Zen followers (who have much in common with mystics of other faiths) do not use the term’God’, being wary of its dualistic and anthropomorphic implications. They prefer to talk of ‘the Absolute’ or ‘the One Mind’, for which they employ many synonyms according to the aspect to be emphasized in relation to something finite.
Thus, the word ‘Buddha’ is used as a synonym for the Absolute as well as in the sense of Gautama, the Enlightened One, for it is held that the two are identical. A Buddha’s Enlightenment denotes an intuitive realization of his unity with the Absolute from which, after the death of his body, nothing remains to divide him even in appearance.
Of the Absolute nothing whatever can be postulated; to say that it exists excludes non-existence; to say that it does not exist excludes existence. Furthermore, Zen followers hold that the Absolute, or union with the Absolute, is not something to be attained; one does not ENTER Nirvana for entrance to a place one has never left is impossible.
The experience commonly called ‘entering Nirvana’ is, in fact, an intuitive realization of that Self-nature which is the true Nature of all things. The Absolute, or Reality, is regarded as having for sentient beings two aspects. The only aspect perceptible to the unenlightened is the one in which individual phenomena have a separate though purely transitory existence within the limits of space-time.
The other aspect is spaceless and timeless; moreover all opposites, all distinctions and ‘entities’ of every kind, are here seen to be One. Yet neither is this second aspect, alone, the highest fruit of Enlightenment, as many contemplatives suppose; it is only when both aspects are perceived and reconciled that the beholder may be regarded as truly Enlightened. Yet, from that moment, he ceases to be the beholder, for he is conscious of no distinction between beholding and beheld.
This leads to further paradoxes, unless the use of words is abandoned altogether. It is incorrect to employ such mystical terminology as ‘I dwell in the Absolute’, ‘The Absolute dwells in me’, or ‘I am penetrated by the Absolute’, etc.; for, when space is transcended, the concepts of whole and part are no longer valid;the part IS the whole–I AM the Absolute, except that I am no longer ‘I’. What I behold then is my real Self, which is the true nature of all things; see-er and seen are one and the same, yet there is no seeing, just as the eye cannot behold itself.