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Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
fall 2007| 28 |buddhadharma broad view of time, you see that your life is not something separate from time – your life is time. It is very important to see your life not only from the narrow view of your egoistic telescope but also from the broad view of the universal telescope called egolessness. This is why we have to practice. Right in the middle of the stream of time, we have to open our eyes there and see the total picture of time. Through spiritual practice we can go beyond our egoistic point of view. We can touch the core of time, see the whole world in a moment, and understand time in deep relation- ship with all beings. Then we cannot be isolated and cold people. We become beautiful and warm people, appreciating and helping all beings. That is why Dogen always emphasized seeing time in a deeper way. Dogen Zenji’s view of time is very difficult to understand. No one else has expressed the meaning of time exactly the way Dogen did. So when you read “Being-Time,” probably you don’t understand it. But even though it’s difficult, try to get a taste of it. Try to understand, because through the words Dogen is expressing his deep experience of time. He is compassionately showing us how to make time alive in our lives. Dogen really wants us to understand how time influences human life so that we know how to live in the best possible way. When you understand how the various aspects of human life unfold in a moment, you can live freely in the realm of time. You can face the moment and know what to do. Then, through conscious action, you can create your life, and your life really works. Time, Space, and Being In the common sense, time seems to be something separate from beings, but Dogen Zenji says this is just our idea of time, a provisional picture we create, not the total picture of time. Dogen under- stands time in terms of all sentient beings. He says that time must be considered in relation with all sentient beings because time can be correctly understood only in deep interrelationship with all sentient beings. The phrase “all sentient beings” refers not only to human beings but to everything that exists – animate or inanimate, visible or invis- ible – in the vast expanse of the universe. According to Buddhist teaching, everything exists together simultaneously in a moment. This is not the usual way of understanding human life, yet you are always experiencing this in your life because you can think of many things simul- taneously. A dream is a good example. When you dream, many beings come together into the moment. You might see someone who existed in the past, ten or twenty years ago, and also someone you could meet in the future. When I was a child, I dreamed that I was on a train and needed to use the toilet. It was difficult to find the toilet because the train was jammed with people. I tried to get through them, but it was too difficult. So I tried to get off the train, but it was impossible. Somehow I did it anyway. I got off the train, found a forest, and relieved myself there. I felt a wonderful relief and, simultaneously, I woke up. I was in my bed! I couldn’t understand how all these things could be connected, but it was a fact. The train, the people on the train, finding a forest – many things existed simultaneously in a moment. Time seems to be separate from beings, but actually there is no separation. From moment to moment, all sentient beings exist together as a completely independent moment of time. When the moment begins, all sentient beings temporarily appear as particular beings in the stream of time and seem to have their own separate existences. When the moment ceases, all sentient beings dis- appear, but they do not go away; they are inter- connected smoothly and quietly in timelessness. Dogen’s word being represents all sentient beings existing in the formless realm of timelessness, and time characterizes the existence of completely inde- pendent moments. Being and time work together, so Dogen doesn’t separate them; he uses the one term being-time. But the total picture of time cannot be under- stood only in terms of being and time; it must also be understood in terms of space. Space is the vast expanse of the universe where everything exists. Dogen’s understanding of space is not