If you stare at a large stone and call it a mountain the ant will agree with you. If you gaze on a mountain and call it a stone there can be no argument. If I call that tree a toothpick clean your teeth carefully.
A reflection on Case 112 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye) Koans
On the worst day, of the worst week, or even just a day, like most that did not go the way you want, step outside at night if the sky is clear and stare upwards at the universe.
Realize that you are seeing more than a monumental collection of celestial bodies, that you are experiencing so much history, and moments older than mankind itself, and in that moment you are in the midst of eternity.
They say that some of the rings of Saturn are braided. They also say that Rapunzel’s hair was braided. I am a skeptic for when I stare at Saturn through the old binoculars I see two fuzzy astigmatic spots of light and Rapunzel has gone punk, and I see only an oversized nose ring. The sad thing is that Jupiter’s red spot is showing signs of becoming a melanoma.
He can spend hours on the wooden bench in the small square in the center of the village. There he is but a statue, staring up at the giant clock face that looms over the square from the turret of the Village Hall. He likes to watch the long hand, arrowlike, make its slow, but inevitable movement, circling the blank outward gaze of the numerals. He does not care much for time, has too much of it some say, too little left, he knows. But here, as he stares fixedly, it stops. There is no motion in that instant, there is only the instant of time. It is no longer real, it is a thought lost or forgotten, and there is only the single moment in which he sits on the wooden bench in the center of the village.
As winter closes in around us, even here, the Great Blue Herons go about building a nest, inviting us to watch as they make a home of gathered branches and twigs, oblivious to the state of our world, of the pandemic gripping us.
We watch respectfully, knowing that in this darkest of seasons, we are about to witness our own little miracle and will soon bear witness to the simple joy of birth.
Each morning, once I have completed the often unpleasant task of dragging myself from the womb of blankets, I make my appearance in front of the mirror.
I stare closely into it, and am unsurprised to find it returning my stare, and on every occasion, I notice that the mirror has once again chosen to wear the same clothes as I, albeit not as well or stylishly, no doubt the result of its limited sense of dimensions.
It is odd that I know so well what the mirror looks like, how it masquerades as this or that until it can no longer hope to avoid me, and yet despite its familiarity, I have no idea at all what I really look like anymore.