Note: The following has been copied and pasted from a PM to Jundo, at his request. As such, please read "you" as "Jundo" when it appears in the text.
I'm currently reading a book, Small Boat, Great Mountain, by Ajahn Amaro of Abhyagiri forest monastary in California. I'm reading this while Heather is finishing Moon in a Dewdrop, and it points to the same place that it seems you, Dogen, and Suzuki all point. In it, he quotes his teacher's teacher, Ajahn Chah, as saying "The Buddha who passed into parinibbana 2500 years ago is not the Buddha who is a refuge." As this book is, to my eyes, an apologetic pointing toward the ekay?na, the "One Vehicle" of Buddhism that encompasses all of the "paths up the mountain, (and anyway, what mountain?),"
But, it makes sense (I think). Remembering the accounts of the historical Buddha may, as you say in your post today, inspire, present an example and ideal, but how can one take refuge in a man who died so long ago? Rather, perhaps we should understand it as taking refuge in the Tatha (Suchness, as in Tathagata, the "one who has come and gone in Suchness") that he was awakened to. And what is this "Suchness?" Just this. Just this moment, as it is. True reality; trusting, knowing that it is exactly what it is. The relative and the absolute merging. Nothing hidden. Taking refuge in Buddha is seeing the truth of emptiness, of suchness, and that they are not two.
This ephemeral world is the relative and the absolute, beyond concepts and craving. We wander on, judging and wanting and craving and suffering, but to what ends? Reality manifests the true Buddha in each moment, in its emptiness and in its suchness. Buddha is present here and now. We don't see Buddha because we are looking for validation of our concept of Buddha. Let go of the concept, of all concepts, and instantly true Buddha is revealed. This is what Dogen meant when he said, "“To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things. To be enlightened by the ten thousand things is to drop off body and mind of self and other. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this traceless enlightenment continues endlessly.” Once we let go of "self" and dwell in this Tatha, this Suchness, the limitless, unborn, undying, uncreated is revealed, and Buddha is actualized throughout the whole of everything in all times and directions.
Great robe of liberation,
Field beyond form and emptiness,
Wearing the Tathagata's teachings,
Saving all beings.
Truly seeing reality,
Beyond all concepts,
All is Buddha.