“Who sweeps the ground
and also sees the moon?
Holding up the moon,
her sweeping is truly not in vain.”
Dogen-Zenji from Eihei Koroku
Our chores and repetitive actions that are the nuts and
bolts of human activity are not simply mundane and therefore inconsequential. These
activity; brushing our teeth, washing the dishes, changing diapers, answering
emails, walking to the mailbox etc are not unimportant or insignificant to the
meaning of life. They are not to be rushed through or ignored all together or
handed off for someone else to do.
My son asked me in an existential moment, “What is the
meaning of life? I answered, “The
present moment itself IS the meaning.
If we see life from this view, we see that each moment is
complete. Each moment upholds both
the vast and the particular. Each moment is the actual expression of Buddha,
and all our life becomes the field for this expression.
As Dogen says, “In the
whole world, nothing is hidden.”
Which means that we actually can clearly see and have a connection with
the mystery in each moment. In an
ordinary mind, we don’t see that “doing the dishes” is connected with the whole
of life and we can’t see this connection because our discursive thinking is
still out of control and circulated madly within all our fabricated
stories. To have a direct mind, is
to do all our activities as holding up
the moon, as connected with the universal perspective, and therefore,
nothing we do is in vain. That
eases my soul. Nothing I do is in
vain. Nothing is just trivia and
wasting my time. I can take care
with even the smallest thing - putting the paperclip back in its magnetic
box. When I can receive life as a
whole, than each moment, extraordinary or ordinary, is enough.
As Katagiri Roshi writes,
“There is no fixed
form for engaging the way. It is
about how to live intimately with all things.”
There is no fixed form for engaging the way. Whatever is in front of our noses is
the current form and that current form flows easily and without obstructions
into the next form. Whatever is in
front of our noses is the Buddha nature, is life on life’s terms. We welcome each impermanent form as it
flows into the next form. This is
practice and the moment of realization both. There is no form that is
essentially more “spiritual” than another. A ritualized form such as the morning service does not have
an intrinsic value that is higher than, say, going to the bathroom. They both are expressing the Buddha
nature, which is held within their own uniqueness. And yet, both types of
experience mutually influence each other.
We begin to realize the “wholeness” intrinsic in life. To intimately penetrate what is in
front of our noses, is to penetrate the whole
works. Nothing more.
Katagiri roshi continues by saying,
“Just be in the
process of living
for which there is no
with the true mind,
the sincere mind and purity.
This “purity” is not opposed to dirty or sinful. It is not an evaluative word. This purity means to directly and clearly,
contact, without clinging, this exact experience.
Dogen calls this, “penetrating
Dogen writes from Uji, Beingtime:
Entirely worlding the
entire world with the whole world
Is thus called penetrating
One does nothing but
penetrate exhaustively entire time as entire being.
There is nothing
remaining left over.
Labels: Being-time, direct mind, Dogen Zenji, Katagiri Roshi, practice-realization, present moment