White Wind Zen Community

A Community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985

Every Breath You Take 60: Seeing a Grove

Dharma Talk presented by Ven. Shikai Zuiko O-sensei

Dainen-ji, October 3rd, 2009

signals that you are alive in this moment, now.

Of course, that won't always be the case.
One day, somewhere, sometime,
there'll be that final out breath
and it'll be too late for you to practise this moment, to wake up.

As is said, 

The Great Matter is birth and death.
Life slips past and time is gone.
Right now, Wake Up! Wake Up!

Do not waste time. 

Today's verse: 

Seeing a grove,

"May all beings

Be worthy of the respect

Of shining beings and of humans." 

A grove.
A grove of trees.
A grove of trees,
a little undergrowth and usually a purpose to produce something.

A grove of trees can remind us that just as a grove cannot be one individual tree,
a community cannot be one individual.

A species cannot be one specimen.

We can be reminded that although the process of being a human being is the same for all human beings,
the meaning that is made of experiencing
depends on factors of time, location,
where we were born and into what and what we learned.
The content varies wildly
but the fact of being a human being remains the same. 

We're sitting in the Hatto and although you may have been in the Hatto many many many many times,
perhaps you have never considered
that YOU can never experience someone else's point of view of the Hatto.

This morning we have fourteen radically different points of view of experiencing of the Hatto.

We don't even know if we're seeing the same colours.
We can make an assumption that we're not
because seeing and what is seen and how they interact in the bodymind is different.
Although the process is the same,
the result can be different for each individual. 

So, having said that,
you all have recognized the fact that as you are alive in this moment,
you have the opportunity to question into practice
and open the habitual stances
that have controlled the action that you may take in the world. 

Now, in the verse, the last line says:
"Worthy of the respect of shining beings and of humans."
What's being talked about with those "shining beings"?

In another translation, the word used is "celestials", so stars.
We have there, the respect of the shining beings, the stars and of humans.
How come?
What does that mean?
Does that mean a belief system of angels or beings that are different and superior to us?

Well, that is the meaning that can be taken from it,
and that is the meaning that has been taken from it over the course of history by many, creating cosmologies.

But hey, here's another way of looking at it:
there's something that's talked about called the Wheel of Becoming
(and remember "Wheel")
which talks of the Hell Realm,
hungry ghosts,
the Animal Realm,
the Realm of Shining Beings,
the Realm of Gods
and the Realm of Humans.

When this was put into iconography in Tibetan Dharma,
you see a very ferocious being holding this wheel,
the ferocious being was Death,
and reminding us that we better shape up
or we'd end up in one of these unfortunate realms
like the Hell Realm, the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, the Animal Realm
and what we really want to be in that understanding is Shining Beings or Gods. 

Now, another way of looking at it,
since anything can be looked at from many different perspectives,
another way of looking at it could be since it is a wheel,
it goes round and round.
In any given moment in any given life in any given sequence of experiences, p
erhaps we're talking about each individual
and the possibility of making choices
that allow attention to develop into contracted states
that can cause the Hell Realm,
that can cause that grasping,
that searching for something that the Hungry Ghost Realm can point to.

Hungry ghosts are depicted as strange creatures with
big, big eyes,
tiny, tiny mouths,
long spindly arms and fingers
and they can never get enough
because they can't get it into their mouths.
They can never grab onto what they want and eat.

We've all experienced that.
We've all experienced "This is great, but if only I had more of such and such and such and such, then things would be better." 

The Animal Realm,
the realm that's just concerned with its eating, its procreating, its excreting.
That's it.
Now, I really think this is kind of harsh for the animals
because I've seen behavior with animals that has been far more dignified
than the behavior exhibited by many humans. But I'm not judging... [students giggle] 

The Realm of Shining Beings.
So that's when you've done things pretty well.
Pretty well, pretty well, pretty well... [students laugh]
Yes! And you can bask in that light
that is reflected by the state being bounced off others around.

But of course when we sit in front of the wall
it bounces off and sometimes it blinds us
and sometimes it flashes
and sometimes it just makes us want to throw up
because we're so embarassed about what we've been doing. 

The Realm of the Gods: nice. Very nice. So perhaps there's some sort of aspiration to attain that god-like quality when mere mortal and lesser beings will come forward to seek and to worship. 

So have you not experienced variations of that as the Wheel of Birth and Death turns?

Of course you have, that's why you're here.
There's been at some point a recognition
that none of this stuff is necessary,
these are things that go on,
these are habitual patterns
but it's not necessary to narrow the intelligence of the bodymind
by falling into any of these patterns
and acting them out over and over again. 

Certainly there are many examples,
many many many public examples of how this occurs
and what the result of such beliefs can be,
but here you have the opportunity to open it up,
to open up any pattern that wants to expand and become who you are
because you're not that.
That is attention enraptured by a pattern. 

So you can see it.
You don't need to be it. 

So you sit and you notice moment to moment dharmas,
moments of experience
and you use that to practise the whole bodymind in the whole moment
and in the process of doing that,
the tendency to identify
and to find yourself as a SELF with a singular perspective

The inherent intelligence of the bodymind is allowed to open and flower
and this is a gift to the moment,
to the bodymind,
to all beings.
Moment after moment as we practise,
we become what we are
and the tendency to play out patterns
that are and have been defined by usual social orientations
wear out
and the energy of the bodymind is available
to do what needs to be done,
take what action is best
for as many beings as possible. 

The verse again: 

Seeing a grove,

"May all beings

Be worthy of the respect

Of shining beings and of humans." 

And speaking of groves, this is October.
Yesterday, the Chiden and I drove out to the country
and we went through a heavy mist and then we saw trees:
magenta, burgundy, plum coloured leaves,
brilliant yellow, gold, lemon yellow, brown,
a beautiful display of death.
'Cause let's face it folks,
the next thing for those leaves was to fall to the ground
and the whole cycle of birth and death,
that wheel continues. 

See it.
Know it.
Enjoy it.
Wake up.

Right now, eh?

Thank you for listening.