A couple of weeks ago the book club reading (i.e., Light to Dhritaka) wormed its way into my life in a rather unusual way. As Taigu has called for more discussion on our current books we are reading, I thought of posting it in the book club section, but as my thoughts are a bit convoluted, and will take some explanation before I get to the reading, I thought it best to make a separate post.
Here’s the story… I'm in a store trying to find an anniversary gift as it is our 24th anniversary this year and my cell phone buzzes with a notification that a friend from high school is commenting a picture that I posted on Facebook, which is from like 35 years ago. At that moment I had this pleasant feeling of what I have heard referred to as vertical time, deep time, or in Dogen’s terminology being-time.
As Jundo explained in a previous thread: http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewto...g+time+#p23634
So anyway, in that moment in the store I had this feeling of a convergence of past and future into now. No nostalgia for days gone by and no fear for the future (e.g., selecting the right gift), just a pristine feeling of it all contained within the moment. It seemed like I had just dropped into this awareness of past and future in the present.So, we usually think that time flows past to present to future, and that events over 'here' and 'now' are not events over 'there' and 'then'. Well, that is true in its way. But Dogen also pointed out that the past is just a memory of the mind (it was, after all, just the 'present' back then), and the future is just a dream of the mind (what future has there been yet?). In that way, 'past' and 'future' are just dreams. So, without there truly being a 'past' or 'future', what need have we even for the word 'present' (which only exists as a concept in contrast to what is -not- the present)? If we compare it a little to a 'river', it is a little like saying that there is no 'upstream' or 'downstream' or 'here' to the river, if we just see it all as a single 'just-the-river'.
And because every place on the river is 'just the river', every drop of the river is 'just the river', everything happens SIMULTANEOUSLY!
The next day I reflect on the experience and now think more in terms of horizontal or calendar time, the way we usually think of time. For some reason, I began pondering about my realization back 35 years ago….what was the nature of Original Mind back in my very deluded past when I was 17 years old? Was it present? Then a passage from “Light to Dhritaka” hit me.
I felt oddly comforted by this…the fact that Original Mind was present in me all those years ago. “Now” of the present seemed to be informing the past, or at least my conceptualization of the past.Original Mind never ceases to be just itself. Therefore the Great Way is timeless, without any trace of development.
In a podcast Norm Fischer explains that the first sentence is our usual view of time and practice…..I was deluded back then, but now I am much better off due to my practice. The rest of the passage is stating that our past is with us right now and thus we have this continued connection with the past. In connecting my present understanding of Original Mind with my deluded past, I sort of transposed this notion. Norm Fischer also explains that fully realizing being-time connects us with all of time as all time is being. Perhaps this more clearly explains my experience.Three heads and eight arms may be yesterday’s time. [Delusion] The eight-or sixteen –foot body may be today’s time. [Realization] Yet yesterday and today are both in the moment when you directly enter the mountains and see thousands and myriads of peaks. Yesterday’s time and today’s time do not go away.
Three heads and eight arms move forward as you time-being. It looks as if they are far away, but they are here and now. The eight- or sixteen-foot body moves forward as your time-being. It looks as if it is nearby, but it is exactly here. Thus, a pine tree is time, bamboo is time.
So what’s the point? I guess my main message I am trying to communicate, in a rather convoluted and overly analytical manner, is that I seem to be experiencing a new perspective on time and finding that this new perspective is not mutually exclusive from more conventional views on time.
Again as Jundo points out (from the same thread as referenced above):
In the same podcast referenced above Norman Fischer states that in zazen we experience a different sense of time. I believe it is zazen that has really given me a different “taste” of what time is and how I relate to time.It helps to realize that Dogen was always proposing Reality from several perspectives at once, some seemingly contradictory (X exists, X does not exist), but just different vantage points, each true in its way.
On Thursday my daughter goes off to college, a day I have been dreading ever since I put her on the school bus for kindergarten. Nothing can jolt you into horizontal time or the perception of “time flying away” than major life events.
Yet as Dogen states:
Perhaps I will “hold” time a bit differently as events unfold…it remains to be seen….I do know that I will be doing lots of zazen.If time merely flies away, you would be separated from time.
Norman Fisher Uji podcast (http://www.everydayzen.org/index.php?It ... io-818-586 )
Dogen quotes from “Uji” or “ The Time Being” (Note […] added by me.).