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Man Is Not Good-natured Nor Bad-natured But Buddha-natured








We have had already occasion to observe that Zen teaches
Buddha-nature, which all sentient beings are endowed with. The term
'Buddha-nature,'[FN#165] as accepted generally by Buddhists, means a
latent and undeveloped nature, which enables its owner to become
Enlightened when it is developed and brought to actuality.[FN#166]
Therefore man, according to Zen, is not good-natured nor bad-natured
in the relative sense, as accepted generally by common sense, of
these terms, but Buddha-natured in the sense of non-duality. A good
person (of common sense) differs from a bad person (of common sense),
not in his inborn Buddha-nature, but in the extent of his expressing
it in deeds. Even if men are equally endowed with that nature, yet
their different states of development do not allow them to express it
to an equal extent in conduct. Buddha-nature may be compared with
the sun, and individual mind with the sky. Then an Enlightened mind
is like the sky in fair weather, when nothing prevents the beams of
the sun; while an ignorant mind is like the sky in cloudy weather,
when the sun sheds faint light; and an evil mind is like the sky in
stormy weather, when the sun seems to be out of existence. It comes
under our daily observation that even a robber or a murderer may
prove to be a good father and a loving husband to his wife and
children. He is an honest fellow when he remains at home. The sun
of Buddha-nature gives light within the wall of his house, but
without the house the darkness of foul crimes shrouds him.

[FN#165] For a detailed explanation of Buddha-nature, see the
chapter entitled Buddha-nature in Sho-bo-gen-zo.

[FN#166] Mahaparinirvana-sutra may be said to have been written for
the purpose of stating this idea.






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