Saturday night, the rain rained. That may not be a big deal where you live. Here, it’s a huge deal, especially since we have been in a drought for four years.
I stole “the rain rained” from one of my favorite crime fiction novels, Get Carter (aka Jack’s Return Home) by the late Ted Lewis, which was made into a pretty decent film in 1971 starring Michael Caine. It’s the book’s opening line. I love it. What does rain do? It doesn’t actually pour, does it? It certainly does not come down like cats and dogs. Rain rains. Simple.
So, it rained during the night when I was asleep and I missed it. But this morning, when I awoke, the sky was still wonderfully gray, the air cool and refreshing, and drops of rain were lingering on the leaves of trees and plants.
The 13th century Japanese Zen teacher, Dogen wrote in the Mountains and Water Sutra, “Even in a drop of water innumerable buddha lands appear.”
Dogen wrote about the rain in this famous waka poem,
As I listened
the sound of rain
on the eaves.
In both of these, he is expressing nonduality, emptiness, and the mutual interpenetration of all things.
Did you know that a single drop of water weighing 0.1g contains about 3 billion trillion (3,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) molecules?
A “buddha land” refers to the principle taught by the Tendai school of Buddhism, sanzen sekai or a billion worlds. According to the Dogen anthology, Moon in a Dewdrop, “This ‘universe’ is regarded as the realm influenced by one buddha’s teaching. Thus it is called a ‘buddha land.’” Tendai also contributed the concept of ichinen sanzen or the universe in a single thought.
If we understand about nonduality, then we know that ultimately there is no difference between molecules and human life. This way, Dogen or you or I, can become the rain. And a single thought can contain the entire universe.
All things simultaneously interpenetrate into one another and this helps reveal to us the deep underlying harmony that permeates reality.