Monday, December 6, 2010

It Ain't What You Think

A year ago i was lamenting that finding an affordable copy of Daitō Publishing Company's Japanese-English Buddhist Dictionary (Nichi-Ei Bukkyō Jiten) was impossible. A few used copies were available, but they cost about $100 plus unimaginable shipping because they were coming from overseas. New copies cost the same. Imagine my surprise, then, when i logged into my Amazon account a few weeks ago and, lo and behold, there was one copy being offered by someone on the west coast for $30! I'm now the proud and happy owner of that copy — it came in today's mail. :-)


Continuing to follow more of Uchiyama Kōshō's thoughts, here is some of what i've been mulling over most of the day. I spent the entire day on just one chapter of his book How To Cook Your Life, his commentary on Dōgen's Tenzo Kyōkun. Note, the paragraphs below aren't in the order they appear in the book.

"All too often we while away our lives, creating general assumptions and ideologies out of the thoughts that arise in our minds, and, after having fabricated those ideas, we finally dissipate our life energy by living in the world we have abstracted from them. 'The dharma should be grasped so that mind and object become one,' means that we must see all of the worlds that our lives encompass from the foundation of our own personal life experience; our life experience is our mind. This means that all things in life function as parts of our bodies."

"When we look at a cup that is set down between two of us, we have the feeling that we are looking at the same cup, though actually, that is not so. You look at the cup with your vision, and from a certain angle. Moreover, you see it in the rays of light and shadows that come from your side of the room. This applies equally to me as well. In a very rough sense, we proceed to separate the reality of the situation by entertaining the idea that we both see the same cup. This is what I mean by the fabrication of ideas."

"To talk of our being alive implies at the same time that there is also a world of phenomena in which we live. We usually assume that the world existed long before we were born and that our birth is our entrance onto the stage of an already existing world. At the same time, we often assume that our death means our departure from this world, and that after our death this world continues to exist. Within this way of thinking a fabrication is taking shape which is not the actualization of reality itself. The actuality of the world that I live in and experience is not merely a conglomeration of ideas and abstractions."

"[W]e wind up thinking that we live and die within this world of fabrication. This is an utterly inverted way of looking at one's life. My true Self lives in reality, and the world I experience is one I alone can experience, and not one anyone else can experience along with me. To express this as precisely as possible, as I am born, I simultaneously give birth to the world I experience; I live out my life along with that world, and at my death the world I experience also dies.

"From the standpoint of reality, my own life experience (which in Buddhist terminology equals mind), and reality (which means the dharma or phenomena I encounter in life) can never be abstractly separated from each other. They must be identical."

"Shin, or mind, in terms of bodhidharma should be understood as: the mind that has been directly transmitted from buddha to buddha is that mind which extends throughout all phenomena, and all phenomena are inseparable from that mind. My personal life experience is at the same time the world of reality. Conversely, the world of reality constitutes my mind."

"[I]f we are not careful we are apt to smother the vitality of our lives through the fabrication of our ideas. The teachings of the Tenzo Kyōkun operate from teh foundation of the reality of life to thoroughly cut through the ideas and homespun philosophies we so often set up and attempt to carry out, and rather, seek to truly allow that reality to function in our lives."

Kōshō Uchiyama
How To Cook Your Life: From The Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment

My own life experience and reality can never be abstractly separated from each other. They must be identical.

My personal life experience is the world of reality; the world of reality constitutes my mind.

Mind extends throughout all phenomena, and all phenomena are inseparable from mind. (Isshin issaihō, Issaihō isshin).

I think i'm going to spend the next several days working on this chapter before moving on.

No comments: