The Realized Universe (Genjo kôan, Part 5)
Master Dôgen explains a analogy, that the things and phenomena in this world “abide in the place” of the dharma. So firewood becomes ash, if it’s burning, but that should not confuse us. Firewood has its own position in the world, and ash as well. So everything is like it is and we should not mingle the facts of the world with our thinking and ideas. Firewood and ash are different situations and are independent of each other, here and now. We combine them by our way of thinking, but this is not reality as it is. The ash cannot become firewood again, both have their own place in the world and in the dharma. And Master Dôgen says that this is true for our whole life.
Life cannot be changed into death and death cannot be changed into life. Both situations are different and have their own reality. And if we concentrate on the true moments of our lives, this message of Master Dôgen is very clear. And this situation is only confusing, if we don’t live in the reality of our lives and are afraid of death in the future:
“Live is an instantaneous situation and death is also an instantaneous situation.”
Master Dôgen speaks about the supreme status of the truth and enlightenment and uses the simile of the full round moon:
„A person getting realization is like the moon being reflected in the water: the moon does not get wet and the water is not broken. Though the light (of the moon) is wide and great, it is reflected in a foot or an inch of water. The whole moon and the whole sky are reflected in a dew-drop on a blade of grass in a single drop of water.”
This is the poetic picture of the moon which is reflected and abiding in the water, and it shows that in reality there are no obstacles between the moon and the water. There are no limitations and there is no stress. Nature is always very calm and this can be experienced in every moment. But it is important that we are not deluded by strange ideas and strange emotions. So we should be very clear about the moment itself and its length or shortness should be investigated.
“The longness and shortness of its moment should be investigated in large (bodies of) water and small (bodies of) water.”
Master Dôgen tells us about the reality and lives of birds. Fish swim in the water and birds fly in the air and the sky. They are their places of living/ the elements they inhabit. If they are in their natural element, there is no end and there is no limitation. So they are free and living in good conditions, where they can live and act. But if the fish leaves the water, he must die. And if the bird falls from the sky to the earth, he will die as well:
“So we can understand that water is life and can understand that sky is life. Birds are life and fish is life.” And further: "Simply, when activity is great, usage is great and when necessity is small, usage is small."