I am on the 'Big Island" of Hawaii. The ocean is
found in all directions. Today, I swam around a little reef near shore,
borrowing my son's mask and snorkel. Fish were everywhere, yellow,
bright red, blue and black. Even a big green sea turtle. None seemed
the least bothered by me, and I certainly was not disturbed by them.
I often feel that Zen practice lets humans recall and recover the naturality and balance, the "just going about one's business"-ness
that those little fish embody without thought ... but which we have
largely forgotten. Without concern for past or future ... they just
swim where they swim. Master Dogen once wrote, in a poem called The Buddha's Essential Functioning
"Clear water all the way through to the bottom. A fish swims like a fish."
they know how to avoid trouble, and move out of the way of perceived
danger ... yet, immediately they return to their business. Do they
worry constantly about all the perils out there, ever afraid... or do
they simply swim on, past perils immediately dropped from mind, future
perils left to the future ... going about their business now? Perhaps
not even a thought of where the fish ends and ocean begins. Dogen wrote
in the Genjo ...
Fish swim the water and however much they swim, there is no end to the
water. Birds fly the skies, and however much they fly, there is no end
to the skies. Yet fish never once leave the water, birds never forsake
the sky. When their need is great, there is great activity. When their
need is small, there is small activity. In this way, none ever fails to
exert itself to the full, and nowhere does any fail to move and turn
freely. If a bird leaves the sky, it will soon die. If a fish leaves
the water, it at once perishes. We should grasp that water means life
[for the fish], and the sky means life [for the bird]. It must be that
the bird means life [for the sky], and the fish means life [for the
water]; that life is the bird, life is the fish.
No separation of sea creatures and the sea ... Do you know that you too are the life of the world?
I am reminded of another line by a favorite Indian poet, Kabir ...
All know that the drop merges into the ocean,
yet few know that ocean merges into the drop
THERE IS NO BELL TO START OR END TODAY's SITTING ... just the sea ...
(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)