Daisetz Suzuki on Other-Power

Daisetz Suzuki on Other-Power

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:53 pm

It is all right to say that Other-power does everything by itself. We just let it accomplish its work. Nevertheless, we must become conscious of Other-power doing its work in us. Unless we are conscious of Amida's doing work in us, we shall never be saved. We can never be sure of the fact that we are born in the Pure Land and have attained our enlightenment. To acquire this consciousness, we must exhaust our efforts. Amida may be standing and beckoning us to come to the Other Shore, but we cannot see Amida until we have done all we can do. Self-power is not what is really needed to cross the stream of birth and death, but Amida will extend his helping hand only when we realize that our self-power is of no account.

Since we cannot achieve the end of our endeavors on the path of enlightenment, Amida's help must be recognized. We must become conscious of it. In fact, recognition comes only after we have strained all our efforts in crossing the stream by ourselves. We realize the inefficacy of self-power only when we try to make use of it and are made aware of its worthlessness. Other-power is all important, but this truth is known only by those who have striven by means of self-power to attempt the impossible.

The realization of the worthlessness of self-power may also be Amida's work. In fact it is, but until we achieve self-awareness we do not realize that Amida has been handling all this for us and in us. Therefore, striving is a prerequisite of any realization. Spiritually speaking, everything is finally from Amida, but we must always remember that we are relative beings. As such, we cannot understand things unless we first try to do our best on this plane of relativity. Crossing from the relative plane to the absolute plane of Other-power may be logically impossible, but it appears to be impossible only before we have tried everything on this plane.


May this benefit all we self-power strainers! How wonderful that there's another option when we feel stuck at a dead end, surrounded by our countless toys of self-power that time and time again have proven useless.
:namaste:
Namu Amida Butsu
"When people of the Pure Land school chant Namu amida butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu amida butsu with our whole body." - Kosho Uchiyama (Opening the Hand of Thought)
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Re: Daisetz Suzuki on Other-Power

Postby Arjan Dirkse » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:50 pm

Other-power to me means giving oneself over to the workings of the universe, Amida is just the fabric of the universe that cradles us. There is nothing to worry about but the worry itself. Ultimately, the world we live in is just the way it has to be.

It doesn't mean passivity, just the realization of belonging in a larger whole.
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Re: Daisetz Suzuki on Other-Power

Postby Simon E. » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:59 pm

DT Suzuki said that he thought that the future of Buddhadharma in the west would feature Pure Land above all other approaches.

I heard him say so with my own ears.

It didn't go down well with his largely Rinzai audience.
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Re: Daisetz Suzuki on Other-Power

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:34 pm

Well said, Arjan Dirkse! :twothumbsup:
I relate very much to Self-Power having to burn itself out. Often, the worry you mention is not just a worry in itself, but some huge painful doubt that makes life seem urgent and wasted unless it's satisfied.
Poor Self-Power wants very much to solve a problem of its own making!

Simon E.: I suspect that Suzuki said so given the very materialist, scientifically reductionist character of the West. We see science as the ultimate arbiter of reality. In fact, Suzuki seemed to have exactly this in mind in the same essay I pulled the first quote from:
In our intellectual endeavors, our ideas can be despotic too. We cannot al­ways be in control of ideas. We invent or construct ideas and concepts to make life more convenient. Then these very ideas which we intended to be so con­venient become unmanageable and control the inventors themselves. Scholars invent ideas and then forget that they invented them in order to deal with certain realities.
...
Whatever situ­ation comes along in the pursuit of their research or exercise of their ideas that does not happen to be amenable to those ideas, they drop. Instead of dropping the ideas and trying to create new ones in order to overcome the unexpected dif­ficulties that arise, they stick to the old ideas they invented and try to make the new realities fit the old concepts. Or else they simply exclude those things which cannot easily be worked into the network of ideas they have invented. I have heard that some scientists have themselves compared their methods to catching fish in a net with standardized meshes; those fish which fail to be scooped up in the net will be dropped and unaccounted for. They just take up those that can be caught in their net and try to explain their catch by means of their ready-made ideas. The fish that remain uncaught are treated as if they did not even exist. “These exist,” say the scientists of those that have been caught in the net. All the other fish are nonexistent.
...
If scientists would limit their conclusions to what they could survey or measure, and admitted that they did not know beyond that, and did not venture any theory or any hypothesis, that would be all right. But blinded by their success within these boundaries, they try to extend that success beyond them, as if they had already surveyed and measured those unknown parts. Most scientists make this mistake, and, unfortu­nately, people tend to rely on what the scientists say.
...
To say that what we experience via our five senses exhausts reality is a to­tally unfounded presumption on our part. We can say that within the limits of our five senses and intellect the world is understood so, explained so, interpreted so. But there is no way to deny the existence of something (though it may not be proper to call it a “thing”) higher, deeper, and more pervasive which may lie beyond the ken of our five senses and intellect. If we do have some such extra sense within us, even though it is largely undeveloped—and some people do claim to have that kind of sense or faculty—then we may have another way of coming in contact with reality that is deeper and more extensive than our ordi­nary sensory and intellectual experience. It would be arrogant for someone to deny the existence of a higher and deeper “intuition,” and declare, “Nothing can exist outside my sensory or intellectual perceptions.”


It seems like part of Self-Power's province is to deny the existence of anything beyond its grasp, including Other-Power.
Namu Amida Butsu
"When people of the Pure Land school chant Namu amida butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu amida butsu with our whole body." - Kosho Uchiyama (Opening the Hand of Thought)
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Re: Daisetz Suzuki on Other-Power

Postby plwk » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:37 pm

Interesting Simon. I was just reading something nearly similar just the other day...

While the influence of the Zen tradition on Japanese thought and culture is widely acknowledged, the role of Pure Land Buddhist concepts and sensibilities have tended to receive only marginal recognition in the West; nevertheless, it is impossible to ignore their perhaps even more pervasive force.

Moreover, as D. T. Suzuki (1870–1966) has noted,
'The Japanese may not have offered very many original ideas to world thought or world culture, but in Shin we find a major contribution the Japanese can make to the outside world and to all other Buddhist schools.' (Suzuki 1970, pp. 13–14)

Although Suzuki does not define what ideas he has in mind, he indicates that it is specifically in relation to the Pure Land tradition that we find a significant, innovative development in Buddhist philosophy that has taken place in Japan.

Japanese Pure Land Philosophy
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Re: Daisetz Suzuki on Other-Power

Postby plwk » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:46 pm

It is all right to say that Other-power does everything by itself.
Hmm...
Other-power is all important, but this truth is known only by those who have striven by means of self-power to attempt the impossible.
Coughs...

Thank you Prof Suzuki. I owe much to your work on the Lankavatara nevertheless :twothumbsup:
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Re: Daisetz Suzuki on Other-Power

Postby PorkChop » Sun Apr 27, 2014 3:28 am

I've read after that statement to the Rinzai audience that he backed off of that position, think it even shows up in his wiki page.

To be fair, he studied Zen in college, trained under the first Zen master to bring Zen to the US at the same symposium on world religions that Vivekananada spoke at, and revisited Shin thinking after his kensho in Zen because his mother was from the Shin tradition. I guess my point is that he doesn't make those statements on Other Power without first having trained significantly in other methods. Yeah, maybe skipping that step may be problematic, but even Dogen's Zen has some very distinct "Other Power" traits. Does seem to me to be part of Gautama's "anicca, dukkha, anatta" doctrine to realize that essentially that one has no control over anything one perceives, feels, forms ideas about, or is conscious of.
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