Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Great Matter of Life and Death...

I used this phrase recently to describe our family is one reason why it's apt:

You as you are: buddha- nature. This does not mean that you have directly realized it, nor that you are living from an experience of All. It does mean that you have all the potential that is needed to directly awaken to this nature and to actualize it in your very life. Yasutani Roshi says buddha-nature is of three kinds: fundamental- cause buddha-nature (shoin bussho), or the fact of already being buddha-nature; capacity-to-realize buddhanature (ryoin bussho), or you must realize it for it to be of any worth; and cooperating-cause buddha-nature (enin bussho). The cooperating-cause already exists inside of us, whether it be a teacher, the sound of bamboo, the sangha—all together, everything is already cooperating for us to realize this fundamental nature.

Buddha-nature. So what is the essence of all life? It is indeed tricky to speak of the basic characteristics of buddha- nature because when we do, we immediately make it into a thing. Nevertheless, it is important to speak of it. The fundamental characteristic of buddha-nature is sunyata (Sanskrit), often translated as emptiness, or, more accurately, empty of all independent existence. All is empty of any fixed condition. Yasutani Roshi says, “Everything is in a temporary state as defined by particular causes and conditions.” (This leads us directly to the aspects of cause and effect and the formation of the ego-centered self, which we will explore later.)

We often speak of this characteristic as impermanence or change. Everything is in a condition of not lasting, of having no fixed identity, although appearing right now as a brunette, an oak table, a blue jay, you and me, or whatever. All is without a fixed-reference point. All is without a fixed “I” which is in constant birth and death according to conditions. Practice is to see through this fixed sense of self. We say: Empty out the subject; empty out the object; empty out the emptying out. This is the Great Matter of Life and Death which we penetrate.
You can see this transcendance of subject and object moment to moment if you have a child, and it is indeed humbling. It's why I have to respectfully disagree with some folks who think "entering the stream" is for avowed monks only.

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