Let’s talk about buddha-nature. That is a great topic.
We often hear about the buddha-nature in Dharma talks. There are two types of buddha-nature. One is the buddha-nature by nature. The other is the buddha-nature by development.
It is a little bit like saying we have the seed for a tree but that is not enough. We must create the circumstances, conditions, and cause for that seed to grow: the water, the earth, the air, the sun, the caring, and the dedication. Those aspects are what are needed to unlock and grow the potential of the seed into a tree.
You can say the tree is inside the seed in a way, or you can even say there is a whole forest in that seed, but it is just a potential. The tree or forest is not there, yet, right?
Buddha-nature is already there. That is like the potential in the seed. If we do not create the cause and the condition for the seed to grow properly, it is impossible for the result of that potential to become a reality.
That is why the important aspect of buddha-nature is development. If we do not work, if we do not put in the effort, then, we are losing an opportunity. We are missing out on something extremely positive in our life.
It is almost like the example Ling Rinpoche mentions in his talks. For instance, let’s say we somehow end up on this completely isolated island that nobody knows about, somewhere super-secret, in the middle of the oceans, Atlantis or Sumeria. When you get there, you discover it is full of gems, diamonds, gold, rubies, emeralds, and all these precious jewels that we value so much. Or you can think of an example that you desire or value personally.
We get to this island which is filled with so much opportunity. Then, we leave. We get back to wherever we came from, but we do not even have one tiny gem with us. Isn’t it a bit weird? I mean most of us would probably want to grab and fill our pockets with gems or anything valuable to us that we may find on that island, right?
We have such an amazing opportunity to practice Dharma, to understand the nature of our mind, and unfold our potential. We have all this information that has been passed through generations by people who have reached unique realizations, who have understood the universal technique of understanding our nature which is a mechanism that works for everybody. We should want to grab all we can like the gems and the valuable things on the island. It is not like, “Oh, for some people this information works, and for others, it does not.” It is a universal reality or science. We need to understand and appreciate this rare opportunity in our life.
If we do not take anything away to be used, it may be strange. That is why Dharma or the universal science of the mind refers to the fact that we are suffering and there is a solution to that suffering that empowers us to be able to overcome that suffering, even though happiness and suffering are temporary unless it becomes a constant state of mind which in some cases may happen.
The fact that religion talks about suffering and that we have a problem is mainly to scare us to think, “Oh, you know, I do not have much time.” We have to be aware of impermanence, that anytime, suddenly, everything changes, constantly.
It is good to have some fear sometimes to make the right decisions in our life even though to decide based on fear will not have the best kind of result. In this way, if we think about impermanence, we will be more motivated.
If you think about it, our minds or consciousness do not have a beginning or an end. The end is basically to reach enlightenment eventually. That is our aim.
It is good to have an objective, to say, “Okay, I want to go in that direction.” Sometimes, however, if where you want to go is too far, it can be quite hard to know how to get there. Although it is good to have an objective, we must take baby steps. We must go slowly, slowly.
First, you have the aim. You know where you want to go. Then, you start here. Where you are… You must be realistic.
The Dalia Lama talks about the warm heart. That is a very practical way of understanding the concept of Bodhicitta. At least it is the beginning of understanding.
How do you start with a warm heart? It is very difficult to love others if you do not love yourself. It is impossible to be patient with others if you are not patient with yourself. It is hard to be humble if you are not humble with yourself. Everything that you want to give starts within you.
If you do not practice these concepts with yourself, it is difficult. Otherwise, it becomes very easy to blame others. “Oh, I lost patience with such and such a person.”
No! You did not lose patience with that person. You lost patience with yourself. When you lose patience with yourself, it is easy to blame others.
Buddha-nature is like the gift that we have. We have always had it, but, in this lifetime, we can create the cause for that seed to grow.
That is why we are discussing this. In a way, we are searching. Everybody is searching for something, right? Everyone is looking. What are we searching for? We are searching for happiness We are searching for fulfillment, to feel good, to feel happy. It is not just temporary happiness we want, either. We, also, want to solve our temporary suffering.
That is the reason why we are searching. We want to understand. The most basic concept is that happiness does not come from being selfish or self-cherishing. True happiness comes from having a genuine feeling and desire to be of benefit and service. That is really where the satisfaction comes from, you see. You feel an accomplishment kind of aspect. When you accomplish something out of great effort with a great result, then, you feel good. That is what we are trying to get.
How to start? The first steps are motivation and gratitude. Of course, you know, you have to have a warm heart, love.
I mean love is a hard word.
It can be confusing sometimes because you say, “Love is not good.”
“Love makes me suffer”, or something like that.
It is not love that makes you suffer. It is an attachment attitude that disturbs your peace. You confuse attachment for love. That is one of the mistakes. We blame love. “Oh, love is bad!”
It is not bad. It is the attachment that is not a high-frequency vibration. Attachment is based on a self-centered attitude, “Mine, me, I want, I want to….” We are scared… of losing, scared of so many things. That creates a kind of unbalanced mind. Because you are worried, there is fear, a fear of losing, a fear of, I don’t know….
It is important to be aware of fear. When you decide something, be sure your decision is not based on fear. That is important, you know.
Anyways, I hope this has helped answer some of the questions you might have about buddha- nature.