Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Continuing to reinterpret, possibly misinterpret some might say, Dogen for my own purposes, Genjo Koan, the third fascicle of Dogen's Shobogenzo, continues to discuss misconceptions about what I call potential, using some easily understood analogies.
When people seek after potential, they are very far from potential. But as soon as potential is realized, we are human beings in our original element.
Picture a person in a boat on a river: When she looks to the shore, she mistakenly assumes that the shore is moving. If she keeps her eyes fixed on the boat, she knows that it is the boat that is actually moving.  Similarly, when we try to understand potential on the basis of our confused assumptions about body and mind, we mistakenly assume that our own mind or our own essence is a fixed or permanent thing.  But as we become familiar with potential, the truth is evident that there is no "self" in potential
Firewood becomes ash - it can never go back to being firewood. Nevertheless, we should not take the view that ash is its future and firewood is its past.  Remember, in the eternal present moment, firewood is always firewood. Even though the present firewood has a past and a future, the past and the future are not part of the present moment.  Ash exists in the present moment as ash, and it, too, has a past and a future. Firewood, after becoming ash, does not become firewood again.
Similarly, after death, human beings do not live again, but it is not said that life turns into death.  Buddhists call this “no appearance.” Similarly, death does not turn into life. Buddhists call this “no disappearance.” Life exists in the present moment and death exists in the present moment.  It is the same, for example, with winter and spring. We do not think that winter becomes spring, and we do not say that spring becomes summer.  It is always the present moment, regardless of the season.

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