By BupSahn Sunim
The Avatamsaka Sutra says that there’s a power inside, “Fostered by all the Buddhas everywhere by the means of the Vairocana Buddha,” and it really is possible to observe this directly. To some extent, this is a metaphor, sure, but on other accounts, it is not.
Of course, it has occurred to me that my experiences are due to self-hypnosis from intense mediation sessions. After all, for the past four years, I’ve spent between four and twelve hours in seated meditation every day. I cannot empirically verify that these experiences are any more than self-programming and hallucinations, but nevertheless, I have a message, or rather a request:
Open your mind to the full potential of the Buddhadharma.
Approaching everything with a healthy dose of skepticism is always advisable, and in Zen we say in order to gain Great Enlightenment you need Great Doubt (疑情) but you also need Great Faith (信) which is a difficult path to tread as it is easy to stumble from one extreme to the other.
Please practice with an open mind that is not attached to nor averted from any Dharma-experience and see where it leads even if it seems to be unscientific nonsense because as Hamlet said, “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” but they are not (yet) empirically verifiable!
My granddad was a Buddha but didn’t know it.
The Lotus Sutra tells us that even those who are not consciously on the Bodhisattva path are traveling towards Buddha and enlightenment. It reassures us that we will all end up there, even my grandfather who neither wanted to go or knew where he was heading—but all paths lead to Rome, as they say!
Not only my granddad but yours too, as well as you! We are all Buddhas or Buddhas-to-be and to realize this directly for ourselves we need to achieve Great Faith alongside Great Doubt and apply this with Great Determination (定力).
BupSahn Sunim is a Zen monk from the Korean Taego. His grandfather used to call Christians “Bible-bashers,” and “God-botherers” and his whole extended family are anti-religion and pro-reason, but he ended up as a self-confessed “Dharma-dreamer” and “Sutra-starker,” and he doesn’t suppose that his granddad would approve.
He’s not anti-science and has a Masters degree in Chemistry and Physics, and he’s had a lifelong love of philosophy. Despite loving science and reason, he has experienced many things that his grandpa would have called “mystical nonsense (Well, his granddad would have used more colorful language).”
Editor: John Author