We the lesser Buddhas
Our true nature is Buddha. I am a Buddha, you are Buddha and everyone of us is a Buddha. Our Buddha nature is that which rebels against the tyranny of ignorance one time or the other. The Buddha in us is the inner teacher and sometimes it is a disciple too. The Buddha nature is simply the birthright of every sentient being and our Buddha nature is as good as any Buddha’s Buddha nature.
Whatever may be our lives, whatever may be our way of living, our Buddha nature is always there. That is our true nature. It can be compared to the sky and the confirmed of ordinary minds can be compared to clouds. It must be remembered that clouds are not the sky, and does not ‘belong’ to it. They only hang there and pass by. They can never stain or mark the sky in any way. The Buddha nature exists in the sky-like nature of our mind. It is simple, natural, open, free, stainless, limitless and beyond the limits of purity and impurity. The only difference is the Buddha nature has a radiant clarity of awareness what the sky does not have. Sky is only a metaphor.
Even though we have the same inner nature as Buddha, we have not recognised it because it is so enclosed and wrapped up in our individual ordinary minds, only a fragile wall of a vase separates the inner space from outer. Our Buddha mind is enclosed within walls of our ordinary minds. Once we are enlightened the space ‘inside’ merges instantly into the space ‘outside’. They become one. We realise that they were not separate, never different, they were always the same.
Death is viewed as a natural process, a reality that I accept will occur as long as I remain on this earthly existence. Knowing that I cannot escape from it, no point in worrying about it. If I wish to die well I must learn to live well. For a peaceful death we must cultivate peace in mind and in the way of life. In meditation one can acquaint oneself with the process of death. This is a great spiritual realisation. Experienced practitioners engage in meditation as they pass away. Often their bodies do not decay long after they are clinically dead. Death is neither depressing nor exciting, it is simply a fact of life. Most people die unprepared for death, similar to as they have lived, unprepared for life.
What happens at the moment of death is that the ordinary mind and its delusions die, and in that gap the boundless sky-like nature of our mind is uncovered. The essential nature of mind is the background to the whole of life and death like the sky which holds the whole universe in its embrace. If we know only the aspect of mind which dissolves when we die, we will be left with no idea as to what continues thereafter. We do not know the new dimensions of the mind and what goes on. Therefore it is vital to familiarise with the nature of mind when we are still alive.
Milerapa, the Tibetan poet saint said “My religion is to live… and die without regret.” He said the thing called corpse we dread so much is living with us here and now. The longer we postpone death, the greater the fear insecurity that haunts us. Death is a mystery. It is absolutely certain that we will die and it is uncertain when or how we will die. Nobody knows whether one will wake up tomorrow. If you breathe out and can’t breathe in you are dead. It is as simple as that. Tibetan saying: “Tomorrow or next life which comes first, we never know”. In the passage of moment to moment there is a possibility of imminent death. Tibetan word for body is “lu”, it means “something you leave behind” like baggage. This temporary refuge is discarded, we are only travellers. Chuang Tzu says: “Man’s thirst for survival in the future makes him incapable of living in the present. Human beings spend all their lives preparing, preparing and preparing… only to meet the next life unprepared”.
By Sashibhusan Rath