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Newsflash: You are already enlightened.
This to me, is the biggest, most breaking news story, ever.
It might come as shocking news, especially if your life is riddled with problems or pain. But that’s why it’s even more important to tune into this channel of wisdom, so you can access your inherent nature and end the suffering.
May 19, is Visakha Puja or Buddha Day—the spring full moon commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha.
The holiday is observed in many parts of Asia and I would like to take an internet minute to honor it with any of you out there who practice or appreciate Buddhism.
Since we all have the potential to be fully realized enlightened beings (i.e., Buddhas), this is a great day to celebrate where we are on our respective paths. If I understand anything about the Buddha, it’s that he would rather not be idolized and instead he would encourage us to focus on attaining realization of our own true nature.
I love this phrase “true nature.” As an environmental enthusiast, I deeply appreciate the ways nature helps us access awakened states of mind. We experience our energy at a fundamental level when distanced from technology and societal distractions. We are born of nature and being in it helps us remember our essence. So profound is the beauty and power of nature that we can glimpse our interconnected awareness by resting in it.
As a wordsmith, I am tickled by the use of “true nature” in Buddhist discourse and the multiplicity of meaning I infer from it. However, when Buddhist masters refer to our true nature, they are not so much referring to vast sunsets or grand canyons. Our true nature is our inherent enlightened mind that, when free from its fetters, is empty. However, this emptiness is not a dead void. It is a clarity permeated by a vivid awareness.
Understanding our true nature relies on seeing the nature of all reality—that all phenomena are inherently empty. And yet, the world appears to us as incredibly luminous with an appearance that can be experienced as deceptively solid.
“In the traditional analogy of the ocean and its waves, it is said that however large or small the waves, all are essentially made of the element of water and cannot be separated from the ocean. Similarly, in the view of meditation, all our thoughts and various feelings arise out of the natural state of mind and are ultimately made out of the same ‘material.’ That material is empty awareness itself. If we do not succumb to habits and insecurities, or preconceptions about meditation and how our mind should be, we can then recognize that everything that arises is simply a manifestation of this very nature. Any expressions that arise from this enlightened nature can be understood as enlightened expressions when we do not approach them through the habits of acceptance and rejection.
Realizing this, we can begin to experience relaxation, as well as a lessening of judgments and reactivity. We experience more openness and acceptance. Slowly, and naturally, we begin to see the world as pure—not as in ‘pure’ versus ‘ugly,’ but pure in the sense of seeing the perfection of its existence. This existence is not determined according to some concept or idea of the way it should be; it simply has come to exist naturally. Its beauty is found in it being just the way it is. The world has found its own shape, form, and color. All of it arises out of the nature of mind.” ~ Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
Experiencing our true nature is accessing the enlightenment that already exists within—it’s our great inner sun poking through the clouds. What prevents us from attaining Buddhahood are obscurations such as clinging in attachment, rejecting out of fear, and delusion of buying into the false illusion of duality. They are the clouds that prevent light and clarity to pervade all areas of our life. When we purify these obscurations, we acquire merit. We grow ever closer to becoming reborn as the Buddhas we are.
On this Buddha’s Day, let’s celebrate our own inner Buddha. Just as Siddhartha was born a man who sought to understand the truth of reality, so too can we. We can go out in nature and contemplate the interconnectedness of all things. Or go inward and meditate on our true nature and just what might be blocking it. Whether exploring inward or outward, the truth is always wherever we find ourselves—materializing out of the true nature of mind.
Siddhartha became Gautama Buddha—a being who attained enlightenment in his lifetime. We all share that potential.
May we recognize that potential and cultivate its growth.
May we purify the obscurations blocking our true nature.
May we celebrate the Buddha in all of us.
May we be reborn in the light of a new day.