Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Ordinary Beings" and "Buddhas" - Not One, Not Two

"Ordinary Beings" and "Buddhas" - Not One, Not Two
Shakyamuni Buddha once said in verse:

If any people give voice to this Discourse
Then they will surely be able to see Me.
But to express It for the sake of even one person
Is indeed something difficult for them to do.

So it follows from this that to be able to express the Dharma is to see Shakyamuni Buddha because, when ‘such a one’ comes to see ‘Me’, he is Shakyamuni Buddha.
Shobogenzo, Gyobutsu Iigi, Hubert Nearman

Here, I would like to consider the question concerning an apparent gap, or inconsistency between Dogen’s teaching that the reality of dharmas is dependent on individual experience, and his teaching that all beings share a common reality (Buddha nature). To frame the question; if real dharmas can only be verified by individual (subjective) experience, on what does Dogen base his affirmation of a common reality shared by all beings? In other words, if there is a reality beyond or outside of the six streams of our immediate sense perception how can we know it?

The fact is that as long as we fail to see the nonduality of reality as it is – nonduality/duality– we cannot know it. While it can be understood intellectually; such has no real liberating effect.

When we do actually verify the nonduality of reality we see it as it is, which means we see through it. According to Dogen, “Buddhas” and “ordinary beings” are distinct insofar as the former are enlightened about delusion while the later are deluded about enlightenment. This distinction recognizes the real differences between awakened and unawakened beings; it does not, however, imply a real separation between Buddhas and ordinary beings. From the common, unawakened perspective, Buddhas and ordinary beings are separate entities, from the awakened perspective of transcendent wisdom (prajna paramita), Buddhas and ordinary beings are nondual (not two).

Thus, the apparent gap between the reality experienced by Buddhas and the reality experienced by humans is itself nothing more than a misperception of reality.

Even if we misunderstand that it might be beyond the triple world, that is completely impossible. Inside, outside, and middle, beginning, middle, and end; all are the triple world. The triple world is as the triple world is seen, and a view of something other than the triple world is a mistaken view of the triple world. While in the triple world, we see views of the triple world as old nests and see views of the triple world as new twigs. The old nests were visions of the triple world, and a new twig is also a vision of the triple world.
Shobogenzo Sangai-yuishin, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross



Loyal Butterfly said...

Arrigato Zaisho.

Ted Biringer said...

You are welcome Loyal Butterfly. Arrigato to you.