Only logged in members can reply and interact with the post.
Join SimilarWorlds for FREE »

"Uji" - Being/Time

The Christmas festivities over I find myself back in MacDonald's with a large white coffee. A little taste of paradise believe it or not.

I spoke of turning to Dogen and his writings elsewhere and that remains the plan, but as said we can set the sails but must always wait for heaven's will. Dogen's actual writings are very dense, sometimes impenetrable, at least to me. And judging by the way different commentators see different things, well......what can you say?

What Dogen himself said was "where you do not understand, [i][b]there[/b][/i] is your understanding." And given that he also said that "we [i]are[/i] what we understand", you might begin to see the problem! 😀

Well, before I leap deeply into his Shōbōgenzō, "The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye" , I am reading a novel by Ruth Odeki called "A Tale For the Time Being". The title is a slight play on words of one of Dogen's essays/sermons, called "Uji" which means Being/Time. Time [i]is[/i] being and being [i]is[/i] time. Which when you throw in the idea that time is only the "visible" part of eternity, then you have much to ponder - if you like that sort of thing.

Some don't. They are what they understand. They are satisfied with that, and perhaps like to call it "all truth", but no matter.

The book by Ruth Odeki is very good. You realise as you read that the deep subtleties of Dogen's view of time is being presented, yet in story form, simply.

Part of the story - it has many sides - is of a young Japanese student who gets called up by the army in WW2. And is trained to become a kamikaze pilot. The first thing he is taught though is how to use his rifle to kill himself. He laughs when he gets his call up papers, simply at the thought of himself as a warrior. He is the peaceful sort.

Finally his mother receives his remains in a box sent by the Government, this after his kamikaze death dive. The box is of course empty (except for a few banal words from the Government)

The emptiness of the box is pregnant with meaning, certainly if you are a Dharma follower. The emptiness holds all that the young man was in and through time. In a very deep way, he still lives. His love, his hopes, his dreams.

His mother, after receiving the box becomes a Buddhist nun. As an 103 year old she guides another young person, a girl, in ways that again explicate some of Dogen's teachings.

The portions of the book written by this young girl are often the highlight. Very funny at times. Very candid. There is no soft sell.

Well, my coffee is getting cold.
Excerpt from "Uji":-

[i]Do not think that time simply flies away. Do not understand “flying” as the only function of time. If time simply flew away, a separation would exist between you and time. So if you understand time as only passing, then you do not understand the time being. To grasp this truly, every being that exists in the entire world is linked together as moments in time, and at the same time they exist as individual moments of time. Because all moments are the time being, they are your time being.
Dōgen Zenji, Uji

I think of D.T.Suzuki who speaks of an eschatology of "the present moment".

In the West, time is often understood in a completely linear way. Often we can simply end up living for tomorrow, a life then of anticipations and epitaphs. Never of the present.

Post Comment