In this Moment

With respect,

There is a famous line in Master Dogen's Genjo Koan that goes like this:"firewood does not become ash, firewood is firewood, ash is ash." Sounds so simple, but then some of the greatest teachings in the world are simple statement, but they are not simple, they are deeply profound observations. Years ago in my mountain refuge I would make a fire in the firebox of my wood cookstove. Every once in awhile I would need to put more wood in the box. It was obvious the wood was becoming ash. Master Dogen says that isn't so. Why would he challenge the obvious process of fire?

I believe the answer is in our everyday lives. With each breath we draw we draw it in a moment, hopefully of awareness. Drawing that breath is, itself, our life. It is a Dharma moment with its own existence. Likewise as we release our breath, that too, is its own Dharma moment. One is not becoming the other. Each exist in themselves and only in that moment. As Dogen says, ret each have "their own Dharma reality."

If we live our lives with the constant thought of what comes next, the moment we are actually existing in fails to arise and we do not appreciate it. You might say we are sleep-walking because we are not paying attention as we are moving about. Dogen asks us to pay attention. This breath is solely this breath. Forget the next or the last: in each we die and are born again.


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