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,' 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.

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.

For a detailed explanation of Buddha-nature, see the

chapter entitled Buddha-nature in Sho-bo-gen-zo.

Mahaparinirvana-sutra may be said to have been written for

the purpose of stating this idea.

Man Is Neither Good-natured Nor Bad-natured According To Su Shi Missionary Activity Of The Sixth Patriarch facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail