This talk was given at the Festival of Great Master Dōgen at Turning Wheel Buddhist Temple. Great Master Dōgen was a thirteenth century Japanese monk. He has a very important place in our tradition, as he brought the Sōtō Zen school of Buddhism from China to Japan.
The talk focusses on the following sentences from the opening section of Dōgen's Sushōgi:
"The most important question for all Buddhists
Is how to understand birth and death completely
For then, should you be able to find the Buddha within birth and death,
They both vanish.
All you have to do is realise that birth and death, as such, should not be avoided
And they will cease to exist for then, if you can understand
That birth and death are Nirvana itself, there is not only no necessity to avoid them
But also nothing to search for that is called Nirvana.
Impermanence offers no permanent succour.
On what weeds by the road-side will the dew of our life fall?
At this very minute this body is not my own.
Life, which is controlled by time, never ceases even for an instant;
Youth vanishes for ever once it is gone.
It is impossible to bring back the past
When one suddenly comes face to face