gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā
Are the Buddhas and great Bodhisattvas “out there” or “in here”? Are they external beings or are they “us” (or we them)? A bit of both — sometimes without and sometimes within? Neither wholly without or within? This is dizzying to contemplate, and it remains a fruitless line of thought until we realize it is a trap concocted by our own minds.
Because language is a function of conventional reality, we speak of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as if they are separate and distinct from ourselves — and so we must speak in order to communicate with a measure of ease and efficiency. With mantra practice, however, we evoke qualities already present in the heart and mind: the True Self of our Buddha Nature. When we align our minds with those of the Buddhas through mantra recitation, subject-object & self-other divisions fall away, at least temporarily. We are not separate from the Buddhas because there is no “out there” out there and there is no “in here” in here.
The Tathāgata is the One thus gone, thus come, and beyond all comings and goings.