I got an email in which someone sent a link to this video.
He explained that the video was about a concept called Turiya, which means the fourth consciousness. It’s also described as Atman, the God inside us, pure awareness, and so on. My correspondent said that Alan Watts refers to this vedantic concept many times.
He said that when he reads zen texts such as Dogen’s Shobogenzo with this concept in mind it has made it more clear. But sometimes, he said, he feels maybe it is just a trap and Zen goes even further.
He asked if I could clarify the relation of Turiya or Atman or whatever it is called to Zen buddhism. He asked if it is the equivalent of Inmo or the true Self or the Mind which is beyond words and thoughts or not.
Here is my answer:
I watched a little of the video. I think I see where it’s going.
Is it the same? I read a lecture that forms part of the book The Wholehearted Way, which is a translation of Dogen’s Bendowa with a commentary by Kosho Uchiyama. In the lecture Kosho Uchiyama was explaining how Zen views things. He used the example of a cup that was on the table when he was speaking. He said to the audience, “I am looking at this cup. You are also looking at the same cup. We think that we are looking at the very same cup, but this is not true. I am looking at it from my angle, with my eyesight, in the lighting that occurs where I am sitting, with my own feelings or emotions. Furthermore, the angle, my feelings, and everything else is changing from moment to moment. This cup I am looking at now is not the same one that I will be looking at in the next moment. Each of you is also looking at it from your own angle, with your eyesight, with your own feelings, and these are also constantly changing.
“This is the way actual life experience is. However, if we use our common sense way of thinking, we think we are looking at the very same cup. This is an abstraction and not the reality of life. Abstract concepts and living reality are entirely different. The Buddhist view is completely different from our ordinary thinking.”
If Uchiyama’s cup isn’t the same cup his audience is seeing then the concept of turiya is not the same as inmo.
But are these words pointing to a common reality beyond names?
It’s hard to say. One would have to immerse oneself for years into each philosophy, and even then it would be difficult to say with any certainty.
Angel City Zen Center now meets on ZOOM several times each week often with Brad giving the lectures. For details check aczc.org
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