The entire earth and the entire sky are both the undivided activity of the boat
This is the last section of the quote from Dogen’s Zenki. I’ll publish all of the quote tomorrow. However many times I visit these words they do not make ordinary sense. And I think that’s the idea, pointing us past what makes sense to a deeper truth that’s universal. It takes us out of ourselves while very much rooted in action.
The photo is from a walk called the Kentmere Round which I did on Monday.
What makes Dogen different from all other thinkers? someone asked when I gave a talk at St. John’s College in Santa Fe.
“His deep trust in action,” I replied. “Facing the enormity of the problems in the world, we often become cynical doubting that individual action can make a significant impact. Dogen’s view of the power of each individual action can be a driving force in challenging this cynicism.
So wrote Mr. Kazuaki Tanahashi, translator of Dogens works. Written in 2001
Zen Master Dogen indeed trusted in action. My monastic upbringing and practice points to even the smallest action, such as putting your shoes straight, as having deep significance. Small actions, big impact.
Out walking these past couple of days. I’m sure ‘somebody’ can name the features in the above photograph taken on Monday. A memorable day not least because my hat evaporated into thin air. Or so it seemed! I’ve got others. No worries.
More from Dogen on action as I once again drag my luggage south on public transport.
I’m visiting (and that’s taken up a lot of my focus recently) an elderly woman who recently moved to a care home on Marine Drive, Morecambe. I have struck it lucky these past couple of weeks with the waters in the Bay almost lapping up against the sea defenses. From her room my fellow Buddhist friend has a view of the Bay with the Lakeland Fells fringing the skyline. There is quite a bit of settling in arranging statues and pictures and treasures so she can be reminded and inspired of her Buddhist affiliations. Too bad she is not able to bend and twist sufficiently to see the view.
She has a single-sheet daily quote calendar beside her bed. When I’m there, if it’s not been done already, I tear off pages to bring it up to date and recycle the paper. Here recycling a quote from Albert Einstein:
A human being is part of the whole called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. They experience themselves, thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to enhance all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
I’d replace “Universe” with “the Great Earth” which in Buddhist terms means Everything, seen and unseen or I guess “the Universe without edges” would work too. Anyway, hope this has inspired you on this long holiday weekend.
All merit goes to those who are not able to bend and twist so well. Either permanently or just at the moment. Such a condition need not be part of being ‘in prison’ though it may well feel like that. Sorry.