21 – Bassui’s inherent nature

A dharma teaching by Bassui (1327-1387):

Someone asked me: “If all existing form is possessed of the three poisons [greed, anger and delusion], who among buddhas, ancestors, saints, and wise men can escape them?”

I responded: “Just wake up to your own nature, and the three poisons will be transformed into obeying the precepts, meditation, and wisdom. The buddhas, ancestors, saints, and wise men have all seen into their nature. How could they commit any sins?”

Another person asked me: “A person who sees into his own nature transforms the three poisons into obeying precepts, meditation, and wisdom. How can one who suffers from the mind-sickness of deluded viewpoint be cured?”

I responded: “Seeing into your own nature is the one medicine for all diseases [of the mind]. There is no need for any other treatment. As I said before, that which knows the one who plays with reflections is the origin of all buddhas. One’s Buddha-nature is like the jewel-sword of the Vajra King, causing instant death to whomever it touches. It’s like a blazing fire taking the lives of all who come near.

If you see into your own nature even once, you will immediately sunder the ties of countless years of deluded karmic consciousness and lingering habits, as ice placed over a burning fire will instantly disappear. At this time you will not even have a view of the Buddha or the Dharma, much less any mind-sickness.

The reason all delusions resulting from karmic hindrances and various discriminating thoughts and ideas are not erased, is that you aren’t aware of your true inherent nature. Hoping to avoid countless transmigrations while not having realized your inherent nature is like trying to stop water from boiling without removing the burning firewood [below it]. It makes no sense.”

Braverman, Arthur: Mud and water; the collected teachings of zen master Bassui.
Boston 2002, p. 204-205