Dogen

A Gap Between Our Minds and the Reality of Time

From The Book of Time: The Secrets of Time, How it Works and How to Measure It by Adam Hart-Davis:

The 13th-century Japanese master Eihei Dōgen asserted in the Shōbōgenzō that a day consists of 6,400,099,180 moments (which make a moment about 1/74,000 of a second). In Each Moment is the Universe (2007), Zen monk Dainin Katagiri writes that these moments are so fleeting that our rational minds are too slow to keep up with them, and so we experience a gap between us and the reality of time, which is why we feel we can't keep up, and why we suffer. According to Buddhist teaching, everything exists together in a moment.

The past has already gone, says Katagiri; so it does not exist. The future has not yet come; so it also does not exist. So the past and the future are nothing, no-time. Then is the present all that exists? No, even though there is a present, strictly speaking the present is nothing, because in a moment it is gone. So the present is also nothing, no-time, no-present, no form of the present.

But that nothingness is very important. The real present is not exactly what you believe the present to be. In everyday life we constantly create some idea of the the human world is because we are always thinking about how things were in the past or how things will be in the future. The real present is the full aliveness that exists at the pivot of nothingness. Be present, Katagiri says, from moment to moment, right in the middle of the real stream of time. 

In the Shōbōgenzō Dōgen says that when you swim on the surface of the sea, your foot touches the bottom. The surface is the "normal" human world in the stream of time, the world we create with our imagination, memory, and hopes, while the bottom is the reality of human life. So the surface is constantly changing, but the bottom is the firm reality, and we always swim with one foot on the bottom. 

From The Human Brain Book by Rita Carter

It takes on average half a second for the unconscious mind to process incoming sensory stimuli into conscious perceptions. Yet we are not aware of this time lag — you think you see things move as they move, and when you stub your toe you get the impression of knowing about it right away. This illusion of immediacy is created by an ingenious mechanism, which backdates conscious perceptions to the time when the stimulus first entered the brain. 

On the face of it, this seems impossible because cortical signals take the same "real" time to process to consciousness, but somehow we are tricked into thinking we feel things earlier. 

One wayit might be explained is that consciousness consists of many parallel streams and that the brain jumps from one to another, revising them and redrafting them. 

 

Autumn Approaching

The unspoiled colors of a late summer night,
The wind howling through the lofty pines—
The feel of the autumn approaching;
The swaying bamboos keep resonating,
And shedding tears of dew at dawn;
Only those who exert themselves fully
Will attain the Way,
But even if you abandon all for the ancient path of meditation,
You can never forget the meaning of sadness.

~ Zen Master Dōgen, Verses from the Mountain of Eternal Peace, translated by Steven Heine

You Can Never Forget

The unspoiled colors of a late summer night,
The wind howling through the lofty pines —
The feel of autumn approaching;
The swaying bamboos keep resonating,
And shedding tears of dew at dawn;
Only those who exert themselves fully
Will attain the Way,
But even if you abandon all for the ancient path
of meditation,
You can never forget the meaning of sadness.

~ Zen Master Dogen: Verses from the Mountain of Eternal Peace, translated by Steven Heine

[Thanks John!]

To Study the Self is to Forget the Self

Quotes from Eihei Dogen, one of the founders of the Sōtō school of Zen Buddhism:

Although we say that mountains belong to the country, actually, they belong to those who love them.

When you see forms or hear sounds fully engaging body-and-mind, you grasp things directly. Unlike things and their reflections in the mirror, and unlike the moon and its reflection in the water, when one side is illumined the other side is dark.

To study the buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.