184.


In Uji, Dogen said that being is time.

'Time' isn’t quite right. Perhaps 'moment' is better. So beingmoment, momentbeing-

He has a wonderful image of a person going up into the mountains. And, from the top of the mountain, looking out and seeing an infinity of other peaks. Moments in this life, moments in all lives

The beauty and majesty of Dogen’s teaching is that the image is alive and infinitely faceted; from the perspective of the Mountains there is just this moment. The mountain is not hovering in mid air. Mountains are the waves of the great earth, they are part of this living ocean of earth. All these mountains. So in this moment Zazen Mountain, Birdsong Mountain, Buddha Mountain, Sky Mountain, Samsara Mountain. Mountain Mountain.

 
183.

 

We might think that the four vows are distinct.

The second vow is often rendered as:

'Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them'.

On hearing this, we might imagine our goal is to stop all this inconvenient feeling and thinking, and to live in a kind of spacious equanimity for ever.

This is completely mistaken. Our vow is to let everything flooding through and around this person from moment to moment fully live.

We do that by not appropriating this flood of experience to the self. We see this with the third vow, Dharma Gates are endless, I vow to enter them. In other words, Non duality.

The last vow is 'The Buddha Way unattainable, I vow to attain it'.

The first three vows are an expression of the Buddha Way. The Buddha Way expressed from moment to moment. Listen

Pay careful attention to the words. The Buddha way unattainable, I vow to attain it. But this way of non duality is ungraspable by the I, the source of duality.

The Buddha way is not a something in the distant future. It is Now.          Now.        

Now


 
182.


The first of the four bodhisattva vows that we chant after sitting is usually rendered as 'beings are numberless I vow to save them'. We sometimes abbreviate this to 'save all beings'.

What does this mean?

With Buddhism in India, the original emphasis was on personal salvation. When Buddhism fruitfully collided with Chinese culture, the emphasis changed to universal salvation. The pivotal person became the bodhisattva, the person who would save all beings. Hence the vow.

It fits in with a broader idea in Chinese culture of heroic, beneficent figures.

But I wonder if, in our age of rampant individualism, and consequent spiritual materialism, if the usual translation is helpful for us? Perhaps it would be better for us to say - although the grammar is problematic - Being numberless I vow to save (it).

Being rather than beings.

And Being 'being' numberless in two senses. Numberless because this full dynamic functioning (Zenki/ dependent origination) is infinitely faceted: me, you, the walls and the doors, the trees and the birds and the stars and so on. And numberless also because there's only this wholeness: there isn't one or two or three or four.

How do we save all Being? By not burying (it) underneath the self. 

So not an infinite number of beings to save over an infinite length of time, but an infinite number of moments, and always this moment, this moment of practice, in each of which everything can fully live.

 

 
181.


Dogen said that the five skandas (form, sensation, perception, mental formation, consciousness) are five pieces of Prajna; before thinking.

It is easier to see with the first two. 

With the first skanda, when we sit, we don't think, I am a man, I am a woman, this is a wall and suchlike, we just sit, right in the middle of our raw experience.

Likewise with sensation. We just feel what is there. We don't label it.

With perception and mental formation, it's a little harder to see Dogen's point, but it's very important that we do.

We just need to see the incessant urge to understand this flood of experience. This constant 'What is this?'

It is as if we are in a room with a storyteller. The point is not to get caught up in the stories, nor to speculate if they're true, nor to get annoyed because they're not, but just to see the aliveness of the storyteller and, seeing this, the aliveness of everything.

 
180.

 

Sometimes we think of practice as developing equanimity. Quietening the mind.

But which mind? Certainly not the personal mind.

What is obvious when we start sitting is the incessant talking itself into existence, which the personal mind seems to engage in endlessly. Like an apprehended fraudster. Talking himself in. Talking himself out.

So if our aim is to have equanimity, it would be foolish to expect this mind to be silent, to drop away, and leave equanimity pristine behind it.. 

So what do we do?

This personal, karmic mind is occurring within the greater body-mind.

Do our thoughts extend to our felt bodily experience or not?

This bodymind is already sitting within vast space. Do our thoughts extend above our head or behind or in front of us?

Of course not. There is no boundary to this space. It extends everywhere, and holds everything. Practice like this.



 
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