Aug 13, 2020

Book Extract: Original Nature

Zen Comments on the Sixth Patriarch's Platform Sutra, tr. Sokei-an

From the chapter on Prajnaparamita, living in accord with original nature is the teaching of the Sixth Patriarch, Enō Daikan.

Seated Prajnaparamita


Roberta Mansell

The next day, entreated by Prefect Wei, the Master ascended the high seat and spoke to the multitude. "All of you, clear your minds and concentrate on the mahaprajnaparamita."

He continued: "Good friends, man innately possesses awakening-wisdom (prajna), but because of his delusions he cannot realize it and must ask one who is wise to lead him to see his own original nature. You should know that the buddha-nature of the ignorant is intrinsically no different from that of the wise. However, the ignorant one is deluded, and the wise one is enlightened."


To clear your mind to listen to a Buddhist teacher, you must not keep any previous notion in your mind. If you are studying philosophy, you must put it aside for a while. If you are studying any cult, lay it on the shelf. Listen with pure-mind, and do not measure what you hear by your preconceived notions.

... Among the ranks of consciousness, awakening-wisdom (prajna) is the highest. With it, you can see nirvana. With no other consciousness can you see nirvana. You can really perceive nirvana only with awakening-wisdom. Isn't it strange that you cannot see nirvana with this eye consciousness, nor with this ear consciousness, nor with thoughts, nor with philosophy or logic? Nor can you see it only with feeling, belief, or dreams...

... in Chinese, wisdom is intrinsic wisdom, the wisdom common to all sentient beings and not only human beings but insects, plants, and all that has life.

It is odd to think of wisdom in insects and plants, but here is an instance of this unconscious wisdom: In darkness, ivy will search with its long tendrils for the sun's rays, will push out from a crack in the wall, and finally, through a small gap in the building, feel sunshine in its tiny green palm.

... Perhaps in English you would call it "instinct". In Chinese, the word stands for both instinctive and intuitive... This is the wisdom spoken about by the Sixth Patriarch.

(Original Nature: Zen Comments on the Sixth Patriarch's Platform Sutra, tr. Sokei-an, pub. iUniverse, Bloomington 2012)

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