Sunday, February 21, 2021



What is transcended is not responsibility for one’s misdeeds;
rather it is the model of sequential piling up of one’s actions
 in such a way that one is forced to react unskillfully in the future.
 Dōgen’s “great practice” is the bodhisattva practice
 of incorporating and responding to the whole of our situation,
 thereby deeply seeing cause and effect. 
As soon as we return to the totality of this moment’s complete expression, 
we are not caught by anything. Even though we are still subject to the repercussions
 of our past actions, we are free to respond skillfully
 in the present moment.

If we have been rude to someone in the past and that person is wary of us,
 our total participation in this moment of meeting that person
 will not necessarily take away the effects of our past meeting. 
What it will do is free us to respond skillfully in this situation. 
Since we are not caught by “piled up” or overlapping experiences, 
we are freed to enact the new paradigm of “great practice.”

Another example: If you are playing baseball and you drop the ball, 
you don’t let your mistakes “pile up.” You must forget dropping the ball
 and be present for the next opportunity to catch the ball. 
Holding on to a past mistake will often hinder your ability
 to respond skillfully in the present, although you still file away your mistake
 and make adjustments. 
From the point of view of practice this would translate to
 making a mistake, acknowledging the mistake, atoning for that mistake,
 and moving on from the mistake.

Dōgen points out that our understanding of self 
can become a fixed idea of accumulated traits or experiences. 
He observes, for example, that spring, autumn, and ourselves
 are independent moments that are not the results of being piled up. 
He writes, “This means that we cannot see the four elements
 and five aggregates of the present as our self 
and we cannot trace them as someone else.” 
The self is both independent and the totality of all being-time. 
We are no-self and a particular self at the same time, 
caught by neither and more than both.
 In the case of practice-realization, we are not waiting
 for a particular set of experiences to line up or pile up,
 thereby creating the circumstances for realization. 
Realization is present in each moment. 
Realization is each moment. 
It is true that we may progress in our practice,
 but realization is not predicated upon a particular set of circumstances, 
since it is actualized being-time: a response to our current circumstances.

In concrete terms, this means we must engage and fulfill
 our understanding of practice in each moment,
 not putting it off. A student once said,
 “I know what is skillful, 
but I don’t want to do it right now.” 
This kind of procrastination usually arises when our small self 
is trying to avoid facing a situation that will cause us to look at our own faults. 

~ Shinshu Roberts
from an article on Dōgen in Insight Journal
 Barre Center for Buddhist Studies  
excerpted from Being-Time: 
A Practitioner's Guide to Dogen's Shobogenzo Uji:
 Wisdom Publ. 2018
art by Van Gogh


Mystic Meandering said...

Wow... this just really speaks volumes to me, as does your previous post, where I am in a difficult situation with a relative now due to their past actions, and hurtful words... And am finding it hard to open the heart to them, because my heart still hurts, but I know I must do so in order to "move on." But, I'm like the student in this writing - "I know what's skillful, but I don't want to do it right now.' :) Obviously needing to look at my own "stuff" about that! :)

RandyC said...

Dear Shinshu, Beautiful reminder. Thank you. It's all here right now. Always. Randy

Shinshu Roberts said...

Thanks for posting this excerpt from my book on Uji (Being-Time: A Practitioner's Guide to Dogen's Shobogenzo Uji: Wisdom Publ. 2018). I am glad that it is helpful. In the Dharma, Shinshu Roberts