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time being and dogen

time being and dogen
Answer
1/17/18 9:08 PM
aloha,

   I have been thinking a lot about time, especially time as dogen saw it, "uji" or "being-time." Dogen thought deeply into being, which is the fact of (human) existence in time. That is "be" combined with "-ing" - or, that which "is" in its aspect of changing. Impermanence. Ultimately, "buddha-nature is impermanence."

   Dogen's view of time was nearly unique. The western idea of time as an extension of space into duration - newtonian, measured time - belongs to the naive pretense of objectivity. The buddha shows us this sort of time as suffering: birth, sickness, old age, death as a progression "in" time. Time as chronos the destroyer, devouring his offspring. The buddha dhamma assumes the view that time is a human projection, like space; an 'a priori' framework for verbal explanation of experience. A false projection acquired due to the need to communicate via conceptual, linear thinking. While in truth there are no objects, no birth, no death, no time.

   I want to briefly try to get at what I think is dogen's view, and solicit comments from anyone who thinks deeply about time and impermanence.

   Time in buddhism is subjective, it is an aspect of experience; it is "being-time," the experience of life from "moment to moment." Dogen's essential lifelong quest was for an answer to the question: "If buddha nature is always present, why do we need to practice?" He eventually discovered that buddha nature is identical with practice. While practicing, we are enlightened; not otherwise. Thus he enjoined "incessant practice" as the true nature of enlightenment, and nirvana. (The paradox, spoiler alert, involves the realization that buddha nature is always who we are if we are being mindfully here and now, but we can imagine all sorts of nonsense which seems more desirable at a given moment, and we generally do, and thus we identify with whatever pleasant fantasy or unpleasant fear that occurs to us, and are in time, unenlightened.)

   If we think of time as external and measurable, we are "stuck" in (concepts of) time. If we are simply present, here and now, without desire for change, at this moment we are enlightened. For the practicioner of the buddha dhamma, every moment is the present moment, every moment is a "dharma situation." Time is cyclic and granular, not continuous; we are not "in" time, impermanence is our nature, it is who we are as a be-ing. One dharma situation succeeds another, enlightenment proceeds like a string of pearls, from moment to moment, life to life. Without desire, no objects appear; if a (desire-) object appears, it is "such" that the object-and-its-environment are all of dependent co-arising phenomena. A shitstick, yes, but what a shitstick! 

   Time does not pass, in dogen's view, it is we who pass. Sub specie aeternitas, we are afloat in the river of time, imagining orselves as permanent and the scenery as passing by, when actually we are passing by and the scenery is relatively fixed. Though in another sense, "mountains flow and rivers stay still." Dogen is diverse, presenting views right and left so that we see they are only views. Only impermanence is permanently real, and that transcendentally.

  "Impermanence is buddha nature" (credit to joan stambaugh). If we in our practice find ourselves in the here and now, counting breaths or whatever, and experience a temporal expanse of infinite space, or endless consciousness, or beyond-perception-and-nonperception, we are out of time, in a "place" of birthlessness and deathlessness, of purified awareness. In the "dharma situation" of sitting meditation, we may maintain this presence, in this continuous Present, a present which combines past and future in one timeless infinite whole. We arise from the dharma situation of sitting into the dharma situation of whatever is next: mindfully eating, sleeping, preparing for work, whatever. Each arising situation is an opportunity to practice, to overcome obstacles; a new "dharma situation." Obviously this is easier to practice among the sangha, or in solitude. It is dhamma at any time. Each moment, each dhamma situation is complete in itself, a total revelation of the universe in all its glory from darkness to light. And again. And again. (Breathe in, breathe out.)

   Since "the passions are enlightenment," samsara is nirvana, each arising impediment to realization, including the tendency to slip back into clock time, is simply an opportunity to realize the buddha dhamma; that is, part of the arising new dharma situation. Every attachment, every irritation we feel is a wakeup call to get back to practice. As we practice, "incessant practice" comes easier and easier, each emotion, each "object" is unpacked in discrete "dharma moments" and realized to be empty of any meaning or significance. Emptiness becomes established, no new karma is created. The lion's roar is an expression of impermanence, as an end of all becoming takes place again and again at each consecutive dharma situation "moment." Roaroaroaroaoroaroar... the buddha is heard even yet.  Measuring such moments by clock time is absurd. Without here and now "being-time" we live in a dream world/fantasy world displaced by "the thickness of a hairsbreadth" from the true world of being present in reality in the world we all know and love right here in front of us in this moment now current. We are here, or we are not. Awake, or asleep. We string together our moments of wakefulness into a "presence" like a twirling torch makes a ring of fire. We don't recall the moments we 'spend' asleep, so our consciousness appears to us seamless. Try counting your breath for an hour, just being present, and see how awake you really are from moment to moment; it is humbling. I think dogen would agree with spinoza who said "all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare." Being enduringly enlightened takes constant, wakeful effort, that is, incessant practice. "Trying" doesn't matter; just practice. What matters is maintaining continuous non-attachment - actual wakeful being there is the only success.

   So as I imagine dogen seeing it, each "moment" of time is a complete "dharma situation," a lesson leading from confusion or doubt to clarity, or a lesson leading from clarity to clarity - cautionary tales or hero stories. Every individual we meet is caught up in their current dharma situation, as we are caught in ours; we are all joined in one dharma situation, "all beings" being equivalent to dogen to "all being." Dogen's solution to his koan of whether buddha nature is always present or not is achieved by making the individual responsible for "being there," for being *awake*. For the person who practices incessantly, being-time (impermanence) becomes permanent. That is, the individual is able to be completely free each moment, with no residue from the last moment, no anticipation of the next moment. Each current dharma situation is all-absorbing, and we know just when to go on to the next, free from attachments (karma).

   It is easy enough to realize we must "be here now" and live in the current moment, but in order to actually do so we need to know what a "moment" actually is, and how to handle the changes. I think of the yi jing, and its approximately 10,000 different possible permutations of "dharma situations." Each situation may go slow or fast by clock time, but the significance is in incessant practice. Of dealing with each dharma situation patiently and thoroughly; a "mind like dead ashes." Time (impermanence, buddha nature) is our friend, our 'self,' our reality. It takes more than faith in the truth of the buddha dhamma, it takes faith that we can safely retire our conniving egos and let the world go its own way without our active meddling. To give all our attention to the moment is to be free from remorse or worry, thoughts of success or failure, winning or losing: it's all one.

   Any thoughts about the nature of time, in relation to the buddha dhamma and impermanence? Or thoughts about dogen's views?


aloha, terry

   
  
   

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/18/18 7:32 AM as a reply to terry.
Hi, Terry.

My meditation practice has brought me to the insight/realization that both time and space are deeply held mental constructs that allow us to make sense of our moment to moment experience. Time and space are not absolutes. My guess is that this is more or less what Dogen and Dzogchen masters are getting at when they talk about time.

FWIW

emoticon

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/18/18 8:26 AM as a reply to terry.
You may want to try knowing time and space exercises starting on page 117 of MMC guide:

http://www.mahamudracenter.org/mmcmembermeditationguide.pdf
If you like them, then you'll find Time, Space and Knowledge by Tarthang Tulku to be good too.

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/18/18 12:56 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
mahalos, bra,

   This was kant's view, that time and space are a priori mental constructs. Dogen takes this view further, surely, devoting 100s of pages of the shobogenzo to discussions of time. What he called "being-time" (uji) is a view which takes into account the subjective experience of time in relation to enlightenment. Enlightenment is out of time: the mirror does not get rusty, nor does dust alight on it.

   Time begins when we get stuck and ends when we get free.

terry

 
  

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/18/18 12:59 PM as a reply to Change A..
aloha,

   I clicked on your link: they wanted money for their tracts. 

   (Must be the season of the witch.)

terry

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/18/18 3:49 PM as a reply to terry.
Terry, 

In my view, time is a by product of change.  Absent change, time cannot be measured and does not exist.  In my view, nothing ever changes.  This is here all the time and all the meaning we project onto This is actually meaningless.  We made it up.  With no meaning in reality, there is nothing to change and time is moot.   Just being.

 Cool thing for me is that there is nothing to do or change or worry about. 

Seth

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/18/18 8:51 PM as a reply to terry.
Check out this link:


http://www.mahamudracenter.org/MMCMemberMeditationGuide.htm#_Toc420995693

Check out Knowing Time section.

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 7:08 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
Terry, 

In my view, time is a by product of change.  Absent change, time cannot be measured and does not exist.  In my view, nothing ever changes.  This is here all the time and all the meaning we project onto This is actually meaningless.  We made it up.  With no meaning in reality, there is nothing to change and time is moot.   Just being.

 Cool thing for me is that there is nothing to do or change or worry about. 

Seth

this is pretty much my take on it also.

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 12:56 PM as a reply to alguidar.
alguidar:
seth tapper:
Terry, 

In my view, time is a by product of change.  Absent change, time cannot be measured and does not exist.  In my view, nothing ever changes.  This is here all the time and all the meaning we project onto This is actually meaningless.  We made it up.  With no meaning in reality, there is nothing to change and time is moot.   Just being.

 Cool thing for me is that there is nothing to do or change or worry about. 

Seth

this is pretty much my take on it also.

This also describes my seeing quite eloquently. Thanks Seth. emoticon

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 2:07 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
Terry, 

In my view, time is a by product of change.  Absent change, time cannot be measured and does not exist.  In my view, nothing ever changes.  This is here all the time and all the meaning we project onto This is actually meaningless.  We made it up.  With no meaning in reality, there is nothing to change and time is moot.   Just being.

 Cool thing for me is that there is nothing to do or change or worry about. 

Seth

aloha seth,

   In my view, "change" and measured time are not the same thing. We measure the rotation of the earth, moon and sun, and use fractions of those measurements as the common currency of time. This is undoubtedly useful for coordinating events, but it doesn't explain change, which is the same as impermanence. The nature of change is the great way itself, the tao. Impermanence is buddha nature, in other words.

   Truth is more closely approached, perhaps, by paradox. We may see the world as in flux (heraclitus), or as still (parmenides). This is the nature of impermanence, which is at once the still principle of the cosmos, and the flux of events. Such is the dependent co-arising of phenomena, the understanding of which is equivalent to understanding the dhamma.

terry

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 5:04 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
nothing ever changes. 


  Think, my friend, of the ambiguity of the statement, "nothing ever changes." You no doubt mean that there are no changes, that changes amount to nothing. The statement could be read that "nothing" - the actual "substance" of the world of sunyata, or emptiness - "ever changes" or is changing constantly. If you look at the ocean, you may see the waves (the energy) or you may see the water (the substance). The waves are empty of substance, but real enough in their own way. The substance transmits the waves, but is itself unchanged by them. Waves arise, and then move off and disappear.

   When dogen said that mountains are flowing and rivers are still, he referred to those sitting meditation as "mountains" and ordinary activities as "rivers," thus the enlightened (mountains) have "supple" and flexible minds and their activities (rivers) involve keeping still. As well as meaning that rivers only exist in the singular moment ("you can't step in the same river twice" - heraclitus), and that mountains erode quickly in geologic time, and show the fact of their continual erosion at any given moment.

   Any view is bound to be one-sided. Mind, I don't disagree with what you've said - my second paragraph of the original post said that in truth time did not exist. Even two views side by side are just views. Still...


   The tao te ching says:

chapter 16 (feng/english trans)

Empty yourself of everything. 
Let the mind become still. 
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return. 
They grow and flourish and then return to the source. 
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature. 
The way of nature is unchanging. 
Knowing constancy is insight. 
Not knowing constancy leads to disaster. 
Knowing constancy, the mind is open. 
With an open mind, you will be openhearted. 
Being openhearted, you will act royally. 
Being royal, you will attain the divine. 
Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao. 
Being at one with the Tao is eternal. 
And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.


terry

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 5:26 PM as a reply to terry.
Why bother chasing shadows when no one cares? This here is all there is or ever was or ever will be.  Accepting that does end craving in the human mind.  

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 5:43 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
Why bother chasing shadows when no one cares? This here is all there is or ever was or ever will be.  Accepting that does end craving in the human mind.  


   Because: "no one cares." And this "no one" cares a great deal.

   
"Although from the beginning
I knew
the world is impermanent,
not a moment passes
when my sleeves are dry.”

~ryokan

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 6:06 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
Why bother chasing shadows when no one cares? This here is all there is or ever was or ever will be.  Accepting that does end craving in the human mind.  

aloha seth,

   This is from the 'shobogenzo' (treasury of the true dharma eye) by dogen:

"It is not that simple. At the time the mountains were climbed and the rivers were crossed, you were present. Time is not separate from you, and as you are present, time does not go away. As time is not marked by coming and going, the moment you climbed the mountain is the time-being right now.

"This is the meaning of the time-being.

"Does this time-being not swallow up the moment when you climbed the mountain and the moment when you resided in the jeweled palace and vermillion tower? Does it not spit them out?"


terry

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 6:14 PM as a reply to terry.
I gave a pretty reasonable and rational answer to the question.  I will try to say it better.  I do not exist.  There is no seperate character in the universe named seth.  Instead, I am a process that is following the laws of cause and effect - whether you want to call it newtonian physics or karma.  Even me writing this is occurring because of the series of stimuli I have been exposed to and how I was born, etc.  

If you look at existence as empty of seperate beings then there are no stories.  It is always just happening meaninglessly.  You cant really slice happening meaninglessly into time slices and you wouldnt really want to.  So as I look at it, This is happening meaninglessly and time is moot.  It is a very relaxing point of view. 

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 7:10 PM as a reply to terry.
19.  Investigation of Time

1.  If the present and the future were contingent on the past, then the present and the future would have existed in the past.

2.  If the present and future did not exist there, then how could the present and the future be contingent on it?

3.  Without being contingent on the past neither can be established. Hence the present and the future times also do not exist.

4.  These very stages can be applied to the other two. Superior, inferior, middling etc.,  singularity and so on can also be understood .
a-b: this means that you could say the same about past and future in relation to the present and present and past in relation to future as you can of present and future in relation to past as Nagarjuna has just done in v.

5.  Non-dwelling time cannot be apprehended.  Since time which can be apprehended, does not exist as something which dwells, how can one talk of unapprehendable time?

6.  If time depended on things, where would time which is a non-thing exist? If there were no things at all, where would a view of time exist?

From:


https://www.stephenbatchelor.org/index.php/en/verses-from-the-center

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 7:12 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
I gave a pretty reasonable and rational answer to the question.  I will try to say it better.  I do not exist.  There is no seperate character in the universe named seth.  Instead, I am a process that is following the laws of cause and effect - whether you want to call it newtonian physics or karma.  Even me writing this is occurring because of the series of stimuli I have been exposed to and how I was born, etc.  

If you look at existence as empty of seperate beings then there are no stories.  It is always just happening meaninglessly.  You cant really slice happening meaninglessly into time slices and you wouldnt really want to.  So as I look at it, This is happening meaninglessly and time is moot.  It is a very relaxing point of view. 

   Who said you weren't reasonable and rational? For a non-existent, relaxed guy. Whilst I am drunk on metaphysics, a more intoxicated point of view. One appollonian, one dionysian; ideally, the truth arises like an aroma from our discourse.

   As omar khayyam said:


You know, my Friends, with what a brave Carouse 
I made a Second Marriage in my house; 
Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed 
And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse. 

and

Ah, Love! could Thou and I with Fate conspire 
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire, 
Would not we shatter it to bits--and then 
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire?

   
   Have you any poetry in your soul, partner? Aloha?

   Or a sense of humor? Will your karma run over your dogma? (try smile, like they say on kauai)

   Ryokan fills my heart mind this day:

"Before listening to the Way, don't forget to wash your ears.
Otherwise it will be impossible to listen clearly.
What is washing your ears?
Do not hold on to your view.
If you cling to it even a little bit,
you will lose your way.
What is similar to you but wrong, you regard as right.
What is different from you but right, you regard as wrong.
You begin with ideas of right and wrong.
But the way is not so.
Seeking answers with closed ears is
like trying to touch the ocean bottom with a pole.”

~ryokan

and


"How could we discuss
this and that
without knowing
the whole world is
reflected in a single pearl?”

~ryokan



and 

"Seeing you,
my dear,
intoxicates me.
What regret shall I leave behind
in this world?”

~ryokan



and

"I play pulling weeds with children,
having fun with one, another, and another.
After my companions have gone,
a bright moon overwhelms the naked autumn night.”

~ryokan



for this one, you must remember that mumon, compiler of zen classic "the gateless gate" (the 'mumonkan'), "praised" the buddha in the zen fashion as being an old huckster who "sold dog's head for mutton."


"I carried my begging bowl and arrived in the city of Niigata, where I saw Elder Ugan giving a dharma discourse at a layperson’s house. I wrote this verse to him.
 
"Your talk is like chopping cheap dog meat
and selling it as a slice of sheep.
I am as stinky as you are.
May the pleasure of your company not go away!”

~ryokan


terry

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 7:42 PM as a reply to terry.
 I'll try: 

Like a lava lamp I bubble
Posting nonsense on the net
All I crave is love
All I find is trouble
All along a member of a null set. 

What is this love I feel
An Ocean, poised to consume me
All I am is love
All I am is real 
All along is was we. 

RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 9:43 PM as a reply to Change A..
Change A.:
19.  Investigation of Time

1.  If the present and the future were contingent on the past, then the present and the future would have existed in the past.

2.  If the present and future did not exist there, then how could the present and the future be contingent on it?

3.  Without being contingent on the past neither can be established. Hence the present and the future times also do not exist.

4.  These very stages can be applied to the other two. Superior, inferior, middling etc.,  singularity and so on can also be understood .
a-b: this means that you could say the same about past and future in relation to the present and present and past in relation to future as you can of present and future in relation to past as Nagarjuna has just done in v.

5.  Non-dwelling time cannot be apprehended.  Since time which can be apprehended, does not exist as something which dwells, how can one talk of unapprehendable time?

6.  If time depended on things, where would time which is a non-thing exist? If there were no things at all, where would a view of time exist?

From:


https://www.stephenbatchelor.org/index.php/en/verses-from-the-cent

----------------------------

  Thanks for your quote and interest.

 Speaking strictly only of apprehendable time, of course...

   Dogen said:

"The time-being has the quality of flowing. So-called today flows into tomorrow, today flows into yesterday, yesterday flows into today. And today flows into today, tomorrow flows into tomorrow."


   In this view, the future does indeed depend on the past and present, the past depends on the present and future, etc - each depends on the others in one omnipresent totality. That is, It is All Here, Now. I don't mean to shout, but we are transcending space and time here (and now). 

   There is no past separate from now, no future separate from now. We bring all to mind now, memory and expectation and presence. Through wisdom, that is clear seeing, and practice, that is (wakefully, mindfully) paying attention, we can keep our focus on the One Point of Impermanence, which is always Now. Not the "now" of a tightly defined "present" moment, but the Now of an everything-has-led-up-to-this-one-moment-and-nothing-will-ever-be-remotely-the-same-after-this moment. Our "enlightenment" is always Now, always with us, always the central pivot of life. A vibrant, resonant Moment of Eternity; a dharma situation whose focus is always enlightenment as "a turning word" (shout, slap, whatever) - as blake said:

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
and Eternity in an hour."

   Yeats Irish Airman had his Moment, if a story poem can illustrate:

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
(william butler yeats)

I know that I shall meet my fate 
Somewhere among the clouds above; 
Those that I fight I do not hate, 
Those that I guard I do not love; 
My country is Kiltartan Cross, 
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor, 
No likely end could bring them loss 
Or leave them happier than before. 
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight, 
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds, 
A lonely impulse of delight 
Drove to this tumult in the clouds; 
I balanced all, brought all to mind, 
The years to come seemed waste of breath, 
A waste of breath the years behind 
In balance with this life, this death.

The embrace of one's own finitude is zen; knocking, being opened to, and entering in the same moment. Allatonceness, mcluhan would call it. The airman had what even his contemporaries might have called "a heightened state of awareness" caused by the acute (but chronic) perception of his own impermanence.


terry









RE: time being and dogen
Answer
1/19/18 10:18 PM as a reply to terry.
thomas merton's Way of Chuang Tzu is available here:  https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/MertonChuangTzu.pdf

a sample, which seems appropriate...(this is one of the most valuable texts ever written, imho)



*the pivot*
(chuang tzu, trans merton)

Tao is obscured when men understand only one of a pair of opposites, or concentrate only on a partial aspect of being. Then clear expression also becomes muddled by mere word­ play, affirming this one aspect and denying all the rest.

Hence the wrangling of Confucians and Mohists; each denies what the other affirms, and affirms what the other denies. What use is this struggle to set up "No" against "Yes," and "Yes" against "No"? Better to abandon this hopeless ef­fort and seek true light!

There is nothing that cannot be seen from the standpoint of the "Not-I." And there is nothing which cannot be seen from the standpoint of the "I." If I begin by looking at any­ thing from the viewpoint of the "Not-I," then I do not really see it, since it is "not I" that sees it. If I begin from where I am and see it as I see it, then it may also become possible for me to see it as another sees it. Hence the theory of reversal that opposites produce each other, depend on each other, and complement each other.

However this may be, life is followed by death; death is followed by life. The possible becomes impossible; the im­possible becomes possible. Right turns into wrong and wrong into right - the flow of life alters circumstances and thus things themselves are altered in their turn. But disputants continue to argue and to deny the same things they have always affirmed and denied, ignoring the new aspects of reality presented by the change in conditions.

The wise man therefore, instead of trying to prove this or that point by logical disputation, sees all things in the light of direct intuition. He is not imprisoned by the limitations of the "I," for the viewpoint of direct intuition is that of both "I" and "Not-I." Hence he sees that on both sides of every argument there is both right and wrong. He also sees that in the end they are reducible to the same thing, once they are related to the pivot of Tao.

When the wise man grasps this pivot, he is in the center of the circle, and there he stands while "Yes" and "No" pursue each other around the circumference.

The pivot of Tao passes through the center where all affirmations and denials converge. He who grasps the pivot is at the still-point from which all movements and oppositions can be seen in their right relationship. Hence he sees the limitless possibilities of both "Yes" and "No." Abandoning all thought of imposing a limit or taking sides, he rests in direct intuition. Therefore I said: "Better to abandon disputation and seek the true light!"