Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Depth perception

For a moment, writing within this present moment.

Now, perhaps, read within this moment. If you wish.

When impressions penetrate into the organism in a different way, we discover what it means for life to acquire depth: not intellectual depth, but a depth born of the sensations that arise within the moment.

In sleep, there is a flatness. We don't know that, because when we are contained within flatness, there is no awareness of depth, or even the existence of depth.

Depth is love; depth is compassion; depth is sensitivity. Because we sincerely believe we are--at least in part--experiencers and perceivers of these qualities, we make no real attempt to acquire them. We are unable to discriminate between flat land, mountains, hills, and valleys, because we know only flat land, and mistake it for mountains, hills, and valleys.

Depth is both within and without: there is only depth. In dividing within from without, we accidentally erase the dimension from our perception. It's only when we reside within and without, simultaneously, that we discover there is such a thing as depth.

Depth is alive. If we can find it, depth will not let go of us so easily, because she is a jealous mistress. She has been lonely for so long that once company arrives, she does not want to let it leave. In fact a romance springs up quite readily between depth and Being; surprisingly, depth always keeps her toes in the pool one way or another, once we offer her some water.

There is depth within breath; depth within sight; depth within the body and depth within the mind. A cultivation of the expression of depth within Being can begin anywhere.It can begin directly.

It can begin now.

This morning I came across a further remark in Dogen's Shobogenzo about perseverance which I find compelling:

"The Budhha's supreme and fine truth is to persevere for vast kalpas in difficult conduct and painful conduct, and to endure what it is hard to endure. How can one hope to seek the true vehicle with small virtue and small wisdom, and a trivial and conceited mind? On another occasion he says , "The Dharma seal of the Buddhas is not got from other people."

"This right dharma-eye treasury has been passed on in face-to-face transmission by the raising of an eyebrow and the winking of an eye; it has been given with body, mind, bones, and marrow; it has been received with body, mind, bones, and marrow; it has been transmitted and received before the body and after the body; and it has been transmitted and received on the mind and outside of mind." (Nishijima and Cross translation, Book 3, page 53, Dogen Sangha press.)

To expound the Dharma is to live within depth.

You cannot get this from other people. It arises within, from wells to the roots of trees. Nourished by water, encouragement, and light, flowers bloom and fruits ripen. In this life, every aspect is necessary, every condition sufficient.

Today, tomorrow, may we find our depth in togetherness.

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