Dogen speaks of self-fulfilling samadhi as the “self fulfilling the self through the self.” But he’s not speaking of the personal self; he’s not speaking of the one we call “I.” In fact, when I sit zazen and I develop samadhi and I gain realization, this is just furthering the trap of the illusory self. So when Prajnatara says, “I don’t dwell in the realm of body and mind when breathing in,” this is most important. To observe, to clearly see body, mind and breath, without dwelling in that realm or in any realm—how do we do that? When we don’t dwell in those realms, when we’re not attached to our body, not identifying or clinging to it, then suddenly we discover our body. When we’re not attached to our breath, suddenly we discover our breath. Letting go of our emotions, not attaching to feelings, suddenly we come back to life and begin to experience those emotions and feelings. How can we be intimate, turn toward, see clearly, and not dwell?
In Prajnatara’s, “I do not dwell in the realm of body or mind,” he is pointing to a realm where there is no form or boundary. Body and mind are just ideas we talk about—there is a reality here, but it’s not what we think. When we let go of our attachments and our ideas, when we don’t dwell in our usual perceptions and assumptions, we discover that the form we identify with, the boundary we call our body is, in reality, boundless. Turning around, breathing in, whole body and mind, we find everything—breath, universe, karma, past, present, and future. Everything is there when we turn inward.
What is it to genuinely “not dwell”? Dogen says, “In stillness mind and object merge in realiza- tion and go beyond enlightenment.” There is a stillness in which every perceivable experience, every sense of distance, of alienation, of subject and object, of “I”, drops away. Not because we have induced some mental state or brought forth some sort of drug-free acid trip, but because we have thoroughly let go of all of those hallucinations—we’ve released every deluded, self-serving, other-serving, intentional action. This is the great effort of no effort. Pure, complete being. Mind and object merge. Even saying it that way is too active. It’s more like mind and object are realized as having always been unified. This is turning inward, turning the light around. It’s the first revo- lution because most of us pour our energy outwards. We go forth, to where all of the good stuff is, to where the answers are, to where we believe we’ll find what we’re seeking. Everything around us is saying, “acquire,” “hold on,” “defend,” “build up,” but this is delusion. It is not a sin, but it is wearisome and trouble-making.