Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Just Wake Up

In the Muddy Pool, Floating Weed wrote:

I would not describe conscious recognition and 'allowing' of unconscious 'wrong-doing' as a subtle method.

The subtle method I recognise is unconscious - it acts subtly, without our definitive knowledge of it. There is some sense of it but the state disintegrates any need to investigate or pursue it. That activity would be self-defeating. As soon as we try to know something about this method, it dissolves into 'doing.' You can call it 'allowing' but if it is conscious it remains in the area of 'doing.' True allowing cannot be a conscious activity otherwise we instantly inhibit true allowing and replace it with conscious 'allowing.'

There is great desire in us to know what zazen is, to reveal its secret and how to practise it but it has no secrets it has not already given-up to us. We make this practise our own. It is the very state of 'un-knowing', of 'un-doing.' It is the state of 'things as it is.' This method is truly a subtle one. It cannot be written down or described. It manifests something unadorned, uninflected, uncreated, eternal, immanent, prescient......It is only when we cease to strive, to search, to know, to do that it can emerge.

This weed is floating, it holds no secrets, it is not holding onto anything, not 'Buddhism,' not 'Zen,' not a place or a name, not an activity nor a non-activity. If I can seek out an Alexander teacher, can you release the great man from that headlock you have him in? Re-read your last two posts on The Middle Way - something emerges between the lines that is beyond a technique.

My reply:

In the original version of Fukan-zazengi (Shinpitsu-bon), Master Dogen gives detailed preparatory instructions: Not to think about this and that; not to care about this and that; but rather to allow this and that.

Finally, these instructions draw to an end. Master Dogen writes: "Having regulated the posture already, let the breath also be regulated."

Then he comes to the crux: "When something arises in the mind, just wake up."

He doesn't say to do something unconsciously. Master Dogen doesn't say what Gudo Nishijima says, which is "just go back to keeping the spine straight vertically."

I discussed this problem with Gudo Nishijima in great detail about 2o years ago. The discussion was summarized in a Dogen Sangha Newsletter which Michael Luetchford published around that time--if anyone is interested, Michael Luetchford probably still has a record of it.

The gist of what Gudo Nishijima said was that "just wake up" means "keep the spine straight vertically." As far as Gudo Nishijima is concerned, it is the same instruction.

But the discussion left me with a nagging doubt. The doubt has gradually been resolved by Alexander work. (But, then again, the resolution of this doubt has given rise to other nagging doubts, more serious ones.)

"Just wake up" means "just wake up" --- "just become conscious."

"Just wake up" doesn't mean just do something unconsciously.

Let me give it to you straight, Floating Weed: You are wrong. You have not understood, yet.

Master Dogen's true teaching is hanging by a very fine thread, and in truth I am not such a great man of iron as people sometimes think. After you have understood, I will be very happy to receive the information from you that it is OK for me to let go.


Blogger Mysterion said...

"just wake up" is an errant translation of archaic Japanese.

Modern 'okiru' is either to get up or to wake up depending on context.

We often make the arbitrary distinction the 'this is correct' and 'that is in error' when, depending upon the context, both could be correct or both could be in error.

In the worst case, 'this is in error ' and 'that is correct.'

This - corect - correct - error - error

That - correct - error - correct - error

7:35 PM  
Blogger joseph murphy said...

I know nothing about Japanese or ancient texts. But I don't see how there is any confusion. His meaning is obvious by what he does not say. Really, he's saying "don't do anything" What is more natural that waking up? There is no doing here at all. Just "Wow, I was asleep, now Im fully immersed in the right not". But you don't have to do that, don't do anything. Wake up. Just wake up.

5:28 PM  

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