[Event Report 2] (Part 3) Zen2.0 Pre-Event “Diversity and Inclusion learning from the Zen Mind” July 26th (sun), 2020
(cont’d from [Event Report 2] Part 3 Zen2.0 Pre-event “Diversity and Inclusion learning from the Zen Mind”)
6. Q&A session
Q1. In practicing JIJI MUGE HOKKAI, you said that it is important not only to understand it theoretically, but that practice in our daily lives is important. Do we need to practice continuously every day in our daily lives?
Answer from Abbot Machida: It would be ideal if we can make every moment, from when we wake up, until when we go to bed, a prayer, but realistically, this may not be possible. We are humans and have emotions, and it is natural that we have winds and waves. In Zen we say “A calm heart is the Buddha’s way” As we grow older, we tend to reach a more peaceful place, and sometimes, we can even reach a state where we call in Zen, “Yuge Zanmai(遊戯三昧)” which means we can enjoy and play all the time. Be it when we are cleaning the house or washing our face, eating food, or praying to buddha, every moment can be enjoyable and playful.
Q2. In our break out session we talked about how in the US, it really feels like the Quarternity is not put into use. Looks like a lot of violence is starting to happen, and even after the election this may go on. How do we embrace Satin in these times?
Answer from Abbot Machida: Every country I think is experiencing a big divide. US is a large country with a lot of influence, so it may look like there is a clear problem in the US, but it is true more or less in every country. Especially when there are different religious beliefs or opposing political views, we tend to demonise them. And when we have different beliefs, views, there is a mentality that we think of the opposite side as satin, and when we don’t share the same values, we tend to think that they are useless, or want them to get out of our inner circle. Especially in the US, though it is suppose to be the land of freedom and equality, I know that there is quite the opposite going on in society. I think that is all the more reason why, if the US can change towards non-discrimination, non-bullying, to be somewhere where even we can live feeling safe even if we were poor, then it can be a role model for many other countries. Now under this corona pandemic, there is a reality that the poor cannot afford to go to the hospital even if they have corona. If we can tackle these problems, this is advancing from Trinity to Quarternity. These are harsh circumstances, but if all of us can be inclusive towards the less privileged.
This person is concerned that these circumstances will continue after the election, but is there not any possibility that the US could have a leader who has better morals and strong philosophic values?
Q3. How do make the transition through triple pandemic, environmental, racial justice, plus economic crisis, to a more beautiful world? Is it possible to have a more beautiful world? What are practical steps outer, and shift of consciousness, inner, that we must make?
A. There is no meaning in theorising about this. I believe that it is important for children to receive an education that teaches the value and discipline of helping and supporting each other to overcome our differences. I think education has become poor in this sense. It is hard to understand exactly the intention of the question, but I think it is also important that we get out of our comfort zone, our ordinary space, and challenge something that we do not do usually do, then the boundaries start to disappear. It can be even a hobby, or travel, or just making friends with different people, or just travel and get to know slowly a country and understanding different culture, exposing yourself to new ideas. Then inner and outer divide starts to fade.
There was one question about cleaning earlier, and I think this is also a great point. Cleaning is a great practice to understand that there is no boundaries. If you go out into your neighborhood and clean the streets, then you will probably feel it in your body that that is similar to cleaning the inside of your heart. If there are slums or less privileged areas in close to your neighborhood, go with your friends as a volunteer to clean the area, then you can understand that the inner and outer is no different, and it is an illusion that there is a border. Some people may wonder if there is any meaning in cleaning, but it is this seemingly marginal act of cleaning is essential. In the US for instance, they have janitors to clean the schools or offices, but using your own hands to clean your space, not just your home, your neighborhood or workplace, is so important to understand that the inner world and outer world is the same.
Q4. I understood that the Kegon Philosophy comes from Todaiji in Nara, and it is interesting to know that Zen roots from Kegon Philosphy. I would like to know how Kegon philosophy can be applied to the modern world.
Answer by Abbot Machida: This is a philosophy about the universe, so the scale is massive. So in this global era, it is very applicable. Apart from JIJI MUGE HOKKAI, there is the concept of “Ichi-soku-ta, Ta-soku-ichi (一即多、多即一) ＝one is equal to many, and many is equal to one, so singular and plural is the same. This means that we as individuals are connected to community, or one country is connected to all the world.
Another there is another concept called “Indra’s net(インドラ網)”, which means that we are all interconnected. The universe is like a net, and there are candles that are lit in this net, and this signifies that we are connected to each other.
Abbot Machida: Now, I would like to ask you, the audience. I would like you to set aside all the knowledge about Zen or Kegon that you have. How would you like to experience or practice Zen, and how would you express your own Zen?
Participant 1: I work in the industry of hospitals and nursing care facilities, and so encounter those who are facing the end of their lives, and I always think about how I can help in making it easier and peaceful for these people. I was especially moved understand the Kegon philosophy that we are all connected.
Abbot Machida: I think the background that you have is the library in the Kokusai Kyoyo University in Kanazawa, and I had actually taught Life Ethics there for 10 years. That included the issue of nursing care, and which is an important topic with the ageing society. especially in the developed countries. We should not take this lightly as just as somebody else’s job, but this is people taking care of other people, and it is important to figure out how we treat this as a society, how we can create a kind, caring society. Another important point about this is about life and death. Now we have many ways to prolong death with medicine and technology. But I feel that there is also a divide between life and death, and that there is a preconception that death is bad. But if we step outside the box a little bit, we can understand that death is right there in front of us, next to life, and life is right next to death. This can also be thought in conjunction with the Indra’s net. We tend to be fearful of death, more than we need to be, and we tend to think that we don’t know how to face death, but I think that also has to do with the fact that medical care is so far from religion and spirituality. I think if we can merge these than two together, we can find a better way to deal with death and ageing.
Q5. I agree that there is no right or wrong, or good or bad, but if for example, our family members are killed by someone that does not care other’s lives, or attacked in war, should we still accept this is true.
Answer by Abbot Machida: Of course, it is our common objective to make a safe society where murder and war is iliminated. This is why we are here today, to discuss diversity and inclusion. The first thing we need to do is to get rid of the feeling of denying others. This is where the fire begins. So, we are not talking about abstract concepts here, if we could understand that about ourselves, then murder and war should not happen. So irrespective of what is happening now, we must aim for this.
And in our reality, there may be a possibility that you or someone that is close to us are hurt or killed, and there are tensions that can lead to war in the world. Then, we as humans, we may be devastaed. I don’t have an answer on what we should do in the case, but whatever happens, it is not a coincidence, but it is happening for a reason. Buddhism explains that as “karma”. And instead of discussing what we should do, or should not do, we need to accept that everything happens as it is meant to.
There was also some comments about “being appreciative” and this is so important. Appreciating each thing, and taking care of things well has been prominent in the Japanese culture, like taking good care of your stationary, flowers, or animals from an early age, I believe that it could be the key in transforming into a world without war and violence.
In the US, I saw a lot of mass consumption, whether it is an object or food. I saw that people easily throw away things that is no value to them without much thought. The Buddhism concept is that all things have a life and should be treated with care and respect, and if we think like this I feel that this can lead to a better world without murder or war.
Q6–1. I only am aware of what I can see, but would like to expand and go beyond the border. How do I do this?
Answer by Abbot Machida: This is easy. This is to do one thing until you get into the zone. When we do this we go beyond our consciousness. Do you have an area, where you are so focused on doing this that you cannot see anything else? This is where the answer lies.
Q6–2. For example, when interacting with others, I think there are moments when I cannot imagine or understand what the other is thinking. I only see what I want to see, but I wanted to expand my imagination.
Answer by Abbot Machida: When you are trying to “fix” a relationship that is not going right for you, that rarely goes well. But when you doing something that is valuable to you, or enjoyable to you from the heart, then you won’t be caught up on the little things. When you focus on the “problem” and think it is a “problem”, then you make it bigger. So if you find something that you can be in the zone with, and be happy, then naturally, you will be generous with others. Fixing a relationship never works. Just be happy and enjoy life.
Yuki Julia Itoh: So like dance until you are crazy?
Mikio Shishido: So “YUGE ZANMAI”?
Abbot Machida: Yes, exactly. “YUGE ZANMAI”. So as you can see, Zen is not an abstract concept, but it is something practical that can be applied to the universe as well as something personal.
7. Last Break Out Session and Sharing
The last break out session for participants to share about their thoughts from the sessions and next actions we can take as individuals.
After coming back to the main session, our hosts introduced one of our favourite regular guest speakers at Zen2.0, Dr. Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu, that had joined as a participant from his home in Palo Alto for this event. Dr. Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu is a professor of psychology who teaches Mindfulness at Stanford University, and asked to share his thoughts.
“I very much appreciated the remarks from the session today. I have been participating in the Zen2.0 conference from the beginning, and I had the feeling that there is something valuable in Zen for the world and that Zen is too big to just to remain in Kamakura. The philosophy of Zen is so very needed for the the world towards the healing of individual and society, and that feeling has grown especially in the last few months.
Machida-sensei said may be the leadership in the US may change, but I also feel that we also need to change individually through spiritual transformation. And every individual has to take responsibility for their own life and for the lives of others, and contribute to society in that way. I am very happy to hear your talk and it was inspirational to ask what we can do next, and how we can practice.”
There was an announcement that on August 23rd, Zen2.0 will have another pre-event with the theme of “Pulse of the Wind”, and on September 19–20th, we will have our main annual event, the Zen2.0 Conference broadcasting from Kencho-ji, Kamakura, themed “Mindful Planet”, and both Abbot Soho Machida and Dr. Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu are coming back as guest speakers.
And lastly there were the final comments from Abbot Soho Machida:
“It was a new challenge for me to do this workshop for the first time by zoom, but thanks to advancement in IT, I am so honoured to be able to connect to so many people around the world from where I am, in the foot of mount Fuji. I hope you have the opportunity to experience this therapeutic voice meditation of Arigato Zen in person, I practice of course in Japan, but have done also in California, Bordeaux France. Thank you so much for coming!
Last we said good bye, with a virtual Collaboration Gassho(joining hands) with all participants. See how easy it is for us all to connect with a simple gesture and smile ;-)!
(written by Maki Ishiwatari for Zen2.0)