Full Moon, One Peace

Blue depths ten thousand ages old,
the moon in an empty realm;
You’ll only know it
when you scoop it up two or three times.
- One Peace 同安

I stumbled on this lovely one last night – empty and full; deep and blue. From the beginning this way and yet “knowing” comes in scooping the light of the moon.

The poem is in the notes to Dogen’s Buddha Nature, explaining this passage:

“The words spoken by the Sixth Ancestor, ‘People have north and south; the buddha nature has no north and south,’ we should long ‘scoop up two or three times;’ there should be power in the scoop. We should quietly take up and let go of the words spoken by the Sixth Ancestor….”

So not only “scoop” the light of the moon repeatedly, says Dogen, but scoop with power. Quietly taking up and letting go.

What’s this about people having north and south but not the buddha nature? Are they two things after all?

Dogen strongly rejects the usual two-truths understanding of this passage:

“The foolish think that the Sixth Ancestor might have been saying that, since humans are obstructed by materiality, they have north and south, but the buddha nature, being vacant and pervasive, is beyond discussion of north and south. Those who speculate like this must be indiscriminate simpletons.”

The old guy had a way scooping moonlight AND reviling completely – “indiscriminate simpletons,” moonlight tossed from the bucket.

So what does it matter if the usual two-truths dogma doesn’t apply?

First, it isn’t true.

Second, it steals from people.

So instead of cogitating about what Dogen is talking about, let’s drop the speculation and scoop!

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