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Lions Roar : March 2018
Mind Is Buddha by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold DAMEI CAME TO ZEN MASTER MAZU one day and asked, “What is buddha?” Mazu said, “Mind is buddha.” Mind alone—all-pervading and without edges—is the truth. Beyond this mind, you will never find another buddha. To search for enlightenment or nirvana beyond this mind is impossible. The reality of your own self-nature, the absence of cause and effect, is what’s meant by mind. Your mind is nirvana. You might think you can find a buddha or enlightenment somewhere beyond the mind, but such a place doesn’t exist. Bodhidharma stated that buddha means “miraculous awareness.” The universe asks; the universe itself responds. This is miraculous aware- ness. Mind is buddha. This is the mind of the uni- verse. It is the one great body that fills heaven and earth. Where is a separate self to be found? This is why the search for enlightenment or nirvana beyond this mind is impossible. There is nothing outside of it. That’s one of the most diffi- cult things for us to realize, because we look outside without even knowing. As we are seeking outside ourselves for the answers, this turning away is so habitual and deeply conditioned that we don’t see it. From the moment we encounter Buddhism, the moment we begin doing meditation, we are instructed not to look outside ourselves. We know this is true, we believe in it, but we don’t do it. We continually seek and reach outside, search- ing for that which is beyond our awareness. But everything that appears is this mind, and if it encompasses everything, how can it be seen? That which is seen is mind. That which is seeing is mind. Seeing itself is mind. So how can it be seen? Well, it can’t, and thus it must be realized. Don’t foolishly look here and there. Why is this so difficult? Does it, in fact, come back to our lack of trust in our own buddhanature or lack of faith in our ability to realize it? Being confident in our ability does not require being arrogant. If it’s arro- gant, it’s something other than confidence. This is simply about recognizing what’s true. When you get stuck in your own practice, rather than creating a pit of self-pity and woe, have faith in yourself. Why shouldn’t you? Being free of attachments, living a life that is joyful, is your endowment and birthright. Take the posture of the buddha on your meditation cushion and understand that there is one who knows. “Mind is buddha” is awakening to that truth. It’s no one else’s affair. ♦ GEOFFREY SHUGEN ARNOLD, SENSEI,is the head of the Mountains and Rivers Order and abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery and the Zen Center of New York City. STELEWITHSCENESFROMTHELIFEOFTHEBUDDHA,METROPOLITANMUSEUMOFART,NY.GIFTOFFLORENCEANDHERBERTIRVING,2015.ACCESSION#2015.500.4.23 LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2018 43