domingo, 26 de julho de 2009

Shinjin o quê?

O texto abaixo foi extraído do maravilhoso livro de Bob Myers, First Dogen Book, que contém 4 traduções de textos de Dôgen Zenji - traduções cuidadosas e maravilhosas, para as quais sempre volto. Está como nota ao Fukanzazengi, falando do tema do shinjin datsuraku. Tradução a seguir em futuro próximo talvez.

A caligrafia abaixo é, ao que parece, de Dôgen, num manuscrito (versão shinpitsu-bon) do Fukanzazengi, disponível aqui neste çaite, que também oferece uma tradução ideograma por ideograma deste texto chave; show de bola.


Learning this way of the buddha means learning oneself. Learning oneself means forgetting oneself. Forgetting oneself means being illuminated by all things. Being illuminated by all things means dropping the veil from the body and mind of oneself and the body and mind of others.

If reaching this state of synthesis—the way of the buddha—is not possible by means of watching and listening with our eyes and ears, then what is the right approach? Dogen lays out a simple roadmap. This passage has come to be perhaps the most widely quoted of any in Dogen’s writings, thanks to the unmatched economy and clarity with which it encapsulates the path of Buddhist spiritual development.

One common translation of the first sentence is “to study the buddha way is to study yourself,” differing both in sentence structure and in the choice of “study” instead of “learn.” With regard to the structure, “X means Y,” the approach taken here, seems closer to the meaning of the original, which literally is “saying X is Y.” With regard to studying vs. learning, the original Japanese word25 has a broad range of meanings, including “following” and “mastering.” “Learn” conveys this better than “study,” and also works better in opposition to “forget,” which comes up in the following sentence.

Some translations use “the self” rather than “oneself.” The original word,26 however, is best thought of as having the everyday meaning of “oneself,” rather than referring to some specific Buddhist concept of “self.”27

“Let all things illuminate you” involves the same sho character used in the statements about illuminated buddhas continuing to illuminate and about illuminating one thing while others are dark. It might also be “let all things bear witness to you.”

We now encounter Dogen’s renowned formulation “dropping the veil from body and mind.” It is said that Dogen achieved enlightenment at Mt. Tendo in China, where he was studying, when he heard his master Nyojo say to a fellow meditator who was nodding off, “Zazen is dropping the veil from body and mind,” perhaps slapping him at the same time with his slipper as was said to be his habit.28

The phrase in question, shinjin datsuraku in Japanese, has, for the entire decades-long history of English-language Dogen scholarship, been translated consistently as “casting off body and mind,” with only minor variations such as “drop off,” “drop away,” “slough off,” “fall away,” or “shed.” But whatever the specific English words chosen, the phrase remains impenetrable. Is it really possible to lay aside our body, any more than we can drop off our mind (or spirit, soul, heart, or essence, which are other possible renderings of the Sino-Japanese character)? Is this a statement of Zen philosophy so profound that only advanced practitioners can understand it?29

That would seem unlikely. For instance, in Dialog on the Way of Commitment, an introduction to Zen explicitly addressing beginners, Dogen counsels us to “neither bow, nor chant, nor read sutras, nor engage in rituals, nor burn incense; simply sit and shinjin datsuraku.” In the current essay as well, he is introducing the concept in the context of an eminently straightforward series of steps of personal development.

To solve the mystery of what this phrase could mean, let us deconstruct it. First, we break it into the two words shinjin and datsuraku. Then we break each of those words into their individual constituent characters, analyze them, and put them back together to see what ensues. Finally, we examine possible meanings resulting from recombining the two words.

Shinjin is the easier of the two component words. It is made up of the characters for body and for mind, essence, heart, or soul. Combined, the meaning could be “body and mind,” “body/mind,” or possibly “body vs. mind.”

The datsu of datsuraku30 can mean take off, strip off, peel off, or remove (including clothing); escape, break out, release, or extricate; get rid of; or be left out. The character is said to derive from the image of removing a piece of meat from the enclosing hide. The “escape” meaning (which is related to the other meanings in that it is you yourself being extricated, from a situation) seems implausible here; what would it mean to “escape and fall”? More likely are the meanings of undress, remove, or get rid of; think of pulling off one’s shirt and dropping it on the floor. Raku is straightforward: it simply means fall, drop, tumble, slide, sink, land, or decline (although it can also mean fall behind or leave behind.) We can therefore tentatively gloss datsuraku as “removing and dropping.”

Together shinjin datsuraku thus indicates that the body and mind, or body/mind is involved somehow in something being removed and dropped. The common wisdom is that it is body/mind itself which is being removed and dropped, that it is, in grammatical terms, the direct object of the removing and dropping. This is what yields the traditional translation of “cast off body and mind.”

There are clues, however, that this popular interpretation might be wrong. Dogen celebrated body and mind. For example, just a few sentences later in this very essay, he refers to “truth permeating the body and mind.” Are we to cast off that which truth permeates? Moreover, he described the layout of Eiheiji by referring to the sodo (monks’ hall, where they meditated, ate, and slept) on the left as providing nutrition for the mind, the kuin (kitchen) on the right as providing nutrition for the body. Is he counseling us to cast off the very body and mind for which the monastery was architected to provide nutrition? Finally, Dogen devoted an entire fascicle of Shobogenzo, called Shinjin Gakudo, to a discussion of the path of body/mind-based learning. How does one learn with body and mind if they are cast off?

To resolve these kinds of inconsistencies, commentators have adopted a variety of tortured interpretations. One commentator puts words in Dogen’s mouth, ending up with the formulation “letting go of the body/mind that is not your own.” Another imagines, essentially, that Dogen omitted the equivalent of the word “bad” before body/mind, that he was really just talking about casting off some bad, pre-enlightened body and mind, and that after enlightenment you’ll get a new, shiny, improved one. Yet another holds that Dogen was talking about casting off the body and mind of the self, rather than some other body and mind—one presumably not of the self.

To find the solution requires exploring possibilities for what Dogen is saying other than to cast off body and mind themselves. Alternatives include casting off something else with body and mind; casting something off in a way which is bodyminded; or casting something away from body and mind.

There are two final clues in this particular case. The first is that here Dogen adds “of oneself” and “of others’ selves” as qualifiers to body/mind. This only deepens reservations about the “casting off body and mind” formulation; I may be able to cast off my own body and mind, but how could I possibly cast off somebody else’s? Again, commentators have developed elaborate, but ultimately unconvincing explanations to resolve this inconsistency. For instance, some say that Dogen is talking about eliminating or conflating the physical and mental aspects of objects around us. But if someone else’s body and mind are involved, not only does the hypothesis of body and mind as direct object (“cast off body and mind”) not make sense, but neither does that of body and mind as instrument (“cast off something with body and mind”), since I cannot cast something off or do anything else with someone else’s body and mind; nor that of body and mind as modality (“cast off in body/mind fashion”), since I cannot cast off something in the fashion of someone else’s body and mind. We are left with the final alternative: casting something away from body and mind. This makes perfect sense in the context of Dogen’s self/other distinction. We can indeed remove whatever it is from both our own body/mind and that of others.

Second, whereas elsewhere in his writings Dogen typically uses the four character compound form shinjin datsuraku, leaving us no explicit clues as to the relationship between shinjin and datsuraku, here he uses the two words within a sentence, providing us with some additional syntactic hints about their relationship. It is noteworthy that he avoided the obvious, direct syntax he could have chosen had he wanted to say the equivalent of “cast off body and mind.” Instead, he chooses a more roundabout syntax which can be rendered literally as “with regard to your own body and mind and that of others.”

It appears clear, then, that the intent is to strip off or remove something covering body and mind. But what? The answer is implicit: it’s whatever is doing the covering—the cover, or veil. We thus arrive at the translation “dropping the veil from body and mind.” Far from being a loose, interpretative translation, this corresponds almost perfectly, literally, character-for-character to the original: body-mind-unveil-drop.

Future scholarship, of course, could well “unveil” other, more compelling meanings.

25 Narau.
26 Jiko.
27 Which would usually be ware.
28 One theory is that Nyojo actually said “dropping the dust from mind,” and that this was either misheard by Dogen or inspired him to come up with his own formulation. That seems less than likely, however, since the two phrases are not homophonous in Chinese (although they are in Japanese).
29 Consider, for example, the following explanation by a respected Zen teacher (private communication). ‘Shinjin used in shinjin datsuraku signifies the locus of the illusory phenomenal experience or the nirmanakaya in forgetfulness of sambhogakaya and dharmakaya. It is the world of experience that arises through the superimposition of false predications or false thoughts upon the whole field of nirmanakaya that is ontologically grounded in dharmakaya and constitutes a whole with dharmakaya and sambhogakaya. Therefore, in the context of Zen and Dogen's teaching, “body-mind” or “bodymind” is not an incorrect translation. If one wants to be precise, the “body” (kaya) is the gestalt of physical geometrization, while the “mind” is the gestalt of thought/mentation arising from a complex of false predications which is superimposed on the whole process of geometrization […] In the experience of spiritual awakening or enlightenment, this whole process of superimposition drops out or is cast off, and the triune constitution of wholeness, that is nirmanakaya-sambhogakaya-dharmakaya, in its wholeness shines forth.’ Note that nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and dharmakaya are elements of a Hinayana doctrine known as Trikaya, which holds that Buddha has three aspects or “bodies.”
30 Datsuraku exists in contemporary Japanese, but means to miss the cut (for a sports team), fall out of contention (in a political race), or be left out (as a page from a book), meanings that are not very helpful here.

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