy-nilly.

How can I say such a thing? asks Plato. I can say such a thing, Plato, by not worrying about being right or being wrong, by not bothering about being humble or being arrogant, loyal or disloyal. I can say such a thing because it is true.

Moreover, saying it seems to have caused my stomach pains to disappear -- after I posted the previous post, and gave up trying to deny the bald fact that my teacher seriously violated the Dharma, my stomach stopped hurting.

For nearly four weeks now I have been in France devoting the time to full lotus sitting. So far, I am sorry, but in the way of a conclusion this is the best I can do.

1 comment:

Mike Cross said...

Q: You say 'think shoulders and ears apart, nose and navel apart'
What is the difference between this kind of thinking, and thinking about going for holidays or thinking about when I should stop this sitting-zen session?

A: The difference is between thinking about and thinking itself. To use an example from football, the difference might be between you and me thinking about taking a penalty in a premiership football match, and Alan Shearer thinking, on his run-up towards the penalty spot, "Ball in the back of the fucking net!"

Q: Does this thinking involve always words?

A: No, not necessarily. It can be a kind of pointing up or pointing out. But don't underestimate the value that words like "ears and shoulders apart" can have. Words are not feelings. My feelings are always changeable and not reliable. But Master Dogen's words "MIMI TO KATA TO TAI SHI" express a universal human principle which is always reliable. Finding the same principle, FM Alexander used the words, "Let the neck be free to let the head go forward and up to let the back lengthen and widen."

Q: Does this thinking ever go beyond words?

A: What goes beyond words is not thinking itself. Thinking can be compared to the effort required to prime a pump. Eventually the water starts to pour out in a spontaneous flow all by itself... glub, glub, glub. The spontaneous flow is the state beyond words --> that concrete state beyond thinking (KONO FU-SHIRYO TEI).

Q: How often should someone think like this during a sitting-zen period?

A: Very good question. I think the answer is: intermittently. To do too much thinking like this, to try the whole time to think ears and shoulders apart, makes us stiff and serious.

At the other extreme, sometimes I neglect to practice mental sitting at all, but just sit there dumbly. When I am in hell, for example, just to sit physically, lacking the will to make any conscious mental effort, just waiting for the wheel to turn, may be the best I can do.

On a better day, when I notice that I am thinking/worrying about something, I return to thinking ears and shoulders apart. When I am mindful of the fact that release of ears and shoulders apart is an undoing, which I cannot do, this seems to facilitate an energizing of the pelvic/lower abdominal area from where the head can release out. This kind of effort might be compared to keeping a roulette wheel spinning: To try to keep pushing the wheel on every revolution would be counter-productive. Rather, if the mechanism is well oiled and well balanced, after an initial push you may hardly need to push it at all.

When I asked Marjory Barlow a similar question to yours, she told me that she practised thinking at the beginning of her sitting practice, and then it turned into "the other."

Q: What about observing my tensions during sitting, what about observing my tendency to put more weight on the right sitting bone etc

A: FM Alexander used to say (Marjory reported), "When you think you are thinking you are actually feeling. And when you think you are feeling you are doing."

Q: This morning during sitting-zen my chin was almost touching my chest, due to tiredness! Thinking about ears and shoulders apart, and nose and navel apart did not change things much, but I decided to just leave it like this. Is this inhibition? Is this way of practicing the one transmitted by the ancestors?

A: I refer you back to the answer to your first question!