transmission of fetching water

Dogen’s Treasury of the True Dharma Eye edited by Kaz Tanahashi: Miracles

Layman Pang said “Miracles are nothing other than fetching water and carrying firewood.”

Dogen, writing on miracles, points out that we conflate the extraordinary with the ordinary.  Miracles happen “three thousand times in the morning and eight hundred times in the evening.”  We can only attain the way through the power of miracles.  But the miracle is not what we tend to think it is.  At one level, it is the everyday-ness of getting on with life, meeting each moment and responding to what is required.  At a deeper level, it is the thread of our history, the true transmission from time immemorial.

(F)etching water is a great miracle.  The custom of fetching water and carrying firewood has not declined, as people have not ignored it.  It has come down from ancient times to today, and it has been transmitted from there to here.  Thus, miracles have not declined even for a moment.  Such are great miracles, which are no small matter.

I’m always amazed when I think of my practice as something new, something I have to “do” because I’ve been “doing” it for some years now.  The real miracle is that living a life of practice has not been ignored, it has come down to us from ancient times, silently and without fanfare.

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