The Language of Ritual

The moon is waxing again. Dogen’s commentary on the eighth precept, ‘I vow not to be avaricious’:

‘One phrase, one verse, that is the ten thousand things and the one hundred grasses. One dharma, one realisation is all buddhas and ancestors, therefore, from the beginning, there has been no stinginess at all.’

The Language of Ritual

The moon is now only half full on this auspicious leap year day, but another phrase from the full moon ceremony, Dogen’s commentary on the sixth grave precept, ‘I vow not to slander’:

‘In the Buddhadharma, go together, appreciate together, realise together and actualise together. Don’t permit fault-finding; don’t permit haphazard talk; do not corrupt the way.’


There is going to be a little more Dogen in the next couple of weeks as I start organising my thoughts around the upcoming workshop in Santa Cruz, and that is how it should be…

‘The Buddha said, “All things are ultimately unbound. There is nowhere that they permanently abide.”
Know that even though all things are unbound and not tied to anything, they abide in their own condition.’ (Mountains and Rivers Sutra)



In case yesterday’s mention of Dogen and the moon left you flummoxed:

‘Enlightenment is like the moon reflected in the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water. Enlightenment does not divide you, just as the moon does not break the water. You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky. The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.’ (Genjo Koan)

On the move

I have been traveling this month, and one of my friends asked me if I made time to sit when I was away from home and out of my usual schedules. A couple of weeks ago on my travels, I offered a meditation session at a friend’s office, but otherwise I did not do any formal sitting. There were plenty of times, though, when I paused for a moment to relax and engage the moment with presence.

When I am giving meditation instruction I often tell people that they can practise anywhere, and usually give the examples of walking down Market Street and being at the airport – though any street will do, and any airport. In New York last week, the stereotypes of hardened New Yorkers was belied by eye contact and smiles on a number of occasions, especially on the subway. These are small things, but to me they embody a moment being met. Visiting a museum, paying close attention to the exhibits around me, just for a second, things felt totally clear. In the long and tiring security line at JFK, I turned to focusing on the sensations in my body, which was a two-fold exercise: I had gone to the airport with ample time, so I was completely unstressed about time or being late, but I had also started getting sick, and had bundled up against the heavy rain in the city, which left me feeling very warm inside the terminal building. On the plane I was also just allowing myself to feel the sickness, and that slightly dislocated feeling of being high over the earth in a small pressurised cabin.

Flying west, we had just caught the last of the sunset in the sky, and had the half moon guiding the way across the continent. As we came into land under clear skies over the bay, I was watching the reflection of the moon in the water, and thought of Dogen. 

DSCF3676The picture does not do justice to the beauty of the scene, as we came in to land over the bay with the moon above; my attempt to capture the reflection in the still water was even less successful.

By the way, I have updated the calendar page, and will continue to do so as events get confirmed, so please check the tab above the header photograph.