Date and Place Written: 1240, Kannon-dori-kosho-horin-ji temple (Fukakusa)
Fascicle number and English title in Hubert Nearman translation: 11. On ‘Just for the Time Being,Just for a While, For the Whole of Time is the Whole of Existence’
Fascicle number and English title in Nishijima/Cross translation: 11. Existence Time
Fascicle number and English title in Tanahashi translation: 12. The Time Being
Fascicle number in 12, 28, 60 and 75 fascicle editions: 20 (60), 20 (75)
Commentaries: Being-Time: A Practitioner’s Guide to Dogen’s Shobogenzo Uji by Shinshu Roberts; Deepest Practice Deepest Wisdom chapters 5,6 & 9; Don’t Be A Jerk, chapter 17; Each Moment Is the Universe: Zen and the Way of Being Time by Dainin Katagiri; Receiving the Marrow, chapter 5; The Zen Master’s Dance chapter 7
Audio reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9HxQ8rfVrY


In this fascicle, Dōgen explains that time is not separate from existence itself.  It is not that we exist and time passes by us, but all of existence together is time, including us. 

Dōgen talks about that however out life is going, and whether we feel that time is passing fast or slow, a day is still a day.  If we doubt the existence of time, the doubting is also time. 

Each phenomena and thing is part of time and also, when we experience things just as they are, we see that each moment of time contains all of time, and the whole universe. 

Existence is made up of time.  Practice is made up of time.  Our struggles with life are made up of time. 

The establishment of bodhicitta, practice and enlightenment itself is all the perfect realization of the whole of time and the whole of Existence.  Just being as we are is also Existence-Time.  Understanding time intellectually does not change how it is.

Without being in the present, we cannot see how time progresses from moment to moment.  The whole Universe is just the passage from one moment to the next.  This passage of Time continues without there being anything external.  Dōgen gives the example of spring that continues moment to moment as spring itself.  There is not something outside of spring or Time watching it pass.

Kōans and Stories

Great Master Yakusan Igen says to Master Kozei Daijuku [Mazu Daoyi, Jp. Baso Dōitsu; 709-788]: “I have more or less clarified the import of the three vehicles and the twelve divisions of the teaching.  But what is the ancestral Master’s intention in coming from the West?
Master Daijuku replies, “Sometimes I make him lift an eyebrow or wink an eye; sometimes to make him lift an eyebrow or wink an eye is right, and sometimes to make him lift an eyebrow or wink an eye is not right.”
Yakusan has a great realisation and says, “In Sekito’s order [his former teacher, Sekito Kisen, 700-790] I have been like a mosquito that climbed into an iron ox.”

Important passages

“An eternal Buddha [Yaoshan Weiyan, Jp. Yakusan Igen; 745-827] says:
Sometimes standing on the top of the highest peak,
Sometimes moving along the bottom of the deepest ocean.
Sometimes three heads and eight arms,
Sometimes the sixteen-foot, or eight-foot golden body.
Sometimes a staff or a whisk.
Sometimes an outdoor pillar or a stone lantern.
Sometimes the third son of Chang or the fourth son of Lee,
Sometimes the Earth and space

“Time is already just Existence, and all Existence is Time.”

“Each individual and each object in this whole Universe should be glimpsed as individual moments of Time.  Object does not hinder object in the same way that moment of Time does not hinder moment of Time.”

“When we arrive at the field of the ineffable, there is just one thing and just one phenomenon, here and now, beyond understanding of phenomena, and non-understanding of phenomena, and beyond understanding of things, and non-understanding of things.  Because existence is only this exact moment, all moments of Existence-Time are the whole of time, and all Existent things and all Existent phenomena are Time.  The whole of Existence, the whole Universe, exists in individual moments of time.  Let us pause to reflect whether or not any of the whole of Existence or any of the whole Universe has leaked away from the present moment of time.”

“Because subject-and-object already is Time, practice-and-experience is moments of Time.  Going into the mud and going into the water [our human difficulties], similarly, are Time.”

“Enactment of the sixteen-foot golden body [standing Buddha] by using the sixteen-foot golden body is realized as the establishment of the mind, as training, as the state of bodhi, and as nirvana; that is, as Existence itself, and as Time itself.  It is none other than the perfect realization of the whole of Time as the whole of Existence; there is nothing surplus at all.”

“We should learn in practice that without the momentary continuance of our own effort in the present, not a single thing could ever be realized or could ever continue from one moment to the next.  We should never learn that passage from one moment to the next is like the movement east and west of the wind and rain.  The whole Universe is neither beyond moving and changing nor beyond progressing and regressing; it is a passage from one moment to the next.” 

“The mountains are Time, and the seas are Time.  Without Time, the mountains and seas could not exist; we should not deny that Time exists in the mountains and the seas here and now.  If Time decays, then the mountains and the seas decay.  If Time is not subject to decay, the mountains and seas are not subject to decay.  In accordance with this truth the bright star appears, the Tathāgata appears, the Eye appears, and picking up flowers appears, and this is just Time.  Without Time, it would not be like this.”

%d bloggers like this: