John Tan (Thusness) said,

When Dogen rows the boat, the rowing makes the boat a boat and makes the hand, the sea, wooden oars and the movement of the boat into the "rowing". The designations turns "alive" yet r like mere reflections.

Why is it like water pouring in water? Because one tastes the hand, the sea, the wooden oars going beyond their designated boundaries into one seamless (like pour water in water) action of rowing. There is no self, only that action of rowing.

With anatta and dependent arising, u will feel immense inter-relatedness yet empty like reflections even in the world of conceptualities.

The father is dependent on the son and the son makes the father a father. Don't just look at the logic, see how much emotions and love are invested in them. There are no "things" and "world" other than that.

So it is not about just that which is direct, clean, brilliance, non-dual, non-conceptual and transparent which is empty like space; u must re-enter the world, dirty ur hands and see conventionalities with this new found insights of selflessness and DO...see the whole chain of arisings...so intricate yet empty like reflections.

André A. Pais: John Tan, good stuff! Is there more from where this came?

John Tan: Hi André, some blah blah blah on the spur of the moment when Soh was discussing with me total exertion and emptiness. Intuitively I was sensing him skewing towards empty reflection in non-referential presence while attempting to integrate emptiness and total exertion at that time.
So just brought out this “dependent designation” as it can serve as a bridge to link the two (empty reflection and total exertion).

Sometimes we can latched on to the so called higher teachings of “already perfection”, “emptiness”, “no karma”, “no this and that” and subtly hypnotizing ourselves into a fabricated liberated state. This is precisely the question dogen had in mind, if we are already enlightened, why practice? If we have buddha-nature, why attain enlightenment? These questions set him on a journey to china in search of the answer. He came back with “practice-enlightenment”, we do not practice to get enlightened, we practice because we are enlightened – practice-enlightenment.

Therefore my intention is simply trying to bring out the point of not being afraid of self, not being afraid of cause and effect and dependencies, look directly into the world of samsara, look into the world of conventionalities and see the beauty of conceptualities. Even in market place, the taste of non-referential presence is never lost but fully present!

For articles about dogen and total exertion, I would recommend Ted Biringer. Ted has a unique way of triggering one into the taste of total exertion through seeing dependencies with his writings. As for write ups integrating emptiness, dependent designations and total exertion into a piece, I don’t think there is any…haha
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