by Rev. Koshin Schomberg

Chapter 12
The Dharma of All Existence

The Dharma of Shakyamuni Buddha's Enlightenment is the Dharma of all existence.

--Great Master Dogen

Some Universal Truths

Everything possesses the Buddha Nature.

All beings are working their way toward enlightenment.

Some paths to enlightenment are straighter and more direct; others are more crooked and less direct. But all are paths to enlightenment.

Walking With

The path to enlightenment can span many lifetimes. The ant, the snail, the turtle, the tiger, the dog, the rat, the fish, the spider, the human, the hungry ghost--each being is on the path to enlightenment; each being possesses the Buddha Nature.

I am not God. It is not for me to query the path of another. It is enough for me to walk my path and to trust others to walk theirs. When I do this, I make it easier for me to recognize both that I walk alone and that I walk together with all living things.

When I view another being--however different from myself that being may appear to be--as being on the path to enlightenment, I view myself and that other being as sharing what is most real, important, and pure, and as differing in ways that do not fundamentally matter.

This does not blind me to the dangers that might be involved in getting too close to the tiger (for example) when he is looking for his next meal: we are both on the path to enlightenment, but that does not make me want to be lunch for a tiger. It does mean that I will not want to kill him or make his life difficult and painful.

Just as there can be risk in coming too close to some animals, so there can be risk in coming too close to some people. Here again, there is no inherent contradiction between recognizing that another person is on the path to enlightenment and trusting an instinct that is telling us, "It is best to steer clear of this person in this situation at this time." The key is to retain a respectful attitude of mind.

Laying the Foundations

The foundations upon which the work of the conscious re-harmonization with the Eternal can be fulfilled are laid down through many lifetimes. It is important not to despise this work of foundation-laying or view it as pointless. As Rev. Master often pointed out, "It takes as long as it takes for the penny to drop." That is, it takes as long as it takes for all-acceptance and genuine faith-based understanding to manifest within the stream of karma.

When we look back upon the stream of karma with enlightened eyes, we do not see meaningless thrashing about. Rather, we see beings who might have lived and died in relative ignorance, but whose fundamental motive was the very same motive--entirely pure, entirely of the Eternal--that brought us to the Buddha's Way. Their lives, their longing, their suffering, their experience, the lessons that they learned with such difficulty--these laid the foundations upon which our conscious spiritual training stands.

Therefore, all the beings from whom I--an individual human being--have inherited karma are Bodhisattvas for me. Here is another sense in which I walk together with other beings: in this case, the "other beings" are those whose karma I have inherited.-- And if this is true for me, it is true for everyone, every being.



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