2007/08/09 10:50 Soho Machida, "New Paradigms of Civilization in the 21st Century", ISSS Tokyo 2007

2007/08/09 10:50 Soho Machida, "New Paradigms of Civilization in the 21st Century", ISSS Tokyo 2007

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted on the ISSS web site by David Ing.

Soho Machida, Professor, Hiroshima University, Japan

Soho Machida

Graduate school of integrated arts and science

Monk, has spent 20 years in Zen Buddhism

Former Zen monk

  • Spent 20 years in monastery in Kyoto
  • Degree in Christian theology

Modern civilization like a pyramid

  • Work on building higher pyramids
  • Modern civilization working on glory of individual to be closer to God / Creator
  • May be personal glory
  • Concern about missing pyramid underground:  unconsciousness, non-individuality, traditionally emphasized by Japanese
  • Judo, Kendo, the way
  • Aim at infinity, or emptiness, nothingness

Subconscious passion to build higher things

  • Empire State Building, Stalinist buildings

Crisis of modern civilizaiton

  • Destruction of nature
  • Tower of Babel, collapse may be imminent
  • 9/11 is the symbol of the Tower of Babel, and we've already witnessed the decline of civilization

At the top of the pyramid, we used to worship god

  • God was abducted by ego
  • From Descartes, Cogito ergo sum
  • Nietzsche: god is dead

Illness of modern civilization

  • E. Eriksen:  up to age 3, need to develop basic trust, but today, families have collapsed, and we can't establish confidence in ourselves, resulting in poor relationships with others
  • Especially males in 50s, good income, happy families, but we are really adult children, and haven't resolved internal crisis
  • Identity crisis happens in adolescence, but could be prolonged too long
  • Deprivation
  • In Japan, lots of suicide, people jumping onto subway tracks are a daily incident
  • Japan is one of most peaceful, prosperous countries, yet we feel vacant inside
  • We carry fear without reason
    • In the west, go to shrink, but in Japan, they don't, and they just carry fears

Unstability:  June Quarterneity

  • Through psychotherapy, we integrate to oneself
  • He criticized Christianity to only look at holy trinity of God, Jesus and Holy Ghost
  • We have to integrate Satan, to make God complete
  • Satan represents unconsciousness
  • We all carry Satanic tendencies in our unconsciousness
  • We need to integrate Satan within

Satan in modern society, not medieval time

  • We hardly discuss Satan, except George Bush
  • Satan could mean different religions, different ethnicities, foreight cultures, other ideologies as the Axis of Evils
  • Logic of exclusiveness

God as completion, but not perfection

  • Evil is not to be excluded, but to be transformed
  • Buddhist Mandala:  guardian spirits can be understood as evil elements
  • No peace is established within
  • We have to integrate unfamiliar elements:  they look like enemies, but they exists within, and we project our own shadows on others
  • We project our hidden personality on other individuals

Japanese has polytheistic cosmology:  Buddhist and Shintoism, both simultaneously

  • Shinto:  animism, living things, all phenomenon are scared
  • 8 million goods
  • All things are sacred
  • Mount Fuji is sacred mountain, but have others
  • Never workshop mountain as coming down from God, mountain itself is God
  • Japanese have a hard time visualizing abstract god
  • Mountains are seen as coiled snakes
  • In early Japan, mountain workship and snake workship overlapped
  • 7500 year old cypress, all objects of workship, trees as living goods
  • Waterfall: worship of sexual organs, since it's source of fertility

Mutual understanding between religions, but first need to understand differences

  • God as judgemental and paternalistic suggests order
    • In Japanese, there are many gods, and they have anger and jealousy, they quarrel
    • Almost comical stories
  • Great earth mother, as maternal principles, representes fertility
    • Truth is a new word in Japanese, since more based in vitality

Japan boasts cutting edge technology, but have a long traditions

  • Clay pot:  flaming edges, are powerful, were created by females and males were not allowed to participate
  • Female leaders in Japan before 13th century
  • Sword smiths, sword weren't just weapons, they were in temples as the body of God, since sword smiths invested all of their essence
  • Long history of craftsmenship, inherited even in small companies, experiencing a unity of mind and matter
  • Kitaro Nishida calls this active intuition, see things by becoming things

Experiencing dichotomy of mind and body

  • Mind not here
  • Many of us enjoy wonderful food, but the joy of life is separated
  • Feeling of life only when mind and body are together
  • In Tokyo, people living such a busy life, residents are so stressed
  • Have to put the mind and body together, as craftsman
  • People engaged in martial arts, tea ceremony, all experience here and now

We view dichotomies in 20th century

  • Sacred vs. profane
  • Man vs. nature

But we need to improve personal lives

  • Japan used to be poor, and people took good care of things they had
  • Now, mass production, we buy too many things and waste them
  • We have to return to pay respect to the things we own
  • In Japan, renew cars every 3 years, although they last 10 to 20 years:  a waste of natural resources

Non-theistic cosmology, not atheism:  Kegon Philosophy of Buddhism, first version introduced by Buddha himself

  • Four ways of perception
    • World of particulars:  reality, belongs to polytheistic cosmology
    • World of principles: metaphysics, belongs to monotheistic cosmology
    • World of interfusion of particulars and principles:  morality
    • World of harmonized particulars, we don't have to go to temple, because God is in everything
  • M. Eckhart (German):  Beyond God as a concept
  • Eckhart wrote things close to masters in Japan

Zen cartoon: monk

  1. Looking for the cow (metaphor for enlightment, or dharma)
  2. Seeing traces of the cow (footsteps, not entity)
  3. Seeing the cow (just the tail, excited)
  4. Catches the cow (dharma, truth, as an actual thing, with tight rope in tension so not to lose the religious view)
  5. Herding the cow (tamed, cow doesn't try to escape, compromise)
  6. Coming home on the cow's back (doesn't try to control the cow, plays flute, cow knows to go home)
  7. Cow is forgotten, leaving the man alone (cow isn't necessary, have to forget the system, if you're attached to the system, you'll have conflict with people who have other systems)
  8. Cow and man both gone out of sight (emptiness, internal war, no attachment)
  9. Return back to the origin, back to the source (see things as they are, not veiled with our own notions)
  10. Entering the city with bliss:  (hermit monk, now fat, enjoying life, enjoying every moment, knowing God is there, doesn't have to talk, people are impressed by his presence, the ultimate goal)

The way to peace:

  • We can't impose our value systems upon others
  • We have to admit that we all share pain, sadness and weakness
    • How glorious doesn't matter, we all experience the pain, sadness and weakness, so we can stand on the same ground
    • At deepest level of humanity
    • We enjoy peace here, but there are so many people killed, starving
  • Then we can forgive ourselves, and forgive others:  compassion, understand the weaknesses we have
  • Coexistence with oneself
  • Then, finally, can coexistence of civilization is more realistic


Churchman:  the enemies within, and we must embrace them

  • Dalai Lama:  talks about commonality of religions
  • Same consciousness
  • The human world is coming closer to crisis, reaching consensus in spiritual awakening
  • There are lots of wonderful things happening not in the news media

Religious integration: irreconcilable difference, e.g Christianity trinity, a lot of religions won't accept that

  • Advocating non-theistic cosmology
  • We're fighting about concepts
  • God is constructed by humans, a human-made concept
  • Taking students to toilet cleaning, to brushes, no gloves:  cures depression