The notion that our ‘self’ is something that looks around and encounters ‘a world’ that exists before, after, or otherwise independent of its being encountered is a false notion, a delusion. ‘Things’ or ‘a world’ being encountered is ‘ourself.’ To recognize sights, sounds, tastes, smells, tactile sensations, and thoughts here-now as our ‘self’ is enlightenment.
Driving ourselves to practice and experience the myriad dharmas is delusion. When the myriad dharmas actively practice and experience ourselves, that is the state of realization.Shobogenzo, Genjokoan, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross
As sentient beings are the realization of dharmas here-now, dharmas here-now are the realization of sentient beings. When you see a mountain, a mountain is seen by you. A mountain makes you what you are, you make a mountain what it is – ‘you’ is mountain-made, ‘a mountain’ is you-made.
Dogen often speaks of ‘pictures’ or ‘paintings’ as well as ‘fences, walls, tiles, and pebbles’ to emphasize that Buddha exists nowhere else but in the very ‘human-made’ (experientially realized) dharmas constituting the here-now of every moment of our existence.
But while it is true that the myriad dharmas ‘are realized as sentient beings’ it is also true that sentient beings are ‘realized as the myriad dharmas’ – thus we need to be wary of egocentricity. Mountains, paintings, fences, walls, tiles, and pebbles depend on us, but we also depend on them – from ‘this side’ (our perspective) the myriad dharmas are objects, from ‘that side’ (the perspective of dharmas) we are objects. We need to learn from them in order to interact normally with them, to ably respond (responsibility). To learn from them is to recognize them as the very words and deeds of Buddha.
If we want to inquire into this mind, it is present in visible fences, walls, tiles, and pebbles; and if we want to experience this mind, it is present in the realization of fences, walls, tiles, and pebbles. Now, though these fences, walls, tiles, and pebbles are produced by human beings, at the same time they are words and deeds of Dharma. Who could hold sway over them? When we see them like this, it is evident that “fences, walls, tiles, and pebbles” are beyond substance before our eyes, and that substance before our eyes is not “fences, walls, tiles, and pebbles.” In sum, fences, walls, tiles, and pebbles on this side are illuminating us as yonder objects; and we on this side are being illuminated by fences, walls, tiles, and pebbles as yonder objects.
Himitsu-shobogenzo, Butsu-kojo-no-ji, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross