A moment of commuter time,
rush hour frozen,
drivers rage silently,
trapped in their cars,
rising sun illuminates,
this hazy world.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
A moment of commuter time,
When dharma does not fill your whole body and mind, you think it is already sufficient. When dharma fills your body and mind, you understand that something is missing. For example, when you sail out in a boat to the middle of an ocean where no land is in sight, and view the four directions, the ocean looks circular, and does not look any other way. But the ocean is neither round nor square; its features are infinite in variety. It is like a palace. It is like a jewel. It only looks circular as far as you can see at that time. All things are like this.
Though there are many features in the dusty world and the world beyond conditions, you see and understand only what your eye of practice can reach. In order to learn the nature of the myriad things, you must know that although they may look round or square, the other features of oceans and mountains are infinite in variety; whole worlds are there. It is so not only around you, but also directly beneath your feet, or in a drop of water.
Here Dogen is talking about the relative or particular and it's relation to the absolute or universal.
There are many sayings from Patriarchs and Masters which appear to equate the particular with the universal.
A monk asked Joshu, "What is the meaning of Bodidharma's coming to China?" Joshu said, "The oak tree in the front garden."
And there are many Zen practitioners who see their own experienced reality as the whole of reality. However, according to Dogen this is an incomplete understanding. This is a self-centred or solipsistic position that takes one's relative, subjective perspective for the whole of reality. The full understanding of the dharma is that no one perspective is the whole picture. Even though object and subject are not divided, reality has an unlimited number of aspects or views depending on various viewpoints. All beings are the dharma.
Each entity in the world - his example is an ocean - has myriad appearances depending on the perspective - to a man in a boat it appears circular, to a sea-dwelling dragon it appears as a palace, to a deva in the heavens it appears as a small precious jewel. It has infinite appearances. No single perspective or appearance can be singled out as the real or objective entity. (This is not the same as the subjectivist theory that all opinions are equally valid or that believing something is the same as it being true.) Each appearance is according to the limitations of each viewpoint. All of our experiences are like this - we cannot see the whole of reality at any time. Reality includes all of these interdependent aspects of subject and object. And this is the case for everything we see and don't see.
To know the universal is to know the relativity and limitation of one's own perspective. Subject and object are not separate, yet the universe is not limited to a viewpoint of a single invidual, rather it is like a jewel with ever-changing facets or like Indra's net - a vast net with a shining, multi-faceted jewel at each vertex - each jewel reflecting every other.
Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out infintely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each "eye" of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars in the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflecting process occurring.- Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra, Francis Harold Cook
Posted by Shonin at 1:37 pm
Monday, October 12, 2009
Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water.
Enlightenment does not divide you, just as the moon does not break the water. You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky. The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.
This section is about the relationship between relative and absolute or ordinary beings and enlightenment. Enlightenment is true nature, true reality and is here represented by the moon. The relative, finite, personal mind is represented by water, which reflects the absolute.
The moon does not get wet,
You cannot hinder enlightenment. The absolute is unborn and unconditioned, it isn't obstructed by our conditioning, our karma, our relative minds. It is always fully manifested. The particular cannot obstruct the whole, for it always is a manifestation of the whole. Being empty of self-nature, it is delusion to imagine that we can be anything other than Buddha.
nor is the water broken.
Enlightenment does not divide you. True realisation does not create a duality out of enlightenment and samsara. An ordinary being who does not know enlightenment creates a duality out of samsara and imagined enlightenment. An ordinary being who has glimpsed enlightenment may create a duality out of samsara and recalled enlightenment. True enlightenment is to see that there is no duality between samsara and enlightenment. Or as Dogen put it earlier 'no trace of realisation remains'.
Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water.
If we examine a particular thing carefully we cannot find it's essence, all we find is conditions produced by conditions produced by conditions which ultimately include the whole universe. Buddha nature is universal - it is perfectly expressed without hindrance through each particular thing no matter how small. Each particular is the entire vastness of the universal.
The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.
The mind is the universe and the universe is the mind. Buddha nature or enlightenment are not something separate or additional to the self and the world. They are the true self and the true world. They are the actual nature of things at all times.
Posted by Shonin at 1:51 pm