You may ask many things of any teacher you meet but the wisest of them will only offer you unending questions. When you look to them to point you to the Way they are doomed to failure for your feet obscure the Way, and it is only by looking within and down through your legs and feet and toes that you can see the way
A reflection on Case 63 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
Awakening in the morning when you first see the sun and the dew resting on the leaf which eye are you using. When you stare into the mirror through what eye do you see, and what eyes stare back at you.
When you see the deer lying in the road which eye do you use. In a nightmare, when you slip into the deeper, darker world, what eye is used then. When you fade into death what eye sees your departure. Think carefully on this for only one eye can see the answer lying within.
The most interesting thing about visiting websites from foreign news services is that so many offer content in English and how deaths that occur locally seem to invoke the same sadness, horror, belated honor, and that local disasters take precedence over our own disasters not merely because it happened there and not here, but because the losses are greater, the damage far worse, the faces far less white. We hold the world up to the mirror often, but is only our face we see, and those like us standing behind, and we are blind to so much of what goes on around us, because this color blindness is of the sort that disables seeing at all rather than seeing all in monochrome.
It is a precarious balance, really, more and exercise in tottering and hearing than in standing still. Some prefer stasis, others, I included, find it leads inevitably to a loss of energy, to an entropy from which it is difficult to escape. I don’t walk along the edge of the precipice, but I do peer over amazed at what lies below that I hope to never see up close. Is a precarious balance, but one that can be maintained if you just close your eyes and sense what actually lies around and beneath you.
Between now and eventually lies all of history. We are unable to see it though it lies in our field of vision. That’s the problem, we only know how to look backward. We are barely able to see where we are. It isn’t that we don’t want to be here, merely that here is difficult to see, for we have a tendency to block our vision. Imagine a map with an X or other marker saying “You are Here.” Yet seeing that we know we are not there for in that instant we will look down and see where we truly are. But the better statement to the “you are here” sign is not to call it wrong, but rather to simply ask it, how did you know. It will answer, your visit was history lying between my now and my eventually.
He is only four years old, has decided he will be “an X-ray doctor” in a few years because he wants to see broken fingers and legs, but if he sees bad things he can take them out and throw them in the trash. He is more perceptive that even he can imagine for without any medical training it is clear he can see right through any adult he comes across, and he does it was a gentle smile that says: your secrets are safe with me, probably, maybe.
S: What are you doing, for heaven sake? H: Isn’t it obvious, I’m searching for Nirvana, for enlightenment. S: You silly fool, it’s right behind you! H: (turning suddenly) It is not, I would certainly see it. S: You might think so, but it is still right behind you! H: But why, tell me, can’t I see it? S: Because you’re looking for it always peering outward, but if you look inward behind your eyes, you won’t be able to miss it.
If you think about it, it will suddenly disappear, if you do not think about it, it will reappear, but do not try and understand for understanding can only come from the final surrender of understanding. It is the back of your head in a mirrorless world which others see but you can not.
A reflection on case 76 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)