Are sentient beings already Buddhas?
The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron continues with the third volume, Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature, which is being explored through a series of retreats and Friday teachings.
This exploration involves delving into various facets of Buddhist teachings to nurture compassion.
This includes investigating concepts like the inherent Buddha nature within all beings, the process of transforming this Buddha nature, the distinctions between the minds of sentient beings and Buddhas, the significance of emptiness as the catalyst for the qualities of Aryas, the dual purity of Buddha’s nature and truth body, analogies like that of gold hidden in the earth, Buddha’s enlightened actions, the two forms of Buddha nature within sentient beings, the subtlest aspects of the mind-wind, and Buddha nature according to the highest yoga tantra.
Additionally, it encompasses understanding the underlying causes for each of the four Buddha bodies.
- Dharmakāya (chos kyi sku) – often described as the “body of reality.”
- Sambhogakaya (longs spyod rdzogs pa’i sku) – referred to as the “body of perfect rapture.”
- Nirmanakaya (sprul pa’i sku) – known as the “emanational body.”
- Svābhāvikakāya (ngo bo nyid kyi sku) – denoted as the “body of their essentiality.”
Points for Reflection
- Why is it significant that afflictions lack inherent existence, and what implications does this hold for our potential to achieve liberation and enlightenment?
- If the emptiness of a Buddha’s mind and a sentient being’s mind share the absence of inherent existence, does this suggest that sentient beings possess Buddha-like qualities or are already Buddhas? Why or why not?
- Consider the analogy of Buddha nature being akin to gold buried underground. Regardless of the realm in which a being is born, they always possess Buddha nature. How can you apply this analogy to individuals in your life or in the world with whom you may have difficulties? How can you relate this analogy to your own Buddha nature? What harm might arise from viewing a living being as devoid of Buddha nature or as “pure evil”?
- In the context of Tantra, how can Buddha nature or the subtlest mind-wind undergo a distinctive transformation at the moment of death?