White Wind Zen Community

A Community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985

Every Breath You Take 66: Seeing Fruits

Dharma Talk presented by Ven. Shikai Zuiko O-sensei

Dainen-ji, January 2, 2010

January 2nd, 2010, the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century. Wow! 

is this moment.

Every breath you take nourishes bodymind,
giving you what you need to practise in this moment
right up to the point of that last breath.

So come on, it's just logical,
you're alive right now.

Don't plan to do tomorrow or even in the next moment what you can do right now. After all, 

The Great Matter is birth and death
Life slips past and time is gone
Right now

WAKE UP! [O-sensei yells these two lines]
Do not waste time 

Today's verse: 

Seeing fruits,

"May all beings

Fulfill the consummate Teaching

And realize the Way of Awake Awareness." 

Remember, this was written some 1600 years ago,
in a different context and by that is meant the reality of a different place on the globe,
a different climate,
a different set of vegetation,
different clothing,
different household appliances,
no tv, no internet,
no "Axe" deodorant,
no "Regenerist".

Different context.

That is very difficult for us to understand because self-image,
that contraction into a sense of self
is concerned and convinced only by what it believes to be true,
only by its own set of understandings
and it manages to effectively block out all sorts of other possibilities of understanding,
simple things
like the fact that the process of being a human being
is the same for all human beings. 

Self-image becomes convinced of its own beliefs.
"This is the way things are and this is the way they've always been."

But you,
sitting in front of that white wall
know that the moment of knowing anything,
including that sense of a contraction into "me",
is the only moment you have to practise.

So you're practising that moment of knowing,
that moment of clear seeing. 

Now today when you were walking here,
you may have been seeing a whole lot of wonderful fluffy snowflakes,
you might have been hearing as well as feeling the texture under the foot
which may have been a little bit of ice with a little crunch
moving into the softness of newly fallen snow,
and perhaps a little slip!

Any moment of knowing anything at all
is the only moment that you can practise. 

Now, some nearly seven decades ago when I was a kid,
and it was during the Second World War,
fruits were not as abundant as they are today,
especially during this time of year in the North
(and we are, we Canadians, a Northern people,
after all we are sitting in the second-coldest capital city in the world
and no the first is not Moscow,
so have another guess but that's an aside).
So some seven decades ago and before that,
the appearance of a withered little orange in a Christmas stocking was a big deal!
And that smell as the little cells containing the oils burst
was extraordinary as it floated in the cold air of the kitchen or living room
and mixed with smoke from a coal or wood fire was memorable
because that was the festive season.

But today it's different.
Today we walk down the street in our winter gear,
pull open the door of our local grocery store and there they are:
orange and yellow and red, the ovaries of the tree world!
'Cause that's what they are, that's what fruit is. 

Seeing trees in bloom,

"May all beings'

Have flower-like features,
And be marked with nobility." 

The verse: 

Seeing fruits,

"May all beings

Fulfill the consummate Teaching

And realize the Way of Awake Awareness." 

So each seed inside each fruit is the future.
It's not a dead thing.
Those fruit have been plucked and sorted and wrapped and shipped and granted,
the fleshy outer parts are decaying,
we call it "ripening off the tree" but really,
we all know what's going on.
That fruit, the flesh is wrapped around the fertilized ovules which are the seeds.
Now because each thing does make everything what it is,
you may recall that a few months ago, the price of lemons went way up.
Why was that?

The bees are disappearing,
they're not doing the job of transporting pollen to fertilize the flowers of the citrus trees
because for an unknown reason or reasons, their population is declining. 

However, each seed contains possibilities for the future.
So we can start to understand what the verse is saying by fulfilling the "consummate Teaching",
the perfect Teachings of Reality
which say this moment is perfect,
it is as it is.

Once we intercede with a concept like
"this moment's perfect, BUT IF...",
once that "but" creeps in there,
well, what do we have?
Basic unsatisfactoriness,
because that tiny little step into "but if"
is the beginning of toxic and dangerous fairy tales
about how things will be "if only..." or should be "if only..." 

No problem, you know what to do and in fact,
if those "if only"s are strong,
you have kind of a heads up because you know it might happen.
It's a bit like a tiny little gnat,
you might miss it if it's circling around your head,
but if you have a giant fruit bat with a wingspread of a meter circling around your head,
you might do something. 

So if those fruit bats of familiar states start to come up,
you don't have to do anything about them,
you just don't feed them.
You practise the whole bodymind in the whole moment,
you practise the consummate Teachings
which help you realize the Way of Awake Awareness. 

What is the Way of Awake Awareness?

It's the practice of Reality,
the practice of things are they are
and that means the spotting of that fruit bat is a good thing.
The fruit bat is not a problem,
the gnat is not a problem,
maybe the "gnat" is a bee,
who knows?

There you are are,
sitting in the midst of this moment of Reality,
practising the Way of Awake Awareness. 

In this week's eMirror,
there is an excerpt from Anzan roshi's comments on "Falling Down and Falling Away"
from the series "Seeing Eye to Eye: Commentaries on Eihei Dogen zenji's Yuibutsu Yobutsu"
and he's speaking of shijin datsuraku,
falling through the bodymind. 

Falling down or falling through, there is no one to fall [...] the bodymind no longer contains a self looking out at a world that is separate from it.

There is no separation.
There cannot be.
The seeds are not separate from the flesh.
The seeds are not separate from the future.

So practise this moment when you smell the rot of overfed states.
Practise sitting up straight in the only thing that's going on which is this moment,
and let everything fall away. 

After all, 
everything requires a little fertilizer 
and some of those really heavy states
could fertilize fields and fields of fruit trees. 

Sit up straight.

Open the eye gaze.

Have fun!

2010. Come on!!

Thank you for listening.