Monday, January 12, 2009

What is it to Realize the Buddha-Dharma?

In Shobogenzo, Genjokoan reminds us of what “realizing the Buddha-Dharma” is:

To realize the Buddha-Dharma is to realize your self.

It is surprisingly easy to get caught up in the details of ‘practice and enlightenment’ and lose sight of the fundamental point of Zen. Buddhism is not about a teacher or holy man of long ago and far away, it is not about metaphysical doctrines, it has nothing to do with objective knowledge; it is about us; real live human beings here and now. Enlightenment, wisdom, true-nature, Buddhahood, Zen, etc. are provisional terms employed for directing us to the truth about ourselves. “Buddha” is a term for an awakened human being. If there is any one thing that all the great Zen masters do seem to agree on, it is that Buddha is not separate from us ordinary people. Here are a few of my favorite reminders from the classic Zen Records:

Through endless kalpas without beginning, whatever you do, wherever you are, that’s your real mind, that’s your real buddha. This mind is buddha says the same thing. Beyond this mind you’ll never find another buddha. To search for enlightenment or nirvana beyond this mind is impossible. The reality of your own self-nature, the absence of cause and effect, is what’s meant by mind. Your mind is nirvana. You might think you can find a buddha or enlightenment somewhere beyond the mind, but such a place doesn’t exist.
Red Pine, The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma

Learned Audience, the wisdom of enlightenment [bodhiprajna] is inherent in every one of us. It is because of the delusion under which our mind works that we fail to realize it ourselves, and that we have to seek the advice and the guidance of enlightened ones before we can know our own essence of mind. You should know that so far as buddha-nature is concerned, there is no difference between an enlightened man and an ignorant one. What makes the difference is that one realizes it, while the other is ignorant of it.
Sutra of Hui-Neng, Price, A.F. & Mou-lam, Wong,

Q: If our own Mind is the Buddha, how did Bodhidharma transmit his doctrine when he came from India?
A: When he came from India, he transmitted only Mind-Buddha. He just pointed to the truth that the minds of all of you have from the very first been identical with the Buddha, and in no way separate from each other. That is why we call him our Patriarch. Whoever has an instant understanding of this truth suddenly transcends the whole hierarchy of saints and adepts belonging to any of the Three Vehicles. You have always been one with the Buddha, so do not pretend you can ATTAIN to this oneness by various practices.
The Zen Teaching of Huang-Po, Bloefeld, John

If you want to be no different from the patriarchs and buddhas, then never look for something outside yourselves. The clean pure light in a moment of your mind—that is the Essence-body of the Buddha lodged in you. The undifferentiated light in a moment of your mind—that is the Bliss-body of the Buddha lodged in you. The undiscriminating light in a moment of your mind—that is the Transformation-body of the Buddha lodged in you. These three types of bodies are you, the person who stands before me now listening to this lecture on the Dharma! And simply because you do not rush around seeking anything outside yourselves, you can command these fine faculties.
The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-chi, Watson, Burton

The way of Zen began without the establishment of any sect. It is simply a religion which points to the one original mind of all Buddhas and ordinary people. This mind is nothing other than Buddha nature. To see this nature is what is meant by religious practice. When you realize your Buddha nature, wrong relationships will instantly disappear, words will be of no concern, the dust of the dharma will not stain you. This is what is called Zen. Attaining Zen is becoming a Buddha. This real Buddha is none other than the heart of all beings, the master of seeing, hearing, and perceiving.
Mud and Water, A Collection of Talks by the Zen Master Bassui, Braverman, Arthur

Peace all you Bodhisattvas!

Ted Biringer


Barry said...

Great collection, Ted! Thanks for posting it.

For me, the most potent sentence in all these teachings is Lin-chi's:

"If you want to be no different from the patriarchs and buddhas, then never look for something outside yourselves."

It's a rare day when I don't look for something outside of myself - to blame, to seek, to acquire, to condemn. It's not helpful, both at the interpersonal level and at the "spiritual" level.

Ted Biringer said...

Hello Barry,

Thank you for your comment.

Yes! Me too. If only I had this or that... If only they would behave in such and such a way... If only, if only...

Fortunately, after the first twenty years of zazen I don't do it quite as often...



Uku said...

Thank you, Ted! Great collection indeed.

You might think you can find a buddha or enlightenment somewhere beyond the mind, but such a place doesn’t exist.

Yes! The importance of practice in daily life, being a monkey in a cage; there, everywhere, right here!

Thank you, Ted.

With palms together,

Ted Biringer said...

Hello Uku,

Thank you!

For the kind words...

...and the important emphasis!