Enlightened Consciousness


In addition to these considerations, which mainly depend on indirect

experience, we can have direct experience of life within us. In the

first place, we experience that our life is not a bare mechanical

motion or change, but is a spiritual, purposive, and self-directing

force. In the second place, we directly experience that it knows,

feels, and wills. In the third place, we experience that there

exists some power u
ifying the intellectual, emotional, and

volitional activities so as to make life uniform and rational.

Lastly, we experience that there lies deeply rooted within us

Enlightened Consciousness, which neither psychologists treat of nor

philosophers believe in, but which Zen teachers expound with strong

conviction. Enlightened Consciousness is, according to Zen, the

centre of spiritual life. It is the mind of minds, and the

consciousness of consciousness. It is the Universal Spirit awakened

in the human mind. It is not the mind that feels joy or sorrow; nor

is it the mind that reasons and infers; nor is it the mind that

fancies and dreams; nor is it the mind that hopes and fears; nor is

it the mind that distinguishes good from evil. It is Enlightened

Consciousness that holds communion with Universal Spirit or Buddha,

and realizes that individual lives are inseparably united, and of one

and the same nature with Universal Life. It is always bright as a

burnished mirror, and cannot be dimmed by doubt and ignorance. It is

ever pure as a lotus flower, and cannot be polluted by the mud of

evil and folly. Although all sentient beings are endowed with this

Enlightened Consciousness, they are not aware of its existence,

excepting men who can discover it by the practice of Meditation.

Enlightened consciousness is often called Buddha-nature, as it is the

real nature of Universal Spirit. Zen teachers compare it with a

precious stone ever fresh and pure, even if it be buried in the heaps

of dust. Its divine light can never be extinguished by doubt or

fear, just as the sunlight cannot be destroyed by mist and cloud.

Let us quote a Chinese Zen poet to see how Zen treats of it:[FN#153]

I have an image of Buddha,

The worldly people know it not.

It is not made of clay or cloth,

Nor is it carved out of wood,

Nor is it moulded of earth nor of ashes.

No artist can paint it;

No robber can steal it.

There it exists from dawn of time.

It's clean, although not swept and wiped.

Although it is but one,

Divides itself to a hundred thousand million forms.

[FN#153] See Zen-gaku-ho-ten.