John Lane

percussionist | composer




Uji (Being-Time)

by John Lane

Eihei Dogen (1200–1253) was a Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher and founder of the Sōtō form of Zen Buddhism in Japan. Dogen was a prolific writer who captured his knowledge and experience of Zen Buddhism in a large body of texts. Shobogenzo (“Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye”), a spiritual masterpiece, contains a series of discourses that he gave to his students on a variety of subjects. “Uji” is a complex chapter discussing the nature of time and existence, which in Dogen’s conception are inseparable. “Uji” literally translates to “Being-Time.” Basically, Dogen concludes that anything having existence is bound to time and actually is time itself.

The small instruments recall processional music as performed by the Doan ryo (ceremony work group) in the Shin San Shiki (Mountain Seat) ceremony. The original text is inspired by the writings of Dogen as well as commentaries on and translations of Shobogenzo by writers and Zen teachers including Shunryu Suzuki, Brad Warner, Dan Welch, Kazuaki Tanahashi, Anzan Hoshin, and Jack Petranker. Special thanks to Gaelyn Godwin and friends at the Houston Zen Center for introducing me to Zen practice and sustaining the teaching. In memory of David Lane, whose time was too short on this earth.

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    John Lane