By: David Xi-Ken Astor Sensei
“We take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha”. If we follow Buddhist thought, and not accept a duel state of being, we may come to realize that while we make distinctions of the Three Jewels in practice, in reality they are not separate phenomena. They are interdependent and connected as one reality, and are components of the principle of Inter-dependent Origination. So, we come to ask the question, “how can ultimate reality be embodied in the form of a person (Buddha)?” I would argue that if we strictly apply Buddhist logic, it isn’t. It is a kind of paradox, and what is “ultimate reality” anyway?
We use the term “Buddha nature” rather freely sometimes without a clear notion of what we are talking about. Yes, as human beings (and the historic Buddha was that) we are both Universal and unique expressions of the Universe at the same time. Buddha nature is an expression that points to our inclusion in the Dharma; we manifest an image or reflection or intimation of that which can not be separate from all the other expression the Universe is. Life as we know it can be considered as a large fabric woven of all the various expressions that in totality makes up what we know as reality. Remember that science tells us that we have only identified about 8% of what makes up the Universe. We have a long way to go yet in our exploration. Dharma goes beyond this limited notion of reality to encompass both what we can know, and that which is unknown.