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Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Nature of Things.

In order to learn the nature of the myriad things, you must know that although they may look round or square, the other features of oceans and mountains are infinite in variety; whole worlds are there. It is so not only around you, but also directly beneath your feet, or in a drop of water.

-Genjo Koan

James: How often do we gaze out at a mountain or hill and see them as immoveable and symbols of unchanging constants that stand the test of time. Such views are reflections of the limited nature of our minds. We often see time within specific parameters and that if something stands outside those parameters than we tend to ascribe those things with labels that make them seem imprevious to time or of a separate nature.

Mountains are subtly different over the generations but seem to not change because the changes are so small and slow that our faced paced stream of thinking tends to easily over-look their evolution. For all the pride that humans build up about the perceived perfection and superior nature of our minds, they are quite suseptable to trickery and delusion.

For centuries water was seen as just water and only supporting animals. So imagine the surprise when the first humans gazed deeper into the nature of the life giving liquid and saw a whole world thriving within the tiniest drop. A microscopic world of microbes explode into our vision with just one adjustment in sight.

There is so much that we take for granted and so much we still don't know and might not ever know. I don't think that we are necessarly meant to "know it all." I don't think that knowing everything automatically brings us happiness and comfort. At times knowing more only brings us more suffering and stress. So I take comfort in just being another cog in the wheel. That being said I think there is value in being intellectually curious as well. It's all about balance as we know.

PHOTO: Koolau mountains on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. My wife grew up on Oahu underneath the Koolaus in Kahaluu.

---End of Transmission---

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Buddhist_philosopher said...

Hia James, balance indeed. I think as a Buddhist if we can just understand two things: suffering and the end of suffering, we're doing pretty darned well! The rest, I would say, is icing on the cake.

Riverwolf said...

It's actually nice to be humbled now and then, to realize there's so much we don't know or understand.

Beautiful photo.

They call him James Ure said...

Buddhist Philosopher:

So true.


I agree. Humility gives us perspective on our place in the vast scheme of things. It makes us feel small in a way that brings us peace and a feeling of belonging.

Ginger said...

i was just speaking to a friend on this subject the other day. we were mentioning how much folks take for granted and stop "seeing" or being aware of their surroundings and assume they know everything there is to everyone "knew" the world was flat 500 years ago.

the point was the same here, i think. we never stop learning and it's okay to not know everything...just being open to knowledge and experience can make a good life.

i haven't been around much lately, i'm glad to see you made it through the tornados up there.

~ peace ~

G said...

It's very true that as human beings we are cogs in the wheel of life, interconnected with everything else, & tiny in comparison to mountains and oceans. Seeing things this way puts some of our egotistical assumptions in their place, exposing them as delusions of granduer.

But, then again, is our human existence the sum total of what we truly are? If we see life in terms of our Buddha Nature, then there's no big & no small, no wheel and no cogs - there is just 'this much' and no more or less. Again, the individual human level of existence is not lauded above other forms of existence, but then neither is it undervalued. After all, it is as humans - at least ostensibly so - that we can realize our innate awakened state & let go of suffering.

Living each moment in the light of the awareness that illumines even the darkest corners of the mind exposes the latter's self-originated limitations and leads to an awakening to the Dharma in this very moment. May we all wake up & see things as they truly are; then mountains & oceans continue to be amazing manifestations of nature, as do we. Yet at the same time, even the whole universe is experienced as an expression of our truest reality - the void.

G at 'Buddha Space'.

sunnyray meditations said...

Hi! Indeed, it takes an enlightened mind to really look beyond the veil of illusion, but even then probably we will get only a small part of the great whole. Thanks for the post.

Bill said...

And further...

Quantum theory dictates that the entire universe changes completely, in less time than it is possible to imagine, along with everything in it. We ourselves are nothing like what we were...then. All of which we are made is totally rearranged, constantly and infinitely. In the final analysis, we are neither particle nor wave.

What, then, is reality? What, then, is real?

Johan said...

Thank you for a wonderful post, and a wonderful blog - which I have just discovered by chance! :-) I am a Swedish Buddhist, and at this time in my life it is a great relief to surf around on your blog and read your posts :-) once again thank you!

They call him James Ure said...


Yeah we survived the tornadoes thankfully.

I think anyone who has said that they have learned everything clearly needs to learn more. :)


Excellent comment. I've nothing to add. :)

Sunny Ray:

May we all realize that vision beyond illusion.


Exactly. In the end there are no words or theories to describe or explain reality. It must simply be realized.

That being said, science has helped us greatly expand our vision of the great mystery. I personally find Buddhism to be the most compatible to science.


Thank-you for the compliments and It's wonderful to have you here at my corner of the world wide sangha.

I'm happy that my blog has helped you in some way. May it continue to bring you joy and comfort.

Ted Biringer said...

Thank you for this lovely post!

I thought it might interest some of your visitors to read Louie Wing's comments on this section of Shobogenzo, Genjokoan (beginning with a slightly different translation - by Ted Biringer)

Genjokoan: If someone wants to know how the many things really are, they should remember that besides appearing square or round, the quali-ties of the oceans and qualities of the mountains are infinitely numerous; there are worlds in the four directions. Not only the periphery is like this: remember, the immediate present, and a single drop of water are also like this.

Comment by Louie Wing: This then, is the reason why throughout the Shobogenzo, Dogen is so vehement about continuous, ongoing practice and enlightenment. The Buddha-Dharma that is the universe is full of numerous qualities and wonders without end. There are “worlds in the four directions,” even in this present moment, and in a single drop of water. Your enlightenment is the enlightenment of the universe. Your awareness is the awareness of the universe. The Zen path of practice and enlightenment is the universe aware of itself, exploring itself, and experiencing itself.
~From The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing


mikethepikey said...

Great post indeed and very insightful. i think that when you start to think of yourself as a 'self' then you have detatched from nature and become conditioned. when conditioned you are open to all kinds of delusional activity which all eventually causes suffering. as soon as we concentrate on the breath and observe the nature of the mind, then we see that all the things that we percieve as permanent and important at once drift away and pale into nothingness.


They call him James Ure said...

Ted Biringer:

Thank-you very much for adding that insight to the post. And I completely agree with it.

mikethepikey said...

cheers ted. great blog


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