This is who we are. This realization begins with the first breath and continues moment to moment to moment. Abiding in your own dharma state, you exhaustively fulfill your virtue. Dogen is simply saying what every wise person will say: I see into you. I see into the heart of who you truly are. And we are, at the depths of our being, lovers of this life, each one of us. This is what this morning’s gathering is about. Your presence here is the manifestation of your vir- tue, and an expression of the mystery of your life.
The presence of this monastery—its improbable founding, meager beginnings, confounding trials—was informed by the teachings of this sutra. While training at the Zen Center of Los Angeles with Maezumi Roshi, Daido Roshi was studying Master Dogen’s Genjokoan. He used lines from the text as koans, expressing them visually, while refining his unconditioned eye as a photographer. After completing his work on this text, he came across Carl Bielefeldt’s translation of the Mountains and Rivers Sutra. Carl was a doctoral student at UC Berkeley, California, working on his thesis and offering a first glimpse of this piece by Dogen to Western practitioners. In Dogen’s writing, Daido Roshi immediately found kinship and inspiration. The Mountains and Rivers Sutra opened up a vista where nature was the teacher and the teachings, and mystical practice was framed as all-inclusive—not a special realm for special people at special times.
The sutra speaks of an amazing universe, of the uninterrupted continuity of our true being and our connectedness with all life—our connectedness as life itself. It takes up these themes on many levels. It acknowledges everything as both understandable and utterly incomprehensible. It invites us to articulate the mystery and to remain silent. It speaks to our history and to immediacy. The first paragraph invokes all of you, all of space and time. There are the ancestors of Mountains and Rivers Sutra, Calligraphy by Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi every lineage you belong to; the geological underpinnings of this earth; the solidity of your body and the atoms and minerals that make you up; the organic continuity of your DNA that you now express as this life.