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Friday, June 02, 2006

Of Firewood and Ash

Firewood becomes ash, and it does not become firewood again. Yet, do not suppose that the ash is future and the firewood past. You should understand that firewood is firewood, which fully includes past and future. Ash is ash, which fully includes future and past. Just as firewood does not become firewood again after it is ash, you do not return to birth after death.

-Dogen, "Actualizing the Fundamental Point"

James's comment: Just what I needed to hear today. I have been in a tough place the last couple of days. However, I need to remember to take each moment for what it might be whether that is firewood or ash and not place a value judgement upon it. Watch it, observe it and ride the wave out as it merges back into the vast calm of the ocean again.

Although I am a little confused as to why Dogen says, "you do not return to birth after death." What is he refering to here? Is he talking about rebirth vs. reincarnation? Any ideas???

-Peace to all beings-

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7 comments:

dragonflyfilly said...

i think it might mean that after each death you do not return to the "original" birth, that is, you are always changed by the present life, and with death comes a new re-birth, but it is not the same as the previous birth...because what we learn in this life we carry over into our next life, so we are always born anew. ~~~i think, but i don't know for sure~~~

come over and see me at my blog...cheers for now,
pj

Zen said...

I have found in my reading that most Zen teachers do not teach rebirth or reincarnation. Thich Nhat Hanh's book "No Death No Fear" is a good example of true Zen teaching on death. It is more of a message that now you are a human being. When you die, you are no longer a human being in the way that you were a human being before. Now, the parts that were manifest as 'you' are soil, a cloud, a plant, and many other things. What made you "you" is not manifest any longer, but all of those things that were you do not stick together and become one new human. They may become many different things. Heat and moisture become a cloud, which becomes rain, which nurishes a field of flowers, which may nurish a cow, and so on. And who is to say that being a flower is less wonderful than being a cloud? And in the view of eternity, who knows what all the things that have come together in this manifestation of "you" could become? Could be many wonderful things! And this is the essense of the teaching of no self.

"James" said...

PJ and Zen:

I agree with both of you.

PJ:

"but it is not the same as the previous birth...because what we learn in this life we carry over into our next life, so we are always born anew."

Well said.


Zen:

"What made you "you" is not manifest any longer, but all of those things that were you do not stick together and become one new human. They may become many different things. Heat and moisture become a cloud, which becomes rain, which nurishes a field of flowers, which may nurish a cow, and so on."

Exactly. :)

dragonflyfilly said...

i have not read No Death No Fear, but i rosonate with what ZEN wrote in her comment here. Thanks and cheers,
pj

tatiana said...

Hope you've managed to wiggle out of your tough place......... Sending lots of positive energy your way! :)

theycallmemac said...

I feel like he is trying to say that don't get caught up in trying to get back to firewood once ash, be content being as ash.

Zen, beautifully said.

"James" said...

Tati:

Thank-you dear one for your support and concern. I feel it and it helps very much. I am indeed in better place. Again, thank-you for thinking of me and sending me your love and support.

Mac:

Well said and I agree. Be happy with where ever one is at the present moment even if it seems "painful." Painful moments are simply chances to learn and advance along the path to Enlightenment.

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