Skip to main content

Buddha Nature!

I'm taking a class on Buddha Nature with Jiryu, a long time resident and priest at Green Gulch.

Last night was the introduction, we all said our names and what we thought Buddha nature was. Scary!

I said, My name is Austin, and I think Buddha nature is open hearted, radical acceptance, which I regretted saying all night. Then I thought, I SHOULD have said, "Cultivating way seeking mind, letting go of way seeking mind." (Then they'd love me...reallllllllllly love me.)

My wonderful wife, Lulu, said "It's like a star, you can squint your eyes and try and see it, but never really know what it looks like, while all the time, it's right there."

What does everyone else think Buddha nature is?


  1. I've been stewing uselessly over what to write here. Which is probably a good thing because whatever I think it is, that's not it. I enjoy your blog!

  2. I think you were right with "radical acceptance." Works for me.

  3. David- Don't I know it! I was about the 15th one to answer and there were about 20 more people to go...I went over Dogen's Valley Sounds, Mountain Colors and I liked this:

    "Slipping out of your old skin, not held back by passed views, you manifest immediately what has been dormant for boundless eons. As this very moment manifests, "I" don't know, "Who" doesn't know, "You" have no expectations, and "the buddha eye" sees beyond seeing. This experience is beyond the realm of human thinking."

    Leaves me breathless!

    Thanks David!

  4. Mandy- Think so? Seems self-helpy to me, and I am wary of the subtle aggression of self help!

    I like this idea, too: Softening, crushing your bones until they become milk.

    Kinda gruesome though, opposite of self help, too.

    Oh, Mandy and David, in the famous words of Katagiri Roshi, "You have to say something!"

  5. I'd go for the Crossisim: Whatever you think it is, it's not that!

    But my first response would have been cursing down an open freeway on a Harley.

  6. As one who is just wandering around out here cold, I don't understand why the question.

  7. I really like your answer! A lot of times when a question is asked people give these answers that may be clever or honest but are just as confusing or at least warranting question and explanation as the question itself. Your answer resonated with me a lot. I'm glad you went with that one.

  8. Found a new one: "Water, vessel to vessel." But do I have to bring my own water or my own cup, or both?

  9. Well isn't the point of asking most Zen questions to help break the jaws of the snapping turtle mind?

    I love the first response above, though, and would amplify that whatever you would answer you would also be right.

    Trite? You may say so. Then I'll restate "whatever you may answer that comes from your authentic practice and current experience of Buddha Nature, would be right."

    You may then answer differently in stanzas for every hour of every day for the rest of your life, collated as volumes of poetry. Or carved like Enkyu's 250,000 Buddhas each unique and yet portraying so astoundingly his experience of Buddha Nature.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Boredom and Buddhism

To say I feel bored feels disrespectful. How could that be? I have a three month old daughter, I'm training for a demanding job in the temple, I'm a wilderness medic responding to incidents every 4 days or so, and I'm sewing my priest robes for ordination. And I have this sense of disinterest.

I have a few theories as to why I feel bored. One could be the natural come down from having the baby and becoming stable in our schedule. Another come down plays out in the adrenaline crash after responding to a medical emergency or the general up keep work I do at the temple when compared to fixing something crucial to operations. When I hear there's a fire in the area I'm pretty excited to be mobilized for stay and defend duty. I feel pretty guilty about that, too.

So I read Beyond Boredom and Depression by Ajahn Jagaro and I was reminded to be careful about looking outward by this passage:

So what is boredom? It is a subjective experience that occurs when the mind is not i…

How To Become A Zen Monk (or die trying)

"Now, if you have decided to become a monk because you think that life in this world is too hard and bitter for you and you would prefer to rather live off other people's donations while drinking your tea - if you want to become a monk just to make a living, then the following is not for you." -Kosho Uchiyama
So you want to be a Zen monk or priest? Unsui, which means clouds and water? Good on ya. Me too. 
Having googled that very aspiration for the first time in 2003, I was convinced it was impossible. I'll admit I am as thick headed as they come. I was also resistant to meet some figure in a robe. I heard my father's voice when I begged him to get my fortune read in Jackson Square, New Orleans, "I'm not paying some fat asshole in a bathrobe to tell you lies." Instead, for the first four years of my Zen practice, I committed as little as possible to my local sangha, left when they started chanting, and never talked to the teacher. I was so unapproacha…

Goodbye Green Gulch Sama! Hello Tassajara!

About two years ago I left Mid City Zen in New Orleans. I feared I was leaving something, and now I'm about to leave Green Gulch and that same fear has arisen. I imagined there was wealth, a sort of freedom, and a lot to "renounce."  I had a car (a fast one!), a playstation 3, many books, many articles of clothing, and as I look around our little cabin, that same perception has arisen- I have too much stuff! And I like it!

My book collection that I sold or gave away in New Orleans has somehow manifested out here. And I have quite the collection of farm hats and farm boots. Rubber ones, Redwings, Ropers, Bogs to the ankle, Bogs to the knee, a navy seal Solomon for the wet spring weather. Most of them are fit to throw away, glued back together and stitched with fishing line, and just so smelly, so smelly my wife won't let me keep them in the cabin, so I hide them all around Green Gulch.

So I started packing, and while that fear of renunciation has arisen, it's not …