Many years ago, a Vietnamese Zen monk said to our sangha that we had come far, but were still standing on the verge, we had not surrendered our ego-mind to our true Buddha nature, we had not turned our will and our life over to the care of our true Buddha nature because we were scared of the unknown. He said that the choice was ours; we simply had to surrender our ego to our true Buddha nature.
Simple … ha! Simple … not!
The challenges we face from the strength of our ego-mind and the society we live in in accomplishing this “simple” task has been amply documented in the posts on this blog. Even when you truly have turned your will and life over to the care of your true Buddha nature, the struggle is not over. We do not achieve 24/7 awareness without much further work.
But in addition to the challenges we face from within and without, the monk was correct about most of us being scared of the unknown. For our entire lives, we have thought of ourselves as our ego. We know nothing else of ourselves. Even though we learn that our ego-mind is the cause of our suffering, it’s all we know. And we are drawn more to the comfort of the harmful known than the discomfort of the beneficial unknown, even if we have faith that therein lies the answer to ending our suffering.
Yet what do we fear? Do you have faith in the teachings of the Buddha? Do you believe that you were born perfect with your unborn Buddha mind intact? Do you believe that it is your learned experience that has formed your ego-mind and causes you to experience suffering?
If you answer those questions, “yes,” then you know that the real you is your unborn Buddha mind, your true Buddha nature. All else is taught; all else is artifice.
And this real you is not the stranger you initially think it is. As you meditate, you come to recognize that those moments when you feel true compassion and offer someone joy, when you feel grateful, when you feel that things are the way they are because it’s just the way it is, when you find happiness in the moment free of thinking about the future or the past … that all those moments are an expression of your true Buddha nature. And you come to realize that even before you started meditating, you did things or experienced things that you see now were evidence of your true Buddha nature.
And so you begin to perceive your true Buddha nature in your very actions and experience. And as you in that way, as well as in your meditation, come face to face with your unborn Buddha mind, you understand that by turning your will and your life over to your true Buddha nature, you are not venturing into the unknown, you are instead returning home to your unborn Buddha mind. You are returning home after a long and painful journey.
You know then that you have nothing to fear.
Who am I?
I am the tree I see,
The flower that blooms,
The morning rain,
And the cold night air.
I am the bird in flight,
The wounded bear,
The howling wolf,
And the dog lying before the fire.
I am the laughing child,
The old lady begging,
The dope addict,
And the forgetful old man.
I am all things,
And I am nothing
Hanh Niêm, Ronald Hirsch, 2007