In sum, you need to know that such things as the Three Vehicles and the twelve divisions of the Scriptural Teachings are the Eye of the Buddhas and Ancestors. How could those who have not opened their Eye to This possibly be descendants of the Buddhas and Ancestors? How could those who have not understood It and come forth with It possibly Transmit one-to-one the True Eye of the Buddhas and Ancestors? Those who have not realized the Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teaching are not Dharma heirs of the Seven Buddhas.
Shobogenzo, Bukkyo, Hubert Nearman
As authentic zazen is practice-enlightenment, zazen is religion (re-linking). The Buddha ancestor is the authentic Zen practitioner who experiences (and thus dwells in) the Buddha realm here-and-now, and nowhere else. Enlightenment, Nirvana, or the Pure Land, have never been apart from delusion, samsara, or the everyday world. This is the basis of Dogen’s uncompromising rejection of all methodologies implying liberation after death, or through gradual stages, or at some point in the future. One of the most important and most often cited (in Zen literature, not just Dogen) Zen koans is the story of Ling-yun’s sudden enlightenment which occurred one day while seeing peach blossoms in full bloom. Of this instance Dogen wrote:
The bright green color of the peach and plum trees so shiny and lustrous,
Manifesting in these very branches the same spring hundreds of generations;
It is foolish to despise what is close by or value something that is far away;
Right now remove all doubts by seeing what you see and hearing what you hear.
Eihei Koroku, 9.72, Steven Heine, The Zen Poetry of Dogen, p.142
For Dogen (and Zen) the eternal forms of Buddha nature are the real forms of all thoughts and things (dharmas) perceived, experienced, and actualized in the everyday world. This is the “normal” mind of Zen practice-enlightenment. The lethargic mind of the common man and the mediocre mind of the timid see the Buddha-forms of the everyday world as normal or ordinary, the Zen practitioner sees the ordinary-forms of the everyday world as Buddha. Authentic zazen is truly seeing what you see – the actual “bright green color of the peach and plum trees” that we are encountering here and now, that is the real Buddha. But we should not conclude that Dogen refers to peach and plum trees because of their “natural beauty,” when we truly “see what we are seeing” even a rusty can or a slice of bologna are the real manifestation of Buddha.
If you ask,
What is Buddha?
From a mosquito net.
Soan no guie (Impromptu hermitage poems), 48-J, Steven Heine, The Zen Poetry of Dogen, p.113