Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Setting the self out in array


From Uji or Being-Time by Dogen, a fascicle in the Shobogenzo:

We set the self out in array and make that the whole world.
We must see all the various things of the whole world as so many times.
                                                Waddell and Abe Translation
The way the self arrays itself is the form of the entire world.
See each thing in this entire world as a moment of time.
                                                Tanahashi Translation

In our study of Buddhist Time, we are contemplating the intersection of Time and Space or Being in the truth happening place of the present moment.  In considering Dogen’s word being-time, we have to go beyond just the study of time and also look into and see how it’s related to our being or our “self”.  There is not one writing from Dogen which allows us to hold onto our idea of “self” as a separate being or our “life” as a solid life span.  He constantly, in his rearranging of syntax and reinterpretation of words, breaks down our conceptual ideas of an individual unit of a “self”.

In the quotes above, he is again suggesting that “being” or “existence” or “self” is not a unit but is a complete expression of all times and all places.  He espouses that the world and the self are born and die in one moment and is interpenetrated with the whole world.

While we were discussing this in class, very predictably the duality arose of:

·      do we make the world through our projections of consciousness? or
·      does the world make us, by dropping the self and becoming wholeheartedly one with the conditions of each moment?

This caused me to pause. Are we stuck in either/or again?  Our discursive mind is always dissecting and slicing.  This mind wants to make everything a portion of the whole.  Our conscious minds not able to recognize the whole working together.

We discussed in class what the phrase “We set the self out in array and make that the whole world” means.  One person thought it meant that we project our consciousness out into the environment and construct a world.  I, in a different way, had interpreted it as, once we can wholeheartedly become the activity of the present moment, losing our sense of self in that process, the whole world becomes us.  Someone brought up this quote from the Genjo-Koan fascicle:
Conveying oneself toward all things to carry out practice-enlightenment is delusion. 
All things coming and carrying out practice-enlightenment through the self is realization.
Then, I have to laugh. We have just studied quite thoroughly the fascicle of Daigo, Great Realization, which demonstrates that both delusion or enlightenment are the complete expression of the moment, and therefore filled with suchness.  Delusion and enlightenment are two sides of the complete whole.

The sentence just previous to “We set the self out in array” is:
“Nevertheless, the doubts themselves are, after all, none other than time.”
And the sentence just following is:
See each thing in the entire world as a moment of time.”
I think we could interpret that as encouraging us to see both delusion and enlightenment as a moment of time and that moment of time is the Whole Dynamic Working.

I found this quote from Uchiyama Roshi in “The Art of Just Sitting” page 59-60 helpful in clarifying how we might understand this unification of self and environment or the “whole world”:

We usually assume that the world existed long before we were born and that our birth is our entrance onto the stage of an already existing world.  At the same time, we often assume that our death means our departure from this world, and that after our death this world continues to exist.  Within this way of thinking a fabrication is taking shape that is not the actualization of reality itself.
This is nothing more than a fabrication of an idea.
My true Self lives in a reality, and the world I experience is one I alone can experience, and not anyone else can experience it along with me. 
To express this as precisely as possible, as I am born, I simultaneously give birth to the world I experience; I live out my life along with that world, and at my death the world I experience also dies.
From the standpoint of reality, my own life experience (which in Buddhist terminology equals mind) and reality (which means the dharma or phenomena I encounter in life) can never be abstractly separated from each other.  They must be identical.
Shin, or mind, in terms of Buddhadharma should be understood as follows: the mind that has been directly transmitted from buddha to buddha is the mind that extends throughout all phenomena, and all phenomena are inseparable from that mind.  Hence, the use of the word “mind” in this case goes far beyond having only a mental or psychological meaning.  In our age, perhaps “pure life” would be a clearer expression than mind.
Let’s take another look at the expression, “The dharma should be grasped so that mind and object become one.”  This expression means that we must learn to see all phenomena (everything in life) from the foundation of a pure-life experience.