Shinshu Roberts

‘A dharma position has a past, present, and future, but it is freed from being defined by that past, present, or future. Each dharma position is particular and independent. We are aware of past experience and future desires when actualizing our enlightened mind, but such ideas do not obstruct our ability to respond fully to the totality of each situation as it is. This nonobstructive awareness is important because the independent nature of a dharma position allows us to choose how we will respond to them. We are not caught up in some fatalistic, predetermined course of action.’ (Being-Time)

A few weeks ago at a teaching event, I asked the participants to share what they had noticed during a walking meditation outside. One person suggested that she could feel the leaves suffering as they turned brown and prepared to fall from the tree. While very much appreciating the observation, I wasn’t so sure if there was really suffering involved – I suggested that this was a part of each leaf’s natural cycle, and that the leaf probably was not suffering by resisting the process. Which is a different way of talking about the leaf’s dharma position: the leaf has the dharma position of turning brown, and the dharma position of falling from the tree, but nothing is hindered from accomplishing its dharma position.
With my last Dogen class coming up tomorrow, having successfully chewed over practice-realisation, it may be time to broach this subject, along with non-obstruction generally.

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