Ocean

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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." 

Certainly, 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)

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