“As far as Buddha Nature is concerned, there is no difference between a sinner and a sage… One enlightened thought and one is a Buddha, one foolish thought and one is again an ordinary person.”
– Hui-neng (6th Zen Patriarch – 7th Century)
A most puzzling aspect of Buddhist philosophy is that there is nothing to achieve, for the idea of achievement implies adding something that was not there before. The heart of Buddhist philosophy is that our original nature is completely sane and at one with all of life, but that through the psychological conditioning of society and family, we lose touch with that nature. Siddhartha Gotama, 2500 years ago,awakened out of this conditioning and realized his true and original nature, that is, he realized enlightenment. Thenceforth, he was known as the Buddha, “the awakened one”.
“Birds chirp, dogs run, mountains are high, valleys low. It’s all perfect wisdom! The seasons change, the stars shine in the heavens;it’s perfect wisdom. Regardless of whether we realize it or not, we are always in the midst of The Way. Or, more strictly speaking, we are nothing but The Way itself.” – (Taizan Maezumi -20th Century Zen Master)
As we are nothing but The Way (the Tao, the uncorrupted nature of nature) itself, we are only separated from the Buddha within us, from awakening, by being unconscious. We are asleep to our true and original nature. We believe the false conditioning to be true. We believe it is who we are, and we live from within it, clinging to this false identity, rather than from our inherent Buddha Nature. Thus, we live in an “illusion” of life, full of strife and struggling. Buddhism teaches that all there is to do is to find our way back to The Way. There is nothing to add that achieves our enlightenment. There is only letting go of illusion. There is only waking up. All the struggles we experience in life are over our compulsion to enhance and defend a very personal sense we have of who we are. This is the ego. We create an identity of a very shaky somebody out of this precarious ego. This is a very big mistake. An insecure somebody lives in a world filled with problems. These problems tell a story. We start living as if we are that story, and keep authoring it over and over, with the same problems. Buddhism teaches the philosophy of being “nobody”. “Nobody”is not defined by the story of the ego. There is a dimension of mind that is before the thoughts that construct our experience of life.There is the dimension of awareness itself. Buddhism teaches that this awareness is who you are. It is impersonal, or more accurately,transpersonal. It is nobody. Buddhism teaches that Ego is a tool, much like a computer, not an identity. It is how the amazing human mind conceptualizes and works with the world. It is a useful tool, even a miracle when operated by an awakened person. It is a disaster as an identity. Ego identity is conditioned by society and family. It is always crazy. It is always fearful. It is always seeking to enhance and defend itself. This is normal, in the sense that nearly everyone does it, and, it’s completely crazy, because it causes all of our distress and problems for others and ourselves. “You must unlearn what you have learned,” says Master Yoda of a galaxy far, far away. You are nature and nurture. We have lost touch with our nature by getting lost in our nurture. Western psychology does not understand the mind. It only attends to the conditioning, the nurture, of the mind, not the nature of it. The conditioning is crazy. The nature is Buddha. One thought from our Buddha and we are enlightened. Immediately, the next thought is from our foolish ego. Sage and sinner all wrapped into one.Awakening is in learning to use the ego and not be it. Unlearn the limitations you were taught about yourself, others and the nature of existence. Find your original mind. Find Buddha.