Dogen

‘Not all beings see mountains and waters in the same way. Some beings see water as a jeweled ornament, but they do not regard jeweled ornaments as water. What in the human realm corresponds to their water? We only see their jeweled ornaments as water. 

Some beings see water as wondrous blossoms, but they do not use blossoms as water. Hungry ghosts see water as raging fire or pus and blood. Dragons and fish see water as a palace or a pavilion. Some beings see water as the seven treasures or a wish-granting jewel. Some beings see water as a forest or a wall. Some see it as the dharma nature of pure liberation, the true human body, or the form of the body and the essence of mind. Human beings see water as water. Water is seen as dead or alive depending on [the seer’s] causes and conditions. 

Thus, the views of all beings are not the same. Question this matter now. Are there many ways to see one thing, or is it a mistake to see many forms as one thing? Pursue this beyond the limit of pursuit. Accordingly, endeavors in practice-realization of the way are not limited to one or two kinds. The thoroughly actualized realm has one thousand kinds and ten thousand ways. 

When we think about the meaning of this, it seems that there is water for various beings but there is no original water—there is no water common to all types of beings. But water for these various kinds of beings does not depend on mind or body, does not arise from actions, does not depend on self or other. Water’s freedom depends only on water. 

In this way, water is not just earth, water, fire, wind, space, or consciousness. Water is not blue, yellow, red, white, or black. Water is not form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or mind. But water as earth, water, fire, wind, and space actualizes itself. 

This being so, it is difficult to say who has created this land and palace right now or how such things have been created. To say that the world is resting on the wheel of space or on the wheel of wind is not the truth of the self or the truth of others. Such a statement is based only on a small view of assumptions. People speak this way because they think that it is impossible for things to exist without having a place to rest.’ (Shobogenzo Sansuikyo)

Some classic lines from the Mountains and Waters Sutra about essence and manifestation. How is it? Pursue this beyond the limit of pursuit.


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