Mountains Walking

Mountains … always abide in ease and always walk. You should examine in detail this quality of the mountains walking. Mountains’ walking is just like human walking. Accordingly, do not doubt mountains’ walking even though it does not look the same as human walking. … This is fundamental understanding. You should penetrate these words.

from Mountains and Waters Discourse  (Sansui Kyo)

taught to the assembly at Kannondori Kosho Horin Monastery in 1240 by Dogen

Excerpted from Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen, translated by Arnold Kotler and Kazuaki Tanahashi

1

Mountains and waters right now are the actualization of the ancient Buddha way. Each, abiding in its phenomenal expression, realizes completeness. Because mountains and waters have been active since before the Empty Eon, they are alive at this moment. Because they have been the self since before form arose they are emancipation realization.

2

Because mountains are high and broad, the way of riding the clouds is always reached in the mountains; the inconceivable power of soaring in the wind comes freely from the mountains.

3

Priest Daokai of Mt. Furong said to the assembly, “The green mountains are always walking; a stone woman gives birth to a child at night.” Mountains do not lack the qualities of mountains. Therefore they always abide in ease and always walk. You should examine in detail this quality of the mountains walking. Mountains’ walking is just like human walking. Accordingly, do not doubt mountains’ walking even though it does not look the same as human walking. The Buddha ancestors’ words point to walking. This is fundamental understanding. You should penetrate these words.

4

Because green mountains walk, they are permanent. Although they walk more swiftly than the wind, someone in the mountains does not realize or understand it. “In the mountains” means the blossoming of the entire world. People outside the mountains do not realize or understand the mountains walking. Those without eyes to see mountains cannot realize, understand, see, or hear this as it is. If you doubt mountains’ walking, you do not know your own walking; it is not that you do not walk, but that you do not know or understand your own walking. Since you do not know your walking, you should fully know the green mountains’ walking. Green mountains are neither sentient nor insentient. You are neither sentient nor insentient. At this moment, you cannot doubt the green mountains’ walking. …

definitions by the translators:
phenomenal expression: Literally, “dharma stage” or “dharma position.” The unique, nonrepeatable stage of thing’s existence at any given moment.
empty eon: The four stages in a world cycle are becoming, abiding, decaying and empty. the buddha who appears in the Empty Eon is called the King of the Empty Eon or King of Emptiness, and is regarded as a symbol of the original face.
night: Darkness, which represents the realm of non-duality.
Later in his text, Dogen explains, “ ‘A stone woman gives birth to a child at night’ means that the moment when a barren woman gives birth to a child is called ‘night’.

Marci on recently deglaciated Root Glacier moraine

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An ongoing inquiry into change and stability in nature, politics and ourselves, by Ben Shaine