Shohaku Okumura

‘It seems to me that in Dogen’s writings there are three kinds of time:

1. time that flows, as we 20 commonly think, from the past to the future through the present moment, and this present moment is “one time.” (1).

2. “Zero time” (0), time that is zero, because when we take a closer look at this one moment, it disappears; there is no such moment.

3. “Eternal time” ( ) that we find when we see this moment is zero.

In zero time, time doesn’t flow and is the eternity that has existed as one seamless moment from the big bang until now. Time flows because we measure it. We measure time using units such as seconds, minutes, hours, weeks, years, centuries and so on. Because we measure time, it seems it is flowing. But if time were not measured, for example if all human beings were erased from this universe, there would simply be one moment; there would be no such segments in time such as one second or one hour. From a human point of view, it seems time exists objectively –one hour or one week– and we follow a schedule or the calendar believing this, but if human beings entirely disappeared from this universe, there would be no such thing as flowing time. All of time since the Big Bang to this moment would be one moment, having no segments. This time doesn’t flow. I call it “eternity,” time beyond time.’ (from the Soto Shu Journal)

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