using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
fall 2007| 26 |buddhadharma of sixty-five instants. The actual numbers are not so important, but we should have a sense of how quickly time goes. According to Buddhist teaching, all beings in the universe appear and disappear in a moment. The term impermanence expresses the functioning of moment, or the appearance and disappearance of all beings as a moment. It means that all life is transient, constantly appearing and disappear- ing, constantly changing. You are transient, I am transient, and Buddha is transient. Everything is transient. Wherever you may go, transiency fol- lows you. Transiency is the naked nature of time. In day-to-day life you don’t perceive the tran- sient structure of time because your rational mind cannot recognize the flux of moments. The true tempo of time is too quick for your mind to keep up with, so you sense a gap between you and time. Then, because of that gap, you feel that your life is completely separate from the rest of the uni- verse. When you sense that gap, you can hardly stand it; it is beyond bearing. You think, “Wow! How awful! What’s the matter with me?” And you feel that you can never get along in your present circumstances. All of us experience a gap between our minds and the reality of time – that’s why we suffer. Then, instead of accepting the transient nature of life and facing impermanence with a way-seeking mind, we want to escape and find something that will satisfy us so that we can feel relief. But actually there is no gap between your mind and time, not even the space of a piece of paper. This is reality, fact. Even though your mind cannot keep up with the quick changes of time, you already exist in the domain of impermanence, together with everyone and everything in the cosmic universe. As a human being, you inherently have a great capability that enables you to realize this truth and to experience your life with deep joy. The Search for Meaning and Security We want to believe in the continuity of our lives so that we can say, “Yes, I exist!” So instead of looking directly at time itself, we try to escape the cruel fact that impermanence constantly cuts off our lives. Unconsciously, our minds decorate time with many ornaments in order to make our lives more secure and meaningful. Using his own life as an example of this, in the Tenzokyokun (Instructions to the Cook), Dogen Zenji tells how, as a young monk traveling in China, he once encountered an old priest serv- ing in the office of tenzo, or head cook. Dogen felt the tenzo was working too hard for a person of his age, so he asked him, “Reverend sir, why don’t you do zazen or read the koans of ancient persons? What is the use of working so hard as a tenzo priest?” These questions come from Dogen’s sensing the unbearable gap between his mind and time, and wanting relief. They show that the young Dogen does not know how to just be pres- ent and live comfortably in the transient stream of time. Instead, he is trying to make his monk’s life meaningful. If you become a monk, you ask, What is the purpose of monks? If you become a human being, you ask, What is the purpose of human beings? But no matter how long you try to follow a mean- ingful purpose in life, impermanence always cuts it off. When you realize this, you really wonder, why do we have to live with effort? Why don’t we just live as we like? Dogen was looking for mean- ing when he went to China to find an answer to the question, If we are already buddhas, why is it that we have to do spiritual practice? That is really Dogen’s question when he asks, “What is the use of working so hard as a tenzo priest?” He thinks the old man should forget about daily living and just do zazen or study the writings of the patri- archs. But Dogen is just creating ornaments. Since human beings have been born in this world, we have decorated our lives with lots of ornaments in order to make time more meaning- ful. We develop remarkable civilizations of culture, politics, beauty, and pleasure. We create intellec- tual disciplines such as history, economics, science, philosophy, or psychology, and then we believe that they make life meaningful. Maybe we believe that a spiritual life can help us find meaning. So we create ideas such as God, Buddha, universal energy, the last judgment and paradise after death, theology, mythology, or morality and ethics, and The true tempo of time is too quick for your mind to keep up with, so you sense a gap between you and time. Because of that gap, you feel that your life is completely separate from the rest of the universe. ©DenisDaRzacq/agenceVU