a blog about Buddhism and life experience written by Roman Valek
I will try to add some comments to each part but first I have to put on some socks. The will to the truth, bodai shin. I remember when I was a teenager I was wondering if there is anything like TRUTH or God or not. I think I believed there was something clear and definite, but Now I really don't remember. Later I came across a book on Zen and found the term satori there. Then I wanted to attain satori, or "get the truth". SO based on the book on Zen, I did believe firmly that the truth exists. It was confirmed or my belief was firm as steel when I first met some Buddhist teachers and saw their conduct. I believed a person can get the truth. So I tried to get it too. End of comment one.
Then for several years, I had some confused idea than once we attain satori or the truth, there is no need to look for it. This makes sense, right? But according to Dogen, it is not this simple. As you probably already know, to Dogen practice of zazen is not different from satori, the awakening. yet, Dogen encourages students of Buddhism to establish the will to the truth, or wake up. ANd then he confirms this when he speaks about different masters or lay people who got it. End of comment 2.
So logically, it seems, that once we sit in zazen, we immediately get it. and once we leave the cushion and go back to work or pub or bedroom, we lose it. Or we could also say that once we sit in zazen, we get the truth and never lose it again. Master Nishijima speaks of two levels of enlightenment. The first level is zazen itself. The second level is something he calls "solving your philosophical problems". But people should not stick to such interesting categories. They are helpful, of course, but they are still just some categories. As much as whatever I write here. The danger lies in this situation. A person looks for enlightenment, sits in zazen not knowing that zazen already is enlightenment, then one day the person undestands something, laughs, cries and goes back to his bedroom all high and excited. There is nothing wrong with having some experience when we suddenly get something, suddenly understand something. But once we call our experience "enlightenment". we limit it to this little person we call "I" and in fact deny it - it becomes a cloud in our head that is useless. That is why there is so much stress on zazen as awakening every morning and every evening and bringing this awakening to our every day activities. If you are really englightened, you know that it is not about your personal experience but your actual activity that cannot be separated from the world itself. ANd if you are really enlightened, you will never ever claim you are enlightened unless you go nuts. ANd enlightened people do go nuts. BUt we dont' call such people enlightened. Dogen speaks about those masters who got the truth not only as a sudden understanding, but as something they realised in their every day life ever since. ANd then Dogen praises those buddhas and masters who kept practicing zazen even after enlightenment as if there was no goal of enlightenment, because the goal of Buddhism is not something that happened in the past, but something that happens now. End of comment 3.
So what does a Dogens' follower do when he or she understands something, solves their philosophical problem, and still peacefully practices zazen, day after day. Is such a person still looking for the truth? Should they maintain the will to the truth? Does such a person come to their teacher and claims: I got it! The problem is that there are no instructions how we should deal with our experiences or understanding. It is up to you or me or her if they go to the master, say what they understood and ask the teacher: So what do you say, is it IT? For example, I personally have asked or informed several teachers about my experience and they reacted differently. That is no problem. But the main point is that we should not replace our valuable experience now with a dream about a valuable experience yesterday. When master Dogen visited his master at night and said Body and mind dropped off, he had his own reasons to go and speak like that. ANd as master Nyojo had known Dogen for three years and knew his conduct and attitude, in that moment master Nyojo knew exactly what to do. He confirmed master Dogen's understanding and experience. I think in Dogen's case, it was all a result of totally commited and sincere efforts to be a true person who lives the truth and communicated the truth and is not opposed to the truth. And master Nyojo could see this clearly and decided that master Dogen is ready to go back to Japan and teach Buddhism there as an authentic teacher. End of comment 4
So when we experience whatever we experience, the next question is Now what? And whatever we experience, that question will ring in our ears for the rest of our lives unless we are liars or dull or crazy. To me the will to the truth is not something you can ignore once you understand something. the truth we deal with in Buddhism is something dynamic, something always changing and always perfect. It is something that is worth pursuing no matter if we are beginners or old, experienced masters with hundreds of students. The will to the truth is a commitment of a Buddhist beyond time and space. Because no one gets it. But some people live it and can guide us and help us find it. If what I am writing now sounds confusing or contradicting myself, then it is a great opportunity for you to find out for yourself what the truth is, the truth beyond confusion and contradicting views. WHen I say find our for yourself, it may sound like it implies I have found it, but to speak like that would be empty words and nothing else. I have found a teacher, Mike Luetchford, who is an excellent guide when you want to learn to live the truth, when you want to complete what can only be completed now, in this present moment and when you want to face the future standing realistically on your both feet without too much fear. But more about finding the true teacher in the next part of Gaku Do Yo Jin Shu.
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