89. Tsuki

The Buddha’s true dharma body is just like space;

Manifesting its form according to circumstances,

it is like the moon in water

The image of the moon in water is one of the most familiar in Buddhism. The moon is Buddha, the water is the mind. When the water is tranquil, the moon is reflected perfectly.

It’s a dualistic image, obviously, and Dogen radicalises it by saying that the moon’s light is equally reflected, however the water is. What is important is not the form of the moon, but its expression. It illuminates the water. It illuminates the clouds. It illuminates the heavens. It illuminates itself. And apart from this illumination, there is no moon.

In the masterly Tsuki, Dogen revitalises the image as the active inter penetrating expressing everything.

The first line of the poem says something similar, but in a different way. When we come into the dojo and take our place, the space that was there before doesn’t disappear. It isn’t displaced elsewhere. Buddha doesn’t appear and the person vanishes. It isn’t like that. Both arise together.

We are space and person. Buddha and karmic existence. Particular and universal.