Radical Acceptance: Enhancing your Life with the Heart of the Buddha (pp. 307-328)
Our Buddha Nature
As noted in the first talk of this series, Buddha nature does not refer to an innate state or outcome that we strive for. Rather this term refers to how we can learn to act in the present, making choices for freedom and happiness. When we are trapped in the trances (e.g. unworthiness), our Buddha nature seems inaccessible or outside us. Avoiding pain, disrepute, criticism, loss and chasing after pleasure, repute, praise and gain keeps us in the trance and away from our true Buddha nature. As we spiritually mature. we increase our will to see the truth and live with an open heart. Practicing the four discernments (not to neglect discernment, to preserve truth, to develop relinquishment, and to train for peace) can be of great benefit to keep on the path.
Doubting Our Buddha Nature
We doubt our Buddha nature when we create a sense of self. A sense of self sets boundaries and we are much more than that. The self is a concept, a fabrication of the mind to create the object that can attach to what we crave or what is averse and we want to get rid of it.
When we ask the questions, “Who am I” and “Who is aware right now?”, we find that no one is behind the scenes.
As Bhante G. notes in Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: “Thus the more you focus on mind itself, the less solid it seems. Like everything else that exists, it is always changing. Moreover, you discover, there is no permanent entity; no one is running the movie projector. All is flux, all is flow, all is process. In reality, who you are is simply this constant flow of changing moments of mind. Since you cannot control this process, you have no choice but to let go. In letting go, you experience joy and you taste for an instant the freedom and happiness that is the goal of the Buddha’s path. Then you know that this mind can be used to gain wisdom.” Page 216
We must keep practicing to fully stay with our true nature rather than slip back in the false sense of self.
Seeing Beyond the Self and Letting Go into Awareness
Meditation is a good practice for seeing beyond the self. We can practice awareness and when the thought or perception of self arises, no matter how subtly, we can look to see: “Who is aware right now?”. Can we find the who, that ghost of self that seems to be present?
Letting go into awareness requires effortless practice. Happiness cannot be found through great effort and will power, But is already there, in relaxation and letting-go. Don’t strain yourself, there is nothing to do … Only our search for happiness prevents us from seeing it … Don’t believe in the reality of good and bad experiences; They are like rainbows.
Wanting to grasp the ungraspable, you exhaust yourself in vain. As soon as you relax this grasping, space is there —open, inviting, and comfortable.
So, make use of it. All is yours already. Don’t search any further … Nothing to do. Nothing to force, Nothing to want, —and everything happens by itself. (Lama Gendun Rinpoche)
“Everything we can possibly see, hear, feel or imagine—this entire world—is a fantastic display, appearing and vanishing in awareness. When thoughts arise, where do they come from, where do they go to? As you explore looking into the space between thoughts, through the holes in the net, you are looking into awareness itself. You might sit quietly and simply listen for a few moments. Notice how sounds arise and dissolve back into formless awareness. Can you notice the beginnings of sounds, the ends of sounds? The spaces between? It is all happening in awareness, known by awareness.” Brach, Tara. Radical Acceptance (p. 316).
- Reread this talk and reflect on it.
- When you have a sense of self arise, look to see. Ask “Who am I” and “Who is aware right now?” What do you find?
- Also, when you have a sense of self arise, look to see what the attachment is. Is it something you crave or something you want to get rid of?
- Meditate as usual in your daily practice with concentration and mindfulness.