‘Now let us attend to the verse Nagarjuna uttered. It says “Body manifesting a round moon shape, Expressing thereby the body of the Buddhas.” Because the manifesting body is, as such, expressing thereby all Buddha-bodies, it is the shape of the round moon. Hence, all sizes – longs and shorts – and all forms – round and square – are to be studied in his manifesting body. To be unaware of [the nondualistic relation of] body and manifesting is not only to be ignorant of the shape of the round moon; it is not the body of Buddhas either. The ignorant think, “He is temporarily manifesting a Transformation body – that is what is meant by a round moon shape.” But that is an illusory notion, held by those who have not received authentic transmission of the Buddha Way. Where, and when, could you manifest another body not your own? 

You should know without any doubt that at that very time Nagarjuna was just sitting there on the high seat. The form in which he manifested his body was no different from the form of any one of us sitting here right now. Right now our own bodies are manifesting a round moon shape. The “manifesting body” is not square or round, is not existing or nonexisting, is not revealed or concealed, is not a compound of 84,000 skandhas – it is just a body manifesting itself.  As for the round moon shape, “Where do you think you are, speaking of the fineness or roughness of the moon?” 

Since self and ego are from the first excluded from this manifested body, the manifesting body is not Nagarjuna; it is the body of all Buddhas. Since it is expressing thereby, it breaks through beyond all Buddha-bodies. Because of that, it is completely free of Buddhahood. Although clearly and distinctly embodying the form of the full moon/Buddha-nature, it is not a round moon shape set out on display. Much less is there any sight or sound in the preaching it expounds. The manifesting body is not form or mind. It is not a skandha, base, or field.’ (Shobogenzo Bussho)

It was lovely to get back to the Dogen study group this week, and come face-to-face with this. There is a lot in here, but my sense of what he is saying here is that the present moment manifestation explodes any sense of trying to contain it or name it. The question, “Where do you think you are…” was, according to the scholarly notes we refer to, a common expression in Chinese culture in the golden age of Zen. A thousand years later, it is still just as true – can you keep the self and ego out of the way here?

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