Non-difference from self, from other people, from creatures and inanimate objects is not based on an ethical or philosophical notion that if we all refrain from exclusion, the world will be a better place—although this is certainly true. It arises from the direct recognition that this—here and now—is the world; it includes everything and the three times. Non-difference from self and all things is the natural order of things. And so every action we take has profound moral consequences. It's not possible for the ocean to exclude water, for the mountain to exclude soil, for a wise ruler to exclude people. When we don't exclude it's because we have faith in that which we include, in that with which we identify. We realize that everything is not two. This is not an abstract theory intended for those living deep in a mountain retreat. It's the very nature and lifeblood of each one of us, and we are fully able to manifest this in our complex and challenging lives.
We face realities today that human beings have never faced before. So in many ways—significant ways—we cannot rely on our past delusions; this will only perpetuate what the past has created. And yet we can turn towards and awaken the ageless wisdom of this dharma, the truth that is free of all time and space and is in perfect harmony with every time and place. We can bring forth the great heart of compassion which has the deepest concern for the happiness and well-being of all things. In a film about the state of our earth—The Eleventh Hour—one of the narrators speaks of how every morning all over the world, millions of people are waking up and thinking about getting the kids to school on time, getting themselves to work, what they're going to do for the weekend, what they have to pick up at the store, taking the laundry in and so on—all the stuff of life. He said what we need to be waking up and thinking about is this earth, because there's not a single moment, not a single function that we do and rely upon, that is not completely dependent upon this earth.
We are being called to cultivate this great love of the bodhisattva and selfless compassion for everything, for animate and inanimate objects, for all creatures without indulging in our feelings of weariness or fear, because these really are indulgences. Instead, we're being asked to bring forth that great courage of the bodhisattva spirit—which is none other than practicing what is right in front of us without turning away. It's about the very accessible, workable, ever-present truth of today. This is the great determination of one practicing the Way. This is what has been handed down to us. Every period in history has been difficult in its own way. What's important is to meet the challenges and the wonder and awe and beauty. We must meet all of it by offering kind speech arising from a kind heart, by offering ben- eficial action and identity action and by recognizing that when we bring all of this forth within ourselves, we are bringing it forth within others. That is why Dogen says, "This has the power to turn the destiny of a nation"—a nation of one, a nation of a family, of a community, of a sangha. This is the work of our time.