electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies
2 in 2010
Hisamatsu and Dōgen
Creatively Constructing History Through Practice Realization
With a Translation of of Hisamatsu's '(5) Discern the Proper Direction in Which History Should Proceed'
Anton Luis Sevilla
The words above are from The Vow of Humankind, which was proclaimed publicly in 1951 by Hisamatsu Shin'ichi (1889-1980) and his disciples in the FAS Society (Abe 2003: 33). The FAS Society is an organization formerly known as Gakudō Dōjō, which was formed in April 1944 from the remnants of the Young Men's Buddhist Association of Kyoto University (Abe 1984). Abe Masao (2003: 30), one of the society's founding members, explains the meaning of the name 'FAS Society' in the following manner:
The FAS Society has, since its inception, held regular multi-disciplinary and inter-religious discussions as well as Zen meditation sessions and intensive week-long meditation retreats, in an attempt to respond to the plethora of political, social, ideological, and existential concerns facing Japan and the world as a whole from the ground of committed spiritual practice.
We began this article with the words of The Vow of Humankind. In the eyes of Hisamatsu, these words are not merely the 'mission statement' of the FAS Society. Instead, they represent the collective awakening of a religious group that sought to live out the spirit of Buddhism as concretely as possible in the world of post-war Japan. Each word was carefully deliberated upon and chosen by the group in hopes of articulating what they believed to be an authentic response of humanity as a whole to the call of the total practical and spiritual demand of the world they were faced with.
In order to further explore and elucidate the depth of the content of this vow, Hisamatsu conducted a series of talks during retreats and weekly meetings in Kyoto for the next several years. It is through one of these talks on the 5th section of the vow entitled 'Discern the Proper Direction in which History should Proceed' that a perhaps unfamiliar side of Zen Buddhism is presented. Here, Hisamatsu champions a thoroughly engaged Buddhism—contemporary, socially-involved, and poised to participate in historical transformation.
However, reading the transcript of Hisamatsu's speech, we find three controversial points concerning emancipation in history, value judgment, and governing history. In this article, we shall explore these three points by analyzing them through the lens of Dōgen's notion of the unity of practice and attainment (Japanese: shushōittō).
This article will begin with an elaboration of the three contentious points within the abovementioned talk of Hisamatsu and the problems these pose within Zen Buddhist thought. We shall then proceed to explore the notion of practice-realization in Dōgen's thought. On the basis of this notion, we will examine a possible response to the three concerns surrounding Hisamatsu's talk.
A Brief Overview of Hisamatsu's Talk and Some Concerns
The 5th section of The Vow of Humankind is entitled 'Discern the Proper Direction in which History should Proceed.' Hisamatsu (2003: 169) begins his talk on this section by acknowledging two levels of suffering: actual (genjitsuteki) and transcendental (chōgenjitsuteki). The distinction between the two is clearly established in his discussion on the 4th section, 'Discerning Suffering both Individual and Social, and Its Sources' (Hisamatsu 1998). Let us explore this briefly.
The first, actual suffering, is also referred to as mundane (sezokuteki) suffering. Hisamatsu includes within this type of suffering the pain that we sense (physical pain from injury and disease, emotional pain from duress) and moral suffering (pangs of conscience). I interpret this broad category of actual suffering as referring to the anguish that is within our human capacity to actively resolve and eradicate. For instance, the pain of hunger can be resolved by eating. Stress from overwork may be resolved through adequate rest. The deep anguish of having hurt a loved one can be addressed by acknowledging one's mistakes, atoning for them, and repenting.
However, in this brief survey of mundane suffering, perhaps one already senses that suffering is not limited to this actual and mundane sort. Far deeper (and perhaps far more human than that suffering) is suffering that lies beyond the reach of our practical or ethical action. While eating might resolve hunger, what about hungers that cannot be resolved merely by consumption, like the hunger for a sense of genuine belonging? What about the pains that we can do nothing about and are forced to simply endure in illness? Furthermore, no matter how medical technology might advance, making life as pain-free as possible, still we continue to feel a deep anguish, knowing that no amount of scientific advancement can cure us of our mortality. In the realm of morality, there are particular sins that we can atone for and resolve to never again commit, but what about the very sinfulness that constantly plagues us no matter how wholeheartedly we might commit ourselves to living moral lives? These few examples present what Hisamatsu calls antinomies, faces of suffering that we cannot merely annihilate. It is these forms of suffering that Hisamatsu refers to as transcendental (or supra-actual) religious suffering.
In the 4th section of the vow, Hisamatsu also shows how both actual and transcendental suffering are present not only in the individual scale but on the socio-historical scale as well. There are problems we can and ought to respond to, not just individually but as societies and also as the entirety of history. For instance, there are the problems of widespread poverty, discrimination, and so on. But, inseparably from these problems, humankind is also beset with antinomies that cannot merely be fixed within history. Why is it that despite so much scientific and technological advancement so many people are still faced with discontentment in their lives? How it is that the most deeply thought-out ideologies or thought systems—Christianity, communism, free-trade economics—can result in such foul atrocities completely contrary to their founding spirit? This fundamental degeneracy of history, of humanity as a whole, is something that cannot merely be fixed through action within history. These can be seen as transcendental, religious problems that face the history of humankind as a whole.
The Buddhist path is a response to suffering. It is clear that any consideration of a 'proper direction in which history should proceed' must contain a direct response to suffering as well, both mundane and religious, both individual and socio-historical. However, Hisamatsu reminds us that any consideration of such a direction must begin with understanding the intimate link between mundane and religious suffering. Hisamatsu (2003: 169) writes: 'Religious suffering is not something isolated from, nor completely severed from the world and everyday secular affairs. The element of relieving mundane suffering and liberation from mundane suffering has to be immanent within the notion of religious suffering [and its salvation].'
Furthermore, Hisamatsu (2003: 170) writes: 'Although I may speak here of religious suffering and the salvation from it, [within this] religious suffering there is a unity of actuality and transcendence as a single entity. Salvation from this religious suffering must be a salvation in unity [of actuality and transcendence] as well.' From this, we see that the notion of religious emancipation is not merely a psycho-spiritual awakening into the bliss of nirvana that is without relation to the practical problems in one's individual life and in society as a whole. True emancipation liberates humankind from both actual and transcendental suffering.
At this point, perhaps the following question has surfaced: is it even possible to be emancipated from actual physical and emotional suffering? Strangely enough, while it is transcendental/religious suffering that deals with irresolvable antinomies, the idea of being entirely free of physical and emotional pain heaped upon us in our everyday lives seems even more impossible—or at least, not in this life.
However, Hisamatsu is clear as to the this-worldliness of his demand. Hisamatsu (2003: 170) writes: 'The religion I have in mind is very different from religions where, for instance, the world saved from suffering through religion is temporally outside historical time, or spatially outside historical space. Religious suffering and the salvation from it must occur and come forth within historical time and historical space.'
One must then ask: How is it possible to have an emancipation of suffering, both actual and transcendental, both individual and socio-historical, within the bounds of history? Can one imagine a point in time where all previous sufferings have been completely eradicated for all humankind? This first question concerning emancipation will be the first we shall discuss in this essay.
We return to Hisamatsu's lecture. Having discussed the need to discern the proper direction leading to emancipation from suffering, Hisamatsu naturally addresses the notion of value judgment (kachihandan). Hisamatsu (2003: 171) writes: 'Precisely because we say “proper direction,” there must be a value judgment against the factual direction history is proceeding.' The word 'proper' (tadashii) naturally implies a difference between proper and improper. Searching for a proper direction in which history can proceed implies that history may not proceed properly if this direction is not discerned.
Value judgment is tied to the very idea of freedom. Hisamatsu (2003: 172) writes: 'From the understanding that “this is a fact,” one says if it is proper or good, etc., knowing that although this is value judgment it does become murky and confusing, [still,] critically judging facts . . . –this is value judgment. This is the freedom of humanity itself.' We see here that freedom (jiyū) is understood as the human capacity to negate or affirm reality despite the way reality has been proceeding. Even though war has been part and parcel of human society since time immemorial, we can still say that war is wrong and declare that we ought not wage war—clearly this is a form of human freedom.
While for certain this sort of value judgment is important, there is a doubt that may arise, particularly from a Zen Buddhist point of view: Doesn't the notion of critically judging and negating factual reality entail a rejection of reality as it is, and therefore run counter to what many Zen Buddhists may consider a central teaching, that of non-attachment? This is the second question that will be addressed in this essay.
As the faculty that allows humanity to form history in the proper direction toward emancipation of suffering, value judgment forms the most essential expression of human creativity. Hisamatsu (2003: 174) writes: 'However historical reality moves in the present, with complete freedom we critically judge the rightness or wrongness of historical reality and toward the direction we take as right, we creatively construct history' (emphasis supplied). Yet clearly, there must be a technē involved in the art of world-making, and this is where Hisamatsu brings the importance of learning the principles of history (rekishiteki hōsoku) to the fore.
Taking Hisamatsu's allusion to the principles of science as a guide, one might understand historical principles as theories or ways of understanding historical reality that allow changes to become efficacious on the historical level. For instance, creating a strong philosophical theory is a difficult matter as it is, but how is it possible to create and teach a philosophical system that will not only prevail beyond one's own generation but will grow as history wears on? On a more practical note, improving a country's economy is one thing, but creating a sustainable and adaptive model is a more difficult matter. Bringing the insight of the present forward into a sustainable movement in history is a matter that requires precisely such an understanding of the principles of history.
This notion of pursuing historical principles leads us to what is perhaps the single most contentious point in Hisamatsu's talk. Hisamatsu (2003: 175) writes: 'As for the pursuit of these [principles], it is not merely pursuing facts that are governed by principles by which history sets historical actualities into motion, rather by this I also mean pursuing the manner by which one can make use of these principles and come to govern history.' The message here is clear: We are not merely passive students of history, we are its creators. We are called to govern (shihai) history. The word 'govern' here has strong connotations: rule, control, lord-over, dominate.
Is this not a clear transgression of the Zen Buddhist understanding of non-duality? Is this attempt to govern history not a form of attachment, tanha, that sets humanity up in a dualistic relationship with reality in an attempt to master it? I will address this third and last question as a conclusion, wherein I will attempt to resolve the overall notion of creative historical formation with the Buddhist soteriological path.
In this overview, we have seen the main flow of Hisamatsu's discussion. Beginning with the tangible and immediate reality of suffering, both individual and socio-historical, both mundane and transcendental, we saw Hisamatsu's view of the Buddhist path as a concrete response to human anguish. The task of discerning a proper direction for history is one of searching for a way to emancipate humankind from suffering within history. This task of discernment rests upon the human capacity for value judgment, by which we break free from the flow of factual history and shape how history ought to be. This freedom is the ground of our creativity as shapers of history, and is made efficacious through the pursuit and mastery of historical principles that allow us to come to govern history instead of being enslaved by it.
What is found here is a concrete ethics, committed to discoursing about and grappling with the actualities of human existence without recourse to eschatology or escapist utopias. Hisamatsu upholds a vibrant and vital ethics that champions the transformative character of the human being without resting impotently in the tranquility of 'zen in the demon cavern.' But the question remains: Is this a Zen Buddhist ethics? Does it not cast out the very core notions of Zen Buddhism from which it springs—acceptance of reality, non-duality, non-attachment?
In this essay, I will argue that Hisamatsu's ethics is a Zen Buddhist ethics par excellence, and that his sense of creative ethics is not merely in line with, but displays a radically authentic understanding of the notion of Zen Buddhist practice. The particular framework to be employed is that of Dōgen, specifically his notion of the unity of practice and attainment. In the next section, I will briefly detail my understanding of this notion. From the ground of this notion, I shall then try to explain the soteriological validity of the following notions: 1) emancipating suffering, 2) value judgment, and 3) governing history.
Practice-Realization and the Unity of Practice and Attainment in Dōgen's Thought
The key to these three problematic points is already alluded to by Hisamatsu in the talks on the very first section of the Vow of Humankind entitled 'Keeping Calm and Composed, Let Us Awake to Our True Self.' Awakening to true self is the central task of soteriology—the very emancipation from duhkha, transcendental suffering, is contingent on this awakening. But of what nature is this awakening? Hisamatsu (1987) says:
What Hisamatsu brings forth here is the complex relationship between practice and attainment. The practice of keeping calm and composed, within this introspecting in zazen and bringing forth this self-awareness in day-to-day life, can be seen as the path toward the attainment of awakening to True Self. But Hisamatsu says that the path and the goal are not two but one. Awakening to True Self is not arrived at after the practice of composing oneself. Instead, awakening is the practice of self-composure itself. Might this understanding not have radical implications for the meaning of emancipation and the manner in which we assert our value judgment in governing history?
Reading Hisamatsu's autobiography, one sees that Hisamatsu's practice was largely centered around Rinzai Zen—he attained his awakening under Ikegami Shozan at Myōshinji, taught at several Rinzai universities, and used the Record of Rinzai in many of his teachings (Hisamatsu 1985). Yet despite this institutional affiliation, we find that Hisamatsu's understanding of the relationship between the practice of composing oneself and the attainment of awakening to true self leads us directly to a school of Zen often seen as doctrinally opposed to the Rinzai school, the Sōtō school and the teachings of one of the most revered, erudite Zen masters of Japan—Dōgen. From an early age, Dōgen struggled with the problem of practice and attainment. Let us briefly turn to this problem. In Zen Buddhism, it is clear that the total acceptance of and openness to reality is essential. We are one with reality, neither separate from it nor antagonistic to it. Buddhist practice could even be called as an attempt to realize this oneness and come to a total acceptance of reality. Because of this, when we speak of 'attainment,' it does not refer to a goal that is to be achieved in the future. Attainment refers to my original attainment, the Buddha that I already am, not the Buddha I ought to someday become. This attitude is enshrined in the first paragraph of Dōgen's fascicle 'Fukanzazengi (Universal Promotion of the Principles of Zazen)' where it is written:
What we see here is a keen realization of the original presence of the perfection of reality, of its emancipation and its attainment. But if we understand perfection, emancipation, and attainment as originally present instead of a goal to be realized, what then is the point of practice? This doubt is reminiscent of that which Dōgen himself faced while he was still a young monk. Abe Masao (1992: 19) quotes Dōgen, writing:
The notion of the pre-existing perfection of reality seems to deny the need for any practice or any activity—might this not be problematically inadequate? Perhaps the insufficiency of a view that merely contents itself with reality's innate perfection becomes clear when we look at the context of society and history in the world today, guided by Hisamatsu's own sense of involvement. Looking at the amount of social unrest, gross materialism, and terrifyingly disproportionate distribution of resources, how is it even possible to say that anything is perfect as it is? Clearly, there must be a demand for practice; of the ethical, moral, socio-historical, and political sort. However, Dōgen is not ignorant of this need and he addresses it in the several paragraphs of the Fukanzazengi that follow the first. Dōgen (2002: 3) writes:
But if even the greatest spiritual masters needed to commit themselves wholeheartedly to their spiritual practice, how is it that these masters themselves teach of the Buddha-nature, the original attainment of beings? If arduous spiritual striving is necessary, is attainment not an end-goal that we can only hope to reach, perhaps not even in this lifetime?
We can see then that the first section of the Fukanzazengi presents us with what appears to be a clear contradiction: On one hand, the Way is originally perfect, reality is originally free—there is no attainment to seek outside of it. On the other hand, even spiritual masters must practice, and we are all called to struggle upon the Way. Dōgen (2002: 4) pithily resolves this contradiction, writing: 'The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the Dharma-gate of repose and bliss. It is the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment.' With these few lines, Dōgen presents a completely different way of seeing practice as 'practice-realization.' This notion expresses the unification of practice and attainment, and is expressed more elaborately in the fascicle 'Bendōwa (Negotiating the Way).'
What we see here is that both practice and original attainment are indispensable for the manifestation of Buddhahood or awakening, albeit in very different ways. In his article on 'The Oneness of Practice and Attainment,' Abe Masao (1992: 26-27) explains that on one hand, original attainment is indispensable as the ground of the manifesting of perfection. But on the other hand, practice is essential as the condition for the manifesting of this ground. We can only become Buddha because we have always been Buddha. Expressed in a different way, we can only manifest Buddha because we already bear this Buddha-nature from the very beginning. We see that original attainment takes a certain level of primacy here.
However, that does not mean to say that practice is unnecessary, for without practice, there is no condition through which Buddha-nature can be expressed in space-and-time. One might say that practice-realization is the making-real, the living-out of this Buddha-nature that we already bear. Hence, both practice and attainment are inseparable. Without original attainment, practice is impossible. Without practice, original attainment fails to exist (in the sense of ek-sistere, standing forth, outwardly manifesting).
This unification spells a complete rethinking of both practice and attainment. In Bendōwa, Dōgen (2002: 19) writes:
Practice is no longer a means to an end. Instead, it is 'practice within realization,' wherein every step along the way witnesses to the whole of original realization itself. If we turn to the ten ox-herding pictures, it is not in the third picture where the ox becomes manifest for the first time. Even from the first fumbling steps of seeking for the ox, the ox, the very source of the way, the oneness of all things—all these are already manifest. This is expressed in the line, 'practice is beginningless.'
But also, realization or attainment is not merely the end of the journey. As realization in practice, realization is a continuous unfolding, a continuous self-awareness of reality. It does not end at one culminating point of bliss, rather it unfolds with time and continuously rediscovers itself.
We have seen that the unity of practice and attainment that Hisamatsu alluded to in the very beginning of his talks on the vow points to a profound notion of practice-realization akin to that of Zen Master Dōgen. In practice-realization, beginningless practice and endless realization interfuse, where on the ground of original attainment, practice stands as itself, not merely a stepping stone to the future. And through the aperture of practice in space-time, original attainment manifests itself in its continuous unfolding.
Socio-Historical Emancipation Within History
Having seen the notion of the unity of practice and attainment in Dōgen's thought, how might we then understand the notion of emancipation from suffering? The connection between awakening and emancipation from suffering lies at the very heart of all Buddhism. Turning to Theravada Buddhism and the four noble truths (SN 56.11), we find that first, our existence is thoroughly pervaded by suffering. Second, this suffering has an origin, craving—the ignorant and egoistic attachment to narrow conceptions of reality. But third, there is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering, which is made possible by cutting-off suffering at its root—craving. The fourth noble truth points the way toward the cessation of suffering.
However, ordinarily the third noble truth of the cessation of suffering is understood as occurring at the end of arduous decades, even lifetimes, of spiritual practice. But in Dōgen's notion of the unity of practice and attainment, we find that this awakening is something we originally have, which is not acquired by practice, but is manifested through practice in space and time.
The endlessness of realization that Dōgen speaks of then points not to a separate state of awakening from ignorance and emancipation from suffering, but to a continuous manifestation of oneness and peace, through the very process of struggling with our delusions and attachments. Inner peace is not arrived at by triumphing over the attachment of the ego. Instead, the very struggle with the ego attests and witnesses to (shō) the original fidelity we have with reality and the dynamic peace it bears. Hence it is not a matter of eradicating suffering, but of bearing it graciously as it assails us in life.
So we see here a possible answer to the doubts that originally beset us in Hisamatsu's work. When Hisamatsu spoke of discerning the proper direction for history to proceed, he qualified this direction as one that leads to the emancipation of humankind from suffering, both individual and socio-historical, both transcendental and actual. He made this task even more impossible by saying that this would be emancipation from suffering within history and not outside of it. But in light of Dōgen's notion of shushōittō, we see that this is not a matter of trying to discern a path to achieve a utopia somewhere in the future where people no longer suffer. In my opinion, even such a utopia would not solve the antinomic suffering of history, for it would still be a utopia built on the hideous atrocities human beings committed against each other in the past—it could only redeem the future of history but not the entirety of history with its persistent fallenness.
The only way of resolving the antinomies and deepest forms of suffering of the individual and socio-historical humankind then lies not in the future but in the continuous manifestation of an already present wholeness made manifest by each moment of sincere struggle by humankind as humankind to address suffering and brokenness at every level and every dimension. This breaking past the brokenness of history and the struggle toward an emancipation that lies in the future, in order to allow history to manifest its original attainment and wholeness in the present, is analogous to what Hisamatsu (2003: 170) refers to when he says: ' “Transcending history” must mean transcending history within history.'
However, is this truly in line with Hisamatsu's intention? I believe so. In the opening paragraphs of the first talks on the vow of Humankind, Hisamatsu (1986) says:
We see here that the awakening of humankind is not equivalent to the individual awakening of each individual. Just as the original attainment of the individual is manifested by each moment of sincere practice, the original awakening of socio-historical humankind is attested to by the sincere practice not of individuals, but of individuals-qua-humankind, human beings willing to stand for and wrestle with the fate of human society and history as a whole.
It is through this understanding that, for the first time, I personally was able to make sense of the Vow as witnessing to the awakening of the FAS Society as a whole. Previously, I had thought that surely not all the members of the society were enlightened, so how could this vow mean a collective awakening of the society? But I had understood enlightenment as some psycho-spiritual experience achieved after hours of practice. Instead, Dōgen points us to the practice itself as the attainment. And I realized that in the very fact that individuals in the FAS Society could struggle not just for themselves but as representatives of society and history, we might find that a struggle is taking place in the global, socio-historical scale; a sincere struggle manifesting the original wholeness of socio-historical humankind as well.
For the meanwhile, it is clear that manifesting the transcendental wholeness of humanity is possible through authentic practice-realization as members of human society and history. But in the task of world formation, it is clear that, though mundane, there are inescapable concerns that face humankind—the problem of terrorism and the mutual disrespect of cultures, alarming environmental catastrophes, widespread poverty, and so on. Does transcendental awakening cure disease or alleviate hunger? It does not, but I do believe that Hisamatsu was right when he said that transcendental, religious emancipation includes the problem of actual, mundane suffering within it.
When I spoke of actual, mundane suffering as anguish that is within our human capacity for resolution, I spoke of hunger, stress from overwork, guilt over wrong that we have done. While all of these forms of suffering can be addressed by particular actions—eating, rest, repentance—they point to something deeper than that which we can directly resolve. All of these forms of suffering point to the fundamental limitedness of our human existence—that we need food, that our intellectual and physical capacities are finite, that no matter how hard we try, we still do wrong. In a sense, there is something transcendental and antinomic that lies at the base of these mundane sufferings. And so inevitably, there is a transformation that occurs as we actively resolve these antinomies and come to terms with our egolessness through sincere practice-realization. The hunger remains, but it is merely hunger, no longer an affront to our hope for independent immortality. Hunger loses its insult, and eating is no longer a reestablishment of self-existence, but instead is a nourishing that accepts the frailty of the human form. The guilt for the wrongs we commit remains, but it is no longer a condemnation of a being that hoped for moral perfection, and as we right our wrongs we do it in compassion for ourselves as we struggle with our own weakness.
The same transformation can be said to occur on the socio-historical scale. The transcendental root of our mundane problems is so often ignored—humankind seems so busy undoing its wrongs that it quickly falls into the opposite extreme and into another wrong it needs to rectify, from extremist fundamentalism and war to nihilistic relativism and self-centered pacifism. Is it not possible that there are deeper concerns than those that present themselves in the symptoms of our day and age? Is there not a fear of the unknown, a binary between hostility and deliberate ignorance of the other? For instance, Martin Heidegger spoke extensively on the compulsion toward order and control within the age of technology that lies beneath the environmental problems of this day. Perhaps through an addressing of these root concerns of humanity, we can remarkably alter the character of our political and ethical responses to the problems that beset us as well.
Value judgment and Freedom
In the task of discerning the proper direction in which history should proceed, Hisamatsu brought forward the importance of the faculty of value judgment. In a teleological schema of attempting to arrive at an emancipation in the future, value judgment functions as the faculty that freely criticizes history, as to whether it is following the direction toward that emancipation or not.
The central Zen Buddhist problem here lies in the rejection and devaluation of history as it is, a problem that is inherent to any form of teleology. Abe Masao (1992: 31) raises three points against the approach taken by any value judgment that aims for progress toward a pre-given end:
Value judgment that criticizes history as to whether it is progressing toward a fixed end can then be seen as a form of tanha or attachment that sets up the subject of value judgment over and against history as object, something for the subject to vainly presume to understand, judge, and attempt to control. This would directly contradict the teachings of non-attachment and acceptance of impermanence (anitya) and not-self (anatman) taught from as early as the Anatta-Lakkhana Sutta (SN 22.59).
However, in light of Dōgen's teaching on the unity of practice and attainment, we see that attainment is not an end that lies outside the history. The teaching of not anticipating any awakening outside of practice itself attests to this. This demands a radical re-thinking of the notion of value judgment. This judgment does not ascertain whether or not history is fulfilling an end outside itself, dictated upon it by the self or a group of selves. Instead, this judgment actively criticizes whether or not history is fulfilling an end within itself, if history is being faithful to its essential nature. But what constitutes history's essential nature? The danger here is that we will select parts of history that we deem essential, and shall cast out the rest of history as degeneration and failure.
Yet I do not believe this is what Dōgen had in mind, when he said that there is no awakening outside of the present reality. When we speak of the original attainment within us, the fundamental wholeness and peaceful perfection that we bear and manifest through practice-realization, this is a matter that is referred to in Buddhism as Buddha-nature (busshō). In Dōgen's fascicle entitled 'Busshō (Buddha-nature),' he radically reinterprets this essence by equating it to being, time, nothingness and impermanence. While I must leave a thorough discussion of the implications of Dōgen's notion of Buddha-nature for another article, let me give a brief summary of my understanding of this notion.
For Dōgen, it is not the case that all sentient beings have the Buddha-nature. Instead, all beings are Buddha-nature. Hence, Buddha-nature is not a perfection of some aspect of the existent, but every facet of each being testifies to this perfection. Also, Buddha-nature is not something that manifests in the future 'when the time arrives,' but instead, as time arrives in every moment, Buddha-nature is present as well. The entire movement of history from past to present to future bears witness to the original attainment of Buddha-nature. Third, Buddha-nature is not a being, an object to be grasped and sought out within beings. As Hui-neng says, there is no Buddha-nature because Buddha-nature is emptiness. (Dōgen 2002: 69) Hence, not even Buddha-nature should get in the way of reality—the true commitment is to real history, and not to some idea of perfection for it. And last, Buddha-nature is not something separate from impermanence, not an anchor-point beyond the vicissitudes of life. The original attainment is this impermanence itself, in the constant self-negation of reality as it moves forward creatively toward new forms of wholeness.
One sees here that the unity of practice and attainment points to a commitment to an attainment not merely within history but an attainment that is history itself in its continuous unfolding. Turning to the concept of value judgment, we see that in order to arrive at a true sense of value judgment that allows us to authentically participate in history's self-becoming, there must be no trace of separation between self and society/history. There must be no imposition of an attainment separate from it or merely part of it. The true attainment that history continuously finds and manifests is one that is history itself and is testified to by the entirety of history in its broken, winding paths.
The inauthenticity of subjective imposition in value judgment points to a need for objective validity, a total absence of personal arbitrariness in the value judgment of history. Hisamatsu (2003: 172) affirms this, saying:
The validity of value judgment indicates that this judgment is a response to history from the objective grounds of history, not a subjective imposition of the self. We cannot judge history from outside history for the criterion is history itself in its dynamic self-existence. Hence, this value judgment requires that we relinquish our own ideologies and fixations, our own self-existence, and standing as the entirety of history itself. Only in this way are we able to find avenues for history to move forward in fidelity to itself.
However, a particular contradiction appears to have arisen. On one hand, we have just mentioned that authentic value judgment, far from arbitrary, is a response to history and hence bears a sense of necessity that gives it validity. On the other hand, Hisamatsu (2003: 172) explicitly states that: 'Even if it is the direction history proceeds, that is, the factual direction it proceeds, we can still freely negate it.' This capacity is what he refers to as 'the freedom of humanity itself.' But doesn't the notion of self-negation and standing as history imply that we must carry on the way history itself proceeds, instead of negating it? On the other hand, doesn't freedom from the factual direction of history imply that we must freely negate history and transform it using our own values?
What we have stumbled upon here is a very complex matter. If I may attempt to gain some headway into this problem, I wish to begin with the following question: Is the original essence and self-unfolding of history identical with and reducible to the factual way that history proceeds? For instance, arguably it has always been the case in history that the powerful classes generally exploit the weak. Factually, history has always been formed by conflict and war. But does this mean that this is how history ought to be, from the point of view of history itself? While this is the factual character of history, is it the essential character of history?
When we speak of an essential character of history, automatically we seem to intuit the presence of an external subject that decides and distills for itself something essential within reality. However, this is not the kind of essence of which I speak. In Dōgen's discussion of Buddha-nature, we saw that the essence that we try to realize in the Buddhist path, Buddha-nature, is not a part of the being or some ideal separate from the being. Instead, the being is Buddha-nature. However, the being does not exist in a merely static, self-sufficient way. One of the key identifications of Dōgen was between Buddha-nature and impermanence—the fundamental self-negating, self-transforming character of beings. What we see here therefore is that to try to realize the being as it is in itself does not mean to be reduced to the factual reality of how the being is. Part of this faithful attempt to realize a being is a fidelity to its own self-negation that demands a wholeness greater than is present in its factual existence.
Put in Dōgen's parlance, the task Hisamatsu presents us with is that of actively realizing the Buddha-nature of history. However, one might ask, while Dōgen clearly shows how being and time are Buddha-nature, could one go so far as to say that collectives might themselves express Buddha-nature? That is to say, does society manifest Buddha-nature? What would it mean for society to manifest Buddha-nature? If society cannot be said to have Buddha-nature, we cannot even begin to make headway into the question of the Buddha-nature of history. Unfortunately, we must leave these questions to another inquiry.
For now, we turn to what it might entail for Hisamatsu, for us to 'realize the Buddha-nature of history.' We see here that value judgment determines the authenticity of our response, our practice-realization, of history's essential wholeness. But this is not to introduce an external essence of perfection, nor to surrender our freedom and capitulate to the facts of history. Instead, this is to exercise one's freedom through value judgment to respond to the essence of history itself, an essence that is manifested by but not reducible to the facts of history.
We have seen in this section how Dōgen's understanding of the unity of practice and attainment, deepened by his understanding of Buddha-nature, transforms our understanding of both value judgment and the freedom that makes it possible. Value judgment is the faculty by which we discern the proper direction for history by standing as one with history and responding to history from that ground. The negation of self required to stand as one with history means that the freedom value judgment entails is the freedom to break past, to go beyond the facts of history into the inner essence that is manifested by but original and prior to the facts of history, and respond to history from there.
Conclusion: The Creative Governance of History
In our overview of Hisamatsu's talk, we read of a Zen Buddhist ethics that is engaged with the concrete realities of human suffering and eager to grapple with questions that concern the very fate and transformation of the world as such. Here is an ethics that strives to leave behind the aloof indifference of 'Zen of the demon cavern.' However, did Hisamatsu's ethics leave behind every trace of Zen Buddhist insight along with that, and simply set itself up as another political system? When I read the following line: 'Historical nature—which can be thought of as both natural nature and historical nature—must by all means be subjugated (kokufuku).' (Hisamatsu 2003: 176) I wondered if my fears had come true.
However, following Hisamatsu's lead toward the unity of practice and attainment, it has been shown that the task of discerning the proper direction in which history should proceed must be understood in a wholly different manner. The proper direction in which history should proceed is one of emancipation from suffering, both actual and transcendental, both individual and socio-historical. However, this is not an emancipation that occurs in the future through a final global realization. Instead, it is a practice-realization, emancipation that occurs through sincere practice of humankind as humankind, in an attempt to respond to the suffering it faces. Hence, the task is to discern the way to true practice-realization in dynamic acceptance and response to our present historical situation.
This discernment, through which we actively guide ourselves toward proper practice-realization in every moment, is made possible through the faculty of value judgment. Yet, in my understanding of Hisamatsu, the exercise of value judgment must not be merely an imposition of one's own values over and upon history. Instead, true value judgment can only occur when we cease to stand outside of history, locked within the standpoint of our own values, and instead stand within history and stand as history itself. From within history, our values become socio-historical values in the deepest sense—that they represent the self-fidelity of this socio-historical reality to itself.
This exercise of value judgment is the primordial expression of freedom in a truly selfless sense—the freedom to break past the standpoint of the self and the mere facts and compulsions of history into the primordial call of history, the dynamic self-discovery of the Buddha-nature of history itself. Hence, freedom is not the arbitrary flailing of an isolated self—instead, it is the freedom to respond to reality in its authentic unfolding.
Hisamatsu (2003: 173) writes: 'Freedom dwells in history-creating humanity.' The task of creating history lies at the heart of Hisamatsu's essay on discerning the proper direction in which history should proceed. However, this creation of history wells up from the freedom that puts us at the service of the unfolding of history. Therefore our governance of history is never an imposition upon reality. For certain this governance must display courageous mastery, unshaken by the sheer inertia of the brokenness of our shared existence. Yet this vital engagement with history is the result of a process of opening, of letting-go of self. And in this we make space for the coming alive of a question larger than our own, that we may come to live out an answer far greater than ourselves.
However, this discussion has highlighted certain key points in need of further study. In the teachings of Hisamatsu, as one lets go of the narrow standpoint of the self-enclosed self, one widens one's spiritual horizons to a concern beyond one's own suffering, toward the suffering and antinomies experienced not only by other individuals but by collective groups through their shared ignorance and ideologies, as well as to the suffering and antinomy of entire histories and the history of humankind as a whole. The notions of social and historical suffering, attachment, and emancipation have a need of further development. What matters constitute the shared suffering, attachment, and emancipation of collectives? What inter-relationship between our existential struggles and our Buddha-natures makes such a collective spirituality possible? What concrete steps might we take to clarify the definition of collective spiritual practice? In a world embroiled in spiritual conflict and despair, I hope that other thinkers both in Buddhism and other spiritualities might contribute to these questions as well.
(5) Discern the Proper Direction in which History should Proceed
Today, I would like to comment upon the section [of the Vow of Humankind] entitled 'Discern the Proper Direction in which History should Proceed.' As I had said when I discussed the section entitled 'Seek Out Individual and Social Suffering and Its Source,' whether one considers suffering as individual suffering or social suffering, suffering also exists as actual (現実的), mundane (世俗的) suffering, and transcendental (超現実的), religious suffering. For humanity, both of these kinds of suffering inevitably exist. It is unthinkable that by merely eliminating mundane suffering, humanity's suffering will be eliminated. There remains religious suffering, a kind of suffering that is on a different level from mundane suffering. Therefore, because humanity must free itself from suffering, the statement 'the direction in which history should proceed' must inevitably contain the liberation from religious suffering and the opportunity to obtain this liberation. In other words, that opportunity must inevitably come to be included within the 'proper direction in which history should proceed.'
However, religious suffering is not something isolated from nor completely severed from the world and everyday secular affairs. The element of relieving mundane suffering and liberation from mundane suffering has to be immanent within the notion of religious suffering [and the salvation from it]. Because of such, even if I speak of [religious suffering as] transcendental, it has to be transcendence that is immanent in actuality. One cannot say that salvation from transcendental suffering is completely separate from salvation from mundane suffering. Therefore, although I may speak of religious suffering and the salvation from it, [within this] religious suffering there is a unity of actuality and transcendence as a single entity. Salvation from this religious suffering must be a salvation in unity [of actuality and transcendence] as well. Consequently, I think that when one says 'the direction in which history should proceed,' one must mean that mundane suffering is relieved through its intimate connection with salvation from religious suffering.
Ordinarily, it is thought that salvation from religious suffering has utterly no relation with history, and it simply occurs outside history. The religion I have in mind is very different from religions where, for instance, the world saved from suffering through religion is temporally outside historical time, or spatially outside historical space. Religious suffering and the salvation from it must occur and come forth within historical time and historical space. In that line of thinking, 'transcending history' must mean transcending history within history. Consequently, when we speak of 'the proper direction in which history should proceed,' it must be a direction in which both religious suffering and mundane suffering come to be relieved. Therefore, a salvation from religious suffering that does not have the slightest relation to salvation from mundane suffering is not a real salvation at all! This is how I think of it. As such, even the way an individual should be ought to face a direction [that leads to] both mundane salvation and religious salvation. Simultaneously, the way society is must also proceed in [the direction] of both of these [facets of salvation]. I think that if even one of these [facets] is lacking, it will be very difficult to call [this direction] the truly 'proper direction.'
Next, I would like to ponder briefly upon things in relation to mundane matters, the direction of mundane history, particularly in relation what kind of direction the 'proper direction' of which we speak might be. In the very statement 'proper direction,' precisely because we say 'proper direction,' there must be a value judgment against the factual direction history is proceeding. This value judgment must be implicit in the word 'proper [正しい].' Taking the standpoint of present historical reality, what kind of direction is this reality proceeding? I think that for the time being, this comes to be determined from the way that history has proceeded from the past to the present. If we just leave things as they are, then there remains the inevitable [必然的] direction in which history rumbles forth. Because of such, I call this direction history's factual direction of proceeding. By the causal inevitability of past history, whether this causal inevitability is considered from the standpoint of idealism or of materialism, [the notion of] inevitability is present either way. As a [form] of historical consciousness, our becoming conscious of this inevitability is certainly a tremendously important occurrence. However, [in the process from] this consciousness, the facts [事実] of historical reality that have been discerned through this consciousness, to our judgment of these facts—judgment in this case naturally being value judgment—for the time being, we need to separately consider the exercise of value judgment. Furthermore, value judgment is one method of judgment that is different from factual judgment [事実判断]. From the understanding that 'this is a fact,' one says if it is proper [正しい] or good, etc. Knowing that although this is value judgment it does become murky and confusing [混濁], [still,] critically judging facts—matters that come into being through factual judgment—this is value judgment. This is the freedom [自由] of humanity itself.
The freedom of value judgment must be present when we approve of or negate the direction of the facts [of historical reality]. Therefore even if it is the direction history proceeds—the factual direction it proceeds—we can still freely negate it. Negation means negating on the basis of the judgment 'it should not proceed this way' or 'it cannot proceed this way.' Also, even when one affirms [facts] it is also from the basis of value judgment that one comes to affirm these matters. Therefore, without being hindered by how the facts are, we can still negate or affirm these facts. This freedom of value judgment is something that we all possess. [However,] even if we refer to the freedom of value judgment, it must also carry a necessity borne within value judgment [価値判断のもつ必然性]. This can be called [value judgment's] validity, however this necessity must be considered as distinct from [the inevitability of] factual judgment. It is said that value judgment judges judgment itself, but we must not become confused about the point [concerning the distinction between validity and factual inevitability].
Perhaps a question may arise at this point, which is, if one carries out value judgment, isn't that which makes us judge [i.e., values], as expected, a factual and inevitable matter? However, doesn't a matter like that disregard the freedom of judgment, making even the freedom of value judgment something merely factual and inevitable? I think this manner of consideration runs contrary to the essence of value judgment. Taking this into consideration with regards to the influence exerted by value judgment on historical reality, [we see that] through the value judgment upon historical reality the following dynamic arises: affirming or denying [facts and directions], urging historical reality toward affirmed directions, creating anew avenues [方向] within history, in other words, transforming factual inevitability itself. Certainly it is not the case that factual history is molded through value judgment alone. Nevertheless, can we not say that this judgment is a tremendously important opportunity to decide the direction of history and determine the matter of its 'proper direction'? This is the creativity [創造] of humanity. That freedom dwells in history-creating humanity must be a matter that is realized on the basis of value judgment. And it is particularly herein where humanity's gravely important free nature [自由性] dwells. Therefore, I think that any manner of thinking that posits that historical facts hold complete sway over value judgment [thoroughly] negates the very notion of human nature. The free autonomy [自律性] of humanity finds its basis in that freedom of value judgment of which we speak, and it is upon this as well that human autonomy is realized. Because of this, we must by all means see for ourselves how value judgment cannot be lorded over by facts. Untrammeled by however historical reality moves in the present, with complete freedom we critically judge the rightness or wrongness of historical reality and creatively construct history toward the direction we take as right—it is this sort of free nature that we must by all means ascertain for ourselves. And I think the more we clarify this free nature, the more we human beings can manifest the essence of this free nature as well.
Now concerning the concrete judgment of what sort of direction is the 'proper direction,' for certain this bears the freedom of which we spoke, moreover, this must take the standpoint of humanity's overall values [人間の全体的な価値]. Hence, by no means can it be thought one-sidedly—it must be judged from the totality of human values. And also, I think this judgment must have a freedom that is not lorded over [支配] by anything anywhere, absolutely not lorded over by anything. However even in that case, when the matter of the 'proper direction' is decided and we face and proceed toward this 'proper direction,' that is to say, when history comes to bear that direction, is shaped [in that direction] or creatively constructed [toward it], by all means it is necessary to learn the principles [法則] of history. That is to say, we need to pursue historical principles, principles [by which] history moves. If we fail to use the principles of history and, through value judgment bring history to face what can be considered as the proper direction, the line 'discern the proper direction in which history should proceed' spoken of in the Vow of Humankind would become factually impossible. Because of such, historical principles must be deeply pursued. Moreover, as for the pursuit of these [principles], it is not merely pursuing facts that are governed by principles by which history sets historical actualities into motion, rather by this I also mean pursuing the manner by which one can make use of these principles and come to govern [支配] history. Learning historical principles must instead be thought of as gaining a form of knowledge in order to govern history, or lead historical reality to the 'proper direction.'
Generally, I also think of science in this manner. Even within natural science, in clarifying [our understanding] of the laws of natural science it is demanded that we learn scientific laws in order to come to govern nature and in order to lead nature in accordance with human value judgment to a manner more suitable to humans. Certainly, even if one does not take science as practical itself, it comes into existence as truth itself, [that is, scientific truth]. However, thinking from the point of view of human life, human life in its entirety, or even human history, the significance of science must naturally come into question. Where is the significance of science, and by means of what kind of needs of humanity has science come to flourish and progress? Considering these questions, that is, considering humankind's overall way of living, the significance of science is in that we can affirm [matters] and govern and subjugate nature on the basis of [scientific] laws and according to our value judgments. In this way, historical nature—which can be thought of as both natural nature [自然的な自然] and historical nature—must by all means be subjugated [克服]. I think that in order for historical nature to be subjugated, it is a very important matter for us to know historical principles.
In the section in the Vow of Humankind entitled 'Discern the Proper Direction in which History should Proceed,' three matters have come to be very important to me: 1) value judgment, 2) knowing how historical reality should be, and 3) learning the principles that govern that which is within history. I think that when these three conditions arise all together, for the first time it becomes possible for history's 'right direction' is discerned, and for history to bear this 'right direction.'
 This research project was made possible by the generous aid of the University Research Council of the Ateneo de Manila University, through a grant from the President's Development Fund for Research for School Year 2008-2009.
 This translation is the author's own, and is merely to aid in the understanding of the article to which this translation is an appendix. It is not a sanctioned translation of Hisamatsu Shin'ichi's work. The translations duly authorized by the FAS Society are available in the FAS Society Journal, many of which have been made available at the FAS Society's website: http://www.fas.x0.com/ [Accessed on January 1, 2010].
The translation of the text from Japanese to English was greatly aided by the editorship of Prof. Hamada Morio of Japan Foundation Japanese Language Institute Kansai, Prof. Jeff Shore of Hanazono University, and Francesca Murphy Ventura of Ateneo de Manila University. However, the author assumes full responsibility of any errors in translation that may be present.
 I translate 正しい as 'proper' instead of the conventional 'right' or 'correct.' While even the esteemed members of the FAS Society and other translators may suggest that 'proper' does not quite translate the Japanese word as well as 'right' or 'correct' might, I deliberately use the word 'proper' for reasons akin to those supplied by Roger Ames and Henry Rosemont in their translation of The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. Right has very monolithic undertones and correct is especially normative, suggesting an external norm or measure from which rectitude is determined. Proper, on the other hand, while it can seem socialized, has a more provisional, individual character, as in the verb 'appropriate' (make one's own), from the root proprius, 'one's own, particular to itself.' (www.etymonline.com) I argue that this translation is in greater agreement with the usage of Hisamatsu in this text.
 Causal [因果的] can also translate as Karmic, which makes sense in light of Nishitani's notion of time in Religion and Nothingness.
 Causation, whether it is seen as ideal causality in the development of an absolute idea (as in Hegel), or as a material causality in the evolution of mere material relations (as in Marx) always implies a sense of inevitability or necessity in history, such that by virtue of the flow of thought (idealism) or by pressures in the material relations of things (materialism), something is bound to happen.
 He is speaking here of how we become aware of the inevitable/natural flow of things, a consciousness that is the culmination of a 'natural' study of reality, a fact judgment of metaphysics (be it idealistic or materialistic). This notion will be opposed to freedom, which belongs to the value judgment of ethics. (See Immanuel Kant's division of pure and practical reason.)
 We must provisionally make distinctions so as not to confuse 1) metaphysical consciousness (of inevitability and factual reality), 2) the facts of reality, and 3) value judgment. The first belongs to pure reason. The second belongs to reality, and is taken through reason. And the third belongs to practical reason. Concretely, 1) the consciousness that some things are bound to happen, 2) things that have been conceived of as bound to happen, 3) whether the occurrence of the facts in (2) would be a good thing or a bad thing.
 The term factual judgment may refer to either the 'judgment' of nature by which natural events occur (facticity), and the 'judgment' by which people become conscious of facts (factuality). Facticity would be closer to 'fact-decision,' factuality would be closer to 'factual judgment'. I lean toward the interpretation of it as judgment of factuality. But in a sense, value judgment criticizes both the facticity of things (the present state of things) and factuality of things (how we see things). See Martin Heidegger, Being and Time.
 The factual inevitability (due to material or ideal pressures) is of a different order from ethical necessitation (due to the ought). What Hisamatsu reminds us here is that while value judgment is free from factual inevitability, that is though one may negate or affirm how reality actually is, value judgment bears a necessity on the level of the ought. This distinction between fact and ought is parallel to his distinction between actual and transcendental reality. In Buddhism, this could be related to the distinction between the objectified reality seen by the ego and the essential manifestation seen as True Self.
 The doubt/question here is whether or not even 'free value judgment' is merely part of the inevitable factual flow of things. This is an argumentation that would be present within ideal or material determinism. Hisamatsu asserts that though value judgment is subject to the necessity of the ought, this is not reducible to the necessity of the facts of how things are.
 The word 自由性 cannot merely be translated as 'freedom,' like the word 自由 is because while 自由 is the characteristic of self-reliance and moving from oneself, 自由性 points to a nature [性], a matter, a crux that allows man to be free. I think this must be read in parallel with true self [本当の自己] and Buddha-nature [仏性].
 There are many ways to read 人間の全体的な価値. It may be read as the 'over-arcing values of humankind as a whole,' or as 'the overall worth or merit of humanity.' I choose to translate it as the former, a value that is the undercurrent of not merely a few individuals but of humankind as a whole.
 A word like 支配 has connotations of dominion and tyranny. I have chosen to translate it here as 'governance.' While I could have been softened and translated as 'guidance,' that would be concealing the undertones of the text. The usage of this word in the context of Buddhism requires further study.
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Anton Luis Sevilla, M.A. is an instructor at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. He teaches ethics, Japanese philosophy, and Japanese language. His research fields include Japanese Philosophy, Japanese Buddhism, and creative ethics, focusing on thinkers such as Dōgen, Nikolai Berdyaev, Watsuji Tetsuro, and Hisamatsu Shin'ichi. He is presently doing research on the relationship between enlightenment and socio-historical participation.
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