Letter to Muhou-san and the Antaiji Sangha.

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[The following is a copy of an email I will send to the head abbot of this temple in Japan. To start a discourse and one day perhaps visit to formally practice Buddhism. I look forward that moment and the start of a long and warm conversation.]

Dear Dōchō-san (abbot Muhō), and the Zen community at Antaiji,

I hope this letter reaches you quickly and I would be happy if you read this letter. I am Paul Harrison an animator and thinker who is at heart Buddhist. I have lived and worked in Tokyo Japan for two years. I’ve been learning Japanese studying with Yoko Morita sensei. Yoko told me about your temple, and so I wanted to make contact with your sangha in Hyogo. Now the first wind of spring has past you all must be looking forward to very pleasant weather (I hope you do not suffer from hayfever). Anyway the reason I am writing to you is I want to understand Zen more deeply. My teacher Mrs. Morita teaches Engaged Buddhism, and translates for a Taiwanese temple here in Tokyo. Sensei has taught me many things and ways of practising Buddhism. But, I wanted to ask you Muhō, and your Sangha’s members some questions to help spread the Buddhist truth into the wider world.

 

-Paul Harrison

禅師様、

貫主、無法さん、安泰寺の禅宗の僧伽にこの手紙を道長さん早く受け取って貰えれば、私は嬉しいです。私はポール・ハリソンと申します。日本に二年間住んでいます。英語の講師です。森田陽子先生から、日本語を習っています。陽子さんは安泰寺の事をなしましたですから、私は兵庫県の僧伽に今手紙を書いています。春ー番が吹いたので皆さんは快晴を同じいい天気を楽しみにしている事思います。『花粉症でくれしんでいないように願っています』しかし、書く理由は禅をもっと分かりたいから、そして森田先生は人間仏教を教える事いって台湾のお寺で翻訳しています。先生は私にたくさん禅について教えてくれました。それで、無法さんに私はの質問をしたいです。そして、仏教の真実を伝えたいです。それで、もっと人間が禅法を分かるように成ると思います。

歩流・梁尊

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Tanabe Hajime’s Zange 懺悔: The Power Of Tariki

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Tanabe Hajime’s Zange 懺悔: The Power Of Tariki •


‘Although Socratic ethical intellectualism did not develop as far as the
self-reflective (für sich) stage of metanoetics mediated by salvation of
Other-power, metanoesis is already implicit in its ironical dialectics.[ Tanabe Hajime, Philosophy as Metanoetics (1986), University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, Pp.17.]’

The above quote is in the section explaining the meaning of a translation of Tanabe Hajime’s major work, Philosophy as Metanoetics. What one wants to explore with this short reflective piece is Hajime’s concept of Tariki 他力(Other-power), and briefly understand what it is and the power it contains? In the beginning quotation we gain an insight into how this idea is active in the mediation of the self reflective part of Metanoetics. So one can observe that this Other-power mediates via a salvation or by being saved. Tariki is best explained in its superiority over Jiriki (Self-power) which Hajime abandoned, in his own words: ‘Yet insofar as this entails an act of self-denial, it points to a paradox: even though it is my own act. It has been prompted by a Power outside of myself. This Other-power brings about a conversion in me that heads me in a direction along a path hitherto unknown to me.[ Ibid, Tanabe Hajime, preface, pp.li ]’ So, the concept of Tariki 他力 is that which the process of a regeneration in life starts from through practice and faith found in Zange 懺悔(confession/repentance – conversion). This term is so powerful because it appears as an innate concept to philosophy of both the West and East. If in need of further explanation one should consider two things: 1) we may discover the Truth, but not anticipate its effects. 2)Being wrong, or incorrect is a state unavoidable in existence – Hajime and his support of Japanese Nationalism is a way to understand Other-power. Moreover, the Japanese social concept of omoiyari 思いやり[ Kazuya Hara, The Concept of Omoiyari (Altruistic Sensitivity) in Japanese Relational Communication, Intercultural Communication Studies XV: 1 (2006). ], sometimes translated as: ‘always considering the other [person]’ is also useful to understanding this concept, so meta-ethically important.[ Tariki, allows, and enables for thinkers to think about the “ethics of ethics” because Other-power maintains there is something in the world that causes a certain reflective reaction on an individuals behaviour and the qualities of one’s being. ] Are there any western thinkers that come close to expressing a kinship with Hajime’s concept? Tentatively put, a western thinker close to this idea is Emmanuel Levinas who’s notion of the “other” and “being is two” in his writings could be read comparatively. However the two concepts of “Other” differ in that for Levinas the “Other” is an unreachable distance readable in his concept of Illeity in his later writing.

[ (Emmanuel Levinas, Enigma and Phenomenon, (1965)
&, Darren Ambrose, Levinas, Illeity and the Persistence of Skepticism, IAPL Conference
Chiasmatic Encounters, Helsinki, (2005) ) For Hajime it would not necessarily have such an emphasis on separation it would be more positioned towards external events in relation to an individual’s consciousness of their actions and the following mediation of the two.]
Finally, the force of Other-power in this process of repentance one has personally experienced. After living in Japan, and desiring cultural assimilation one eventually confessed that Tokyo was not a suitable home. Its Capitalism uncreative, unkind, and enslaving for me.

  • Paul Harrison, November (2017)

Bibliography
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—Hajime, T. Philosophy as Metanoetics, (University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California 1986).
—Hara, K. The Concept of Omoiyari (Altruistic Sensitivity) in Japanese Relational Communication, Intercultural Communication Studies XV: 1 (2006).
—Levinas, E. En découvrant l’existence avec Husserl et Heidegger, (2e éd. Paris: Vrin, 1967).
—Darren Ambrose, Levinas, Illeity and the Persistence of Skepticism, IAPL Conference Chiasmatic Encounters, Helsinki, (2005).

Exquisite Corpse: ‘The Cat & Dog’ Aya

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There was a man walking in the street with a dog. The dog was the most stylish poodle imaginable. He was going to the dog contest to show his beautiful dog. The dog was was shy so this meant that he had to encourage the pooch. He tried to massage the dog to relax him but the dog bit him. The bite was so hard the man had to visit the hospital were he befriended a cat. He decided to have the cat and he got a plan to win a cat contest. The prize was 2,000,000 yen. With the prize he wanted to travel world with his dog and cat. They did so and eventually returned to their creators. They thanked them for having a happy life.

[…]

Their happy life continued for many years. They were so rich that they ate too much everyday. This intake of food made them expand to the size of a small hot air balloon. The man’s shirts bottons popped and the dog and the cat were choked with their collar, To survive they took a deep breath. When they took a deep breath, their body got a bigger and the shirt and collars finally got broken. They where almost naked so they desperately sourght, seeking out shelter from the spectators. Before they found a shelter, they were found by a policeman so they ran around the town. This event became local folklore, and the Dog and Cat… with fat bodies a symbol of danger.

  • Created in 2017, Myogadani, Tokyo, Japan.

 

Exquisite Corpse: with Shiori Nishida (史織ちゃん)

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Shiori sings very naturally, but she needs to do it as much as possible. She wants to play the guitar well. She will, if Shiori-chan consults a panda, the panda will give her technique. I’d like to take panda to some coffee shop, in the coffee shop the Panda ordered marshmallows. Shiori ordered strawberries and sushi. Then after eating they flew to Hawaii and then flew to Brazil. Joining the samba, they danced, danced, and danced until the next day. They married and drank coffee forever.

二、

神保町には本がたくさん有ります。それで皆さんはとてもいい気分をくれた。いい気分だったら月までジャンプした。月で宇宙人はパテーイーをしたかもね。宇宙人はアボカドを食べています。そのアボカドは人間も大好きので、宇宙人と人間がめちゃめちゃものる。アボカド戦争は30年続いた。後で、プラネットはちょっと疲れただね。だから、仲のりすることにした。平和はジャーキちょんが瞑想を教えますから皆も深いイメージを貰えます。宇宙人はジャーキちょんの言うこを全て聞きます。ジャーキちょんは熊にならています。熊はネズミにならっています。動物園は皆の家になることができます。だから地球の人達は動物園に住むことにしました。確かに人々は変な動物だっから未来に大きなベッドで寝っている。大きなベッドはアフリカで買わなくてはならない。イケアでベッドと有名な肉団子を買えます。…だよぅ!

003

In the Meiji period Japanese people had a secret Paul needs to disclose the truth to protect the world. But, Shiori knew that before he could do this he had to learn Japanese. To learn Japanese, he went to Africa. In Africa he discovered a magical French Lion called Deborah. Deborah said that Paul can’t learn Japanese without giving her Cécile. Yet, Paul asked himself, ‘Where the hell did Cécile come from? One moment ago she was living in Senkawa. Why am I giving Cécil to this French lion? Deborah said then “give me yogurt. Hmm hmm okay!! I will feed you chocolate cookie and marshmellow flavoured yogurt. She said ok! No, you should go to Hollywood the secret of Japanese will be there. Paul went to Hollywood searching for this secret. But, made a mistake and ended up in Bollywood. “No way! I have to go accross Collywood to Gollywood!!! So far !!! So far!! So far !!  So far far far far away !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senryuu / 川柳

“Senryuu”is a humorous seventeen syllable comic haiku poem. They are somewhat difficult to make due to the need to reference real everyday life. In todays lesson my teacher Yoko gave me three good examples.

頑張れよ     Good luck,
無理をするなよ  It’s not impossible
休むなよ     Don’t rest.

運動会      Sports day
抜くなその子は  don’t overtake
課長の子     boss’s child.

まだ寝てる       Still sleeping
寝ってみれば            even if sleeping
もう寝てる                yet sleeping.