“The mind is everything. What you think you become”. ~ Buddha
The rooted meaning of Enlightenment really consists of recognizing the Buddha nature that is within us already.
Our Buddha nature is our true self, our soul. It’s the fundamental nature of all beings, the self that is one with everything, the part that realizes this fact. It’s the self that is fully enlightened and perfect. Most people don’t know how much wisdom and power resides in the self, which is not the everyday self that gets mixed up with all the chaos, the business and the day-to-day routines of our daily life, but a deeper self, which I call the true self, the soul. In reality, it’s who we are right now, even if we don’t realize it.
It’s important to realize this is not some goal to be achieved— each and every one of us is fully enlightened already. We just have to awaken to this fact and overcome the deceptions that are preventing us from realizing the fundamental truth of our being. This is not easy an task to achieve, but there are methods and meditation practices that can help us on this path.
As we continue our spiritual path and meditation practices we will have enlightening experiences that help us start to recognize our true nature. These experiences help us stay motivated to remain on the path. As long as we don’t forget and become deluded again, the motivation will remain present. Unfortunately few choose to be on this path and many just give up… However if you can experience these qualities, repeat them, learn to cultivate them, making them a natural part of yourself, know this is your true self that has been awakened and has come to life.
Buddha nature is a key concept in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, the vehicle or route to enlightenment. Simply meaning that we are all enlightened already. It is just because we are suffering from delusion that we don’t realize this. We have many attachments causing this delusion, causing our suffering, this is called “Dukkha” which is is Pali, a variation of Sanskrit, part of The Four Noble Truths, such as:
- Suffering from physical and mental conditions: birth, growing old, illness, and dying
- Suffering from attachment to changing things: money, fame, power, lust, politics, etc.
- Suffering on things because they don’t measure up to our expectations (because of impermanence [things change]): physical appearance and beauty, strength, gadgets (smartphones, electronics, etc.), etc.
When we come to this realization of enlightenment, everything becomes clear so things that used to bother us, no longer do, and we can understand our place in the universe. You must not think of enlightenment as something to be achieved. If you contemplate this deeply, it is very significant.
Remember the title of this article… Think about this for a minute.
If we are enlightened already, this maybe why the Buddhist path doesn’t seem so daunting to most of us and most resonate with the Buddhist teachings. So, if all were doing is clearing away delusion, that seems a lot more achievable than getting to some high spiritual goal.
For me personally, Buddhism gets me very excited. Meditating, chanting mantras, and listening to dharma talks are very exciting to me. It inspires me to want to be a better Buddhist and Spiritual person.
It’s not my norm to openly discuss my spirituality and beliefs to friends. However if asked, I get very excited- I might just say loudly, “Om mani padme hum”. I yell Buddhist mantras because I get excited. The Avalokiteshvara mantra is supposed to awaken great compassion within us. That should be exciting.
So why aren’t people more excited about Buddhism or the spiritual path to enlightenment? One can only guess… I think we can all be excited about Buddhism, especially if we have confidence and faith. Not the faith in something ‘out there’ that will help us— faith in ourselves.
Our delusions are deep seated and difficult to remove. But our true nature is enlightened already, so there is a reason to have confidence in our ability. We just have to put in the work. We have to take steps to awaken ourselves through the paths of conduct, insight, and concentration. These three things are very important to the path.
Once you begin to recognize and encourage the qualities of the true self, your life will begin to change. You’ll make better choices. You’ll expand your awareness. You’ll discover and encourage your purpose.
Unleash Your Buddha nature?
The best medium for this is meditation. Our minds are full of constant distraction and chatter. Our true nature is right there, but we don’t recognize it because our minds keep us deluded with the nonstop mental chatter and noise. We get caught in our ego, which falls into the delusion that we aren’t enlightened very easily.
Buddhism’s most basic foundation for mindful living is the Ten Perfections. These perfections—which include such universal virtues as truthfulness, simplicity, and lovingkindness— offer immediate answers to the problems and challenges we face every day of our lives. By using them as keys, you may unlock the human gate to supreme wisdom and open fully to the perfection within each moment of experience.
Meditation is a method of quieting the mind, of getting the mind to the point ‘before thought,’ where we are just observing what’s going on instead of getting caught up in distracting thoughts and mind chatter. When we meditate we can start to bring our awareness to our true nature.
A daily meditation practice is recommended. Just 20 or 30 minutes a day. It is important to develop a routine; select a suitable place for your regular meditation, select a regular time for practice, find a comfortable posture, start your meditation ritual by bring your attention to feel the sensations of your breathing. You may even want to light a candle or incense. This too should be routine, awakening your senses and following a daily routine will help you relax very quickly leading to quieting the mind. As you start to meditate, you will realize that we are one with everything. Your delusions will slowly start to be stripped away. You will become more relaxed throughout your days and will become better person naturally.
Meditation is the cornerstone of Buddhist practice. We can have an intellectual understanding of Buddha nature and other spiritual concepts, but it’s meditation that allows us to actually experience it. Without meditation, we aren’t really experiencing anything.
Knowledge without experience is not what Buddhism is about. Buddhism is not so much a belief system as a path. It is more something we do than something we believe. Meditation is the most crucial tool to clearing away our delusions and unleashing our Buddha nature.