Maezumi Roshi answers the question, “How do we open ourselves to wisdom?”
This has always been a big point of argument, this so-called wisdom and how we open it up, acquire it. We have wisdom already, see? And we’re using it!
We are intrinsically buddhas. At least it says so in the Nirvana Sutra: all sentient beings have Buddha nature. Those are recorded as the Buddha’s words. One point of view is that since we are so, just be so and take good care of it, which makes perfect sense! You don’t need to do anything artificially. The Way is complete already, so what is there to open up?
At the same time, when we look at it from a different perspective, then yes, we are excluded from being that true Buddha nature itself, because why do we have so many problems? If our life is so genuine and pure and Buddha nature, then what are all these problems we have one after another?
Maybe human beings are the most stupid creatures in the world. Birds and fish are happy, flying around, swimming around, and humans are the ones who most often fight and complain. Why? We can say it is because we are ignorant, which is true. We are affected by these poisonous aspects of life: greed, anger and ignorance. The most fundamental one is ignorance. How do we treat this ignorance?
The opposite of ignorance is wisdom. How do we acquire it? Actually, we are ignorant because we don’t see our nature, which is genuine, pure, and the Way itself. It’s our own life! Why can’t we see it? Because we are ignoring the fact. How can we become aware of it? How can we have the opening vision about life, that insight by which we see that our life is OK? Even having that so-called kensho experience, enlightenment, we don’t become anything special. We become aware that we have been alright as we are! That’s what you realize. But until we have that confirmation, we can’t quite take this life as 100 percent OK and be satisfied with it.
However it is, we just take care of it with our wholehearted effort. Minute after minute, day after day. Right there, Buddha nature manifests as you are. It’s not a matter of this or that. Call it enlightened or unenlightened, ignorant or wise. Both work! That’s what I understand.
You have all kinds of choice. And yet, not much choice. Just be as you are, and do whatever you should do. That’s how we make life precious and sweet rather than sour and bitter.
Transcribed from a recording made in July 1993.