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Time? Time? Time?

24 Hours

A day consists of 24 hours. A life consists of many days; each one made up of 24 hours. Those hours are hired guns to keep us in line. We hired them thinking that they will help us get things done. We measure our existence in numbers of hours, days, weeks, months and years.

Each day is given a name and a form. The form is based on the number of hours and changes each time we get to 24, i.e., Monday, Tuesday and so forth until we get to the 7th day called Sunday when we repeat the names.


We get another day; or so we think. We divide the day into day-light and night-light. But in the 21st century most of us have interior and exterior lights which expands the day-light even when it is night time. What made us do such a thing?

Often, we answer ‘because we discovered light right in the middle of night.’ Light is ever available in the night-light. Those of us living in a city no longer experience the night-light of the Moon and the Stars in their full glory.

The hours add up to a day, days to weeks, weeks to months, months to years and eventually all these measures of existence vanish. The body dissolves and the mind vanishes. All the measures are withdrawn because all along we have been measuring an illusion.

If we begin with the end of the name and form dissolving and vanishing, we see that all along we have caged ourselves in an impression or misapprehension of what our existence is by the calculations and yardstick of 24 hours. Our misapprehension creates an artifice.

“So what?” You ask. I hope you ask this question. Because when we realize that this existence is akin to a drama that begins, runs for awhile and then ends. When we realize that this existence is an illusion, we no longer are ruled by the 24-hour measure. Let me explain.

Here are two examples of two monks troubled by the 24-hour measure as though the 24-hour measure ruled their spiritual life. Many of us do this very thing. But first, let me give the examples.

I’ll call these two monks: Monk Number 1 and Monk Number 2.  Notice I have given them name and form and have put them in a category. All of which is part of the illusion. IN order for the examples to be of benefit, we must make every effort to see that we are very much like these monks.

Monk Number 1 expressed concern and worry that if their time was spent in sitting-meditation they would not have time to write and/or do much of any other activity. It’s a simple example of measurement and anxiety.  They pointed out that they were spending a big hunk of time in sitting-meditation.

Monk Number 2 expressed an old concern and annoyance that a change in the morning meditation schedule had unsettled them. They clearly did not like the change.

Both monks desired to control the “hired-gun” of time. They did not want to go with reality; to go with what showed up.

The name and form of time was a problem for both these monks. And…it is for most of us. It is a problem because it is the worldly way of the ego that is ruling, measuring and picking and choosing what to do with the 24-hour time.

We need to look at our own life. Who is doing what? The ego-grasping, ego-clinging self? When we get annoyed, agitated, irritated, ruffled, upset, angry, hurt and all the ego-cherishing feelings and states of mind, then we need to study the discrepancy between all of that ego-mess and the all-pervading Way.

When messed-up with the ego-boss, we are lost in confusion. Pride. Inflated ego-boss. Believing we are wise. All of these tendencies tell us that we are deficient in the vitality of realization. In other words, we have work to do.

When we are agitated, we have forgotten that the Way is perfect and all-pervading. IT cannot be otherwise. In fact, in the Fukanzazenji it says:

How could IT be contingent upon practice and realization? The Dharma-vehicle is free…(w)hat need is there for concentrated effort?

We need to take a backward step away from the worldly winds, the worldly ways and illuminate ourselves. Again, in the Fukazazenji it states that our practice is suchness. In other words, to accept things as they are. Really are! In other words, to realize our true original nature which is not the body, not the mind.

In order to practice the Way, we need to be willing to cease all movements of the conscious mind. In other words, to sit in silence. Don’t get hooked by likes and dislikes, picking and choosing, good or bad. Have no desire to become anything. Have no desire to become a doer.

We need to concentrate in a one-pointed effort. We do this in the everydayness of the 24-hour structure which requires we meet what comes in to our life moment by moment. Each single-minded effort teaches us the Way whether it is sitting in meditation or washing our hands. IT is close-up and without measure. IT is all-pervading.

We have gained the blessing of human form. Let’s not waste our time in vain taking delight in the spark as ours and mine; let us remember name and form are like the dew on the grass, destiny like the dart of lightning…emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash.

We are…long accustomed to groping for the elephant…when the true dragon is …perfect and all-pervading.  The poet Hafiz says it well.

I Have Learned So Much by Hafiz

So much from God
That I can no longer

A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,
A Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of Itself
With me

That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, an angel,
Or even pure

Love has
Befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash
And freed

Of every concept and image
My mind has ever known.

Humming Bird

Author: Fashi Lao Yue

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