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Buddhadharma : Winter 2008
27 winter 2 00 8 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly So why is it so hard for us to conceive of or accept that everybody has buddhanature? Mipham Rinpoche has a very good explanation. As we have seen, beings have all these adventitious emotions that are not their nature, but that are nevertheless a temporary manifestation. The problem is that this is the first thing that we see in others, and so we think, “That’s it; that’s what’s real,” without looking at what’s behind that. I would call it, “Emotion at first sight.” There’s another problem that arises when you look at what’s on the surface and think that it’s the absolute truth: you might begin to wonder how enlightenment or buddhana- ture can coexist with emotion. Then you separate or remove buddhahood from normal, ignorant sentient beings. This is why we always think that buddhahood will come to us later, in some other time or place, after ten years of practice, or whatever; we don’t understand that buddhanature is already there but covered by defilements, like the gold coin buried beneath the dirt. So the first fault is the arrogance of a bodhisattva who thinks that you don’t have these qualities of buddhana- ture, so he has to give them to you. The second fault is when a bodhisattva doesn’t realize that defilements are adventitious, and he says that you have a problem and need to be purified. It’s so important that you hear these words, because although Buddhism is growing and spreading, it could also be degenerating. If you don’t know this information, some Buddhist teachers might behave like people who can control your life. They may become your spiritual and secular leaders, deciding what things you should and shouldn’t have. They will try to tell you what to do, what to add, and what to remove. Eventually we might have Buddhist masters imposing laws that make everyone wear six layers of socks wherever they go, or things like that. 165 If one clings to the faults, the untrue, and dispar- ages the qualities, the true, one will not have the loving- kindness of the wise, which sees the similarity of others and oneself. This stanza is really beautiful. Unless you know that all beings have buddhanature, you will not have loving-kindness. Loving-kindness has to be based on the fact that everybody is equal, and this equality is based on knowing that everybody has buddhanature. As long as you think that the person who gives love is higher in some hierarchical sense, and that the poor needy beings who receive it are somehow lower, then there is no love and kindness. It’s more like condescension or pity. 166 Through learning in such fashion there will arise enthusiasm, respect, as toward the Buddha, prajna, jnana, and great love. Now we come to the benefit of hearing about buddha- nature. When we hear about buddhanature, we experience joy or enthusiasm toward the path, because we know that enlightenment is possible. Even a dog is worthy of homage, because it has buddhanature. No matter how many emo- tions you have erupting inside you, you’ll know that they are removable, and that is wisdom. At the same time, you will know that all the qualities of the Buddha are within you, and that is primordial wisdom. So now when you hear about, read about, or see amazing buddha qualities, you won’t treat them as separate from you, thinking, “Well that’s them, but I’m different.” You will not think things like that because you know that all the qualities of the Buddha, down to every single lock of hair, exist within you. There is nothing to be jealous of or to covet, because you have everything. And when you know that everybody has buddhanature, loving-kindness will grow. Can you see that emptiness alone doesn’t allow you to do these things? So what is the effect of knowing that you have these great qualities? If you have confidence, then negativity, literally “the unutterable negative actions,” cannot easily overcome you. You become a stranger to negativity, and strangers have some kind of dignity. When you’re a stranger, others don’t have access to you. They don’t come in and feel at home with you, because you’re courageous. The second effect of knowing that you have buddhanature is that you will not look down on those who are destitute, thinking that they are lower than you. You won’t have arrogance, nor will you feel inferior when you see a sublime being, someone who has attained a lot. There’s no reason to feel inferior, because you have everything that that sublime being has. You have no more and no less than Shakyamuni Buddha or any of a thou- sand buddhas. Basically, there’s no inferiority or superiority complex any longer because of buddhanature. When negativities arise, you will know that they are not truly existent. When good things such as small signs of enlight- ened qualities arise, you will not get excited, because you know you already have them. Then there is loving-kindness. With all these, you will attain enlightenment swiftly. anaMae Loving-kindness has to be based on the fact that everybody is equal, and this equality is based on knowing that everybody has buddhanature. As long as you think the person who gives love is higher in some hierarchical sense, then there is only condescension or pity.