Mirror of Zen Blog

Blog this Trip (15): Dust-Thinking

Back in the room, freshening up for the afternoon sessions, I shake out a pant leg and a flurry of dust catches a shaft of sunlight. So many uncountable flecks tossed up numberless whirlybird in puff upon puffs, arising and expanding and blooming and settling, floating to different places on some invisible draft of air lifting out from somewhere.

Such a happening still causes me such considerable surprise: We witness this reality only when there is a certain kind of light in the room, or a certain angling of the light. So we do not see this happening very often. Yet, even when that just-so shaft of sunlight is not present, that dust is still also always in constant everywhere-swirling. We are swimming in it, completely unawares, even in some of the cleanest spaces.

It used to be a mystery to me how the ancient Greek and Roman structures were first discovered by explorers beginning in the 1500s and 1600s, buried to three-, five-, or more meters-deep. Most of the storied monuments that you find in Athens and Rome, for example, stand on patches of earth located several meters below modern street level. “How was this so?”, I used to ruminate. “How did they get there?”

Even in a land so less desiccated, like Norway, the movement and settling of microscopic layers of dust is an eternal constant. This is a perfect explanation for the law of karma. It also explains why “sudden enlightenment, [yet] gradual cultivation“: though the mind-ground can be seen to be empty and pure, yet the all-pervading entropy of all compounded things means endless cleaning and cleaning.

Work period is never finished.

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