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October 16, 2008


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I am interested in where you found that translation of nirodha. I have only seen it as restraint, cessation or interception.

Thank you for your efforts,

Barry Briggs

Hi Jordan, thanks for your comment! This translation of nirodha comes from Robert Aitken, Roshi. He quotes the book, "A Sanskrit-English Dictionary" in saying that "dam, bank, shore" are given as the etymology of "rodha." Secondary meanings include "stopping, confining, surrounding," which still are a stretch from the conventional interpretation of "extinguishing, exterminating, destroying."

To my still-evolving understanding, this interpretation of rodha (the "ni" means 'down,' 'behind, or 'below') is very consistent with most Buddhist teaching about how we work with our minds.

As I noted in my commentary on the Third Noble Truth, Dogen said that "buddhas greatly realize delusion."

This is consistent with virtually all Zen teaching, to my knowledge. We don't "extinguish" our cravings and delusions -- we realize them! And, in so doing, they no longer hold sway over us.

This is also consistent with the 2nd of the Four Great (Bodhisattva) Vow:

"Delusions/defilements/cravings/passions are endless, I/we vow to cut through them all."

We can't extinguish delusions/passions/cravings. But we can cut through them, one by one, as they appear.

As I understand it presently, the problem with the usual translation of the Third Noble Truth is that nirodha is taken to mean that we can actually extinguish all craving and attain a state where there craving no longer arises.

(Wow! If that were true, then I'll have another cup o' the sencha that the Buddha drank.)

So my exploration of nirodha is meant to illuminate the reality of how mind functions - that we will need to maintain a vigilant regard for our minds throughout each moment of our lives. As a teacher once told me, "Even great Zen masters can slip on a banana peel."

I hope this clarifies how I understand these teachings. As I said earlier - it's a work in process and progress for me - and I very much appreciate and benefit from your comments.

Your friend in the Dharma,


Hi Barry,
Thank you for sharing your evolving understanding. I would hesitate a bit to say "We Can't", I think that is a little too definite. What do you do when you realize delusion?

Barry Briggs

Yes, "we can't" goes beyond my experience.

When I realize delusion, I say, "I'm sorry" or "I'm frustrated" or "Yes!" or "Katz!" or whatever is required by awareness in the moment.

When I don't realize delusion, then I carry on with making a mess. Which is the norm, in my life.

Thanks, Jordan!

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