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Dimensions

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Dimensions

There are two doors that open to us when we read the Lotus Sutra. The first door is that of history, the events we experience and what we can see and know in our own lifetimes. The second door is that of ultimate reality, which goes beyond time and space. Everything—all phenomena—participates in these two dimensions. When we look at a wave on the surface of the ocean, we can see the form of the wave and we locate the wave in space and time. Looking at a wave from the perspective of the historical dimension, it seems to have a beginning and an end, a birth and a death.

We, too, are subject to these notions. When we look from the historical dimension we see that we are subject to being and nonbeing. We are born but later on we will die. We have a beginning and an end. We have come from somewhere and we will go somewhere-that is the historical dimension.

At the same time, all beings and things also belong to the ultimate dimension, the dimension of reality that is not subject to notions of space and time, birth and death, coming and going. A wave is a wave, but at the same time it is water. The wave does not have to die in order to become water; it is already water right in the present moment. To talk about a wave, we need these notions: the wave arises and passes away; it comes from somewhere or has gone somewhere; the wave has a beginning and an end; it is high or low, more or less beautiful than other waves; the wave is subject to birth and death. But none of these distinctions can be applied to the wave in its ultimate dimension as water. In fact, you cannot separate the wave from its ultimate dimension.

Even though we are used to seeing everything in terms of the historical dimension, we can touch the ultimate dimension. So our practice is to become like a wave—while living the life of a wave in the historical dimension, we realize that we are also water and live the life of water. That is the essence of the practice. Because if you know your true nature of no coming, no going, no being, no nonbeing, no birth, no death, then you will have no fear and can dwell in the ultimate dimension, nirvana, right here and now. When you dwell in your true nature, you are already dwelling in nirvana.

Buddha Dharma


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Last updated: 08/15/08

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