the way to the way

January 18th, 2011

Ordinary life fits the absolute as a box and its lid.
The absolute works together with the relative
like two arrows meeting in mid-air.
Reading words you should grasp the great reality.
Do not judge by any standards.
If you do not see the Way, you do not see it even as you walk on it.
When you walk the Way, it is not near, it is not far.
If you are deluded you are mountains and rivers away from it.
I respectfully say to those who wish to be enlightened:
Do not waste your time by night or day.

– from The Identity of Relative and Absolute, 8th century Zen poem

A limited number of scholarships are now available to the Plunge at Asilomar, my next retreat on Saturday, Feb. 12. If you or a friend needs assistance, you’ll find the way here. Please leave me a private message via my Contact page.

Photo: The way to Asilomar.

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  1. Thank you for calling my attention to this last part of the Sandokai. I couldn’t remember where the “two arrows meeting” came from and I’ve really seen it as a “right place, right time” metaphor for the teacher/student communication of an important lesson.

    Now I see it’s intended more as a “blue mountain/white cloud”-interdependence thing although I don’t get that from it in context.

    Although I’m set in my Soto attitudes, the Sandokai is now calling to me as a koan like an often passed country road off the main route, inviting me to leisurely explore its mystery.

    Thank you, again

    Comment by kevin — January 18, 2011 @ 6:40 am

  2. These words served as an important reminder for me on a day when I needed it. Thank you.

    Comment by Christine — January 18, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

  3. Kevin,
    It’s unknowable, for sure, but no more remote than the foot before and the foot behind in walking. As Dogen said, “It’s easier to raise the foot, stomp and miss the Earth than miss the Way.”

    Thank you for reading and practicing.


    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — January 18, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  4. I like the line “it is not near/it is not far.”
    Cease looking back, or forward, to what used to be or what ought to be or imposing any conditions.

    I guess scholarships don’t include airfare?? 🙂

    Comment by Laura — January 19, 2011 @ 11:10 pm

  5. Thank you for introducing this poem to me. I found

    “Within light there is darkness, but do not try to understand that darkness;
    Within darkness there is light, but do not look for that light.
    Light and darkness are a pair, like the foot before
    and the foot behind, in walking. Each thing has its own intrinsic value and is related to everything else in function and position.”

    comforting these days.
    Love from Amsterdam, Roos
    (p.s. just a quikc note: my blog is in English from now on)

    Comment by Roos — January 25, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

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