Student’s Question: How can we prevent grasping at our Buddha Nature?

A student asks:

“How does one guard against the ego misappropriating the Buddha Nature?”

Lama Shenpen replies:

Well there are no easy solutions to the tendency for ego-grasping to latch on to any Dharma practice one does. One just has to keep going back into the heart and finding the genuine motivation that lies there.

Meanwhile the little ego-characters that haunt us will continually try to turn every experience into some sort of self-confirmation. Even having a low opinion of oneself – low self-esteem – is just another form of ego-clinging. It’s a little character that is clinging on to being small and useless, looked down upon and pathetic.

It wants to be like that because it’s the only way of being that it knows. It would seem criminal to just give that up. Surely there has to be more to it than that! But there isn’t. You just don’t have to buy into it.

Similarly, with Buddha Nature, there are ego characters who would like to glow with Buddha Nature to such an extent that it would establish them as somehow something special in the world. ‘I am Buddha’, it would love to say. ‘If you can’t see it, then that just shows how deluded you are’, it would like to say. But this is all clinging to ideas and trying to puff oneself up to be something rather grand.

Recognising Buddha Nature in ourselves and others is not like that though. It is more a matter of just being open and allowing the spaciousness of our being to be as it is and if we are honest, we cannot find any Buddha Nature that we can cling on to.

It’s more a matter of noticing the spaciousness and that there is awareness in it and that somehow by noticing what is false one can let it go. What wells up in the place of what is false is mysterious really.

Some kind of happiness or kindness, some kind of more appropriate way of responding to situations wells up, but you can never grasp any of it. You just have to somehow trust not really knowing, while at the same time being very clear and honest.

Because you cannot cling to anything, because you have to trust in something beyond your control, there is no room for pride. As soon as pride intervenes the whole sense of spaciousness and spontaneity closes down. Something feels wrong somehow.

You have to learn to trust that touchstone of truth within your own being that tells you what is the direction to Awakening and what is not. That is how you got this far on the path and that is what you will use to move further along it.