He wants to know why we draw a distinction between dreams and what we like to call reality, as if the former is somehow less than real. We want to laugh at him, but we listen anyway. If all my senses end up in my mind then all that is real is real only in my mind. But my dreams exist in my mind as well, so they are just as real as my daytime reality. And, he added, with a smirk, nothing is real at all, but both dreams and reality are equally real, and with that, he closed his eyes and we all ceased to exist.
If you are asked “who are you?” how will you reply, and who is the person asking the question? If you answer, you are blind if you say nothing you speak loudly. The sage will tell you that there is no you and if you doubt him he will hold up a mirror and ask what you see. If you answer “I see myself” he will laugh because no one can see themselves unless they see everyone, for you are both the reader and the writer of these poor words.
A reflection on case 131 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye)
The salmon people don’t live here anymore you have moved them up the river, then inland so they no longer need to wander.
The salmon do not swim here anymore you have dammed the rivers to draw out their power and penned the mighty fish where the river first licks the sea.
The eagle doesn’t fly here anymore the great pines that sat for generations below his aerie are now cut into neat supports on which we hang our walls.
Our children do not run here anymore they have moved to the cities, have gone off to wars for fighting is the only job which they are given.
We have no rivers we have no salmon we have no sons, save those who sleep under neat white stones. We look for the eagle a mighty spirit but he, too, has been claimed by the others to decorate their buildings. We have only our spirit to guide us and we know that soon you will claim them too and leave us as you arrived to repeat the sad story.
It seems odd now, that he is here, a place he never intended to be, as it was a place he could not imagine, yet he most certainly was here. If you asked him why he was here, he would answer that he had to be somewhere, and here is where it was, just as your being here is just as it had to be, for you are here. He points to a sign over his palette bed, which simply reads “You Are Here,” and says, I take it everywhere I go and it has never been wrong yet. The bell rings for the evening zazen and as he assumes his place on the mat, the Buddha seems to smile and say to us both, You are where you should be.
Between this point and that lies a vast uncharted space noted on every cartographers chart. If you ask how this could be possible, I reply it’s like listening to silence and hearing each sound deeply embedded in the one next to it, a glissando of what exactly? Uncertainty? That is the whole point in the final analysis, for between that point and this one everything exists in that one place.
He says he has discovered that the best
way for him to write is to ignore the pen
totally, to just let it lie on the desk doing nothing.
It should be in close proximity to paper,
for pens need that to complete their existence
or at least to give them purpose to go on.
He also needs to avoid the siren’s call
the emanates from the keyboard
far too frequently for his taste.
No one is willing to believe him, “Just write,”
they say, but he knows that words
are merely that, and meaningless without
the context only a reader can provide,
even if that reader is he, and so he stares
at the pen and page and in time
he becomes aware that the pen is ready
and then, and only then, does he allow it
to move his hand across the paper.
If I ask you to look out the window and tell me what is there, what will you say? If you say there are trees and a house in the distance, I will tell you to tell me what is there, not what you mind creates. If you again tell me there are trees and in the distance a house, I will walk away, for you have given me only words and that for which I asked.
A reflection on Case 100 of the Book of Equanimity