The April full moon, as you may know, is the pink moon – and isn’t exactly pink.
The moon in Zen-ese, as you may know, is often used as a metaphor for enlightenment. Ah, the soft light of illumination. And it also isn’t what it might seem.
For me, it’s a good time for a full moon – I’m in the thick of developing a Genjokoan course for the Vine of Obstacles: Support for Online Zen Training, and have been digging into the famous passage by Dogen,
“Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.”
“Reflecting on Dogen Zenji’s teaching can educate consciousness,” I wrote in Keep Me In Your Heart Awhile, “and be solace at those times that we fear the moon. Making fear itself the practice through thorough intimacy with the bodily sensations of fear is actualizing the moon in a dewdrop.”
The moon, as we know, isn’t as big as it seems. And I learned from students recently that science cannot explain that illusion. I checked their understanding (as usual) in Wikipedia (not as usual) and found this: “After reviewing the many different explanations in their 2002 book The Mystery of the Moon Illusion, Ross and Plug conclude ‘No single theory has emerged victorious’.”
Our fear of enlightenment is also based on an illusion. The water doesn’t get broken. Enlightenment (and delusion) go on and on.
Like Dogen writes in this poem:
Contemplating a clear moon
Reflecting mind as empty as the open sky -
Drawn by its beauty,
I lose myself
In the shadows it casts.