There is a coherence beyond neural linkage. Something that persists beyond brain damage. That knows an ‘I’ without defining ‘I’. It is the bit which is left when chat stops in meditation. That is the true self.
Today we are talking about a concept most clearly described by the traditions of Buddhism but one that is indeed present in other traditions as well if you know where to look. The Buddhists call it Buddha nature.
The primary concern in Buddhism was and is to find the genuine self, and their observations, as trippy as they may be, tend to throw people off. Some people even interpret it as a form of nihilism, because in order for something to truly be yourself it would have to be persistent, yes? And yet every thought, feeling, memory or attitude is transitory, even every sensory experience will pass, and mostly pretty quickly in the case of externally originating sensation.
Well, Buddhism teaches that thoughts and feelings are just internally arising sensations, and as has been proving pretty reliable, science backs this up as well. An emotion gives no evidence to be any more substantial than a bad taste in your mouth, yet we perceive ourselves to exist in a persistent way, continuous, even seamlessly so. Doesn’t this seem a bit mysterious?
Everything you apply the descriptor “I am” to you will cease to be, but still you are. This phenomenon is called samsara, and what is behind it, what runs beyond it, is Buddha nature. All that you say that you are is in fact something you “can be”, and the ground from which all these things arise is the Buddha nature. It’s not that you are non-existent. It’s that you are all things. You are your anger. You are your fear, or at least your being is the reason why these things can occur.
So what does this all mean personally? It means any internal circumstance is controlled by you, expressed by you, and can be extinguished by you. Ended.
A point of clarification, by controlled I mean more like defined, given context by your own personal being. You don’t have to choose to be startled. That can happen on its own, as they say. Nor do you have to choose to be hungry or tired, but still each of these occurs in the context of your own self. As painful as any physical sensation may be, what it means to you is still up to you.
So our manifestation has already defined a lot? Yes. That raises another point. Buddha nature, as they call it, is transcendent. Everything defines experience through its own nature, every living thing, and honestly all those things we consider un-living also. You have the instinct to avoid falling from cliffs or being hit by heavy stones because your nature includes a sense of mass and density. This is a nature shared between both you and the physical geography around you. You know a deep stormy sea can drown you, that fire will suffocate you and scorch your flesh, even if no such thing has ever happened to you. This is also Buddha nature.
Primal instincts for survival are Buddha nature? Yes, but the entire field of experience is Buddha nature. What goes on in that nature and how you respond to it is up to you.
How did this manifestation of my Buddha nature get selected? It wasn’t selected. Each life creates a pattern in the transcendent Buddha nature, a causal seed, that when given life manifests as the chain of events that we call a “life.” What we see are lives actualizing. There are still lives in potential that will actualize later, and without exception all lives will actualize.
The moral message behind the concept of Buddha nature is simple. You aren’t being judged and everything that you do gives rise to consequences based not on some divine beings personal preferences, but on the nature of the thing you did itself. Do fewer toxic things, taste fewer toxic consequences, and in order to make these choices skillfully the context of the choice has to be clear.
So I’m the only one out to get me? Yes, and you can stop trying to get yourself at any time.
Karma is my interaction with my Buddha nature? Yes. This is the essence of the teaching behind Buddha nature in the nutshell.
You can’t even blame karma then because it’s all your own doing. Indeed, karma is not to blame. It’s just a process, a force like gravity.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.