Our life is fleeting like the reflection of the moon in the dewdrop on the beak of a water bird.Dogen
Dogen Zenji (1200-1252) is one of the most important religious figures of the East and is recognised by all Buddhist schools. Born in the politically turbulent Japan of the 13th century to an aristocratic family, he lost his parents at an early age. At the sight of the smoke rising from an incense stick on his mother’s laid out corpse, he was deeply struck by the impermanence of all things and the insignificance of worldly concerns. In accordance with his mother’s last wish, he renounced a political career and became a monk at the age of thirteen.
His search for the essence of Buddhist teaching led him ten years later to China, where he met his master Tendo Nyojo, with whom he practised until his death. Returning to Japan as Nyojo’s successor, he testified to his experience with the following words, which are an expression of the return to the normal state of body and mind, of conformity with cosmic life: “I have come back empty-handed. All I can tell you is this: The eyes are horizontal and the nose is vertical. Morning after morning the sun rises in the east and the cock cries at dawn. Every fourth year, the month of February has twenty-nine days. “He retired to Kennin-ji Temple and wrote the Fukanzazengi, “The Universal Rules for Zazen Practice”. In China he had realised that zazen must be all-inclusive and the source of all actions in everyday life, that the way is here and now, in the practice of any thing. A few years after his return to Japan, he founded Eihei-ji, the “Temple of Eternal Peace”, which is still one of the two main temples of Soto Zen.