Within a Dream
Expressing the Dream

Eihei Dogen, 1242

Translated by K. Tanahashi

"The path of all buddhas and ancestors
arises before the first forms emerge;
it cannot be spoken of in terms of conventional views.
This being so, in the realm of buddha ancestors there is
the active power of buddhas going beyond buddhas.
Since this realm is not a matter of the passage of time,
their lives are neither long not short, neither quick not slow.
This cannot be judged in an ordinary manner.

Thus the dharma wheel has been set to turn
since before the first sign of forms emerged.
The great merit needs no reward,
and becomes the guidepost for all ages.
Within a dream this is the dream you express.
Because awakening is within awakening,
the dream is expressed within a dream.

The place where the dream is expressed within a dream
is the land and the assembly of buddha ancestors.
The buddhas's lands and assemblies,
the ancestors' way and their seats,
are awakening throughout awakening,
and express the dream within the dream.

When you meet such speech and expressions,
do not regard them as other than the buddhas' assembly:
it is buddha turning the dharma wheel.
This dharma wheel encompasses all the ten directions
and the eight facets of a clear crystal, and so the great oceans.
This is the dream expressed within a dream, prior to all dreams.

Every dewdrop manifested in every realm is a dream.
This dream is the glowing clarity of the hundred grasses.
What requires questioning is this very point.
What is confusing is this very point.
At this time, there are dream grasses, grasses within,
expressive grasses, and so on. When we study this,
then roots, stems, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits,
as well as radiance and color are all the great dream.
Do no mistake them as merely dreamy.

However, those who do not wish to study buddha-dharma
believe that expressing the dream within a dream means
speaking of unreal dream grass as real,
like piling delusion upon delusion.
When you say, "Within confusion is just confusion,"
still you should follow the path in the vast sky known as
"delusion throughout delusion."
Just this you should endeavor to investigate thoroughly.

...To express the dream within dream is the ancient buddhas; it is
to ride in this treasure boat and directly arrive in the practice place.
Directly arriving in the practice place is riding in this treasure boat.1

...You should know that the guiding way of all buddhas in the
amassing of expressions of dharma is boundlessly transforming,
being present in all situations. Do not search for the limits of dharma
in the past or future. All things emerge and all things arrive right here.
This being so, one plants twining vines and gets entangled in twining vines.
This is the characteristic of unsurpassable enlightenment,

Just as expression is limitless, sentient beings are limitless and
unsurpassable. Just as cages and snares are limitless,
emancipation from them is limitless.

...Who could doubt that a dream is enlightenment,
since it is not within the purview of doubt?
Who could recognize this dream,
since it is not related to recognition?
As unsurpassable enlightenment is unsurpassable enlightenment,
so the dream is called a dream."

. "Enlightened fulfillment of the dharma must be the fruition of the beginner's enlightened
experience, and the beginner's enlightened experience must be the seed of the fulfillment.
—Juching (Dogen's teacher)