Realizing Our True Nature II

Radical Acceptance:  Enhancing your Life with the Heart of the Buddha (pp. 307-328)

Realizing Our Nature as Both Emptiness and Love

Our original nature is changeless, unconditional, timeless and pure.  When we bring this awareness to the relative world of form, love arises.  Sri Nisargadatta defines love is the refusal to separate, to make distinctions.  In our original nature, we view the world with equanimity, making no judgements.

Our being resides in both the worldly and beyond the worldly realms.  From our formless awareness springs the varying and endless waves of life – through the senses, feeling, perception, mental objects and consciousness.  As noted in the Mahayana Heart Sutta, “Emptiness is form and form is not other than emptiness.”  What is this mean?  It means that we cannot have one without the other.  If we live in pure awareness without form, we are in a daydream, a fantasy.  If we live in form without awareness, we are trapped in frustration and suffering.  Pure awareness is non-attachment, not withdrawal.  If we withdraw from life, we enter the world of fantasy.

Facing loss is the true test.  If we withdraw from the painful emotions, we enter the trace of daydreamness and if we experience the painful emotions without awareness, we are caught in the trance of attachment.

The Heart Sutra is a Mahayanan verse estimated to date from 350 CE.  According to Mahayana doctrine, Avalokiteśvara is the bodhisattva who has made a great vow to assist sentient beings in times of difficulty and to postpone his own buddhahood until he has assisted every sentient being in achieving emancipation.  (  It is also called the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore


while practicing deeply with

the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore,

suddenly discovered that

all of the five Skandhas are equally empty,

and with this realisation

he overcame all Ill-being.


“Listen Sariputra,

this Body itself is Emptiness

and Emptiness itself is this Body.

This Body is not other than Emptiness

and Emptiness is not other than this Body.

The same is true of Feelings,

Perceptions, Mental Formations,

and Consciousness.


“Listen Sariputra,

all phenomena bear the mark of Emptiness;

their true nature is the nature of

no Birth no Death,

no Being no Non-being,

no Defilement no Purity,

no Increasing no Decreasing.


“That is why in Emptiness,

Body, Feelings, Perceptions,

Mental Formations and Consciousness

are not separate self entities.


The Eighteen Realms of Phenomena

which are the six Sense Organs,

the six Sense Objects,

and the six Consciousnesses

are also not separate self entities.


The Twelve Links of Interdependent Arising

and their Extinction

are also not separate self entities.

Ill-being, the Causes of Ill-being,

the End of Ill-being, the Path,

insight and attainment,

are also not separate self entities.


Whoever can see this

no longer needs anything to attain.


Bodhisattvas who practice

the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore

see no more obstacles in their mind,

and because there

are no more obstacles in their mind,

they can overcome all fear,

destroy all wrong perceptions

and realize Perfect Nirvana.


“All Buddhas in the past, present and future

by practicing

the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore

are all capable of attaining

Authentic and Perfect Enlightenment.


“Therefore Sariputra,

it should be known that

the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore

is a Great Mantra,

the most illuminating mantra,

the highest mantra,

a mantra beyond compare,

the True Wisdom that has the power

to put an end to all kinds of suffering.

Therefore let us proclaim

a mantra to praise

the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore. 

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!”

The last lines have been translated many ways.  One version is “Going, going, going on beyond, always going on beyond, always becoming Buddha.”  This seems a marvelous thought. It suggests movement toward awakening. It expresses the enlightenment of a buddha as an unfolding process, rather than a steady state. It puts us in the hopeful position of one who may not have arrived, but who may be on the way. The destination may not be an end, but the trip itself.   Reference

The Pathway Home; Stepping into Unconditional Presence

“No matter how thick are the clouds of fear, shame and confusion, we can remember our longing to awaken compassion, our longing to be wise and free. Remembering what we cherish guides us to hold our fear and doubt with awareness. Moving in this way, moment by moment, we find what we long for.

When Mara appears, we can awaken by taking just one step—by touching the ground of this present moment with compassionate presence. During an angry exchange of words we take one step, feeling with awareness the rising pressure in our chest, the heat in our face. When our child has a high fever, we take a step by bringing awareness to our fear as we hold a cool cloth to his brow. When we’re lost after dark in an unfamiliar city, we take a step by noticing with awareness the squeeze of anxiety as we turn yet another corner into an unknown street. This is the path—arriving over and over again in the moment with a kind awareness. All that matters on this path of awakening is taking one step at a time, being willing to show up for just this much, touching the ground just this moment.

The path of Radical Acceptance frees us from the voices of Mara that tell us we are separate and unworthy. Whenever we become fully present, we discover the natural wakefulness and care that is inherent within us. We come to understand, in a vivid and cellular way, who we really are.

When we live in awareness, we live in love. The loving awareness we cherish is not a distant fragrance, a treasure found only after an arduous journey. It is not a treasure that we have to fight for or protect. As the musk deer realized at his death, the beauty we long for is already here. By relaxing our stories of “who we are taking ourselves to be,” by stepping wakefully into just this moment, we see that nothing is missing, nothing is outside this ocean of pearling currents.

Although we drift on the path and lose sight of our essential being, remembering what we love guides us back to sacred presence. The Tibetan Book of the Dead offers the deepest reassurance: “Remember these teachings, remember the clear light, the shining light of your own nature. No matter where or how far you wander, the light is only a split second, a half a breath, away. It is never too late to recognize the clear light of your pure awareness.” We can trust the awareness and love that are our true home. When we get lost we need only pause, look at what is true, relax our heart and arrive again. This is the essence of Radical Acceptance.”  Brach, Tara. Radical Acceptance (pp. 323-325).


  • Reread this talk and reflect on it.
  • Reread the Heart Sutra every day and recite out loud the last three lines: Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha! Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha! Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
  • Reflect on emptiness and form. Can you realize “Emptiness is form and form is not other than emptiness”?


  • Meditate as usual in your daily practice with concentration and mindfulness.

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