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We Can Become Buddhas

Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche says:

It is because this ground or sugatagarbha or potential is common to all beings that they are capable of attaining enlightenment. If they did not have such a ground then they could never become buddhas.

For example: a stone doesn’t have the ‘ground’ or potential to produce oil, and so no matter how much you might press it and grind it — even if you use modern tools and machinery — you will never extract any oil. A sesame seed, on the other hand, does have the potential to produce oil, and by pressing it in the right way, sesame oil can and will be produced. So it is because the potential exists as part of our basic nature that we can become buddhas.

In my previous blog post, I wrote about the Eight Consciousnesses of Yogacara School. In it, the eight consciousnesses revealed, and of them, it is the eighth consciousness that will help with the understanding of the Buddhist term of "ground". For the eighth consciousness is also called "all-ground consciousness" in Tibetan Buddhism.

Sugatagarbha is the Tibetan Buddhist term for Tathagatagarbha, or Buddha Nature.

Buddha Nature is common to all sentient beings, for every being is capable of attaining enlightenment.

Since the potential to become Buddha exists as part of our primordial nature, we all can become buddhas.

Indeed, Buddha Nature is awaken by hearing the Teaching of the Buddha. Inspired by his message, one may choose to become a Buddha, and develop Bodhi Mind, which is both the determination to become a Buddha and the aspiration to help other sentient beings become enlightened.

One of the ways to become enlightened is to become a Zen master, which might involve a backache and perhaps the risk of hemorrhoids. Seriously though, traditional Zen involves the preliminary chanting of the Heart Sutra followed by hours of the sitting in meditation of zazen.

However, the whole point of meditation is to firstly develop the calm mind and secondly, achieve samadhi (one-pointedness of mind or single-minded concentration). To aid in this task, the disciple is given a koan, which is like a Chinese finger puzzle for the mind. For the intent of a koan and zazen is to make the mind flexible enough to achieve satori (seeing into one's true nature).

This happens when the disciple lets go of clinging to what Zen is supposed to be, and has that moment of sudden enlightenment when he lets go of what he thinks Zen is.

When the Zen practitioner carries the burden of Zen as a bunch of rules requiring discipline to practice just sitting in excellence, it's like the Zen master who carried a beautiful girl across a flooded stream and his disciple.

For the purpose of meditation is not just to achieve a calm mind, but to also develop the flexibility of mind to let go of clinging to thoughts. With every breathe he takes, the disciple learns discipline.

Even though sometimes I may mock the Zen practitioner, it is to discover if his meditation has resulted in the joy of satori. This is why when I meditate, it is done with a smile.

Master Hui-Neng inspired his disciples by teaching them about "no-thought."

No-thought is the state of mind where one cannot find the word for objects he sees and his mind clings to nothing.

In contrast, Hui-Neng's description of the "pure and unattached mind" which "comes and goes freely and functions fluently without any hindrance" reminds me more of the coming and going of the flow of thoughts without doing more than returning to just breathing when their distraction leads one away from meditating.

Even if we meditate and do not achieve Nirvana in this life, it still is possible to become a Buddha in the afterlife.

Yet the Buddhist remembers that she does her mindful practice for all sentient beings. If she chanted daily even ten Buddha Recitations, then that will help her become reborn in the Pure Land of Bliss.

As long as she did this with utmost sincerity to help all sentient beings become Enlightened, and is determined to be reborn in the Pure Land, her rebirth there is assured.

If she would rather chant the Heart Sutra before meditation, and she chanted it with single-mindedness, it's said she'd discover its true meaning.

In Sanskrit, the beauty of the mantra is found in chanting "gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā."

This mantra is pronounced as: "Guh-teh guh-teh PAH-ruh-sum-guh-teh bohd-hee swa-ha."

The Dalai Lama translated the Heart Sutra mantra as "go, go, go beyond, go thoroughly beyond, and establish yourself in enlightenment."

It's been said that all sentient beings have the potential to become buddha, for Self nature is Buddha Nature. Indeed, the Self is filled with selflessness, that sense of psychic prowess performing acts of random kindness in a friendly, loving manner.

Yet it is also empty of the self, which is depicted in Buddhism as the egocentric Monkey mind swinging from thread to thread of thought without a clear focus on the truth of one's actions, or even better, the truth of the Dharmakaya.

For Dharmakaya is but the Truth of the Tathagata that all phenomena, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are essentially empty of permanence, being a part of the temporary nature of all phenomena. Even Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are finite despite living uncountable ages.

It is wonderful to contemplate the myriad Buddhas, bodhisattvas and the Buddhist pantheon of gods and goddesses pacified by the Buddha to protect him, the Dharma and the Sangha through skillful means.

Although my words about Buddhism may seem hypocritical for exposing the less interesting aspects of Buddhism for Westerners, it is not so.

All my words on Buddhism are inspired by what the Buddha said. For the truth is, we can become Buddhas, by going beyond an intellectual understanding of the Dharma to actually practising meditation.

Though I prefer silent Nembutsu practice of Buddha Remembrance in combination with some kind of breath meditation to prevent my chanting from annoying the neighbours! >:)


Buddha nature:
Eight Consciousnesses Revisited:
Yogacara: the Eight Consciousnesses:

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