Leaf self reflection in a drop of water
Citation tr. by Kazuaki Tanahashi,
with commentary by Barbara Verkuilen,
from "Dokusan with Dogen, Negotiating the Way"
__ __ __
Zen Master Dogen said:
Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.
The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.
Although its light is wide and great,
the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide.
The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops
on the grass, or even in one drop of water.

Enlightenment does not divide you,
just as the moon does not break the water.
You cannot hinder enlightenment,
just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky.
Each reflection, however long or short in duration, manifests the
vastness of the dewdrop and realizes the limitlessness of the
moonlight in the sky.

Each time I read Dogen's description of enlightenment as the "moon in a dewdrop," I experience two simultaneous responses. First, there is the recognition that I don't really understand it. Second, I find myself moved to tears. There have been times when reading it has induced a period of literal weeping. I don't know why that is, but I have learned to trust and listen intently to the voice of that weeping. There is a phrase from the Zohar,* a sacred Hebrew text, that reads, "There is a palace that only opens to tears."
*Zohar, meaning "Radiance" or "Splendor" 
(Zen Master) DOGEN ZENJI'S (道元禅師)
(Gender Inclusive) STUDIES OF THE WAY (學道) | (INDEX)
95-Fascicle SHOBOGENZO (正法眼蔵) & Other Writings
Photo (Top): earlywomenmasters.net
Leaf of Our Lady's Mantle, Alchemilla, reflecting itself in a drop of water.
First Presbyterian Church, South Garden, NYC.
(Alchemilla exudes its own dew, immersing itself in droplets.)