From Dogen, Bussho Fascicle, Shobogenzo:
Although with mu-buddha-nature (no- Buddha-nature) you may have to grope your way along, there is a touchstone – What. There is a temporal condition – You. There is entrance into its dynamic functioning – affirmation. There is a common nature – all-pervading or wholeness. It is a direct and an immediate access.
In contrast to some interpretations of Buddhism which are about transcending suffering or leaving the realm of samsara behind and not returning, Dogen always surprises me by turning that around. He encourages us see this moment of what we might call “ordinary life”, as the moment of practice and liberation. There is no room to stray far from the moment at hand. He is completely affirming of life, quite different then a nihilistic interpretation of Buddhism.
The important point is not to try to escape your life. But to face it- exactly and completely the way it is beyond discussion of good and bad, right and wrong, like and dislike. All you have to do is just take one step. Strickly speaking, there is just one thing we have to face and nothing else (the temporal condition). If you believe there is something else besides this one thing, this is not pure practice. Just take one step in this moment with wholeheartedness.
In studying the fasicle Bussho, we find that Buddha-nature is not a thing that represents some kind of foundation. Buddha-nature is impermanence and interconnectedness. It is essentially empty. Dogen breaks down the “thingness” or solidness of all things by deconstructing time, space and body. He only writes of the whole body or entire being, and the total functioning or interconnectedness of life. The temporal conditions are the coming together of all the factors which produce the formation of this very moment. That formation itself is Buddha-nature.
The whole body or entire being is often expressed in Dogen with the words:
Mountains and rivers or
Earth, grasses and trees, fences and walls, tiles and pebbles
All things in the dharma realm in ten directions
Carry out Buddha work.
From Jijiyu Sammai, Dogen Shobogenzo
All human bodies completely inter-be with all other manifestations of life. We are not solitary, independent units.
In this dynamic reality, Form is emptiness and emptiness is form. The temporal condition of the moment, the “what”, gives birth to and emancipates the suchness, emptiness, or aliveness of the moment. Emptiness, impermanence and interconnection are affirmed in this very moment. They are freed or manifested through their birth in form. In inversion, form is freed by the letting go into impermanence. This inter-embrace is Buddha-nature.
It means just appearing, that’s all.
This is the basic nature of existence.