Thursday, March 15, 2018

Dogen with Hagakure, or how to be a snake, or how to hide (live) among fellow men (& women)—that is, on the brink of an ass' wisdom

"Sit upright in correct bodily posture, inclining neither to the left nor the right, leaning neither forward nor backward. Be sure your ears are on a plane with your shoulders and your nose in line with your navel. Place your tongue against the front roof of your mouth, with teeth and lips both shut. Your eyes should always remain open. You should breath gently through your nose... Once the heart of zazen is grasped, you are like the dragon when he reaches the water, like the tiger when he enters the mountain..." (Dogen, Fukanzazengi). 

"... my thoughts immediately turned to preaching the Dharma for the salvation of my fellow beings..." (Dogen, Bendowa).

"... the ki transcending Buddha..." (Dogen, Bendowa).

"... such things are not mingled in the perceptions of the person sitting in zazen because, occurring in the stillness of samadhi beyond human agency or artifice, they are, directly and immediately, realization... " (Dogen, Bendowa). 

"... the spirits of the realms of light and darkness come to him and take refuge; enlightened Arhats also seek him out to beg his teaching..." (Dogen, Bendowa).

"... body and mind are one and the same, the essence and the form are not two... all things are immutable, without any differentiation between body and mind... all things are mutable, without any differentiation between essence and form... birth-and-death is in and of itself nirvana. Buddhism never speaks of nirvana apart from birth-and-death" (Dogen, Bendowa).

"... even those who break the precepts are not deprived of the benefits that come from zazen... when it comes to grasping the Buddha Dharma, no distinction must be drawn between man and woman, high and low..." (Dogen, Bendowa).

"... those who think mundane affairs hinder the practice of the Buddha Dharma know only that there is no Buddha Dharma in their daily life..." (Dogen, Bendowa).

"So it does not necessarily follow that in order to propagate the Way of the Buddha-patriarchs, you must choose a favorable place and wait for ideal circumstances..." (Dogen, Bendowa).

"Even when you are perplexed or troubled, those perplexed or troubled thoughts are not apart from the bright pearl. As there are no deeds or thoughts produced by something that is not the bright pearl, both coming and going in the Black Mountain's Cave of Demons are themselves nothing but the one bright pearl..." (Dogen, Ikka Myoju). 

"Rats are time. So are tigers" (Dogen, Uji).

"Seeing the Buddha-nature is seeing a donkey's jowls or a horse's mouth" (Dogen, Bussho).

"To realize life and death are a combination of conditions manifesting themselves before your eyes is to be able to utilize a Way that is totally unhindered" (Dogen, Bussho).

"... the words in their silence are the same as the razor edge on a laugh" (Dogen, Bussho).

"There is an extremely easy way to become Buddha. If you refrain from all evil, do not cling to birth-and-death; work in deep compassion for all sentient beings, respecting those over you and showing compassion for those below you, without any detesting or desiring, worrying or lamentation — that is Buddhahood. Do not search beyond it" (Dogen, Shoji). 

*****All translations by Norman WADDELL and Masao ABE, The Heart of Dogen's Shobogenzo (SUNY Press, 2002).

"Although pressumptuous of me as a hermit, one who has taken the holy orders, not once have I desired to attain Buddhahood in death; instead, I only want to be reincarnated seven times as a Nabeshima clansman, with the determination resolutely etched in my gut to uphold the tranquillity of the Saga domain" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, "Idle Talk in the Dead of Night," Hagakure).

"A man's life is very short, so it is best to do what he enjoys most" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 86).

Life and death:
- "Only when you constantly live as though already a corpse will you be able to find freedom in the martial Way, and fulfill your duties without fault throughout your life" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 2).
- "Soejima Hachi'uemon was 42, and Nabeshima Kanbei 40 when they came of age" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 112).
- "When challenged by adversity, charge onwards with courage and jubilation" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 115).
- "It is said that you can do one last thing even when your head has been cut off" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 120).
- "... resolutions can be made within seven breaths..." (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 121).
- "Nobody over the age of 60 is devoid of senility. Believing you are not senile is a good indication that you actually are" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 167).
- "The reason why people today lack spirit is because there is peace throughout the realm" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 29).
- "The end is important for all things" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 39).
- "If you become like a ghost or rancorous spirit to accomplish a feat of bravery, you won't die just because your head has been lopped off" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 53).
- "Living as if already dead is how to embody the path of sincerity" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, X, 56).

Elegance and class:
- "Etiquette without elegance is substandard" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 32).
- "Class is a quality that transcends conventional standards for good form" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 91).
- "Manners maketh the man" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 43).
- "It is always handy to carry some powdered rouge to fix your complexion..." (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 67).
- "There is dignity in graciousness" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 90).

- "Read books from your gut" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 173).
"Ittei said, 'When practicing calligraphy, make the paper, brush, and ink as one.' But they are so inclined to separate..." (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 176).
"When you think you have discovered the secret, this is already a mistake. Know that your study will last for as long as you are breathing" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 52).
- "... excellence in an art is cause for ruin as a samurai..." (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 102).

Heaven and earth, dreams:
- "It is wondrous how heaven, earth, and man are united" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 58).
- "Something special manifests in one's heart when completely sincere in one's undertakings" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 58).
- "Make wishes for times ahead and they will come true" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 102).
- "Written oaths to the deities (jinmon) contain mysterious powers"  (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 135).
- "Dreams are prophetic reflections of one's nature" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 6).
- "Although deities shun impurity, I still prayed to them every day, entreating them for providence in battle should I have to fight soaked in blood, striding over rows of corpses" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 6).
"As my will power strengthens, the content of my dreams is gradually transforming" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 87).
"... acts of sincerity are honored by the gods..." (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 130).
- "The priest needs to be incredibly brave to trample down the evil spirits trying to return, and to hoist the dead from the chasms of netherworld" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, VI, 21).

Love (shudo):
- "There is nobody to teach young men about the perils of shudo. I will tell you the basic knowledge required. 'A wife does not serve two husbands'" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 180).
"... one hungers for the young master like the evening meal..." (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 182).
"The original intention of love is to take it with you to the grave" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 2).
"Is love not torturous?" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 34).
"The more unsympathetically a man is treated, the stronger his love becomes" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 62).

Determination and time:
- "It is lamentable that men who are governed only by reason often become fixated on trifling matters, and end up squandering their lives" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 195).
"All that matters is having single-minded purpose (ichinen), in the here and now... Your life will become simple and clear if you are unwavering in purpose, knowing that 'now' is the time to act" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 17).
"Men who hold a nostalgic view of the past are misguided in their outlook because they are blind to the reality of the present. Conversely, those who revel in the present, but loathe the customs and traditions of yesteryear, can't differentiate between core principles and insignificant details" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 18).
"... form is emptiness... emptiness is form" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 32).
"He who thinks of the present and the critical moment as separate will never react in a timely fashion... now is always the time to act" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 12).

Social/conventional wisdom:
- "In offering one's opinion, one must first ascertain whether or not the recipient is in the right frame of mind to receive counsel" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 14).
"Fish avoid streams with clear water" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 24).
"I support him because he has already erred in the past. In my mind, a man who has no blemish on his record is more of a concern" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 50).
"If you are unaware that the world is teeming with ineptitude from the beginning, you will develop a bitter countenance, and in turn others will eschew you" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 56).
"You should be considerate to a suffering man, and pay the poor chap a visit, or send gifts to cheer him up. Never spurn a person who has shown you favor in the past" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 94).
"If a servant did something wrong, former Yamamoto Jin'uemon would keep him in his employ for the rest of the year without saying a word, and then release him at the end of the year without a fuss" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 96).
"You will never be trusted with a face that looks too discerning" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 107).
"Unfortunately, officials seem hellbent on investigating mischief in the lower classes and reporting trivial incidents to the lord, which is more damaging to the domain" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 109).
"There is no need to reveal all that is on your mind"  (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 118).
"Regardless of how inspiring your comments may be, they will be ineffectual if the other person is not following you" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 149).
"... it is unseemly to resort to lies and wispy flattery motivated by self-interest" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 163).
"Anything done for personal gain is trivial and small-minded... Lord Naoshige said 'There is a reason beyond logic,' which is also analogous to compassion" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 178).
"... never become conceited when enjoying a period of good fortune. You will be in great jeopardy without displaying twice as much caution as usual" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, I, 200).
"It is loathsome to act only to curry your master's favor" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 8).
"If your lord is unyielding or intelligent leader, it is an act of 'great loyalty' to be a thorn in his side" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 12).
"The priest Kaion Osho remarked that it is difficult to genuinely discern your own virtues and faults" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 89).
"... there is nothing more disagreeable than canniness or wit..." (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 98).
"... valorous exploits can only be achieved by becoming a 'madman'" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 118).
"... people will belittle a man who never reveals his power of will" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 121).
"It is most unfortunate to create needless discord" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 124).
"... you must be amiable with everyone..." (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 130).
"In this case, even though the lord declared that he need not relinquish his post... he should have disobeyed him..." (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 136).
"A man who seeks only fame and power is not a true retainer. Then again, he who doesn't is not a true retainer either. This contradiction warrants serious contemplation" (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, II, 141).

*****All translations by Alexander BENNETT, Hagakure: The Secret Wisdom of the Samurai (TUTTLE Publishing, 2014).

*****Images from Martin Scorsese's 
Silence (Mexico, Taiwan, USA, 2016).

See also:
- Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano, 1993), Masahiro Shinoda & the tyranny of evil men;