In the Genjokoan, Dogen defines delusion and enlightenment.
His definition of delusion is surprisingly straightforward. He says that to carry the self forward and to encounter the myriad beings is delusion. That’s it!
He doesn’t say delusion is thinking that Lourdes is the capital of France or that that mirage over there is really palm trees and water. It’s not some kind of misapprehension of the world. It’s a configuring and restricting of experience around the self. That’s it!
In delusion, we go from being within experience to, as it were, our experience being our experience, being mine, taking place within me. In other words, we’re not within the world, the world is within us. You can phrase it in various ways but I think that’s fairly easy to understand. Living it is another matter, obviously.
The position of Enlightenment is the reverse of that. He says that for the myriad things to come forward and illuminate the self is Enlightenment. At least, that’s the Tanahashi translation.
It seems those two definitions contradict each other but they don’t. The word which is translated as ‘self’, jiko, has two meanings. The first meaning, which applies when he is talking about delusion, means ‘self’ in the way we normally mean it: the ego. But, confusingly, when he turns to enlightenment, the second meaning applies. In this, ‘jiko’ means ‘universal self’. He doesn’t mean that there’s a big spiritual bicycle pump in me that puffs out the small self to fill the universe. He means the whole universe: the whole of manifestation, creation, expression.
That’s why the translation of the second part varies with different writers. It’s not that somehow all the things of the world come within the Treasure House of the Self, like some transcendent version of the Scottish Exhibition Centre. It’s that each thing in its own nature, ungrasped by the self, illuminates everything.
The appropriation of experience to a self stills the voices of all beings. Letting go of this lets all beings sing.