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.
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.
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
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
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:
oneself toward all things to carry out practice-enlightenment is delusion.
things coming and carrying out practice-enlightenment through the self is
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”
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”:
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.
is nothing more than a fabrication of an idea.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Labels: Being-time, Dogen, Shobogenzo, the Whole Works, total dynamic functioning, Uchiyama roshi, Uji