Sunday, February 15, 2009

Genjitsu no Okonai

I was fortunate to be able to exchange the following with Nishijima Sensei on his blog.
Some simple, but perhaps not 'easy' ideas. This is how I summarize from the lessons.

Perception (what comes in through the senses - 5 or 6)
is different from consideration (thinking, mulling over, cogitating)
and both are different from real action (or 'action actually').

When we are in real action, we enter into reality itself.
When we are considering real action, we are considering and so are not in real action.

In Zazen, can be an action of sitting (active) or an a session of percieving & consideration (sitting and mulling things over / thinking).
In Zazen we can have moments of real action.
The moments can increase in duration.
As our ANS becomes more balanced while sitting, our sitting becomes a real action.

Zazen is an essential way to practice balance for real action, but it is possible & good to extend this living in real action to our full life.

Here is the exchange.

Dear Nishijima Sensei,

I try to sit zazen 30min twice a day, but I rarely succeed. Often I skip. Often I sit for a shorter time.

Lately I am very angry about this. I believe Buddhism is in the sitting, not the idealistic thinking about the sitting. I am angry that it is so difficult for me to sit. I am angry that Buddhism is so hard.

I think, even though I am angry I must continue to practice sitting. Even if I skip. Even if I don't sit 30min.

I don't know what to ask about this, but do you have any advice?

Okage samma de,

4:16 AM, February 13, 2009

Dear Lauren San,

Thank you very much for your important reports.

First of all, please understand that to stop thinking does never mean stopping consciousness. Our consciousness is always very clear, but concentrating our consciousness to keep our posture regularly, we do not have any idea to think, or to perceive.

We are just concentrating our efforts to keep our porsture regularly.

Therefore in that situation we should make our efforts to keep our spine straight virtically, and enter into Action itself.

So we can think that leaving consideration and perception, we will enter into the sate of Action actually.

This is Zazen, and so I would like to ask you to practice Zazen everyday, to distinguish consideration, perception, and Action.

Gudo Wafu Nishijima

9:50 PM, February 13, 2009

Dear Nishijima Sensei,

Thank you very much for your teaching regarding my post. It is a bit difficult for me, but I think I understand.

I would like to double check two things from your response.

First - You said "we will enter into the sate of Action actually." Is this almost the same as saying we will enter "reality itself?" Kono "Action actually" wa nihongo de, nan to imasu ka? I think this is a very important point and I would like to understand it more fully.

Second - Do you think we can be in "Action actually" doing other activities too, or only during zazen? My thought is zazen is the best way to practice experiencing reality itself, but it can extend beyond zazen into other activities in our life.

Thank You Again,
Lauren Crane

11:16 PM, February 14, 2009

Dear Lauren Crane San,

Thank you very much for your important questions, and I would like to answer your two questions one by one.

First - "We will enter into the sate of Action actually," means that we can enter into Real Action, which is different from action as idea, or action as perception.

That does not mean to enter into "reality itself" directly, because first we enter into Real Action, and it means that we enter into "reality itself".

"Action actually" wa nihongo dewa "Genjitsu no Okonai" to iimasu.

Yes, this point is very important. In Greco-Roman Civilization I think that action as idea, and action as perception are very clear, but Real Action is not so clear. But in the ancient India Gautama Buddha insists that the Real Action really exists at the present moment, and action as idea, or action as perception can never be Real Action at all.

Second - I think that our human life is just series of Real Action at the present moment, and so Real Action can never be limited only in Zazen. Therefore I would like to affirm your idea that Real Action should pervade throughout our human life totally.

3:06 PM, February 15, 2009

More detail on "Genjitsu no Okonai"

from Jim Breen's WWWJDIC

Genjitsu -->
現實 【げんじつ】 actuality
現 【げん】 manifestation
實 【じつ】 real

Okonai -->
行ない 【おこない】 (n) deed; act; action; conduct; behavior; behaviour; asceticism;

From Nelsons Japanese English Character Dictionary (Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1997)
'N' is index number

現 N3645 - present, existing, actual
N1356 now 実 N1324 {apparent adopted simplification of kanji}
実 N1324 - truth, reality etc...

実 Compound under N3645 - actuality, reality

行 N5419 - Oko(nai) - act, action, deed, conduct, behavior, etc...

の 'no' is a particle. When placed between two nouns it indicates 'the possessive' and can be roughly translated as " 's" or "of". The first noun modifying the second.

Thus: Genjitsu no Okonai can be "Reality of Action" or real, manifested action (as compared to a conceptual action).


Uku said...


thank you for sharing these conversations in your blog. I've been reading them also in Nishijima Roshi's blog.

I'm going to visit Nishijima Roshi in Tokyo, Japan for a week in early March and I'm going to discuss also about this "Action" issue because I think it's a very important and marvellous teaching from Nishijima Roshi. I'll post something in my blog after my visit concerning this "Action" topic.

Thank you, Lauren!

Lauren said...


Thank you. I look forward to your postings. Please give my regards to Nishijima sensei. I have not met him in person. I hope that I can someday.