Author Topic: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?  (Read 11578 times)

Big Uncle

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We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« on: August 02, 2011, 05:31:59 AM »
Someone posed this question to me and it stumped me for awhile. Of course we know that through the Buddha's teachings that we have inherent Buddha nature within us. It is just that we need to awaken ourselves through the process of purification, realisation and rediscovery of this inner self. However, does anybody know how do we explain or prove that we are inherent enlightened versus ignorant.

Heartspoon

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2011, 07:02:27 AM »
I bow to you, the dharmadhatu,
Who resides in every sentient being.
But if they aren't aware of you,
They circle through this triple being.

Due to just that being purified
What is such circling's cause,
This very purity is then nirvana.
Likewise, dharmakaya is just this.

In Praise of Dharmadhatu
Nagarjuna

WoselTenzin

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2011, 09:30:24 AM »
Someone posed this question to me and it stumped me for awhile. Of course we know that through the Buddha's teachings that we have inherent Buddha nature within us. It is just that we need to awaken ourselves through the process of purification, realisation and rediscovery of this inner self. However, does anybody know how do we explain or prove that we are inherent enlightened versus ignorant.

What we can say is that we know we suffer because we have attachments, anger, and other delusions and this is real because we experience it everyday whether it is subtle or gross.  However, if we have heard spiritual teachings of any sort that is an opponent to our delusions and apply it, we can gain understanding and realization of the nature of our sufferings, mitigate and eventually eliminate it and get temporary and ultimate relief. 

In view that we are able to do that, it means that we are inherently enlightened.  If we are not, no amount of spiritual teachings can make us  transform or experience any sort of relief from sufferings or gain any sort of realisation and wisdom.

kurava

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2011, 01:26:27 AM »
It's said that when a being has attained enlightenment  his/her attainment will not degenerate.

If , like Wosel Tenzin said, we are inherently enlightened how then did we acquire all the obscuration through negative actions of body ,speech and mind ?

It does appear to me that what Wosel said contradicts the first statement.

We use water to illustrate our point - that water by nature is clear like our mind. Once it's cloudiness is removed it's clear nature will be restored.

However, how did the cloudiness arise out of no where in the first place ? Does that mean we have inherent self grasping?

WoselTenzin

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2011, 01:58:37 AM »
It's said that when a being has attained enlightenment  his/her attainment will not degenerate.

If , like Wosel Tenzin said, we are inherently enlightened how then did we acquire all the obscuration through negative actions of body ,speech and mind ?

It does appear to me that what Wosel said contradicts the first statement.

We use water to illustrate our point - that water by nature is clear like our mind. Once it's cloudiness is removed it's clear nature will be restored.

However, how did the cloudiness arise out of no where in the first place ? Does that mean we have inherent self grasping?

It is a catch 22 and chicken and egg situation since there is no beginning to time, hence the term beginningless time.  However, based on logic if by applying Dharma teachings, we can gain gradually gain enlightened qualities, our inherently enlightened nature is present. Otherwise, we cannot become what we are not.

Having inherently enlightened nature does not mean one is enlightened.  Just a diamond buried deep in the rocks and soil has the ability to shine after being excavated, cleaned, cut and polished, our mind has to be trained and purified in order to uncover the enlighten nature.

How did the obscuration of the mind exist in the first place.  Did it come first or did the inherently enlightened nature come first? I don't have the answers.  It's like asking whether the chicken or the eggs came first. 

However, instead of wasting time trying to get an answer to a question that has no answer or has an answer that is beyond our understanding at this point of time (which is why the Buddha don't talk about thing like when was the beginning of time etc etc), we should apply the teachings of Dharma and progressively work towards being enlightened because that would be the only thing that will be beneficial to ourselves and others.  Also, when we get there (enlightenment) we will find the answers ourselves.

We need to have faith in the Buddha and practice without wasting any more time.  Otherwise we will see our precious human life pass by without gaining any results and before we know it we are already at our death bed.

Big Uncle

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2011, 06:12:51 AM »
It's said that when a being has attained enlightenment  his/her attainment will not degenerate.

If , like Wosel Tenzin said, we are inherently enlightened how then did we acquire all the obscuration through negative actions of body ,speech and mind ?

It does appear to me that what Wosel said contradicts the first statement.

We use water to illustrate our point - that water by nature is clear like our mind. Once it's cloudiness is removed it's clear nature will be restored.

However, how did the cloudiness arise out of no where in the first place ? Does that mean we have inherent self grasping?

It is a catch 22 and chicken and egg situation since there is no beginning to time, hence the term beginningless time.  However, based on logic if by applying Dharma teachings, we can gain gradually gain enlightened qualities, our inherently enlightened nature is present. Otherwise, we cannot become what we are not.

Having inherently enlightened nature does not mean one is enlightened.  Just a diamond buried deep in the rocks and soil has the ability to shine after being excavated, cleaned, cut and polished, our mind has to be trained and purified in order to uncover the enlighten nature.

How did the obscuration of the mind exist in the first place.  Did it come first or did the inherently enlightened nature come first? I don't have the answers.  It's like asking whether the chicken or the eggs came first. 

However, instead of wasting time trying to get an answer to a question that has no answer or has an answer that is beyond our understanding at this point of time (which is why the Buddha don't talk about thing like when was the beginning of time etc etc), we should apply the teachings of Dharma and progressively work towards being enlightened because that would be the only thing that will be beneficial to ourselves and others.  Also, when we get there (enlightenment) we will find the answers ourselves.

We need to have faith in the Buddha and practice without wasting any more time.  Otherwise we will see our precious human life pass by without gaining any results and before we know it we are already at our death bed.

They say that every single person including the most hardened criminal has someone they love. Love and cherishing others is an inherent quality within us and this therefore give us a clue to the awakened quality within all of us. If we are inherently ignorant, then enlightenment wouldn't be possible as ignorance would be within the core our being all the time and limiting whatever higher states of awareness we wish to accomplish. There is no such thing as a Buddha who is ignorant or has traces of ignorance. Therefore, this points back to the original fact that we are all inherently awakened but are just clouded by ignorance and its host attendant delusions. Because the duration of circling in Samsara for so long, we have developed tremendous amounts negative karma and it would take quite lot of effort to remove the obscurations.                                                                                                                               

Positive Change

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2011, 09:42:38 AM »
For me it really goes hand in hand. Good and Bad, Light and Dark, Heavy and Light... these opposing factors do 'contribute' to the other's existence so to speak. How do we know good from bad if we have not experienced the bad and vice versa? How do we know what is dark if we have not experienced light and vice versa? Goes the same for heavy and light... and on top of that everything is relative even!

Having said that, the co-existence is by no means a reason for one to diminish what is inherently RIGHT. It is merely to illustrate to us the difference and significance of our choices. Hence, I conclude (personally) we are inherently enlightened AND ignorant. It is when we recognise our ignorance and act upon changing that, defines our path to enlightenment - an awakened state!

vajrastorm

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2011, 09:07:10 AM »
I believe the Buddha nature is inherent in us. Delusions, ignorance and self grasping are not inherent.

What ever is inherent, like the Buddha nature,  is our innate nature and cannot be removed. However, our delusions, ignorance and self-grasping are like clouds that have obstructed a clear sky. These are not inherent in us and so can be removed, even though they make take eons to remove. Our Buddha nature is like the sky. But just like the space-like sky , it is not a solid tangible entity which our conceptual mind can grasp and fathom.

Owing to our Buddha nature , we can become Enlightened. Enlightenment is like returning home to our inherent Buddha nature.

gohdi

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2011, 02:27:46 PM »
Of course we know that through the Buddha's teachings that we have inherent Buddha nature within us.

I have some doubts about this statement. Inherently existence means that it has no causes, it will never change and has no contact with other objects. But we our Buddha nature changes when it is growing like when seeds are growing.

Also we can experience our Buddha nature, so we have a relationship with it.

The Buddha nature will lead us and others to happiness. Inherently existing things can not change the state of mind of oneself or others.

Therefore I would say that Buddha nature is not inherently existing. Our Buddha nature exists since beginningless time  but it does not mean that it is inherently existing.

Regards
Godi

gohdi

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2011, 02:30:42 PM »
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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #8 on: Today at 10:27:46 PM »
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Quote from: Big Uncle on August 02, 2011, 01:31:59 PM
Of course we know that through the Buddha's teachings that we have inherent Buddha nature within us.

I have some doubts about this statement. Inherently existence means that it has no causes, it will never change and has no contact with other objects. But we our Buddha nature changes when it is growing like when seeds are growing.

Also we can experience our Buddha nature, so we have a relationship with it.

The Buddha nature will lead us and others to happiness. Inherently existing things can not change the state of mind of oneself or others.

Therefore I would say that Buddha nature is not inherently existing. Our Buddha nature exists since beginningless time  but it does not mean that it is inherently existing.

Regards
Godi

Big Uncle

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2011, 05:10:27 AM »
Of course we know that through the Buddha's teachings that we have inherent Buddha nature within us.

I have some doubts about this statement. Inherently existence means that it has no causes, it will never change and has no contact with other objects. But we our Buddha nature changes when it is growing like when seeds are growing.

Also we can experience our Buddha nature, so we have a relationship with it.

The Buddha nature will lead us and others to happiness. Inherently existing things can not change the state of mind of oneself or others.

Therefore I would say that Buddha nature is not inherently existing. Our Buddha nature exists since beginningless time  but it does not mean that it is inherently existing.

Regards
Godi

Dear Godi,

What you said is very fascinating and makes me think. Thank you. However, I would have to disagree with you as I was firstly not talking about inherent existence. I am actually talking about the inherent quality of our mind. The true nature of our mind is enlightenment and that is unchanging and unborn. What is changing and in continuous flux is our delusions and our grasping at the self cherishing mind. If our enlightenment nature within us always changes, then it would be subject to causes and conditions like everything else in Samsara. Then even Buddhas can degenerate back into Samsara. Everywhere I have read in books, never have they said that the Buddha nature within us changes. Instead, the books always describe it as unborn, unchanging, immutable and immovable. So I think you are part right when you defined inherent existence and that's our Buddha nature within us.

On the other hand, you talked about our Buddha nature like seeds growing. Well, that is not our Buddha nature but karma. The laws of karma is not constant and is dependent on a whole set of causes and conditions. So even in our journey to discover our enlightened mind, we plant causes for this to happen and they mature like seeds into trees of realisation. But that does not alter and change our Buddha nature and that is so because once we have created enough merit and causes, we will achieve full enlightenment like the Buddhas of the past, present and future have done and this supreme attainment can never be taken from us and will never dissolved, even at death. Hence, we ensure all our Dharma actions are dedicated towards this because at this time, we have not fully realized our full potential yet and our spiritual practice can degenerate due to our negative karma.

I hope i have explained sufficient well enough to clear your doubts and for you have better understanding.

gohdi

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2011, 07:12:33 AM »
Hi Big Uncle,
thanks for your comments. This is a very interesting discussion and I was thinking again about the meaning of the word "nature" in general and "Buddha nature" specifically and I found that I should contain wisdom books for this ;-) I found in Geshe Kelsang's "Modern Buddhism" a few statements about "Buddha Nature" and I would like to share one with you. I am not saying that I understand the quote but I think that it shows that there is Buddha Nature according to Sutra and according to Tantra and that both are not inherently existing penomens:

Quote
Modern Buddhism, page 206: We have had our very subtle body, very subtle speech and very subtle mind since beginningless time. These are the continuously residing body, the continuously residing speech and the continuously residing mind, and they are our actual  Buddha nature. The Buddha nature explained in Sutra is not actual Buddha nature because it is a gross object that will cease; actual Buddha nature is explained only in Highest Yoga Tantra. Normally, for ordinary beings, the only times their very subtle body, speech and mind become manifest are during deep sleep and death. However, even though they are not normally manifest, our very subtle body is the seed of a Buddha’s body, our very subtle speech is the seed of a Buddha’s speech, and our very subtle mind is the seed of a Buddha’s mind......

Regards
Godi

dsiluvu

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2011, 05:17:35 PM »
Thanks for the sharing here Godhi, BU and everyone...

This is indeed an interesting topic to think and contemplate...
I most certainly agree we have a Buddha nature that needs to be awakened... and from what's been discussed that Buddha nature is not an inherent existent... "Buddha nature is possible because nothing is inherently existent." a quote from a teaching given by a Ven Thubten Chodron. 

I guess what we do daily to create the causes for it to be awaken is just as important. I've taken in some good understanding from all that has been said here. I guess most important is the journey one takes to be awakened... the causes that requires, the seeds that one nurtures and conditions ones have or creates to wake up that Buddha nature within.

So how does a person take on that journey if they are totally ignorant of it? Does that mean... that person just do not have the merits this life?

Reena Searl

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2011, 08:13:29 PM »
I believe we are inherently enlightened, Otherwise Buddha would be wrong?
I quite like Big Uncle explanation :
this points back to the original fact that we are all inherently awakened but are just clouded by ignorance and its host attendant delusions. Because the duration of circling in Samsara for so long, we have developed tremendous amounts negative karma and it would take quite lot of effort to remove the obscurations.           

The above made me contemplate that, when we were babies/kids, we normally very much different from adults, and kids slowly clouded by ADULTS SAMSARIC /SECULAR/MATERIALISTIC informations that polluted our minds, thus become ignorant.

dorjedakini

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Re: We inherently ignorant or enlightened?
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2011, 12:54:25 PM »
I believe we are inherently enlightened, Otherwise Buddha would be wrong?
I quite like Big Uncle explanation :
this points back to the original fact that we are all inherently awakened but are just clouded by ignorance and its host attendant delusions. Because the duration of circling in Samsara for so long, we have developed tremendous amounts negative karma and it would take quite lot of effort to remove the obscurations.          

The above made me contemplate that, when we were babies/kids, we normally very much different from adults, and kids slowly clouded by ADULTS SAMSARIC /SECULAR/MATERIALISTIC informations that polluted our minds, thus become ignorant.

Due to all the negative karma created since countless lifetimes, our mind is so clouded. We all inherently awakened.Let say Buddha is a diamond with perfect "round brilliant cut" then we are the rough diamond stone which need to be polish and cut. Maybe in between the process to be a nice cutting diamond is interrupted, but eventually we will be a perfect diamond (achieve enlightenment) once we follow the Dharma and tamed our mind.

When we start to practice and apply Dharma in our life, immediately we will feel the different, we feel lighter, people will like to be close to us. That's why all of us have the same potential to be a Buddha which Prince Siddharta and the lineage Master had shown to us.