Inkling of the day:
— Gregory Bateson
Inkling of the day:
— Gregory Bateson
In this Day the inner ear exclaimeth and saith: Indeed well is it with me, today is my day, inasmuch as the Voice of God is calling aloud.
The assembly of students in the hall should blend like milk and water to support the activity of the way. Although now for some period you are either guest or host, later you will be buddha ancestors equally throughout time. Therefore, you should not forget the feeling of gratitude. It is rare to meet one another and practice what is rare to practice. This is called the body and mind of buddha dharma; you will certainly become a buddha ancestor.— Dogen, ‘Regulations for the Auxiliary Cloud Hall at the Kannondori Kosho Gokoku Monastery’ (Tanahashi 2010, 39-40)
Inkling of the day: The time has come to lower our voices, to cease imposing our mechanistic patterns on the biological processes of the earth, to resist the impulse to control, to command, to force, to oppress, and to begin quite humbly to follow the guidance of the larger community on which all life depends.
That was written 32 years ago. Is it too late now?
Outlink of the day: David Bollier has for many years been researching the commons, and the practice of commoning in many places around the world. His recent book with Silke Helfrich, Free, Fair and Alive, presents it as an alternative to the extractive capitalism which has turned out to be ecocidal and pushed global civilization to the brink of self-destruction. The book includes a glossary of terms we will need in order to shift our understanding and think like commoners. One of them is communion, an old word redefined with the help of some other key terms (rendered here in all caps):
Communion is the process through which COMMONERS participate in interdependent relationships with the more-than-human world. COMMUNION shifts a person’s understanding of human/nature relations out of the economistic framework (e.g., “resource management,” or the commodification and financialization of “nature’s services”) into one that respects the intrinsic value of the nonhuman world. This fundamental self-awareness leads to feelings of gratitude, respect, and reverence for the sacred dimensions of life in the ways that human PROVISIONING is organized.— Bollier and Helfrich (2019, 76)
Outlink of the day: The Social Dilemma. Everybody who uses social media – especially Facebook – should see this Netflix documentary. Thanks to my daughter Emily for recommending!
All thought is in signs.— Peirce (EP1:24)
All things have no signs:The usage of the sign ‘sign’ in this sutra seems to differ from the Peircean or semiotic usage deployed in Turning Signs. Thich Nhat Hanh (2017) associates it with distinction-making, and ‘signlessness’ with interbeing and impermanence:
This is the real body of Buddha.— Avatamsaka Sutra (Cleary 1984, 380)
A sign is what characterizes the appearance of something, its form. If we recognize things based on their sign, we may think that this cloud is different from that cloud, the oak tree is not the acorn, the child is not the parent. At the level of relative truth, these distinctions are helpful. But they may distract us from seeing the true nature of life, which transcends these signs. The Buddha said, “Where there is a sign, there is always deception.” With the insight of interbeing we can see there is a profound connection between this cloud and that cloud, between the acorn and the oak, between parent and child.All things have no signs is a sign, namely a proposition. Is it true?— Hanh, The Art of Living (p. 45)
If that cloud up there has a sign, its form has a name, a label. Semiotically, the subject of the proposition has a predicate attached to it. But this attachment is deceptive. Even if we don’t call it (recognize it as) a “cloud,” we might see it as a particular thing having a visual form, but that momentary form is in no way essential to it, doesn’t really belong to it. It is only a “cloud” – or whatever we call it in whatever language we are speaking – in relation to us, to our bodyminds. It has no name or form that is essential to it, just as you have no essential self.
On the other side, that cloud is ‘a phenomenal manifestation of ourselves,’ just like any and everything which is present to us. It doesn’t have a real name or sign, but it may be a sign, of rain for instance, or of the direction of the wind up there. Likewise we might say that it is a form of water, and see the ‘profound connection’ between it and other bodies of water, including the contents of our own skin-bags. This is how we read the signatures of all things: we read them as signs, not as having signs or fixed identities. In genuine mindfulness we see through signs just as we see through deceptions.
How do we do that? Here is Dogen’s Zen advice:
For practicing Zen, a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs. Do not think good or bad. Do not judge true or false. Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a buddha. How could that be limited to sitting or lying down?Is there any connection between this practice and phaneroscopy? Peirce used the word phaneron ‘to denote the total content of any one consciousness (for any one is substantially any other), the sum of all we have in mind in any way whatever, regardless of its cognitive value’ (EP2:362). Could it be that ‘the phaneron’ is another name for ‘the real body of Buddha,’ or for what Dogen called ‘One Bright Pearl’?— ‘Fukanzazengi’ (Leighton and Okumura 2004, 533)
Can this question be investigated?
The investigator would have to practice both phaneroscopy and zazen, and be fluent in both Peircean and Buddhist terminologies.
Is it possible to investigate such a question while practicing zazen or phaneroscopy?
Fayan, Great Zen Master of Qingliang Monastery, said, “If you see that all forms are beyond forms, you don’t see the Tathagata.”These words by Fayan are words of seeing the Buddha. When we examine these words, they stand out and extend their hands. Listen to his words with your ears. Listen to his words of seeing the Buddha with your eyes. …
See thoroughly that all forms are Tathagata forms and not beyond forms. See the Buddha in this way, make up your mind, realize trust, and maintain these words. Chant these words and become familiar with them.Thus, keep seeing and hearing these words with your ears and eyes. Have the words drop away in your body, mind, bones, and marrow. Have the words seen through your mountains, rivers, and entire world. This is the practice of studying with buddha ancestors.Do not think that your own words and actions cannot awaken your own eye. Turned by your own turning words, you see and drop away your own turning of buddha ancestors. This is the everyday activity of buddha ancestors.— Dogen, SBGZ ‘Kembutsu’ (Tanahashi 2010, 597-8)
In English and many other languages, including Latin and Greek, the same word can be used for a living body or a dead one, even though the difference is crucial in terms of how we relate to it.
On the other hand, several esoteric traditions, including the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Iranian mystics investigated by Corbin (1960), and early Christian texts such as the Gospel of Philip distinguish between two (or more) kinds of ‘body’:
[The master] was conceived from what [is imperishable], through God. The [master rose] from the dead, but [he did not come into being as he] was. Rather, his [body] was [completely] perfect. [It was] of flesh, and this [flesh] was true flesh. [Our flesh] is not true flesh, but only an image of the true.— Gospel of Philip 68 (NHS, 174)
We might compare Philip‘s ‘true flesh’ with Walt Whitman’s ‘real body’:
For Whitman, the ‘real body’ is the type which, like the type set by the printer, leaves its ‘impression’ on everything it touches. The printed copy of a book is but a token (replica, sinsign) of it; but it must exist in order for the act of meaning to occur. Likewise your soul must be embodied in order to manifest itself, but your living-and-dying body is only a temporary token of your real body.Was somebody asking to see the soul?See, your own shape and countenance, persons, substances, beasts, the trees, the running rivers, the rocks and sands.All hold spiritual joys and afterwards loosen them;How can the real body ever die and be buried?
Of your real body and any man’s or woman’s real body,Item for item it will elude the hands of the corpse-cleaners and pass to fitting spheres,Carrying what has accrued to it from the moment of birth to the moment of death.
Not the types set up by the printer return their impression, the meaning, the main concern,Any more than a man’s substance and life or a woman’s substance and life return in the body and the soul,Indifferently before death and after death.
Behold, the body includes and is the meaning, the main concern, and includes and is the soul;Whoever you are, how superb and how divine is your body, or any part of it!— Starting from Paumanok, §13
Thich Nhat Hanh, in The Art of Living (2017), says that ‘we are not limited to our physical body, even while we are alive.’ He lists eight bodies that we all have: the human body, the buddha body, the spiritual practice body, the community body, the body outside the body (which is ‘present in many places in the world’), the continuation body (by which our thoughts, speech and actions continue to influence the world), the cosmic body, and the ultimate body (‘the nature of reality itself, beyond all perceptions, forms, signs, and ideas’). All of these bodies are real in the continuity of their presence: their interbeing is living the time.
The value of a body stems from the soul.
The value of soul derives from presence.
Soul cannot live without a connection there.— Coleman Barks, A Year with Rumi (p. 261)