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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
zenju earThlyn manuel 55 In Hotsu Mujoshin (“On Giving Rise to the Unsurpassed Mind”), Dogen wrote, “Thinking is the mystery of the practice by which we become intimate with ourselves and the universe.” In other words, when we become intimate with our own thinking, delusions become the earth upon which the moon of enlightenment shines. We may long to be the light itself, the moon glowing upon the earth, yet we feel tethered to our emotions and the thoughts that bring them to the surface. In Dogen’s vision, the relationship between delusion and enlightenment within our lives is necessary. Whether we are angry, even enraged, aggrieved, or content, we are right where we should be. No part of our humanity needs to be tossed away. We need all that we were born with to navigate life, and that includes delusions. This tension is apparent in the second of the four bodhisattva vows, which Soto Zen practitioners regularly chant: “Delusions are inexhaustible. I vow to end them.” Many a Zen student has chuck- led at the absurdity of vowing to end something that is inexhaustible. How could we ever meet this vow? Instead of declaring endless war on our delusions, though, we can simply stop trying to banish them from the path of enlightenment. We can end the separation and lack of intimacy with our thinking minds, and through that encounter with delusion we can come to know the enlightenment that previ- ously seemed as distant as the morning star. We may fear, deny, ignore, or refuse to accept this marriage of enlightenment and delusion, longing to hold company with our favorite friend, enlightenment. After all, the intimacy of delusion with enlightenment can be difficult to fathom. Enlightenment doesn’t negate delusion, yet a willingness to experience intimacy with our thoughts is crucial to attending to the suffering of our times. As the fires of suffering burn in our country and in the world, it is high time we fully examine our collective thinking in order to move toward a humanity that can truly see itself and can therefore transform its greatest ills. Like so many others on the Buddhist path, I was waiting for my life to be the way I wanted it to be and wasn’t fully engaging with the way it actually was. Over time, through the practice of zazen, I began to see how this mixed-up dream had separated me from the life I was living every day, every moment.