Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Past moment, present moment

I was just viewing the blog of the old teacher of our center, Dosho Port (Wild Fox Zen), as I have been doing fairly often since starting this blog. In fact, seeing his blog was an inspiration for starting my blog, so I guess there is still some influence going on there.

I only studied together with Dosho a few years, and the break between him and the community wasn't so pleasant, but I for one believe the bodhisattva vows continually call me to recall desires to outright reject anyone. And frankly, the older I get (not that anyone here is calling me "old" by any stretch of the imagination :), the more I see that it's better to consider everyone and everything a teacher, or at least strive to do so. Plus, I just enjoy Dosho's blog.

Note. Dogen: 13th Century Japanese Zen Master.
Dosho: 21st Century American Zen teacher.

So, Dosho was writing today about that famous, or infamous, line from Dogen's Genjokoan. (I can hear the cheers from the Dogen fans out there as I type, and also the groans from everyone else.)

Anyway, for those who don't know, the lines goes as follows "To study the Buddha Way is to study the self." The line is actually the beginning of a set of lines that really point to the heart of Dogen's practice of zen as he experienced it, and taught it.

Now, Dosho's commentary on this line starts like this "What is meant by 'self?' Usually it is understood as our modern self construction - the psychological self with a certain history, preferences, feelings, and longings." This description makes me think of Eckhart Tolle's continual emphasis of the ego, and how it runs amok for us in our world. I have always felt uneasy about this focus on the "egoic" self because it seems to collapse back onto us as individuals a bit too much. Clearly Dosho is also skeptical of this focus when he says "Dogen was a medieval fellow, way back before Freud, Jung, Pearls and Maslow. Dogen's "self" as I'm using the word here, was probably much more of a community-based self, like most people prior to the modern era."

So, what is this "self" Dogen is talking about if it's not solely the psychological self we modern folks like to talk about? A little birdy in my head wants me to say it's everything in the world, but somehow that feels a bit too easy.

Instead, a question comes to mind, not suggesting itself as a concluding answer.

How do we live everything in each moment?

Time to sit on that one for a bit, and see what comes.

No comments: