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Zazen Flight

Somewhere Dōgen wrote about the number of moments in the snap of a finger. I don’t remember the exact figure, only that it was large and seemed quite arbitrary and absurd, but I imagine that when I am in the cockpit of my plane, aiming the nose at the hull of an American battleship, every single one will be clear and pure and discernible. At the moment of my death, I look forward at last to being fully aware and alive.

Dōgen also wrote that a single moment is all we need to establish our human will and attain truth. I never understood this before, because my understanding of time was murky and imprecise, but now that my death is imminent, I can appreciate his meaning. Both life and death manifest in every moment of existence. Our human body appears and disappears moment by moment, without cease, and this ceaseless arising and passing away is what we experience as time and being. They are not separate. They are one thing, and in even a fraction of a second, we have the opportunity to choose, and to turn the course of our action either toward the attainment of truth or away from it. Each instant is utterly critical to the whole world.

—Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel

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