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Thread: Is the Universe Beautiful and Good?

  1. #1

    Is the Universe Beautiful and Good?

    Master Dogen lived in a grim age, filled with war and widespread poverty, illness, personal loss and countless other hardships. Despite all that, Dogen wrote in most lyrical terms of some underlying beauty and benevolence, wholeness and harmony which somehow fills the universe when our hearts are able to perceive. All things and moments, great and small, are Buddha, each a Buddha. He wrote, for example, in Shobogenzo-Hotsu Mujo Shin:

    In the great way of buddha dharma, there are thousands of sutras in one particle, there are countless buddhas in one particle. Both a blade of grass and a tree are the body and mind. Because myriad things are beyond birth, the one mind is beyond birth. Because all things are reality, one particle is reality. Thus, the one mind is all things. All things are the one mind, the entire body. ... Grass, trees, tiles, and pebbles, as well as the four great elements and the five skandhas [which make up us human beings], are all equally inseparable mind, equally marks of reality. The entire world of the ten directions [everywhere], the buddha nature of thusness, is equally things abiding in their conditions. How can there be grass, trees, and so on within the buddha nature of thusness? How can grass, trees, and so on not be buddha nature? All things are neither created nor not created, but are reality. Reality is reality as it is. (Tanahashi)
    Today, we live in a world better in many ways, but in which war and violence still exist, worldwide poverty persists, while illnesses and other hardships sometimes touch all of us. We each lose the people we love sometimes, and our own lives are fragile. This world is sometimes beautiful, yet sometimes ugly things occur. Terrible events, children suffering, injustice and pain.

    Even so, can we assert, as did Dogen, that the universe is yet "beautiful" and "good" beneath it all?

    That the world is a cruel, cruel place seems so obvious, given that so many cruel things occur. Those other religions speak of a "benevolent God," but how could that be so when the world that "He" purportedly made is sometimes filled with such tragedy? When I was young, I came to the conclusion that the universe was neutral at best, simply going about its Big Bang business, cold and uncaring about our small concerns. Our broken hearts and cries are nothing more than collateral damage as the cosmos does its thing, not feeling our sadness, unable to hear those cries.

    But is that truly the only way to see things?

    My heart changed many years ago. Now, for me, this Buddhist Practice opens up a sense that this universe, all of reality, is "Beautiful" and "Good" (big "B" and big "G") ... IF (big "IF") we are discerning and subtle about just what that means. The key lies in our ability to see through and beyond this world of division and conflict, coming and going, birth and death to our other face ... our shared Face (big "F") ... that is beyond all division, beyond all separate pieces and players, thus no two players to conflict. The unbroken Face is present everywhere, both before, during and after the apparent "comings" and "goings," just like the sea which is vast and present though small waves rise and fall upon its surface. The waves are just the waters all along, thus never truly "come" nor "go." So it is for those we love and lose, and our own lives too. They do not go, we do not go, for their longed for face is our own face and all others' faces, our smiles and tears are theirs, all this True Face. There is some wonder and mystery to how we came to be born here, all together, in the middle of time and space, when it seemingly did not have to happen. I sense a Face that is unborn born as all our little faces, seeing with all our eyes, a sea divided for a timeless time as each of us.

    There is an overriding Beauty, Goodness, Wholeness and Harmony to the universe, known in its wonders and its creativity, which is beyond all the small happenings -- yet is precisely who we are. It is so hidden and hard to see in this world of division much of the time, but it is so.

    This is the "great way," the "buddhas" and "sutras" in every particle, the "mind" that is "beyond birth," "Buddha nature," the "reality as it is" of which Dogen speaks above.

    But there is something more: For, since our hands and hearts are the universe, the love and hate, peace or violence, selfishness and generosity in our own hearts and done with our hands manifests beauty and ugliness, etc., in the universe. In other words, when we bring love and peace to the universe, or act with violence and hate, we flavor what the universe becomes. The world is like a canvas where we can paint images of beauty or ugliness by our combined efforts as the community of beings. Dogen thus saw it is as our human duty to act with the graceful dignity and ethics of a Buddha. In his day, he was helpless to end the war, to feed the hungry, to cure the plagues so rampant outside his monastery's walls. Today, we have more power, and need not live behind walls. In modern times, let us work to end the war, feed the hungry, comfort the lonely, cure the disease in the wider one community. In Hotsu Mujo Shin, Dogen spoke of the sacrifice of laypeople in their making offerings to feed monks ...

    Know that [laypeople] offering food and drink, clothes, bedding, medicine, monk’s huts, fields, and forests to the three treasures is no other than offering the flesh, skin, bones, and marrow of themselves, their spouses, or their children. By doing so, they are already in the meritorious ocean of the three treasures. They are in one community. As they are in one community, they are with the three treasures. The virtue of the three treasures is actualized in the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow of their spouses and children. This is diligent endeavor of the way. ...
    Today, let us offer food and drink, clothes and bedding, housing, medicine and all the rest to all sentient beings, to their spouses and children, all one community. This too is diligent practice of the way, and how we manifest the potential for a beautiful and good world in this Beautiful and Good universe.

    Gassho, J


    sorry to run long
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-16-2022 at 11:34 PM.

  2. #2
    Thank you, Jundo

    Kaidō (皆道) Every Way
    Washin (和信) Harmony Trust
    I am a novice priest-in-training. Anything that I say must not be considered as teaching
    and should be taken with a 'grain of salt'.

  3. #3
    Thank you

    理道弘志 | ridō koushi

    Please take this novice priest-in-training's words with a grain of salt.

  4. #4



    hobo kore dojo / 歩々これ道場 / step, step, there is my place of practice

    Aprāpti (अप्राप्ति) non-attainment

  5. #5
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  6. #6
    Thank you, Jundo.

    Kotei sat/lah today.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidō Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean that my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  7. #7
    Thank You

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  10. #10
    Thank you Jundo

    Sat today and lah

  11. #11
    Hope you are right.
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
    E84I - JAJ

  12. #12
    Thank You

    Sat today

  13. #13
    合掌 仁道 生開 - gassho, Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    日々是好日 【nichi nichi korego nichi】Every Day is a Good Day!!

  14. #14
    Thanks jundo I agree. It’s also a very creative universe. In my lifetime the population increased from 2.5 to 8 billion so far


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

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    Gassho, Tomás

  17. #17
    Within the smallest particle exists the largest space.

    Cam AnGyo

  18. #18
    “the waves are just the waters all along.”
    Thank you, Jundo.

  19. #19

    Thank you Jundo


  20. #20

    Is the Universe Beautiful and Good?

    Is The Universe Beautiful and Good?

    It does not apply.

    Gassho, Jishin, ST, LAH

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