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    Realizing Genjokoan - Chapter 8 - First Half, to P 118

    Dear Fellow Dancers in This Life,

    We will read about the first half of Chapter 8, stopping just before the section "Life, Death and 'Time'" at the top of page 118.

    I know for a fact that we have future lives after this one, that our present life is not the end, and that our good and bad actions have good and bad effects that help determine those lives. How? I believe that we are just the ongoing dance of the universe (and the source of this dancing universe too), and all it contains and ever has or will contain that is, each and all, engaged in this dancing. We are the whole dance, not just a single dancer. Because we and all the other dancers are also just the dance, we are the other dancers too (and they just us). We are so in most intimate sense. Even when my personal little time on stage seems to start and finish, the dance still dances on ... so in our dance-nature, we dance on. Whatever will arise on the stage in the future, that is just our dance too, so we are just that ... every baby and blade of grass, mountain and star. We are constantly reborn as all that. And our actions now have effects, good and bad, on all those future babies and all the rest who we just are, endlessly rippling into time. So, do your best to do good.

    I also know that, while there is birth and death all around, there is also no birth and death in the least ... like the waves which appear to rise and fall from the sea, yet are just the flowing sea all along without one drop lost or gained though waves seem to come and go. We can also realize such.

    That is my personal view of what the Buddha may have meant as rebirth.

    But is there also a personal stream that is your stream of cause-&-effect reborn life after life based on your ethical actions, like falling dominoes? Maybe so ... although I personally am skeptical like Okumura Roshi about more literal descriptions of the mechanism for such. On the other hand, I do not deny the possibility. So, I often say ...

    If there are future lives, heavens and hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.

    And if there are no future lives, no heavens or hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.

    Thus I do not much care if, in the next life, that "gentle way, avoiding harm" will buy me a ticket to heaven and keep me out of hell ... but I know for a fact that it will go far to do so in this life, today, where I see people create all manner of "heavens and hells" for themselves and those around them by their harmful words, thoughts and acts in this life.

    And if there is a "heaven and hell" in the next life, or other effects of Karma now ... well, my actions now have effects then too, and might be the ticket to heaven or good rebirth.

    In other words, whatever the case ... today, now ... live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ... seeking to avoid harm now and in the future too.
    If you are interested, you can read more comments by me on Rebirth and Karma here:

    ... and here ...

    A couple of final points: The Buddha did not speak of a personal "soul," but certainly believed in the personal stream of falling dominoes of cause and effect that emanate from our actions and life. It is a very fine distinction, but works to explain how we can have future lives yet not get caught up in a soul.

    Also, Dogen spoke against certain ideas of "Kensho" as seeing some fixed essence, but I believe that he did not speak against "Kensho" as experiencing something more to this world than meets the eye (Dogen sometimes used the term approvingly too).

    In both cases, it is as if the Buddha and Dogen are just opposing our getting caught in the idea of some fixed entities such as a "soul" or "essence" ... but neither thought that this physical body, one life and world of things is the only way to see things. That is why I like the image of a "dance" which is not something that can be nailed down as a "thing," but is a constantly flowing movement ... and there are no separate dancers really, but just their twirling and stepping upon the stage as manifestations of the dance itself. It is real and ongoing, but not some thing easy to nail down either.

    So, you are the dancing and a dancer ... dance as gracefully as you can in your turn.

    Gassho, J

    Last edited by Jundo; 03-23-2020 at 02:31 AM.

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