When a man goes off in a boat and looks back to see the shoreline, he mistakenly thinks the shore is moving. If he keeps his eyes closely on his boat, he realizes that it is the boat that is advancing. In like manner, when a person tries to discern and affirm the myriad dharmas with a confused conception of his own body and mind, he mistakenly thinks his own mind and his own nature is permanent. If he makes all of his daily deeds intimately his own and returns within himself, the reason that the myriad dharmas are without self will become clear to him.”
Zen Master Dogen
I have mentioned before that our minds like to quickly assess things, come to what the mind thinks is a reasonable conclusion, and then go on to the next thing. The reasonable conclusion doesn’t have to be accurate at all, it just has to satisfy the mind in a very general way so that it can jump to the next thing, that certainly must be more important. When we hear someone that teaches something profound we stop for a moment and say ”cool” then almost immediately go back to whatever mundane thing was occupying our mind! This is the reason that we often miss teachings that are very profound. In the Buddhist Suttas/Sutras before the Buddha would begin to teach something he would often say “Listen carefully, pay attention, and I will speak”. Since he understood the way of our minds he would say this before he began teaching to insure the monks were paying attention.
Remember in my blog about Karma I gave an example of your Great Grandmother turning down your great Grandfather the first time he asked her out on a date. In the alternate reality of my example your Great Grandfather was so crushed he never got up the nerve to ask her again. If you don’t give this any real thought it sounds silly but this is one of those profound things. A single simple action by one person that changes the whole universe for all “time”! That sounds fairly profound to me. The one action (Karma) changes a whole series of events throughout time. Since everything is interdependent all actions affect all other actions. The Universe is in a constant flux due to the actions of all animate and inanimate things. This is why the Buddha said “Your actions are your only true belongings”. While you are this “I” everything that you do throughout your life has an effect on everything else. I am not saying that you should stress out over every decision you make but just realize that you do not live (by yourself) in a vacuum. Like almost all Buddhist teachings that at first seem to have sort of a negative connotation to them, you have to turn it on its head to see the positive side. So many people go through life feeling insignificant and unimportant. How can you be insignificant and unimportant if you have the power to change the Universe!
“Because of this, when even just one person, at one time, sits in zazen, he becomes, imperceptively, one with each and all the myriad things, and permeates completely all time, so that within the limitless universe, throughout past, future and present, he is performing the eternal and ceaseless work of guiding beings to enlightenment, It is for each and every thing, one and the same undifferentiated cultivation, and undifferentiated authentication”
Zen Master Dogen
Back to the discussion on “Time”. Here is another thing to ponder. We determined that the past and the future do not really exist. Due to our head always being in the illusion of past or future we spend immense amounts of “time” worrying about what happened yesterday or what is going to happen tomorrow. If we agree that there is only the present moment, a sort of continuous now, then you have to recognize that each of these moments that we experience are unique. That means that EACH MOMENT ONLY HAPPENS ONCE, IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE, FOR ALL TIME AND ETERNITY! You don’t get a do over. The question is, “How did you spend that last moment”? “How are you going to spend the next one”?
So what should we do with this? Grab your kids or you spouse and tell them right now how you really feel…. Call that relative or friend that you had a falling out with and tell them you are sorry…..learn that ‘thing” that you have always wanted to do…..watch a sunset….take a walk in the rain….look at that rainbow….Do something that matters!!!
Lastly, I was going to conclude this series on “Time” with Part III but I got some encouragement from a fellow blogger, Thanks Paul!