Monday, May 23, 2011

Where Can It Be Seen?

Though we sit at the shore

Of the world-spaning sea,

We marvel at the Moon

Reflected in a drop of dew.

When a single drop

Returns to the sea,

Where can it be seen?

In his "Genjo-koan" Dogen Zenji says;

"Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on 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."


"Though there are many features in the dusty world and the world beyond conditions, you see and understand only what your eye of practice can reach. 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."

Master Dogen certainly has a way of getting to the heart of the matter. Sometimes I feel as though my thoughts are like my moon-reflecting drop, when I read Dogen, it is like catching a glimpse of that world-spaning sea. Sometimes we may think of our understanding as some kind of great realization, but any realization that we may have is limited to what our "eye of practice can reach". If we were ever to reach the understanding of that vast sea in its' entirety, in what way would that realization actually be called "ours"?

The Dogen quotes are from the Translation by Robert Aitken and Kazuaki Tanahashi found at:

The image above is a reworked version of an image found at:


Anonymous said...

I really like the imagery/words combo in this and your other postings. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

thank you David. Excellent!

Francisco Pinneli *******************************************