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Lions Roar : May 2015
THE NEWS IS NOT GOOD THESE DAYS, and I suspect it never has been. Our hearts break as we witness the suffering of the world. We notice that all human beings appear to be blinded by oppositional thoughts and terrible feelings. Even little babies, screaming and crying for what they want, seem plagued by the three poisons of greed, anger, and ignorance. To explain the human tendency toward the negative, some religions came up with the doctrine of original sin: we were born bad, so we have to force ourselves to repent and change our negative thinking and harmful behaviors. The Mahayana Buddhist teachings offer a different and more hopeful view of our fundamental nature. The good news of Mahayana Buddhism is that we are already awak- ened beings, and the negativity that obscures our true na- ture is impermanent and temporary. In the dualistic view, we strive to transform evil into good---to oppose greed, anger, and ignorance with generosity, kindness, and clarity. In the nondual view of the Mahayana, we embrace everything that arises, good and bad, right and wrong, as examples of the awakened nature that fills the uni- Buddhanature The Good News of Mahayana Buddhism MELISSA MYOZEN BLACKER is the abbot of Boundless Way Zen. Original sin vs. original goodness: Mahayana Buddhism offers a more hopeful view of human nature. Zen teacher MELISSA MYOZEN BLACKER reveals how nondual practice frees us from our temporary obscurations and reveals our true, awakened nature. verse. The word "buddha" derives from the Sanskrit word for "awake," so we call this awakened nature buddhanature. Buddhanature is the ground of all being. It is neither good nor bad, although it is not neutral. It has the flavor of compassion and clarity and promises relief from the mind that creates division and clings stubbornly to a separate self. Sometimes we say that everyone already has buddhanature, or in the words of Eihei Dogen, the thirteenth-century Japa- nese Zen teacher, everyone is buddhanature. But what of the negativity that plagues human life and soci- ety? The good news is that these are just temporary obscurations of our buddhanature, not a permanent part of who we are. In Buddhism, we say that the three poisons of greed, anger, and ignorance form the basic ingredients of our suffering. Like poison, they contaminate the balance, clarity, and kindness of our true nature. These fundamental or root poisons of greed, anger, and ignorance, alone and in combination, make up all of the endless varieties of our suffering in thought, emotion, and action. PHOTO BY LOOK-FOTO / FRANK WALDECKER / GOTO-FOTO.CO SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2015 51