Expand your limited view

Web Lead

Eihei Dogen, a 13th century Zen master wrote, “When dragons and fish see water as a palace, it may be like human beings seeing a palace. They may not think it flows. If an outsider tells them, ‘What you see as a palace is running water,’ the dragons and fish may be astonished, just as we are when we hear the words, ‘Mountains flow.’ Nevertheless, there may be some dragons and fish who understand that the railings and pillars of palaces and pavilions are flowing water.”

In Canada we don’t have many palaces. When I lived in Japan, I often visited Hikone Castle, which was built on a 20-foot dry stone wall foundation and had been standing since 1642. Dogen is saying that when fish and dragons are in the water, to them it might seem like being in one of these medieval Japanese castles. Because all they have known is water, it would make sense to them to think that the castle was just another form of flowing water. If someone told them, “This isn’t water, this is a castle,” they might be as amazed as we are when Dogen tells us that mountains walk on water.

Dogen goes on, “If you do not penetrate your superficial views, you will not be free from the body and mind of an ordinary person. You will not thoroughly experience the land of the Buddha ancestors, or even the land or the palace of ordinary people.” At first reading, these words sound harsh. But he means that the only way we get to go beyond the suffering of body and mind, which so many people experience from confusion, aggression, hatred, anger and a feeling of not having enough, is to go beyond our self-centred views. The Buddha taught that to be free of suffering we have to go beyond the conceptual frameworks and fixed beliefs that we have learned from our conditioning. It is these limited views that bring us to suffering.

There’s a paradox here. Dogen is saying that being a Buddha is nothing more or less than being a normal human being who has transcended ego-centered views. Unless we go beyond those views, we can’t fully live the life of an ordinary human being. Unless we transcend our self-centred perspective, look out from our little worlds and let go of our small views about our lives, we won’t know what it means to fully be in this world, living and dying, loving and hating, laughing and crying. The paradox here is that practicing the Buddha way and living an ordinary human life are one and the same.

Suggested practice: Notice when your world has shrunk into consideration of how you can get what you want when you want it; and when you do notice, raise your head and see the Creston Valley and mountains beyond. This looking outward may broaden your view enough to help you transcend the constricting feeling of not having what you want.

Kuya Minogue is the resident teacher at Sakura-ji, Creston’s zendo. This column is part of a long essay on an essay by 13th century Zen master Eihei Dogen and is inspired by the teaching of Norman Fischer. For more information, Minogue can be reached at 250-428-6500, and previous columns are available at www.zenwords.net.

 

 

Just Posted

School District 8 swears in new board

Four new trustees join the Kootenay Lake board of education

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Tigz Designs making Christmas merry for Swan Valley Lodge residents

Lori Cameron and her husband, Bill, expect to deliver 90 gift bags to Swan Valley Lodge residents.

Proportional Representation makes your vote count

We can lead the rest of the country with democratic reform.

Enhancing recreational opportunities on Basin Trails

This program is one of the ways the Trust is addressing its strategic priority to support recreation and physical activity in the region.

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

Most Read