Saturday, 3 May 2008

Chapter 28 of the True Dharma-Eye Treasury: The Matter of Buddha Ascending Beyond


While waiting/not waiting for Gudo to make up his mind whether or not I am doing this work in his name, I am going to proceed at random to translate Chapter 28 of Master Dogen's True Dharma-Eye Treasury, titled "The Matter of Buddha Ascending Beyond." I am moving on to this chapter because, notwithstanding the baseless opinion of Venerable Brad Warner, the Nishijima-Cross translation of this chapter published in 1996 is a load of crap. At that time I was clueless as to the real meaning of such teachings as non-buddha, and not listening. Maybe I am still clueless, except that one thing I now know for certain is that my attitude then -- trying hard, in sitting and in translating, to be right -- was just wrong. Whatever the not listening, not speaking, and not sitting of non-buddha is, it is not a level reached by one who is trying hard to realize a state. The 1996 title of this chapter was "The Matter of the Ascendant State of Buddha" -- the state in question, in Gudo's mind, being -- you guessed it -- balance of the fucking autonomic fucking nervous fucking system. But this chapter is not about a state; it is more about orientation/movement in a cerain direction, that direction being.... UP! I think it is about upright sitting, speaking, and listening that does itself, effortlessly, spontaneously, naturally -- not what the Venerable Zen Masters of the present generally understand as sitting, speaking, and listening. If we want to understand the real, true, original meaning of this chapter, the secret to understanding it might lie in the discoveries of FM Alexander and Alfred Tomatis -- not in the fixed and static notions of Zen tossers who call each other "Venerable" and recommend themselves and others to concentrate on their own posture.

If you don't like me straying from the literal, I can understand that objection, and would suggest that you bugger off back to the 1996 version, and read that. In the spirit of experimentation, I would like to go for a less scrupulous, less careful, more direct, more dynamic, more real translation of this chapter, a more non-Buddhist translation.

So, here goes:

The Matter of Buddha Ascending Beyond

The high ancestor Tozan is the close and direct heir of Ungan, going up through thirty-eight ancestors from the Buddha. He is the thirty-eighth ancestor in ascending beyond himself. One day he preaches: "When we physically get the matter of buddha ascending beyond, then we can speak a bit." A monk asks: "What is it to speak?" Tozan says: "In speaking, governor, you are not listening." The monk says: "Are you listening, Master, or not?" Tozan says: "Waiting for myself not to speak, just then I am listening."

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