Cleaning The Buddha In The Mud
Each one of us has a perfect Buddha nature. However, each one of us in the six realms is stained by negative thoughts, afflicting emotions and bad deeds. These stains are like ‘mud’ clinging and covering this Buddha nature. When we realise that Buddha nature is beneath the mud, we then need to clean the mud off.
‘Mud’ is contaminated programming in the mind. This programming virus needs to be uninstalled to stop its automatic operation and updates, which is done by cleaning through purification practices.
The type of purification practices will depend on the path we chose to follow. First, we must recognise that purifying the path is the way to freedom. Remember that our path is our own confusion. Purification maintains our perfect Buddha nature – pure awareness – as opposed to maintaining the confusion.
Purification is not something to fear; it is merely opening up to clarity. It’s not a matter of punishing ourselves – we are doing that already 🙂 . Another word for purification would be ‘selflessness’. This doesn’t mean being dumb and non-reactive; it means caring for others, or the situation, more than ourself.
Our modern programming is all about being an individual, being better, having a gross contaminated personality that is larger than life and that either attracts or repels. To get what we want and without anyone standing in our way is the corporate ideal that is sold to us, and for which we gladly pay! This is the programming of our modern upbringing.
Traditionally, in Tibetan Buddhism, we first study the four mind changes to remove the gross levels of mind. Then, if we wish, we can practise the four preliminary practices to remove subtle obscurations: these practices are called the ngondro – guru yoga. Guru yoga uses an refined ideal to which we aspire, which is stronger than our abilities at this moment and which reflects our true nature. As it is said, “Until enlightenment, I go for refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.”
These two steps engender deep appreciation for the teachings through understanding the four mind changes and through devotional practice of the ngondro: guru yoga is the refinement of purification. It is devotion that purifies. Devotion is not a big showy thing; it is an aspiration to be free from negative stains and to rest in pure awareness, our own Buddha nature. Pure and simple.
Pure and simple
This is moving from a gross personality to a subtle personality.
Two illustrations of this:
At the Academy of Art, there were 17 people drawing around a model. We were only concerned with angle, proportion, tone and colour in order to achieve a perfect representation. No art, just measure, measure, measure! We needed a instructor to show us where the image was going wrong – not where we were going wrong! On first glance, the drawings or paintings may look as if the same person did them from different angles: there was no exaggeration of the subject at all. it’s only with a refined, trained eye that can one recognise the differences in the subtle personal styles.
When going to eastern monasteries, monks and nuns seem like a sea of oneness – nobody stands out, until an exaggerated self conscious westerner walks in! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Once we are aware of our inner life,
our outer conduct is the maintenance
of that inner life.