Dogen’s Shobogenzo - Genjokoan, Skeleton Key Part 5
A Study of Genjokoan and the Commentary in The Flatbed Sutra of LouieWing by Ted Biringer
After laying the foundation in the first four lines of Genjokoan, Dogen methodically builds the structural framework upon which he spent the rest of his life fleshing out: the function and essence of “the rightly-transmitted buddha-dharma.”
Next, the Genjokoan begins an examination of delusion and enlightenment:
That people drive the self to actualize awareness of the many things is delusion. That the many things actualize awareness of the self is enlightenment.
Here Dogen gives a precise definition of the important Buddhist concepts of delusion and enlightenment, outlining their most basic aspects with clear precision. Delusion or enlightenment is what distinguishes a “buddha” from an “ordinary being.” A buddha is someone who is enlightened about delusion, that is, to the reality of his or her own true nature. An ordinary being is someone who is deluded about enlightenment (the reality of his or her own true nature). Because delusion and enlightenment are nondual, meaning they are not two separate, independent entities, we come to the understanding that differences between them are differences of perspective only.
First Dogen says, “That people drive the self to actualize awareness of the many things is delusion.” The very idea that you can “drive the self” to enlightenment implies that you must be experiencing your self as separate from enlightenment. Because in reality you are both separate and not separate from the many things, experiencing your self as only separate is delusion.
Awakening to the truth that “the many things actualize awareness of the self” is the function of Zen practice; your true nature is the true nature of the universe. The Buddhist formula for salvation, liberation, enlightenment, or any of the other terms used to indicate the ultimate truth of religion consists of personally realizing that you are one with all things including both enlightenment and delusion. Continuing on, the Genjokoan states:
Those who are enlightened about delusion are buddhas.
...To be continued...