Further, Buddhism teaches that we continue throughout life to have the true Buddha nature inside us, regardless how we turn out. There are no bad people, just people who do bad things.
Despite this Buddhist teaching, our learned experience makes it almost impossible for most of us to feel or experience Buddha, or God, or God-essence inside us. Not surprisingly, we also cannot see the Buddha or God inside others, especially those that push our buttons or whom we consider evil.
All of humanity, except for enlightened ones, thus dwells in a Paradise Lost. We have incredible difficulty finding our way back to the paradise of knowing the Buddha or God inside each of us for the same reason that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden.
No, not because we have disobeyed one of God’s commandments, let alone because we are sexual beings, but because we have eaten fruit from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. How does that apply to us, the reader may well ask?
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is the mind’s capacity to judge as opposed to just observe. We, each of us, through our learned experience have developed a judgment and a reaction to all aspects of ourselves, our families, and the world around us. That is the province of the ego-mind. And that is what produces the fear and cravings within us that are the source of our suffering.
Seen this way, the story of the Garden of Eden is also a Buddhist story, with the garden being nirvana … free of fear and obstructions, free of confused illusions … and our samsara is our expulsion from the garden caused by our inability to get past the emotions, judgments, attachments, and cravings of the ego-mind in order to find and listen to our heart, our true Buddha nature.
Many practitioners, when they are told that their true Buddha nature is their heart, complain that they cannot hear their heart. They seek guidance from it but they hear nothing. The reason is that they have not said to the ego-mind, “No, I reject your guidance.” (See the previous post, “Test the Wisdom of What You’re Doing or Thinking of Doing.”) They do not have the intent to turn their will and their life over to the care of their true Buddha nature, or they have not put that intent into practice.
Without rejecting the ego-mind’s guidance first, one cannot expect to hear the heart’s guidance because the volume and aggressiveness of the ego-mind overwhelms. There must be, as Krishnamurti says, a revolution within you before you can hear your heart’s guidance.
Do you want proof of the Buddha nature inside you, of the purity of your heart? Most of us from time to time do hear our heart’s guidance. These occasions are often thought of as the “good me” whispering in the ear; often pictured as an angel. At the same time, however, our ego-mind is telling us something quite different, often pictured as the devil. And it is usually the ego-mind that wins the day, so strong is it.
Such experiences are to be cherished and remembered as proof that we do indeed have the true Buddha nature inside us. But it is up to us to free ourselves from the control of our ego-mind so that we can not just ask our heart for guidance and hear what it tells us but follow that guidance consistently. The choice is ours.