Uji – The Time Being

Last Sunday I attended the opening ceremony for the new Dharma Room at the Korean Zen temple in Matlock, Kubong-Sa. The ceremony was an eye-opening ceremony for the Buddha statue on the altar – we have a similar ceremony in our tradition when a new statue is installed in a temple. Kubong-Sa is on High Tor and the view from the glass doors at the rear of the room is magnificent. The celebrant, Zen Master Ji Kwang, led us in a circumambulation of the building scattering aduki beans in all directions, which I believe was for protection for the room and all who practise therein. I had an opportunity to offer incense and express my joy to those assembled that they have the good fortune to have such a beautiful new Dharma Room.

Back at the Hermitage I have put up voile curtains at the windows of the Kanzeon shrine, in addition to the door curtain, to give more privacy. And I’ve been doing some maintenance on the retreat caravan, replacing perished moulding on the trim strips with neat new red moulding. I realise that you probably don’t know what I’m talking about unless you have your own caravan, so suffice to say that the exterior of the caravan is starting to look much smarter. The mornings are getting cooler, only 2.5c (outside, that is) when I got up the other day. I think I have given up on clearing the pond weed for the time being. I have only managed to clear a small area and the weed is already starting to grow back. The moorhens don’t seem to mind.

UjiI’ve been reading the chapter called Uji in Great Master Dogen’s work Shobogenzo. Rev. Master Jiyu gave lectures on Shobogenzo and some of them have been compiled in Roar of the Tigress Vol. II, which includes a section on Uji. Rev. Master Jiyu says:

This was something else that Koho Zenji explained to me: people write their “chapter” once they have had a deep realisation of the Truth, and everyone who has also had a realisation of It reads it and says, “Wow! They’ve got it; that’s so terrific!” And those who haven’t yet found It wonder what in the world they’re talking about.”

She goes on to say that the value of such writings is that they point others towards finding the Truth for themselves. And I would add that this reminds me that any understanding we may think we have of Uji, or any other spiritual text, remains at an intellectual level until we do have our own understanding. Rev. Master Jiyu also makes the point that Uji is not Dogen’s theory of time, it is his attempt to explain Reality. I must admit that my motivation to re-read Uji was to compare it to current theories of time in quantum physics etc. (not that I understand that any more than I do Uji) so this remark was a timely reminder of the important thing – thank you Rev. Master Jiyu!

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