Also see: The Unbounded Field of Awareness

Quotes from The Great Ocean Samadhi chapter from Zen Master Dogen's Shobogenzo:

The Buddha once said in verse:
Merely of various elements is this body of Mine composed.
The time of its arising is merely an arising of elements;
The time of its vanishing is merely a vanishing of elements.
As these elements arise, I do not speak of the arising of an ‘I’,
And as these elements vanish, I do not speak of the vanishing of an ‘I’.
Previous instants and succeeding instants are not a series of instants that depend on each other;
Previous elements and succeeding elements are not a series of elements that stand against each other.
To give all of this a name, I call it ‘the meditative state that bears the seal of the Ocean’.


The Master’s saying, “One that contains all that exists,” expresses what the Ocean is. The point he is making is not that there is some single thing that contains all that exists, but rather that It is all contained things. And he is not saying that the Great Ocean is what contains all existing things, but rather that what is expressing ‘all contained things’ is simply the Great Ocean. Though we do not know what It is, It is everything that exists for the moment. Even coming face-to-face with a Buddha or an Ancestor is a mistaken perception of ‘everything that exists for the moment’. At the moment of ‘being contained’, although it may involve a mountain, it is not just our ‘standing atop a soaring mountain peak’, and although it may involve water, it is not just our ‘plunging down to the floor of the Ocean’s abyss’.18 Our acts of acceptance will be like this, as will our acts of letting go. What we call the Ocean of our Buddha Nature and what we call the Ocean of Vairochana* are simply synonymous with ‘all that exists’.

Wrote to someone months ago,

“"Awareness when reified becomes a whole containing everything as its parts, like the ocean and its waves. But when you deconstruct the wave and ocean, the whole and parts, it is just the radiance and clarity of pellucidity of sound, taste, colors of the imputed notion of wave and ocean. Awareness is a name just like weather is a name denoting rain, wind, sunshine, etc., and not a container or singular substance pervading them or transforming or modulating as them. Likewise, awareness is not an eternal singular substance pervading or containing or even modulating as everything. What is seen, heard, sensed are clear and vivid, pellucid and crystal, and 'awareness' is just a name denoting just that, not a diverse manifestation pervaded by a single ontological awareness that is non-dual with everything. Eventually, awareness is seen through as having its own reality and forgotten into the pellucidity of appearance, not just a state but an insight. As Scott Kiloby once said, 'If you see that awareness is none other than everything, and that none of those things are separate "things" at all, why even use the word awareness anymore? All you are left with is the world, your life, the diversity of experience itself.' Another teacher, Dr. Greg Goode, told me, 'It looks like your Bahiya Sutta experience helped you see awareness in a different way, more... empty. You had a background in a view that saw awareness as more inherent or essential or substantive?'

I had an experience like this too. I was reading a sloka in Nagarjuna's treatise about the 'prior entity,' and I had been meditating on 'emptiness is form' intensely for a year. These two threads came together in a big flash. In a flash, I grokked the emptiness of awareness as per Madhyamika. This realization is quite different from the Advaitic oneness-style realization. It carries one out to the 'ten-thousand things' in a wonderful, light and free and kaleidoscopic, playful insubstantial clarity and immediacy. No veils, no holding back. No substance or essence anywhere, but love and directness and intimacy everywhere..."”


Ted Biringer commenting on Zen Master Dogen: “...According to Dogen, this “oceanic-body” does not contain the myriad forms, nor is it made up of myriad forms – it is the myriad forms themselves. The same instruction is provided at the beginning of Shobogenzo, Gabyo (pictured rice-cakes) where, he asserts that, “as all Buddhas are enlightenment” (sho, or honsho), so too, “all dharmas are enlightenment” which he says does not mean they are simply “one” nature or mind.”

“In Dogen’s view, the only reality is reality that is actually experienced as particular things at specific times. There is no “tile nature” apart from actual “tile forms,” there is no “essential Baso” apart from actual instances of “Baso experience.” When Baso sits in zazen, “zazen” becomes zazen, and “Baso” becomes Baso. Real instances of Baso sitting in zazen is real instances of Baso and real instances of zazen – when Baso eats rice, Baso is really Baso and eating rice is really eating rice.” - Ted Biringer,

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