John Tan (Thusness) said,

When Dogen rows the boat, the rowing makes the boat a boat and makes the hand, the sea, wooden oars and the movement of the boat into the "rowing". The designations turns "alive" yet r like mere reflections.

Why is it like water pouring in water? Because one tastes the hand, the sea, the wooden oars going beyond their designated boundaries into one seamless (like pour water in water) action of rowing. There is no self, only that action of rowing.

With anatta and dependent arising, u will feel immense inter-relatedness yet empty like reflections even in the world of conceptualities.

The father is dependent on the son and the son makes the father a father. Don't just look at the logic, see how much emotions and love are invested in them. There are no "things" and "world" other than that.

So it is not about just that which is direct, clean, brilliance, non-dual, non-conceptual and transparent which is empty like space; u must re-enter the world, dirty ur hands and see conventionalities with this new found insights of selflessness and DO...see the whole chain of intricate yet empty like reflections.

André A. Pais: John Tan, good stuff! Is there more from where this came?

John Tan: Hi André, some blah blah blah on the spur of the moment when Soh was discussing with me total exertion and emptiness. Intuitively I was sensing him skewing towards empty reflection in non-referential presence while attempting to integrate emptiness and total exertion at that time.
So just brought out this “dependent designation” as it can serve as a bridge to link the two (empty reflection and total exertion).

Sometimes we can latched on to the so called higher teachings of “already perfection”, “emptiness”, “no karma”, “no this and that” and subtly hypnotizing ourselves into a fabricated liberated state. This is precisely the question dogen had in mind, if we are already enlightened, why practice? If we have buddha-nature, why attain enlightenment? These questions set him on a journey to china in search of the answer. He came back with “practice-enlightenment”, we do not practice to get enlightened, we practice because we are enlightened – practice-enlightenment.

Therefore my intention is simply trying to bring out the point of not being afraid of self, not being afraid of cause and effect and dependencies, look directly into the world of samsara, look into the world of conventionalities and see the beauty of conceptualities. Even in market place, the taste of non-referential presence is never lost but fully present!

For articles about dogen and total exertion, I would recommend Ted Biringer. Ted has a unique way of triggering one into the taste of total exertion through seeing dependencies with his writings. As for write ups integrating emptiness, dependent designations and total exertion into a piece, I don’t think there is any…haha
2 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    " reenter the world,dirty ur hands ... " - thats while we still in this physical body. But what lies beyond(physical death) ? Where is the " Kingdom " ?

  2. Soh Says:

    Why speculate about what lies beyond death? Transcendence and liberation is possible right now. Take care of today and tomorrow shall take care of itself.

    I don't know if you're referring to "kingdom" in the Christian sense, but if you are, here are the words of Jesus:

    'When asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God will not come with observable signs. 21Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For you see, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”'

    - Luke 17:21

    “Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”

    ― Gospel of Thomas

    "I am walking through the park one morning and two Jehovah's Witnesses come toward me, both dressed in suits and carrying Bibles. The older one does all the talking.

    Have you read the Bible? he asks me.

    Yes, I reply.

    Do you know what it says about the Kingdom of God? he asks.

    It says the Kingdom of God is within, I reply.

    No it says a new age is coming, the handicapped will be healed, there will be peace on earth, abundance for all. God's Kingdom is coming.

    It's here, I say.

    The younger man smiles.

    You don't believe in the future? the old man asks me.

    This is it, I reply.

    And then I wish them a good day and walk on. The young man is still smiling.

    - Joan Tollifson