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Buddhadharma : Fall 2008
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 08 26 = fROM the tiMeleSS beGinninG to the present, the mountains have always been the dwelling place of the great sages. Wise ones and sages have made the mountains their personal chambers, their own body and mind. and it is through these wise ones and sages that the mountains are actualized. although many great sages and wise ones have gathered in the mountains, ever since they entered the moun- tains, no one has encountered a single one of them. there is only the manifestation of the life of the mountain itself; not a single trace of anyone having entered can be found. the appearance of the mountains is completely different when we are in the world gazing at the distant mountains and when we are in the mountains meeting the mountains. Our notions and understanding of non-flowing could not be the same as the dragon’s understanding. humans and gods reside in their own worlds, and other beings may doubt this, or again, they may not. therefore, without giving way to our surprise and doubt, we should study the words “moun- tains flow” with the sages and adepts. taking one view, there is flowing; from another perspective, there is non- flowing. at one point in time there is flowing; at another, not flowing. if our study is not like this, it is not the true teaching of the Way. Since time immemorial, sages and wise ones have entered the mountains for periods of fasting, pilgrimage, and retreat, and to build temples and monasteries. Why does Dogen say that no one has ever met a single one of them? The dwelling place of the great sages is the realm that is free of the dualities of motion and rest, man and woman, being and nonbeing; it is free of all the dualities arising from the mistaken notion of a distinct and separate self. When Dogen speaks of “entering the mountains,” he’s speaking of the non-dual dharma. There is no separation between the sage and the mountain. When we have made the mountains our own body and mind, our personal chambers, there is no meeting them, since the mountains and sages are one reality. That the sages have entered the mountains means that there is no one to meet and nothing to be met. There is only the mountain itself. the appearance of the mountains is completely different when we are in the world gazing at the distant mountains and when we are in the mountains meeting the mountains. The nature of the mountain is completely different when we have separated ourselves from it as observers, and when we are the mountain with the whole body and mind. When we are intimate with something, it no longer exists and we no longer exist. There is no way to talk about it, to judge it, to analyze it, or categorize it. It fills the whole universe. master Dogen said, “To hear sounds with the whole body and mind, to see forms with the whole body and mind, one understands them intimately.” To understand intimately does not mean to acquire information. Intimacy is the dwelling place of the great sages. It is realization, a quantum leap of consciousness in which our way of perceiving ourselves and the universe radically changes and a new imperative begins to guide our actions. When we are intimate with something, it no longer exists and we no longer exist. L ight has the ability to reveal the many layers, the myriad faces contained in each form. most often, we tend to see just the surface of a subject. We name it, identify it, and forget about it. and we stop seeing. Yet when the light changes, the subject changes, and what the subject has to show us changes. unless we are ready to be patient and sit with our subjects, allowing the light to transform them, we see little more than their superficial aspects, and our lives reflect that shallowness. If we are patient, letting go of thoughts and letting the mind settle down, then the hidden faces rise to the surface, and subtlety and richness return. a shift takes place, resonance appears. This allows for real intimacy with the subject. Sometimes light is diffuse; the day is over- cast and there is no localized light source. The Art of Seeing John Daido Loori, an award-winning photographer, describes how to see things, in their true richness and subtlety. Everything is illuminated by the huge hemi- sphere of the sky and takes on a subdued, luminescent, and sensual character. Even craggy rocks become soft and delicate. When light becomes directional, and there is a sin- gle, strong source of illumination, texture appears. Different aspects of the same subject come into view. The boulder that was once very soft under diffuse lighting now becomes hard and heavier looking. When the subject reflects the light, the reflections add another dimension; patterns begin to appear. Before sunrise, the world is essentially black and white. You can still see things and they can be photographed, but essentially there is no color. The light is cool, shadows not apparent. Things are almost translucent. unless we are really “seeing” and not just looking, it is easy to miss the richness of these subtleties.