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Buddhadharma : Fall 2010
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 10 62 enlightenment and thus carry buddhanature— the potential for or the characteristics of enlightenment. In other words, in the Bud- dha’s eye, all are equally enlightened and none are separate from the Buddha. However, this does not mean, from the ordinary, dualistic perspective, that all beings become wise and free of delusion. Secondly, in Dogen’s explanation of the “circle of the way,” all those who practice meditation are fully enlightened. Enlightenment is not separate from practice; enlightenment at each moment is no other than the unsur- passable enlightenment. This aspect may be called the unity of practice–enlightenment or practice–realization. Dogen emphasizes practice that is inseparable from enlightenment as the essential practice of the way of awakened ones—the buddha way. The awareness of enlightenment, however, may not necessarily be recognized by everyone all the time, as it is an experience deeper than one grasped by intellect alone. Finally, when we practice meditation, we often don’t notice that we are already enlightened, and thus we look for enlight- enment somewhere other than in practice. Dogen calls this tendency of separation “great delusion.” This pursuit, how- ever, provides us with the potential for “great enlightenment,” which is a merging of the unconscious practice–enlightenment and conscious understanding. This enlightenment can happen unexpectedly and dramatically as a body- and-mind experience of the nonseparation of all things, rather than as a theoretical understanding. Such spiritual breakthroughs, sometimes called “seeing through human nature” (kensho in Japanese), may bring forth exuberance. Dogen quotes many such stories of “sudden realization” by ancient Chinese Zen practitioners as cases of study (koans). However, Dogen discourages his students from striving for breakthroughs, cautioning that this pursuit is based on the notion of a separation between practice and enlightenment. This kind of realization or “attaining the way” takes time and usually follows a series of failed attempts. In regard to this, Dogen says, “... even if you are closely engaged in rigorous practices, you may not hit one mark out of one hundred activi- ties. But by following a teacher or a sutra, you may finally hit a mark. This hitting a mark is due to the missing of one hundred marks in the past; it is the maturing of missing one hundred marks in the past.” An awakened person, a buddha, is someone who actual- izes enlightenment. If enlightenment is nothing separate from practice, it is clear that all those who practice meditation as recommended in Buddhism are buddhas. And those who have experienced and reached deep understanding of the nonsepa- ration of all things are regarded as ones who have attained the way. However, for Dogen, attaining the way is not the final goal. He encourages practitioners of the buddha way to go beyond buddhas and leave no trace of enlightenment. That is to say, we are not supposed to remain in the realm of nonduality. Going beyond the boundary of all things is important. It is wisdom, which is the basis of compassion. Only when we identify ourselves with others can we genuinely act with love toward others. At the same time, however, for practical and ethical reasons in our daily activities, we need to maintain the boundaries of self and other. An enlightened person is some- one who embodies the deep understanding of nonduality while acting in accordance with ordinary boundaries, not being bound to either realm but acting freely and harmoniously. When we practice meditation, we often don’t notice that we are already enlightened, and thus we look for enlightenment somewhere other than in practice. Dogen calls this tendency of separation “great delusion.” KAZUAKI TANAHASHI is a Zen teacher, author, and translator of Buddhist texts, most notably of works by Dogen. He is also an accomplished artist and has taught Zen calligraphy extensively in different parts of the world. Born and raised in Japan, he moved to the United States in the 1960s, where he met Suzuki Roshi. This article is from his two-volume translation of Dogen’s Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, which he collaborated on with thirty- two translators. The volumes are forthcoming in September from Shambhala Publications. ROshiJOanhalifaX