VAJRA POINT IV: BUDDHA
"Shugchang" <email@example.com> Date: Wed Jul
10:10 pm Subject: Vajra Point
IV: Buddha Nature
"Worldly beings take
what does not
exist as a self for an existing self and are attached to this self. In
the shravaka tradition one counteracts this belief in an existing self
through meditating on the non-existence of a self, yet only in terms of
sheer voidness. These concepts, and mainly the latter one, are purified
by the understanding that the fruit is a state of peace, of complete
freedom from the conceptual elaboration of an existing self or the
non-existence of a self. Thus it is the perfection of true self."
-Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso
This point is underlined again and
again. It is not that there is nothing corresponding to what we take to
be our 'self' or fundamental awareness. We simply suffer a serious case
of mistaken identity. The infinite is obscured by adventitious
attachments to the finite. We identify a continuity of conscious states
with personal existence, a specific entity, the familiar sense of me is
superimposed on a stream of composite phenomena, rather in the same way
that we see a whirling firebrand as a solid ring of fire. Apparent yet
deceptive. Memory and perception actively support this notion. It is
not that there is no fire (consciousness) at all but that we are
conditioned by an incorrect perception of the true nature of this
element. We fixate on certain objects, string barbed-wire, labelling
'I' and 'mine', generating a vortex of pseudo-subjectivity, well
described as karmic.
Statements such as these from KTGR,
where the fruit is described as a state of peace and complete freedom
indicate the true nature of self or awareness. It is not simply no-self
or non-existence which sounds more like death than freedom to me.
Freedom implies unrestricted motion. Peace means liberation from
undesirable circumstances, not death. As I read these pages and attempt
to understand the import of this fourth vajra point, the one they named
the book after, I am repeatedly thrown back into this great meditation:
the true self is the Dharmakaya maha-guru beyond existence and
non-existence, unborn fire of inconceivable bliss eternally radiant
beyond all relative moments of association (life) or disassociation
(death) with a body/mind.
It is this fundamental blaze, the
incorruptible reality of who you are, the true self which is "like a
jewel, like space, like water...."
"When viewed in the light of the
Rangtong Madhyamaka, the
dharmadhatu is nothing but emptiness in the
sense of freedom from conceptual elaboration, whereas in the
and Mahamudra views it is spaciousness-awareness inseparable. On the
basis of sheer emptiness it could not become the cause for the
attainment of Buddhahood."
-Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso
Since the Buddha is
essentially Dharmakaya and Dharmakaya Sunyata
and since this Sunyata
permeates all beings, the latter are endowed with Buddha-nature.
endowed with Buddha-nature since in the Tathata of Buddhas and of
sentient beings there is no differentiation into good or bad, great or
small, high or low.
As silver is found in and may be refined from its
ore, sesame oil pressed from its seed and butter churned from milk, so
in all beings may Buddhahood become a reality.
-quotes from Gampopa's "Jewel Ornament of Liberation"
translated by H V Guenther
"Shugchang" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Wed Jul
9:35 pm Subject: Re: Vajra Point IV: Buddha Nature
We have been looking at the fourth
vajra point in some detail this week. The chapter entitled The Element
(Buddha Nature) is structured into ten points and nine examples, all of
it an effort 'to determine the meaning of the dharmadhatu' according to
Jamgon Kongtrul. The ten points are briefly considered here.
1. the principle
primary symbols found throughout buddhist scriptures; space, a gem,
water, each indicating aspects of purity, each corresponding to one of
2. the cause
lists the four
essentials which must be present for a Buddha child to manifest the
fullness of Buddha-nature and the four veils which obscure the correct
view supporting effective practice. These are -
1. sincere devotion to
the Dharma, in specific, the three roots for tantrikas,
2. Prajnaparamita, non-dual mother wisdom which
non-inherent existence of all things.
3. the regular practice of true
meditation which generates the bliss of samadhi and
4. unceasing flow of
the milk of compassion.
3. the fruition
purity, true self, true happiness and true permanence. This bold
proclamation of the third turning sounds like a far different message
than the first turning emphasis on the corruption of compounded
phenomena, no-self, suffering and impermanence, illustrating the
radical difference between provisional and definitive teachings.
4. the function
only one primary raison d'etre, one purpose, a singularly essential
impulse, at the heart of the secret nucleus: bodhi, to awaken beings.
Initially, this often manifests as weariness with the tedium of samsara
in order to gradually wean us from the primeval dither. As indicated in
the root text (p. 124), were there no true nature, there would be no
basis to transcend suffering or attain liberation. There would be no
shame associated with non-virtue, no joyful effort, real attraction or
spiritual magnetism associated with the Buddha's teachings or Dharma
5. the endowments
the ground, path and fruit, the dynamic of realization rooted in the
mature wisdom of Dharmakaya consisting of the four mind-blows listed
above in point #3 (the fruition) featuring the spontaneous compassion
and joy which are inseparable from this trans-mundane insight. Of
course these also correspond to the kayas, or the body, speech and mind
of the Buddha.
manifestation and the
/ both of these take three forms: as ordinary sentient
bodhisattvas and buddhas, corresponding in some measure to the Yogacara
Trisvabhava doctrine of the imaginary, dependent and consummate levels
of truth. Both of
these points recount the triad of sentient beings, bodhisattvas and
buddhas all of which are manifestations of buddha nature in its impure,
partially purified, and pure aspects this is followed by the topic of
'phases' which repeats the triad this time to indicate that not only
does reality take three forms but that none of them is an end in itself
as each goes through a process of mutation wherein a sentient being
morphs into a bodhisattva which in their turn become buddhas
-more on the Trisvabhava
8. all pervasive
is compared to space in its sovereign purity, liberal accommodation,
unbiased, non-conceptual and invariable, unchanging nature
the previous point are included in the description of the first vajra
point but are elaborated here to accommodate points 6&7; for
ordinary beings, the relative invariance of the elements define the
basic stability of the system... for bodhisattvas, the qualities of
fruition (described in point #3 above) are defined as the transcendence
of the four sufferings associated with impermanent, conditional,
composite phenomena- birth, old age, sickness, death... for buddhas
these same qualities are listed 'kataphatically' as per point #3 above
of the real as expressed from various viewpoints; Dharmakaya (as
transcendent ontology), Tathagata (as evolutionary thematic), Jnana (as
one's inmost awareness), and Nirvana (as the end of suffering).
Elsewhere in relation to this point, the text states that the
illumination, radiance and purity of the sun are inseparable in the
same way as analytical wisdom (S. prajna
), primordial wisdom
) and liberation (S. moksha
, T. tharpa
Again, in the example of royal portrait (p.146), a team of artistic
experts are undermined by the emigration of the fellow who does the
head in the same way that generosity, morality and so forth must be
complemented by prajnaparamita in order to go beyond the generation of
Changeless you dwell
throughout the three times.
from the Liturgy to the Buddha
Points 8, 9, & 10 develop the space metaphor
discussed in point
one: all pervading, changeless and indivisible. Recall the third among
the ten points listed under the heading of The Element called Buddha
Fruition, part of which is true
permanence. The unchanging nature of the secret
nucleus is primarily experienced by impure sentient minds as the
relative stability of the four elements constituting the world and the
physical body. This is why materialism is such a popular
philosophy.This same unvarying equanimity is
experienced by genuine bodhisattvas as Dharma and the transcendence of
the four primary forms of suffering articulated by Shakyamuni Buddha.
While for Buddhas, this same changelessness manifests directly as
absolute purity, real self, true happiness and deathlessness.
"Shugchang" <email@example.com> Date: Thu Jul
7:52 pm Subject: Re: Vajra Point IV: Buddha Nature
Some loose associations made while
reflecting on the nine metaphors of the Buddha Nature in ordinary
beings, focusing on the obscurations:
1. buddha in a lotus: (desire)
impermanent beauty of the lotus, the initial attraction to color/form,
and the putrid rot discovered upon closer inspection
covered w/ bees: (anger) the
cold sting and flaring pain of loveless (re-)activity, the
aggressive/defensive hum of egoic concern and insistent worldly
distraction, the inability to yield, preoccupation with boundaries and
3. unhusked rice: (ignorance) the
illusion of refinement, unpalatable fruit, compromised nourishment,
impenetrable coarseness, incomplete offerings, wasted resources,
in filth: (active klesas)
covered in human and animal waste, biologically active and infectious.
mind still enamored by the lure of samsara has no energy or interest in
5. buried treasure: (innate
very likely the long-term fate of the gold nugget mentioned above. mind
given over to the poisons in their active state is as old as the hills
(hosting all kinds of terma) so that these tendencies are carried from
ancient times. the thing that struck me about these last two metaphors
is just how unlikely anyone would ever be to ever discover the
treasure. In filling out the analogy, the text suggests clairvoyance or
celestial intervention might play a part in guiding one to the prize.
In all nine cases, there is something of great value within arm's
reach. Something must be done or understood to discover, appreciate or
recognize the treasure. All of this is in keeping with the teachings on
the unique opportunity we have here, the freedoms and endowments of
this precious human rebirth and the necessity of taking the guru's
words to heart.
klesas) emphasis on tough leathery hide of this tropical exotic, the
resistance offered by the ego to deeper inquiry or vulnerability beyond
socially acceptable limits; the armor of opinionatedness and the
sanctity of 'prior commitments'; the combination of moisture, warmth
and the pull of the sun enticing the shoot to sprout and climb
7. precious rupa in tattered rags:
(innate karmas) funky and thin, beginning to rot away on their own, a
multi-colored array of jewels sparkling from within the oily, dusty
shadows of fabric; easily removed as the path of meditation is
traversed. The fact that it is wrapped in rags suggests a conscious
attempt to hide or protect it during transport or invasion. It is as if
this was something previously understood to be of value which was
either lost or forgotten.
8. wretch bearing a king:
of bhumis 1-7) there is an organic gestation period involved with this
one, corresponding to the subsequent length of path encountered after
the first moment of attaining the path of seeing (associated with #6),
where emptiness is known directly for the first time; this realization
is gradually perfected on the path of meditation (associated with #7).
9. clay-covered rupa: (impurities
bhumis 8-10) depending on how you count these, this could be the third
symbolic use of a rupa in this list. On the basis of the nature of
Tathagata being truly inconceivable, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche tends to
interpret the first example of the lotus to contain an actual Buddha.
The difference between this one and #7 is that here, the clay covering
is extremely thin and the statue freshly cast, perhaps emphasizing
something of the unborn originality, unique expression and freshness
associated with full realization of the nirmanakaya.
"Shugchang" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Sat Jul
2:17 pm Subject: Buddha Nature
All sentient beings
have the Buddha
nature, or seed of Enlightenment. In the Samadhi Raja Sutra, the Buddha
said, "All sentient beings are pervaded by the essence of the Sugata
(the well-gone state). For example, silver abides in its ore, oil
abides in a mustard seed, and butter abides in milk. Likewise, the seed
of Enlightenment abides in every sentient being. Complete Buddhahood is
Dharmakaya, which is all- pervading emptiness. And this emptiness
pervades all sentient beings. For this reason, all sentient beings have
the seed of Enlightenment." The suchness of all reality has no
differentiation. The reality- suchness of the Buddha and the sentient
beings is not differentiated. There is no better and no worse, no
higher and lower, no larger and smaller. Therefore, all sentient beings
have the essence of Enlightenment. As it is possible to extract butter
from milk and oil from the sesame seed, so it is possible for sentient
beings to achieve Enlightenment.
- Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen
Rinpoche on Buddha Nature
(from In Search of the
Stainless Ambrosia, Jewel Ornament of Liberation, Jewel Treasury of
Advice and Transformation of Suffering)
To seek Buddha, see the self-nature!
Self-nature is Buddha!
Buddha is being in himself; doingless and creationless one!
Without seeing self-nature, no matter how hard you look for Buddha, day
and night, it is absolutely impossible(to see).
Even though we might say there say there is originally not a thing to
be attained, if you do not yet understand it, you must, with
sincere effort and work, find and meet a Master to
open your mind.
Life-and-death is a great puzzle. Do not spend your life in vain.
Deceiving yourself does not help you in anyway.
-attributed to Bodhidharma
Shugchang" <email@example.com> Date: Mon Oct 15, 2001
9:57 pm Subject: THE TRUE NATURE OF MIND: by HHDL XIV
".....known as the Tathagata Garbha or
"The Essence of Buddhahood
Sutra", in these Sutras the Buddha explains the nature of our mind. In
these Sutras the Buddha explains that the negative aspects of our minds
such as afflictive emotions, desire, hatred, greed, anger and also our
cognitive states, are not something which are innate aspects of our
mind but rather they are adventitious, in that mental states arise
within our mental continuum as a consequence of circumstantial
conditions. They are not essential or intrinsic to our mind, whereas
pristine clarity, the mere nature of awareness and luminosity are
things which are innate aspects of our mind.
The negative aspects of mind, afflictive emotions such as anger,
hatred, desire and so forth, because they are not innate aspects of our
mind, they can be removed from the basic continuum of our mind. This
point has been underlined in the Sutras that are related to the third
Shugchang" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Sat Jul
3:43 pm Subject: Re: Buddha Nature
The Buddha exclaims in Avatamsaka-sutra: "How
beings are already endowed with the wisdom of the Buddha! They already
have all Buddha-qualities! How mysterious it is!"
Indeed, how mysterious.
VAJRA POINT FIVE: BUDDHAHOOD