Everything Is Buddha-Nature (a Teaching from Suzuki-Roshi)

Good day, good people!

This evening during our virtual meditation and discussion group I’ll offer a reading from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by Suzuki-Roshi, called “Nothing Special.” Here’s a portion of it for you to consider if you would like:

“When we express our true nature, we are human beings. When we do not, we do not know what we are. We are not an animal, because we walk on two legs. We are something different from an animal, but what are we? We may be a ghost; we do not know what to call ourselves. Such a creature does not actually exist. It is a delusion. We are not a human being anymore, but we do exist. When Zen is not Zen, nothing exists. Intellectually my talk makes no sense, but if you have experienced true practice, you will understand what I mean. If something exists, it has its own true nature, it’s Buddha nature. In the sutras, Buddha says, ‘Everything has Buddha nature,’ but Dogen reads it in this way: ‘Everything is Buddha nature.” There’s a difference. If you say ‘Everything has Buddha nature,’ it means Buddha nature is in each existence, so Buddha nature and each existence are different. But when you say, ‘Everything is Buddha nature,’ it means everything is Buddha nature itself. When there is no Buddha nature, there is nothing at all. Something apart from Buddha nature is just a delusion. It may exist in your mind, but such things actually do not exist.”

The above is very abstract, obviously, and hard to get one’s mind around. It speaks to something essential and important, however, it seems to me. In terms of your experience, what is the roshi pointing to? How may these words guide us to the heart of practice?

Be well, friends, and have a beautiful day!

In peace,

David

Ps, as always, if you would like to participate in group tonight just let me know.

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D.J. McKay

Buddhist monk for eighteen years, now an author and counsellor. Visit theoneopendoor.org for more about David and his work to support awareness practice.