Drawing donuts–first paragraph

I’ve been looking at Dogen’s “Gabyo” (“drawing rice-cakes”, or, as I prefer, “drawing donuts”), and, in an extreme case of spending too much time on individual sentences, have gotten stuck on the very first line.

It says, “諸ä»?ã?“れ証ã?ªã‚‹ã‚†ã‚‘ã?«ã€?諸物ã?“れ証ã?ªã‚Šã€‚”

A very initial approximation would be “the various Buddhas are SHO and therefore the various things are SHO.”

Here, SHO means proof, validation, or, sometimes, enlightenment. An obvious interpretation would be that the “various Buddhas are enlightened”, but in what sense would it then follow that that implies that “the various things are enlightened”? Can things be enlightened? Is it because various Buddhas are enlightened that things are enlightened? This would seem to fail the test of obviousness.

Other translators have addressed this problem as follows:

  • All buddhas are realization, thus all things are realization.
  • Buddhas are the state of experience itself, and so things are the state of experience itself.
  • When all the Awakened Ones are realized through Awake Awareness, all things are Awake Awareness.
  • When Buddhas experience truth, they experience becoming one with the world.

All of these seem to miss the mark. Perhaps the intent is something like “Those who have found the truth share experience with the things around them.”

Unfortunately, this is only the first sentence of an essay that goes on for several hundred more. If the first sentence took me one month to translate, the entire essay will take a decade!

There is another underlying issue here. We know that this “Gabyo” essay itself is addressing the issue of the relationship between image and reality. Dogen is saying that images—whether mental or physical—are not merely representations of reality, but are a form of reality in their own right. The question is, how do the initial sentences above relate to this overall meaning of the essay? Is Dogen making a point about the nature of the “things” which he will be discussing images of? None of the current translations address this.

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