The dichotomy we have been working with in Dogen’s Uji is
time and timelessness. Another way
of naming this duality is linear, sequential time and ‘being-time’. “Being-time” drops the moment down and
touches timelessness or eternity or no-birth-no-death as Thich Nhat Hanh would
call it. Each moment in Buddhist
understanding, is the entire world and all times.
Each moment is the eternal spring. The source energy of life arises and produces each moment as
an independent time. Even though, through the principle of cause and effect in
the form world, we experience Time as developmental and in a sequence, strictly
speaking, a moment arises and dies in 1/62nd of a finger snap. The conditions of the last moment
predetermine the arising of the next moment but essentially they do not
connect. The moments are coming
and going at “superspeed” as Katagiri Roshi used to say. Dogen says that moments are swallowed
up and spitted out. The eternal spring
gushes forth on each discrete, discontinuous moment.
Most of us only see time in its developmental, sequential
way of being. We have no doubt
about sequence. The sun rises and
sets. We are born, have a
childhood, an adulthood, get sick and die.
A seed produces a sprout, produces a tree, produces a fruit.
“The going and coming
of life is obvious, you do not come to doubt them. But even though you do not have doubts about them, that is
not to say you know them.”
Uji” or “Being-time”
We do not doubt what is obvious to our eye. For example, that my children are now
grown and leaving the house. How
their childhood flew by. But if we
only experience life as flying by, we don’t really come to have intimacy with
what is actually happening in the present moment. In order to have this “knowing” of the moment, we have to
penetrate it and know it as an independent time and that I am experiencing the
moment right now as “being-time”.
Do not think that time
merely flies away. Do not see
flying away as the only function of time.
If time merely flies away, you would be separated from time. The reason you do not clearly
understand the time being is that you think of time only as passing.”
“Uji” or “being-time”
When we are full of our schedules, our to-do lists and our
busyness, as our life is flying by, we do not have the “time” to drop down and
feel the moment as a fresh, mysterious being. Each moment is a being and it is deeply penetrated with our
being. In fact, they are
absolutely inseparable. This inability
to feel the whole world in our moments is why our life feels so
dissatisfying. Flying by is not
the only function of time. We are
running around but not experiencing.
So Buddha called this, the constant dissatisfaction of life or the
Second Noble Truth. If we can
learn about being-time, we can enter into a place of satiation with the mystery
of life. We can touch the eternal
source, daily, in our ordinary tasks by being-time.
How do we live with, or practice with this pivot of time and
timelessness? The two are distinct
but they mutually, and simultaneously arise together. Dogen admonishes us to “Penetrate exhaustively each dharma position
or independent time, each moment.”
Tanahashi’s translation of the same
sentence is “vigorously abiding in each moment.”
Katagiri-roshi unpacks this by saying, “Practicing with
full commitment to the moment leads you to that which you seek.” Our seeking gets resolved in our “being”.
Katagiri Roshi writes, “If
you take care of this “right now” with wholeheartedness, you create good
conditions for the next” right now”.
Please take good care of this moment.”
Labels: Being-time, Buddhist time, Dogen, here and now, katagiri, now, right now, Time and timelessness, Uji