Thursday, 29 May 2008

.... Will First Cross Over You, True Buddhists

What is a true Buddhist? A true Buddhist might be one of those many thousands or millions of people in the world today who is searching for (or in some cases think they have found) the true meaning of Buddhism.

What then, really, is Buddhism? Buddhism is a concept which is most truly understood by non-buddha.

In total enjoyment of Sitting, non-buddha is not tainted by any kind of -ism. Non-buddha is especially not tainted by Buddhism.

Non-buddha eats and drinks the tea and toast of non-buddha, and shits the shit of non-buddha, but non-buddha does not look for any meaning in Buddhism -- because non-buddha knows that Buddhism is an utterly meaningless and bankrupt concept.

In the Nishijima-Cross translation of Shobogenzo you will find many uses of the words Buddhist and Buddhism. But you won't find any in my new translations -- unless one is carelessly included by mistake.

There is no word or compound in the whole of Shobogenzo that deserves to be mistranslated as Buddhist or Buddhism.

When BUTSU appears before a noun, as in BUTSU-E, there is no need to talk of the Buddhist robe. The kesa is the Buddha-robe, the robe of Gautama Buddha and all the buddhas.

BUKKYO, similarly, is the teaching of the Buddha, the teaching of all the buddhas, not a view, not an opinion, not anybody's Buddhism.

BUPPO, again, is the Buddha-Dharma, the Buddha's Truth of Sitting, the Method of Sitting of Gautama Buddha and all the buddhas. By calling it true Buddhism, real Buddhism, or any other kind of -ism, we slander it.

Twenty years ago when I translated BUPPO as "real Buddhism," I thought I was doing a favour to Gautama Buddha and all the Zen Patriarchs of India, China, and Japan. In fact I was just, in my youthful arrogance, trying to identify myself with the strongly-held opinions, and four-phased philosophical dogma, of Gudo Nishijima, who succeeded in convincing me, having succeeded in convincing himself, that he was the true world champion of real Buddhism.

But now I see that a person who considers himself to be a true Buddhist is just suffering from a delusion. The idea that Buddha and -ism might be compatible with each other, is completely misplaced. Any sentence prefaced by the words "We, true Buddhists...." can never be anything but a pack of lies, a heap of shit, pure falsehood.

So if any flock or herd of true Buddhists is reading this, I would like to vow to you, in all sincerity, as follows:

I, Mr Wrong, hereby vow that I will cross over you, True Buddhists, to the far shore of non-buddha, before I cross over myself.


sheela said...

Mike - you are basically an administrator and remind me of a Larkin poem called Administration:

Day by day your estimation clocks up
Who deserves a smile and who a frown,
And girls you have to tell to pull their socks up
And those whose pants you'd most like to pull down.

It is sad that all your profound knowledge is wasted in such a role.

Harry said...

Dear Sheela,

I deeply resent your iconoclastic negation of the venerated practice of 'Mikefulness'.



Will said...
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Will said...
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Mike Cross said...

Sheela: I also can't help feeling that I am sadly under-achieving. I have just driven to France, alone, in our big new car with room for 6 or 7. My wife did not want to leave our sons to fend for themselves, as they have got exams coming up, and other potential retreat companions have not been able to make it for various reasons -- at least not yet.

Still, this blog allows me a kind of means of self-expression, although not a real voice.

To call me an administrator, is not it. I don't know who I am. I had a very good deep sleep on the ferry -- was woken by the tannoy saying we had arrived, and did not know where I was, a happy experience. Speaking of depth, an Alexander teacher friend of mine who was submariner in a past life told me, "The deeper you go, the stiller it gets." Again, Robert Runcie, the former Archbishop of Canterbury is said to have cautioned his successor, "You will find it like a swimming pool: all the noise is down the shallow end."

On the ferry I was reading The Conscious Ear by Alfred Tomatis, and listening to Mozart filtered to help the ear tune in better to overtones. Probably that is why I am conscious of a greater and more primitive desire than what Larkin is talking about -- the desire to hear a voice like that I heard resonating down my mother's spine when I was in the womb. That is what I really miss. That is what, when drunk on the wine of intellectual Buddhism, I deprived myself of -- something deeper than sex.

Even if I allow myself to become a medium for a truly inspiring, dynamic, spontaneous, real translation into English of Shobogenzo, even such a translation could not fulfill that deepest desire -- at least not until read aloud by a person with a voice very rich with overtones. Could that person be me? Maybe, maybe not. I know two or three musical types who might be better candidates.

Anyway, I think that I might like to translate next something about Kannon, sometimes portrayed as a compassionate woman who hears the distressed voices of men in the world. So many distressed male voices in the world! So few good midwives!

But I have met one or two good midwives, through Alexander work, and am grateful for that.

Om mani padme hum.

Harry: Are you enjoying yourself down there, at the shallow end?

Will: The great principle, in FM Alexander's words, is "antagonistic action." It has very many aspects -- master's thesis vs disciple's antithesis, yin vs yang, fear paralysis vs panic, primitive movement reflexes vs cross-pattern movements, feeling vs thinking, habit vs conscious direction, et cetera, et cetera. But the most vital aspect, if you revere Sitting as your main priority, might be ears vs shoulders and nose vs navel.

That kind of antagonistic action cannot be brought about by direct physical doing, and it cannot be brought about by thinking about it. But Alexander found that it can be brought about through the means of thinking itself -- or, for want of a better word, through mindfulness.

It is a pity that I am such a poor messenger that people find it difficult to see beyond the peculiarity of the oddball messenger, to the message, which is really such a simple one:

Reflect on what Master Dogen wrote, and look deeply into the discoveries of FM Alexander, and you will also know for sure what I know for sure -- what an invaluable tool Alexander work can be for anybody who aspires to reach the level of Sitting.

Will said...
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Harry said...

Hi, Mike.

Good luck in France.

Maybe I'll look back at it all some day and self-righteously see my multitude of errors and inadequacies; but then, maybe that would be a pretty stupid thing for me to waste my time at as well.

And thus I splash and paddle.


Pat Goldberg.

Will said...
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