The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Our fundamental nature--what we term "the buddha nature", the very nature of our mind, is inherently present within us as a natural attribute. This mind of ours, the subject at hand, has been going on throught beginningless time, and so has the more subtle nature of that mind. On the basis of the continuity of that subtle nature of our mind rests the capacity we have to attain enlightenment. This potential is what we call "the seed of buddhahood", "buddha nature", "the fundamental nature", or "tathagatagarbha".

We all have this buddha nature, each and every one of us. For example, this beautiful statue of Lord Buddha here, in the presence of which we are now sitting, is a representation that honors someone who attained buddhahood. He awakened into that state of enlightenment because his nature was the buddha nature. Outs is as well, and just as the Buddha attained enlightenment in the past, so in the future we can become buddhas too."

from Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection by H.H. Dalai Lama

There were only a handful of us sitting meditation last night. A cold, rainy evening, most folks stayed home. But those of us who sat had an opportunity to discuss a recent Dharma talk given by visiting Theravadan Monk Bhante Sujatha of the Blue Lotus Sangha in Chicago. The topic of his talk was cultivating mindfulness, and we agreed that his definition of mindfulness was a good one: awareness in the present moment without judgement.

When I mentioned that I found his guided meditation a distraction, someone said, "But aren't you judging him?
Are you being mindful?"

Good Question!

The Buddha said, ( and I paraphrase), don't follow what I say because I tell you to; experience what I offer for yourself, and if it does not suit you, let it go. Follow what your own experience teaches you.

Discernment is what the Buddha was encouraging, a wise and wakeful approach to discovering what is real, and for each of us, this is a unique process. Judgement, in its most negative connotation, is delusion. It is a decision based on a thought process which lacks clarity, and ultimately leads to faulty conclusions which we base our life upon.

But discernment is a little different, it's a ramped up version of wisdom, because it allows the true self to weigh in on decisions, to allow our innate buddha nature to shine.

Being mindful means the intimate dance between being awake and being deluded is a continual exchange of energy to which we pay attention and simply, elegantly, regard. This is an exchange that animates each thought, word and deed.

As we concluded our evening, I said, "You all have the power to Buddha yourself, you are all Buddha. So decide for yourselves, what sort of meditation do you need now. If it's to be guided, then record your own voice and allow it to guide you through the process. You are all Buddha."

Still, this is a revolutionary statement to make, and assumes taking ultimate responsibility for our lives.

I look around the little zendo and see looks of disbelief or bewilderment or amusement or....a flicker of, maybe, just maybe....If we are Buddha, we are whole, we are in harmony, we are in love, we are already enlightened beings, right here and no where else. There isn't anywhere else.

Oh what way to live this life!

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