The Buddha, Original, or Self Nature

This 'real nature' with whose revelation the Ch'an Masters are primarily concerned, or the Atman-'I' of the Vedantists, is not the far-off, unreachable will-o'-the-wisp we are apt to imagine, but just the within of which we know the without. It is just the other side of the medal, and it lies wherever our senses and our intellect cease to function.

At that point it is to be found, and that 'point' is in every direction, so that wherever we turn we cannot avoid it. Nor, of course, is it a long way off. It is not 'off' at all: it is within, here and now, and where we are before we start to look for it. We don't have to look for it, nor could we ever see it by looking. By the absence of looking, listening, touching, tasting, smelling, and thinking we realise that we are it. For it is the unmanifest of that which we see, hear, feel, taste, smell, and think of as manifest. It is the negative of everything that is positive to us, the reality of every illusion - and every sensory and conceptual experience is an illusion. I have only to cease to be in order to become that which an I is, to realise that I am not in order to be That I Am.

Where our sensory and intellectual experience ceases, where we can no longer know anything by their means, there lies what to them can only be Nothing or the Void - that is our 'real nature', that is pure consciousness which is all that is, and it is just that.

Put in another manner, it is just the underside of the surfaces which are all that we are aware of anywhere or in anything, the within of the without which surrounds us on all sides, the back of the front. It is the Unmanifest from within which everything manifests, the Not-I which is all the I that is.

(© RKP, 1963)

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