Human Situation, East and West

12 юли, 2012 | Публикувано в: Articles | Автор: Сергей Герджиков
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Prof. Serghey Stoilov Gherdjikov

Sofia University


  • Where I come from? Where we come from?
  • Life/death
  • Not knowing world
  • Religious experience. “Buddha”
  • Religious teaching. “Dharma”
  • Religious community. “Sangha”


  • Where I come from? Where we come from?


Where I come from? Where we all come from? Where are we? Where we go after here? (Where is Pure Land?)

(Mondo of Fifth & illiterate new comer at the monastery, later 6-th Patriarch of Zen Hui Nen. “Where are you coming from?”). No East & West. No North and South. West is in eastern direction from “East”. East is in Western direction from West. (Columbus half millennium ago thought he found western path to India).  No country. No matter were are we come from. We all are in the same place, situation. If we move only to the East, we will come to the start point. We are on one planet, living, “sentient beings”.

We share one world, one form, the same situation. This is global, not local. But “global” means belonging to this globe, this planet.


  • Life/death

Life goes together with death. “Sentient beings”. Dukha: suffering, distress, des-ease-ness. Heidegger: “zorge”, care. We just find ourselves living this life on this planet in some country as a boy or girl in a family, which becomes our family, in a land, which becomes our country our country.

And, after all, or before all, we don’t chose death, we don’t want do dye.

That is the point. “To be or not to be”, the question of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, has an answer. Once born, we are here and have to do the same as other creatures: to live and to dye. But I do not want to dye! Nobody wants.

Here comes religious inquire.


  • Not knowing the world

This world could be different. We never know why only this planet is alive, why there is a gravity. We do not know where the life comes from. We don’t make our life. We don’t make this world. We don’t chose to be born or not, to life this life or not, to dye or not, to be humans or something other, to be man or woman, to be Japanese or Bulgarian, to be pretty or not.

To recognize the mystery of this world, of this life, of human being, this is the very beginning of religious and also of philosophical life.


  • Religious experience. “Buddha”

Sometimes we have extreme experience: we loose friends, lovers, parents, become ill, we suffer and nobody helps us. We could experience also death in some extent, to be very close to death (Near death Experience, when people lose control, fall in an accident. The hearth, this machine inside the chest,  could stop working, and the breath also could stop. Then we begin to travel. We go to some Other place. We are moving through the darkness and enter the light. Wee meet death people. And if we are lucky we come back here.

Some people say they can experience something Beyond this world. Something mystical. (Shamans dance and trans. Karlos Kastaneda – nagual). Other type of this border experience is Deadly risking. Jaspers: “border situations”.

But most of us does not experience such extremity. It is enough mystery in everyday’s life. We can feel the work of our bodies, of a billions and billions of cells. Ho moves and controls this machine?

26 centuries ago 33-years old Sidharta Gotama experienced entering in the realm of formless, where tehe is no mor Duhkha and our core problem, the life/death complex, is resolved. He experienced the enlightenment and broke through the Dukha. He awoke and so became Buddha Shakyamuny


  • Religious teaching. “Dharma”

In the legend Sidharta in a moment of great doubt seas a boat in a river. In  a boat father teaches his son to play the sitar. He is explaining to san: “If you make the string relaxed, it couldn’t make sound, if you make the string tension, it will broke. You should find the exact string tension for a music sound.  So Gautama receives an insight. He realized, that nor ascetic life, nor blind passion, could open our minds for the realm beyond Duhkha. After a long meditation and he realized that truth as a great Awakening and became Buddha, The Enlightened One.

You all know, that after that he have had his Furst Cermon and formulate the Dharma, Four Nobel Truths; Duhkha (Suffering), the cause of suffering, overcoming suffering, and   the way of salvation.

This Dharma is an expression, description, explanation, and prescription. It is a teaching.

The Dharma does not make sense without understanding. And Understanding is shearing the Experience. Without sheared experience there is not understanding and dharma is simply word and sound.

Religious saying is a language, different from scientific description and explanation. An example is communication between a great Buddhist scholar, prof. Hisamatsu and Prof. Karl Jung, psychologist. About 30 years ago Prof. Shin-Ichi Hisamatsu taveled to America and Europe and have had meeting in Switzerland with famous Psychoanalisist  Prof. Karl-Gustav Jung. The understanding between both great intellectuals was extremely difficult.

That is so, becouse both Western Science and Buddhism have different conceptual networks. Their experients are ordered in different kind of theoria. Protestant teology recognise God as an ultimate reality, and this „concept“ is not „at the same place“, where is Buddhist „Buddha-nature“ or Zen „Formless Self“ (Tilich and Hisamatsu). Western psychology“s „Conscious“ and „Unconscious“, which complete „mind“, arew not paralel to any of Buddhist concepts; „Formless self“ („Dharma-kaja“), „Empty Ego“ or  „An-atman“. And this unparaleleness, this difference in form, makes such notions untranslatable.

It is impossible to combine any of concepts of both networks with some concepts belonging to the countepart’s scheme. So, even in the best form of cross-cultural communication of this kind, it is not possible to create some synthesys.

Maybe it is possible somehow to „incorporate“ the most important meanings of both schemes in a third, „intercultural“, „global“ scheme. But this scheme could not have it’s own, neutral language. It should be created somhow in the same time in English and Japanese, with new concepts, which sould be paralel and translatable.

  • Religious community. “Sangha”

The language works through the experience. If I say “red”, you know what I mean, because you can see the collors. But a blind-born person couldn’t know what the red is.

So, we humans and especially people speaking the same language share they usual everyday experience  without problem. But if somebody treys to express religious experience, he feels extreme difficulty. He has to express this intimate and everyday experience, not experienced by others. He has to describe “red” for people non seeing this “red”.

So, the language of communication in religion is difficult. At sermons religious people use unusual language means to express, describe, explain, and  make feeling of the religious world of Enlightenment.

We have excellent texts from past. In Hristianity we have Bible. In Islam they have the Curra (Coran),in Buddhism there are Sutras. All these books are in a poetical form! Why this is so?

The poetry is a language of Feeling, as an rational; explanation is a language of Reason. Heidegger says: The Language is  home of Being. And the language of Being is a poetry. You know Shakespeare’s “To bee or nit to bee?“, the famous monolog of Hamlet on the meaning of existence.

If we try to explane religion by notions, we have a very difficult task. We have to use paradoxes.

That is so, because in religious experience there is no usual space, there is no here and there. And we don’t have usual time: there’s no future and past. The wov of Amida Buddha is not spoken for past, present, or future.  He says: If there is a suffering in the world of sentient beings, may I not a chive Nirvana. But he is in Nirvana. He is in his Pure Land. For every saved creature he is fulfilling his wov and so he is Buddha. And for every suffering here in his hell, there is not yet salvation, but there is a living Buddha inside. If I still suffer doubt and fair of Death, I am not saved, I have not reached yet Enlightening, I couldn’t say Nembutsu with real and full sincerity. I have not yet real religious experiense of Shinjin.   Some teachers (as Prof. Tagaraki) says they have manage Nembutsu in their’s late 40-s or even 60-s years, and most – never. The same is with Zen experience. To reach Satory, you need deep work for 10 or 20 or 30 or more years. And most couldn’t get full Enlightenment all theirs life. Religious Experience is extremely difficult. Our situation here is difficult. And, in the same time, it is easy, oif we find the very essence, the Buddha in our own mind.

This kind of mental life could not be expressed in an usual language. We need images, symbols, metaphors. We need poetry. And we can use music.


Without personal experience, without individual suffering and getting through, we can not reach Dharma, Enlightenment, Pure land, Paradise, Enlightenment, Salvation.


25. 04. 2002. Ryukoku University.