Sunday, January 30, 2011


Margaret read a short passage from a long and important work: Shobogenzo. I won't quote the entire reading - itself a very small part of a very big work. You can download it from this link - but it is a very large file.

Here's a small portion of the reading. .....

When someone riding in a boat turns his gaze towards the shore, he misjudges the shore to be moving: when he fixes his eye firmly upon the boat, he will recognize that the boat is plowing on. Likewise, should you let your mind and body run riot, going along with what you perceive the world to be, you will make the mistake of thinking that you have a permanently abiding self-nature within your body and mind. If you commit yourself fully to traveling the Way and you then return to that Place within, the reason why there is no personal ‘self ’ within the whole universe will become clear.

A stick of firewood, once reduced to ashes, cannot once again revert to being a stick of firewood. Nevertheless, you should not hold onto the opinion that the ashes are the future of that which the stick was the past. What you need to understand is that, when firewood is persisting in the physical state of being firewood, there will be a before and there will be an after. Although there is a before and an after, there is a now which is cut off from ‘before’ and ‘after’. While ashes persist in the physical state of being ashes, they will have their ‘after’ and their ‘before’. After a stick of firewood has turned to ashes, just as it does not once again become firewood, so after someone dies, he does not come back to life again. Even so, as was the customary way the Buddha taught, we do not speak of life becoming death, which is why He spoke of things ‘not arising’. The Buddha also passed on through His turning of the Wheel of the Dharma that death does not become life, which is why He spoke of things ‘not perishing’. Life is the situation at one time, and death is the situation at another.

For example, it is like winter and spring: do not imagine that winter ‘becomes’ spring, or speak of spring ‘becoming’ summer.
When someone has spiritually awakened, he resembles the moon’s ‘residing’ in water: the moon does not get wet nor is the water shattered. Although the moon is a great, broad light, it lodges in the tiniest bit of water. The moon at its fullest, as
well as the whole of the heavens, lodges within the dewdrop poised on a blade on a blade of grass, just as it lodges in any single bit of water. Spiritual awakening does not tear a person asunder; thus, it is like the moon’s not making a dent in the water. A person no more impedes his spiritual awakening than a dewdrop impedes the moon in the heavens. The deeper the reflection, the higher the light: how long the period of your spiritual awakening will last depends on how large your drop of water is and how full your moon is seen to be.

When the Truth has not yet completely filled someone’s body and mind, he is apt to think that his knowledge of the Dharma is already sufficient. When the Truth sufficiently fills his body and mind, he feels sure that some aspect is still lacking. By way of analogy, when you go out in a boat to the middle of the ocean, beyond the sight of any land or mountain, and look around you, all you see is the vast encircling water. Or, as another might put it, there is nothing to be seen. Be that as it may, this great Ocean is not a vast circle, and how we perceive It does not depend on what direction we look in. It is simply that we cannot exhaust what the rest of this Ocean’s nature is, though some have likened it to a dragon’s splendid palace or its jeweled necklace. Although this Ocean extends as far as our eye can see, after a while It will seem to be simply ‘a vast encircling’—indeed, even the whole universe will seem to be just the same.

Whether we are caught up in the dust of the world or have removed ourselves from it, we are involved with many doings, yet we only realize what our eyes can see through practicing meditation and studying the Way, for we are limited by what we can see and comprehend at the present moment. Taking our spiritual tradition’s viewpoint of the universe as your model, you will realize that, apart from appearing angular or round, the remaining attributes of the ocean and the mountains are vast and limitless, and that the world exists on all sides of us. But it is not only as if It were just on all sides. You must realize that It is what is beneath your very feet and within every drop of water.


We had an unusually large group of people sitting with us this Sunday. Hope to see all again next week. Remember - the bell rings at 1 p.m. (And please remember to turn off cell phones. Thanks!) Next week, Judy has graciously agreed to bring something to read.