The Far Side of the Moon.

May 28, 2015 § 3 Comments

butterfly moon

In Genjokoan, Zen Master Dogen wrote:

“Conveying oneself toward all things to carry out practice-enlightenment is delusion. All things coming and carrying out practice-enlightenment through the self is realization.”

Although these words may sound daunting, Dogen is really just giving us some practical advice on meditation or practice-enlightenment.

When we first take up meditation we find that our attention easily wanders after thoughts and sensation. As we progress, we find ourselves looking for some experience called enlightenment. Later, we see that every meditation is accompanied by a thought that we call myself or “I”. All of these are part of what Dogen calls “conveying oneself toward all things” because in each we are moving outwardly to seek the self in thought and experience.

When we finally realize that the subject of practice is not found in things we begin to abandon the outward search. We do not follow our thoughts so much when they beckon. We do not heed our cognizing mind when it tells us the solution lays this way or that. Thought and experience do not end but instead of running after them we begin to just watch as they arise and fall. To paraphrase Dogen, all things come through the self yet no thing is mistaken for that Self which just watches.

In a recent post I likened this realization to sitting in a field looking up at a full moon knowing that, although you can’t see it, its far side is always there. Likewise, the Self is here, right now. It’s you! Yet in your very search for it you move away from it.

It may seem paradoxical but the value of practice lies in its ability to lead you to a place where you give up your search for enlightenment or Buddhahood. You just sit, expecting nothing, looking for nothing, not seeing self as anything. It is then that enlightenment unfolds of it’s own accord and the meaning is made clear of, “All things coming and carrying out practice-enlightenment through the self is realization.”

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