It’s now getting cloudier and darker, but in the early morning we had the nice bright sun and some mist, with moistened greens along with abundant singing of birds. The spring sun brought us beautiful spring scenes making animals and plants, winds and waters springing up, all interdependent and integrated. Actually, a hundred billion stars through fifteen billion years in the interdependent world are working for this. All our life activities are thus intertwined in perfect harmony.
At the very beginning in the Universal Recommendation of True Zazen, Dogen said:
In exhaustive pursuit, the root of the way is perfectly penetrating. Why should we assume cultivation and verification? The supreme vehicle moves freely, why should we consume striving and skill? Much more, its entirety is far beyond the realm of dust: who would believe in measures of sweeping? It never departs from right where you are. Why should you require steps of cultivation? And yet, if there is even a slightest discrepancy, it becomes separated as far apart as heaven and earth.
The slightest discrepancy between self and system has been happening, especially among humans, with their developed brains and bodies. I forwarded NASA’s “Pictures of Changes,” featuring “the State of Flux,” on the occasion of the Earth Day. Our world has been changed by human activities – very clearly ice melt is taking place in the Arctic and Antarctica, Himalayas, Everest, and other continents, making pools, ponds, and lakes, flooding, eventually flowless.
We have been changing the composition of our atmosphere, causing global warming, climate change, deforestation, desertification. More and stronger tornadoes, typhoons, hurricanes, cyclones, and wild fires are devastating our world. The warmed globe creates more seismic activity, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc. We create more dams, cities, farm fields, thus destroying habitat and diminishing biodiversity. Still many people don’t notice and even negate these phenomena.
Dogen talked about a man in a boat dropping his belongings into the river and cutting a mark in the boat’s side to show where he dropped them. He said that he dropped his things “here,” even while the boat was moving onward. We curve just now and forget the flux of ourselves and the whole world. If we don’t see far enough, we can’t see the shifting bank, much less the situation from the standpoint of the bank. We don’t notice the flow and flux. We only see our boats. This is the normalcy bias and syndrome.
The prevalent normalcy bias, safety mythology of nuclear power, etc. – that everything is okay – are because we have become the standard. Thus, the subjective view and short-sighted scenes seem right, normal, and safe – even though the actual objective world is constantly changing and swiftly shifting. If we continue this self-centered state of delusion, discrimination, disaster, and devastation, like the ostrich sticking its head in the sand, we are also deceived, devastated, and destroyed.
Actually, right here and now we are targeted by nukes at a hair trigger alert; they may explode at any moment due to mishaps or miscalculation, and nuclear power plants spew and may spread radiation by misfortune or malevolence. We have experienced more tornadoes, flooding, pollution, turmoil, and so forth. No one is free from sudden accidents or the attack of sickness. What should we do, and how, to solve our individual, social, and ecological problems and sufferings?
Dogen made a poem titled “Prostration”:
No winter-grass being seen,
A heron in the snow-field
In its own form.
When we sit in zazen, we become herons, becoming one with the dharma world, that is, prostrating to the dharma, the law of dependent origination, prostrating to the awakened ones and awakening beings, prostrating to the limitless world through billions of years with billions of stars, true community. We must correct our delusion of a separate self, and craving and anger, which results in meism, materialism, and militarism. We must change our course, our life, fundamentally.
We must practice the triple learning of morality, concentration, and prognosis. When we sit solid and serene, we are perfectly provided with them – no killing, stealing, lying, no wars or pollution. We become just penetrated by truth and peace, harmony and happiness. So, we can realize unconditioned peace and unsurpassed awakening, settled in our original nature. Thus only can we have a harmonious sangha. It is not a fable or fairy tale, but a truth that anyone can witness.
It is where penetrating peace and purity operates and free and full function takes place, right here and now. Even though we were born like blind turtles, fortunately we have met the awakened way, to wake up from our long night of nescience. Why can’t we practice and penetrate it to realize the triple treasure of Buddhahood (awakened state), truth, and community in the wholly wholesome way together with all always?