Buddhism is not about salvation or original sin. It’s not about becoming somebody different or going somewhere else. Because both you and your world are basically good. With all its ups and downs, this world of ours works. It warms us; it feeds us; it offers us color, sound, and touch. We don’t have to struggle against our world. It is neither for us nor against us. It is a simple, vivid world of direct experience we can investigate, care for, enjoy, make love to.

We are basically good as well, confused as we may be.

In Buddhism, our true nature has many names, such as buddhanature, ordinary mind, sugatagarbha, Vajradhara, or just plain buddha —  fundamental awakeness. The thing is, we can’t solidify, identify, or conceptualize it in any way. Then it’s just the same old game we’re stuck in now. We do not own this basic goodness. It is not inside of us, it is not outside of us, it is beyond the reach of conventional mind. It is empty of all form, yet everything we experience is its manifestation. It is nothing and the source of everything — how do you wrap your mind around that? All you can do is look directly, relax, and let go.

Finally, since Buddhism seems so difficult to understand, why did the Buddha teach it at all? It is because of his profound insight into why we suffer. Ultimately we suffer because we grasp after things thinking they are fixed, substantial, real and capable of being possessed by ego. It is only when we can see through this illusion and open ourselves, in Ari Goldfield’s words, “to the reality of flux and fluidity that is ultimately ungraspable and inconceivable” that we can relax into clarity, compassion and courage. That lofty goal is what makes the effort to understand emptiness so worthwhile.

Peace and Love, Jim

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