Buddhist Philosophy

Buddha Nature: Our Ground

Buddha Nature: Our Common Ground

Buddha-nature refers to the ground, the basic nature that we all share.  It is our “starting point”, so to speak. We refer to the ground of all sentient beings, the ground of the Buddha, the ground of all dharmas, and all phenomena.

Buddha Nature

What is the common ground of all of this? We share the common ground of emptiness.  And emptiness equals Buddha. Sometimes we say “Buddha-nature.” The ground or the basic nature of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa is the same.

So, when we begin to meditate, the first and most important thing is to understand– what is our nature? What is everyone’s nature?

This is a very important point, the first thing we come to understand if we are learning how to meditate. This reminder inspires us to practice because we know that we can truly manifest awakening.

Buddha Nature: Recall in Every Meditation Session

When we begin a meditation session, the first thing is we call to mind is our Buddha nature.

Buddha Nature

We take some time to recognize that our mind, our essence, is Buddha Nature.  In Sanskrit, we call this sugatagarbha and in Tibetan, we translate it as dewar shekpé nyingpo (bde bar gshegs pa’i snying po).

In English, we can translate the compound literally as “The Essence of the Bliss Gone One”, referring to the Buddha.  We can turn to ten classic Sūtras that expound upon this theme.

Every single sentient being from the grandest and the biggest to the tiniest, shares that same awakened and perfect nature. That’s really good news!  We remind ourselves of this repeatedly so that we firmly believe this crucial message.

And when we begin our meditation session, every session, we recall this point. And we really have to feel confident in this! Initially, we might experience doubts. But as we continue to practice, and we approach the world with this attitude, we will come to develop unshakeable trust.

The essence of the Buddha’s wisdom and the essence of sentient beings’ minds is not different at all. The essence of wisdom and the essence of mind is emptiness, clarity, and self-awareness. Primordial self-awareness is Buddha nature. And every being possesses that nature. How wonderful!

2 responses on "Buddha Nature: Our Ground"

  1. Thank you very much for the reminder Rinpoch _/ \_

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.