“You may suppose that time is only passing away, and not understand that time never arrives. Although understanding itself is time, understanding does not depend on its arrival.
People only see time’s coming and going, and do not thoroughly understand that the time-being abides in each moment. This being so, when can they penetrate the barrier? Even if people recognized the time-being in each moment, who could give expression to this recognition? Even if they could give expression to this recognition for a long time, who could stop looking for the realization of the original face?
According to ordinary people’s view of the time-being, even enlightenment and nirvana as the time-being would merely be aspects of coming and going.
Zen Master Kuei-sheng of She Prefecture is the heir of Shou-shan, a dharma descendant of Lin-chi. One day he taught the assembly:
For the time being mind arrives, but words do not.
For the time being words arrive, but mind does not.
For the time being both mind and words arrive.
For the time being neither mind nor words arrive.
Both mind and words are the time-being. Both arriving and not-arriving are the time-being. When the moment of arriving has not appeared, the moment of not-arriving is here. Mind is donkey, words are a horse. Having-already-arrived is words and not-having-left is mind. Arriving is not “coming,” not-arriving is not “not yet.”
The time-being is like this. Arriving is overwhelmed by arriving, but not by not-arriving. Not-arriving is overwhelmed by not-arriving, but not by arriving. Mind overwhelms mind and sees mind, words overwhelm words and see words. Overwhelming overwhelms overwhelming and sees overwhelming. Overwhelming is nothing but overwhelming. This is time.
As overwhelming is caused by you, there is no overwhelming that is separate from you. Thus you go out and meet someone. Someone meets someone. You meet yourself. Going out meets going out. If these are not the actualization of time, they cannot be thus.”
Extracts from “The Time-Being (Uji)”, written by Zen Master Dōgen (Japan, 1240) – Translation by Dan Welch and Kazuaki Tanahashi