The Circle of Practice

I’ve been thinking this morning about Dogen, possibly my favorite author at this exact moment. His eloquence was so simple, so clear. Yet his work can often be difficult to really see. For me, as someone who has studied Buddhism for a long time, there can be clouds of misconception, yet in Moon in a Dewdrop, poetry and philosophy co-exist, yet are separate. I found this article this morning from Tricycle. It takes a membership to read the entire article, of which I have one, but I’m quoting from the incredible introduction below:

The “way” is a common image in many religious traditions for the process of spiritual pursuit. It often implies that a seeker is bound to toil on a long path, wandering about and overcoming numerous obstacles before arriving at the final destination. There is a huge distance between the starting point and the goal. In the context of the Mahayana or Great Vehicle teaching—a developed form of Buddhism that spread through North and East Asia—this process represents the journey a seeker, or bodhisattva, takes to become a fully awakened one, a buddha. The time span between the initial practice and the achieved goal—enlightenment—is described in scriptures as “hundreds and thousands of eons.

Dogen accepts this image of a linear process of seeking. But he also talks about the way as a circle. For him, each moment of practice encompasses enlightenment, and each moment of enlightenment encompasses practice. In other words, practice and enlightenment—process and goal-are inseparable. The circle of practice is complete even at the beginning. This circle of practice-enlightenment is renewed moment after moment.”

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