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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39472

    WHAT THE UNIVERSE CAN'T DO WITHOUT YOU ... (Publication Version)

    A shortened version of my musings to send to Tricycle ... (Longer Version LINK)

    To fly a kite, one needs kites and wind. Without a kite, there can be no "kite flying." Likewise, without sentient beings like us, there can be no doing of what only sentient beings do through our very sentience. Some things in this world will not fly without us.

    It is an additional truism that the universe, without you, would be fully incapable of doing what specifically only YOU do. Without your particular kite, the universe could never hold your particular kite flight, even if some other kites manage their own across the field.

    Sentience is required for sentient experiences in general. Building upon that, you are the only sentient being in the universe who can have YOUR sentient experiences. Without you (this very "YOU-you" who is reading these words now), the entire universe would lack every sensation and experience, every sight and sound, that YOU feel, see and hear. My kite is just not yours, not even should they look the same, nor can I fly mine from your exact spot.

    I do not mean that the universe experiences what you experience (it may, and I very much suspect so, though perhaps not in the same way little finite creatures do, and anyway ... let us leave that aside), but at the very least, without you, all of time and space, from here to the farthest reaches, would be bereft of what you add to the mix. This might sound strange until we recall that, to the Mahayana fellow, every atom or whole galaxy, single moment or long age, every being, you, me and every act anywhere is itself a shining jewel of infinite worth (even the ugly ones, scarred or hidden in mud). Every breeze is a shining jewel, every kite and every flight is a shining jewel of infinite worth, your every act is a jewel of infinite worth, all shining on Indra's Net.

    So, that being said ...
    • The universe cannot wake up in the morning without sentience to wake up to, and cannot wake up in your bed as you without you. Granted, some other person might wake up in your bed instead of you, but that would not be YOUR waking up there (and begs the question of where you slept last night).
    • Without sentient, belegged beings, the universe is without experience of putting on pants, and specifically your personal pants-putting if without you. Of course, I could put on your pants, but that is not the same as your experience of doing so. A two-legged robot can do the raw act, but (at least for now) without conscious awareness of doing so. Leaving aside the question of why I or the robot are wearing your pants, it is your sensation of wearing your pants that is most unique to you.
    • The universe cannot manifest the experience of getting caught in the rain without sentient beings to be rained on. It cannot experience your getting wet without you. Someone else may get wet, as might the cat, fish, tree, stone or empty ground, but they are just not you. Likewise, without sentient beings in cold, snowy places, the universe would never give rise to the experience of snow, the experience of making a snowman, of throwing a snowball.
    • The universe has no way to measure and delineate "here vs. there," nor experience of travel between, without finite sentient beings in one place considering the move to another. And if the universe is a collection of things, happenings and experiences of each of those, there would be no going where you went today should you not go, not anywhere in the universe (I might go to Paris, and you might go to Paris, but my going is not your going, nor your experience of the road to Paris. Even should there be infinite versions of you, spread through this universe and untold other universes, visiting countless variations on "Paris" through endless time, this "you" remains the one and only "you" who is you right here. The others can take their own vacations.)
    • The universe can neither read nor write great sonnets, creative stories and silly essays (like this one) absent sentient beings capable of language. Fish don't type, nor do they read much despite their life in schools. Typing monkeys will eventually hammer out words by chance, but that's not true authorship. Yes, AI can be quite creative, but (so far) only via human ideas repackaged and shot back at us. A world of only stones, trees, cats and catfish, without humans, is free of the thoughts that only humans can think, expressed in writing as humans express them. De même, l'univers serait incapable de parler français sans les Français. More down to home, the universe would be incapable of the uttering of a single word you said without you, even if the same words uttered by another. No other being, whether on our planet or on a distant world, can speak your words with your tongue.
    • Without skilled violinists (granted, that could also be AI these days) and sentient music lovers, the beauty of a Mozart Violin Concerto would be unknown, impossible, as much as if there had never been a "Mozart!" Without our personal playing, terrible or terrific, the universe's strings make no sound.
    • Without sentient beings experiencing being born, the universe cannot give rise to any experience of being born. Without your experience of being born, there would be no experience of YOUR being born anywhere in the cosmos. Perhaps your mother would have raised some other kid, but here you are.
    • Without sentient beings to experience dying, the universe cannot possess any experience of dying. Without your experience of dying, nothing in the universe can experience your dying. That said, I hope that is not sometime soon.
    • Without your eyes (not to mention ears, tongue, nose, skin and mind) right now, there would be no experience of your "this moment in time" known from the exclusive "place in space" where you now sit or stand. Yes, the cat might experience this moment too, but out of cat eyes, with a cat's mind, its only sense of time being the span until the next meal or nap. The tree may follow the seasons, but without calendar and clock or eyes to witness the forest green.
    • There is no human greed, hatred, pride, resentment, conceit, arrogance, selfishness, depression, panic, restlessness, confusion, resistance, sloth, prejudice, loneliness and all the other harmful ways of sentient beings without us greedy, hating, pride-filled, conceited, etc. humans to be so. The universe cannot produce a human killing a human without human killers and killed. Likewise, there would be no hate by you of whoever you hate, your particular panic or conceit, without hating, panicky, conceited you.
    • The universe would be without generosity, love, humility, kindness, joy, calm, peace, acceptance, clarity, energy, open-mindedness, friendship and all the other positive emotions of sentient beings without generous, loving, kind, peaceful, etc. sentient beings capable of being so. The miracle of a human loving another human hangs upon the embrace of human lovers and beloveds. Nothing in history will ever experience your particular love of who you love, your particular calm or clarity, without loving, calm and clear-seeing you. And so, I advise you to help the universe have more of these good things, less of the bad.
    • Without acts of kindness, our opening a door for another, comforting a stranger, someone's feeding the poor, the universe could never manifest kindness. Is our doing so but the universe opening the universe so that the universe may enter, comforting the universe, feeding the universe? Without our apologies and forgiving, the universe would not echo with expressions of forgiveness. The deer requests no atonement from the lion, nor is the lion heard to regret the kill. Only we feeling, empathetic, conscience-filled beings can and wish to make amends. Only you, in all the world, can forgive the wrongs done to you..

    ... etc., etc. ...
    Please consider all this the next time you feel rather small and not so special in this vast universe.

    Is our experience of life somehow all reality's experience of life because we are all reality, but filtered through our own two eyes? If you are thus, and I am thus, than I am you in other guise. Likewise for the fish that is the bird swimming in the sea, and the bird that is the fish flying through the sky. Likewise for all the stars and strawberries and bullets and rusty tin cans.

    Is yesterday but today as was then, Tom's here and now just Mary's there and tomorrow where Tom now stands? Are what sentient beings do just the doing of all in microcosm, and the doings of each other? The universe would be a silent, cold and lifeless place without sentient life able to consider just how silent, cold and lifeless things would be without sentient life. The universe would be a little more lifeless without your particular life. Certainly, a universe without you would be a very different universe: It would be a universe without you.

    In this way, your every moment of Zazen is the world sitting, your sitting as the world, your sitting as all of us, as all that is and ever will be.

    Rising from the sitting cushion, please try to make yours a life that the universe, and the rest of us, would be poorer for were it never lived.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Bion; 05-13-2024, 08:30 PM.
  • Antonio
    • Mar 2024
    • 61

    Thanks for sharing sensei!

    Sat Lah

    Last edited by Antonio; 05-03-2024, 12:05 AM.

    "To study the Buddha Way is to study the self; to study the self is to forget the self; to forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the body and mind of others drop away. No trace of realization remains and this no trace continues endlessly" - Dogen Zenji


    • Myosho
      • May 2020
      • 81



      Sat and Lah


      • Shonin Risa Bear
        • Apr 2019
        • 921


        ds sat and did some lah
        Visiting priest: use salt


        • DGF
          • Feb 2022
          • 117




          • Tairin
            • Feb 2016
            • 2742


            Sat today and lah
            泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods


            • Shinshi
              Treeleaf Unsui
              • Jul 2010
              • 3559


              Gassho, Shinshi

              空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
              I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
              E84I - JAJ


              • Washin
                Treeleaf Unsui
                • Dec 2014
                • 3759


                Kaidō (皆道) Every Way
                Washin (和信) Harmony Trust
                I am a novice priest-in-training. Anything that I say must not be considered as teaching
                and should be taken with a 'grain of salt'.


                • Tai Do
                  • Jan 2019
                  • 1390


                  Tai Do
                  怠努 (Tai Do) - Lazy Effort
                  (also known as Mateus )

                  禅戒一如 (Zen Kai Ichi Nyo) - Zazen and the Precepts are One!


                  • Ramine
                    • Jul 2023
                    • 82




                    • Bion
                      Treeleaf Unsui
                      • Aug 2020
                      • 3839

                      Good to revisit when one feels small or unimportant.
                      Thank you!

                      sat and lah
                      "Stepping back with open hands, is thoroughly comprehending life and death. Immediately you can sparkle and respond to the world." - Hongzhi


                      • Hōzan
                        • Dec 2022
                        • 431


                        Gassho, Hōzan