It Is Not A Thing

It Is Not A Thing (from TAN02: Then and Now (class) 00:36:25.50 - 00:39:21.50)

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Well, the quality of being that anything has, is that it is not a thing, in the same way we saw above, these pieces of paper: big isn’t a thing. It’s relative. It depends on the relationship with other things. So the quality of being that everything has is that it is not a thing. Which means that a Buddha is just as much not a thing as a sentient being. None of us are things.

One way we talk about it in the modern times is that we’re not things, we’re processes. But that actually causes just as much problem. There’s nothing — this goes back to a point I made earlier — there is no thing that I can point to and say, “That is me, that is what I am.” There isn’t anything like that, and that is as true of a Buddha as it is of a sentient being.

This is wonderfully illustrated by a woman, Belle Hooks, who is a student of Lama Yeshe. One day — I think she was in Nepal at this point — she was really, really angry, and it was obvious that she was very angry; she was throwing a tantrum. And in the middle of this Lama Yeshe came up and whispered in her ear, “Buddha mind is very angry today.” [laughter]

Now what would you do if you were very angry and someone kept saying, “Buddha mind is very angry today?” How long would your anger last? This was extremely skillful on the one hand, but it’s also profoundly true.

In just what I was saying earlier, this quality of being awake — this possibility of quiet — is present in everything that we experience — even when we’re extremely angry or extremely caught up in jealousy, or desire, or stupidity, or depression, or anything like that. That quality of being awake is there. It may or may not be something that we can access and that’s what we’re going to move into in a minute.

It isn’t good, it isn’t bad, it isn’t this, it isn’t that, it’s not many, it’s not one, it’s not eternal, it’s not eteralism, it’s not nihilism, it’s.... There isn’t any quality you can put on it, but it is something — an experience that is always available to us. One can argue that the main thrust of Buddhist practice is to experience that. And when we do, we experience being without projection and that’s one way (without projection/without confusion) of talking about being awake.