Returning to the Buddha Nature

2021-11-12
Returning to the Buddha Nature
The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch records a story of two monks arguing heatedly about a flapping flag in a gusty wind. One claims that it is the wind that moves, and the other insists that it is rather the flag. The sixth Chan Patriarch Hui Neng noted that their faces already turned beat-red and yet neither would back down. He then said to them,'It is neither the wind that is moving nor the flag that is moving. It is your mind that is moving'.

Our mind actually pertains to nothing physical, but people mistake the opposite for a constant. Behold, alas, that the mind is the trickiest for targeted treatment. All external phenomena are the result of our mind reflection like the wind and the flag in the above story and as such, they are beyond our control. As long as we remain aware of our mind, we know how to deal with external distractions without moving even the small finger. Whichever it is that the move comes from the wind, the flag, or the mind, it boils down to a change of thought. When the mind remains unfathomed, our subjective sovereignty stays firm and remains unaffected by external adversities.

Those who possess an excellent command of Dharma appear rather similar to those knowing neither Buddha nor Dharma, as the nature in both cases is innately clean and uncontaminated. Nonetheless, those who practice Chan Buddhism do differ from ordinary people sans enlightenment. The former resides in the ups and downs of the secular world amidst all passing phenomena but manages to alleviate themselves above it all, observing and registering without engagement or attachment. They thus rise above the mundane to achieve by letting Nature take its course. Coming to mind is the comparable history of how the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society (LJM) arrived at where it stands today, from Dharma Master's decade-long solitary retreat for practice in run-down cemeteries, over another two-year solitary retreat with fasting and a Bodhisattva coming out from a stone cave to embark on a journey of his calling to receive formal recognition with the highest possible honor from all three major Buddhist traditions Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana to form the bedrock for a foundation that led to the ultimate establishment of the LJM as we know it today.

Dharma practitioners tend to perceive real-life happenings from the viewpoint of ultimate truth, i.e. to base everything on their inherent nature without a shred of any weary concern and by restoring everything back to its origin. They do that by forgetting any egocentrism to let the world run its natural course without imposing any man-made borderline and connections. Just like the ‘Returning to the Buddha Nature’ of the Ten Oxherding painting series - as long as we manage to stay focused on the awareness of the mind and employ that for reflections in daily life, our intellectual capacity will always shine through without deterring the mind. Put differently, we then perceive everything in clarity without getting bothered by their presence.