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It’s easy to regard time as a commodity—we even speak of “saving” or “spending” it. We often regard it as an enemy, when we feel it slipping away before we’re ready for time to be up. The Zen view of time is radically different than that: time is not something separate from our life; rather, our life is time. Understand this, says Dainin Katagiri Roshi, and you can live fully and freely right where you are in each moment.

Katagiri bases his teaching on Being Time, a text by the most famous of all Zen masters, Eihei Dogen (1200–1253), to show that time is a creative, dynamic process that continuously produces the universe and everything in it—and that to understand this is to discover a gateway to freedom from the dissatisfactions of everyday life. He guides us in contemplating impermanence, the present moment, and the ungraspable nature of past and future. He discusses time as part of our inner being, made manifest through constant change in ourselves and our surroundings. And these ideas are by no means metaphysical abstractions: they can be directly perceived by any of us through meditation.

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