Both, what and how we see, are intricately interwoven with our conditioning. We see what we have learned to see. If we come out of our house in midday and see a yellow barn surrounded by a forest, that image becomes a part of our memory. Later, at the end of the day, when the evening sun is sinking over the horizon and the once yellow barn and green trees have been transformed by the fiery orange hue, we may miss that change. Our tendency will be to remember the yellow and green unless a deliberate effort is made to see things as they are. In the glow of twilight the house maybe have a pinkish tone. Trees will turn purple. Yet our mind, if we let it be controlled and fixed by our memory, will only see the afterimages of the past.
I sit here each evening and look at the same things and each evening find that I see different things. The renown Japanese Zen teacher and mystic, Eihei Dogen once asked, “Is it that there are various ways of seeing one object? Or is it that we have mistaken various images for one object?” His words come back to me again and again; ripples on the water expanding in widening circles, reaching out endlessly.
John Daido Loori Roshi
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