Eihei Dogen’s Being Time

The above image is from an art piece I did based on Zen Master Dogen’s essay, Uji. The closest translation in English is “Being Time,” or as seen above, “The Time Being.” Eihei Dogen was a 13th century Japanese teacher who wrote extensively about Zen, and happens to be my favorite writer of all time. Although it appears on the page as prose, his writing is very poetic, a direct expression of an awakened mind manifesting as words on a page. Often when I’m reading Dogen, I don’t at all understand intellectually what he’s communicating, yet somehow I feel like the words penetrate directly into my heart. Dogen writes in Being Time:

“Each moment is all being, each moment is the entire world. Reflect now whether any being or any world is left out of the present moment.”

It’s difficult for me to articulate how these words make me feel. But for starters, this moment as it is right now, is complete. It lacks nothing and it contains nothing extra. I am not separate from Time. Neither are you. So time can not pass us by, nor can it stand still as we move. You might try this as an experiment. Your feeling of this moment right now. . . . Are you in it? Are you a bystander watching it flow like a river? Can you point to any piece of your being that stands outside of time? For me, Zen practice must include deep questions like these. No one can supply the answers except for you. (And maybe the answers aren’t the point anyway.) I hope that if you’re not already a Dogen-nut, you’ll be encouraged to pick some up! Sit well!

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply