Thursday, September 19, 2013

Abandon any hope of fruition

Abandon any hope of fruition.

If there is a “time” which is more than just linear, than this Tibetan Lojong slogan makes sense.  If we believe solely in a linear history that develops through time or over a period of time, then this slogan doesn’t make any sense.  In development, there is hope for a result. In order to progress we have to have linear time. If we believe in cause and effect than the fruition is caused by our effort.  We can get better!

The idea of linear time is part of consensus reality and relative truth.  It dissolves in the face of absolute truth. Linear time allows humans to live a life from beginning to end, with work, job, family, accomplishments, love, old age, sickness and death as the very essence of life.  If you allow for the Buddhist deconstruction of time, then we begin to question the solidity of our stories and how we understand our life.  In some senses, this doubt or questioning is a fruition unto itself. 

In studying Dogen’s fascicle Uji or Beingtime, many of my strongly held fixed views about life and time have started to break up. So here’s our dilemma, what’s real?  Oh, how humans want a concrete answer to that!  We want to live in black and white.  Either there is no time or there is linear time?  But Zen understanding places us right in the foci of those opposites.  They mutually dance together.  Form and emptiness are mutually interdependent. 

Each moment is sourced from timelessness and yet it does not destroy a speck of dust or anything about the construction of our everyday life.  As we mature, we begin to see them working together.  This understanding of historic time and timelessness, dancing together, doesn’t change a thing in the construction of our life span and yet, in understanding this, it does seem to change everything.  Our whole perspective on what a human life is, starts to subtly change and karmas can be loosened and good (or negative) karmas can be made.  We don’t eradicate our karmic life but neither do we believe in it.

From the Heart Sutra:
Neither old age and death…..nor the extinction of old age and death.

To abandon any hope of fruition is to live in the present moment.  Even though this present moment have the effects from past moments and have the seeds for the future moments, this moment still stands alone. In the absolute sense, this moment is discontinuous.  It is only itself.  To understand this slogan we have to see through our stories and see the completeness of this very moment.  Our stories and linear time tell us that if we practice hard now and for, maybe, 10 years, in the future, things will be better and perhaps we will be enlightened even.  That’s a smile.  Even in historic time, the future won’t necessarily be better.  As Buddha so succinctly warns us, no one escapes old age, illness, and death.

This view of futuring, is the misunderstood belief that practice produces enlightenment in the future.  This is not Dogen’s understanding of time or enlightenment.  Dogen suggests that the Now contains everything; the past, present and future.  Where could enlightenment exist if other than right now?  Right now is filled with enlightenment, awareness, awakening, aliveness.  There is no future for it to exist in.  That future is a construction of our minds and a fantasy.  He asserts that the circle of the Way exists and can only exist in the moment.  Aspiration, practice, awakening and the Way are all continuously present in this moment and that faith or understanding this, brings practice alive.  He reduces this to his expression practice-enlightenment as one word.  To awaken in this moment is to be enlightened and to be in the Way.  There is no other Buddha Way then the Way of this moment.

“Abandon any hope for fruition” is very similar to Katagiri Roshi saying that cause and effect are one.  And this “one” lives in this moment.