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closing words on a september silent retreat

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

Awareness has more to do with the quality of attention we bring to something rather than what we give our attention to.

It’s not so much what is heard, like the gentle sound of raindrops falling on rooftop and leaves early this morning as we are about to end our retreat, or the many bird calls we hear coming from the bushes and trees in the lush surroundings, it’s how that is heard, how that is listened to.

It's not so much about what we see but more about how we see it, for in the seeing, in the listening, there is a depth, unfathomable, that we could call wonderment or awe that comes as whole, all-encompassing, unbound and expansive in a way that the seer or the listener may well disappear in the act of seeing and listening and this is the mysterious unknown of what just is.

This disappearing reminds us of the forgetting the self Master Dogen talks about and the confirmation by myriad existences that ensues the self-forgetting. The confirmation does not come after the forgetting for the forgetting is the being confirmed and there is no before and after as it is a simultaneous co-arising, a single unitary event. What is forgotten and what is confirmed is not something that happens to anyone in particular. For to truly forget and be confirmed is the life of the no one who dwells in the unknown. In Zen you would call her the person of no rank.

We may call the occurrence of this non event as we like; sustained presence, choiceless awareness, awakening unfolding, but these are just words simply pointing to something beyond description but capture the quick of life of which they offer but the faintest pulsation they cannot.

The fullness of presence is vast yet whole. What is meant by that is the absence of division, of separation, of the duality between the seer and the seen, the subject and the object. In the words of Master Dogen again this is the moment of body and mind being dropped off. Dropped off the self clinging, the person sees the mountain and the mountain sees the person all in one breath and as one breath.

Consciousness becomes open spirit, open heart, a unified field; suchness that is the abode of buddhas where no one comes and no one goes.

Everything mirrors everything else and this mirroring goes on infinetly. It is what we call interconnectedness or interdependence and no thing can ever stand outside of it for it is seamless and without edge.

The waves as different as they may be are all part of the same ocean where they ceaselessly arise and fall. Thich Nhat Hanh says: “ Enlightenment is the moment when the wave realizes it is the ocean.”

A wave that knows it is ocean is the forgetfulness of the ocean dreaming itself as waves.

To awaken within the dream of the ocean is to carry oneself at times as one, at times as countless waves, lightly. Lightly carrying on whilst being carried away by the shimmers on the surface of the ocean, lightly settling in the poise of her depths .

The time of a wave realizing it is the ocean is just timelessness as ocean dreaming itself away in waves: it flows, it flows.

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