With palms together,
"...with no hindrance in the mind, no hindrance therefore no fear..."
from The Great Heart of Wisdom Sutra
The sutra teaches that when we are in a state of samadhi (complete one pointed awareness) there is no hindrance in the mind, that is, no duality: we realize you, me, and the entire universe are not separate, but are one. In such a place there can be no fear. The wave and the sea are one. In this place there is no birth or death; all that is, always was and always will be.
The dropping away of an identification with self and acceptance that this "self" is a creation of the mind and has no substantive reality; this practice allow us to see clearly our original nature, a nature that does not change, that has neither been born nor has died; it is the Buddha Nature itself.
Some may consider this our "soul" but that would be incorrect. The Buddha Nature is not individuated. It is, rather, universal everything all at once. We might say that as we are born in the relative world, the Buddha Nature may have the opportunity to see itself. When it does I view that as enlightenment.
Its not that anything has changed. Only the veil has lifted from our eyes, a veil our brain produces by its natural function. That everything is one has not changed; it was simply always there. We just don't see it. Our practice is not only to open our eyes to this original nature, but to keep them open.
While Dogen Zenji says zazen (seated meditation) is practice realization, sitting zazen on a cushion is not enough. Our practice continues throughout the day and that realization ought arise within our each and every breath because each breath is practice itself.
We practice being our Buddha Nature as we walk, talk, sit, and behave in each moment. It is this practice that makes us close followers of the Buddha Way. It is how we enact ourselves as fearless bodhisattvas.
We, followers of the Buddha Way, keep this practice close. It is the "rod and the staff" that comforts us not just through the darkness, but also in the light.
"...Far beyond delusive thinking they finally awaken to complete Nirvana..."
The sutra closes with this chant, "Gone, gone, gone to the other shore, attained the other shore, to beyond the other shore, having never left."
Indeed, heaven, earth, hell, and all other imaginings, are here right now. We make our lives feel what we feel they are. As someone once said, "Life is not a rehearsal..."
Live as if you mean it.