All Living Beings Have the Buddha-Nature

by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

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The Manifestation Chapter of the Flower Adornment Sutra say "There is not a single living being who is not replete with wisdom of the Thus Come One." There is not any being who isn't completely endowed with the potential to realize the virtuous qualities of the Buddha's wisdom. There's not any living being who doesn't have it. Why? Because the Buddha and living beings are one. The Buddha became a Buddha and living be can become Buddhas. This is precisely the point where the of Buddhism goes beyond that of other religions.

Other religions claim the existence of a Supreme Be saying, "God is the greatest. He's the one in charge and are merely his subjects." They say, "God is number one. No else can be God. Only God can be God." But that's completely dictatorial and undemocratic. We are living in democratic time. Anyone has the opportunity to become the president. doesn't anyone have the opportunity to become God? In the days, only the Emperor's son could become Emperor. The of son a commoner had no chance to become an Emperor. Religions that say there is only one God place the same kind of limitations on people.

Buddhism regards all beings as equal. The Buddha became a Buddha and so can we. That's why it makes sense to cultivate and study the Buddhadharma. I'm not trying to downgrade other religions. I myself believe in God. He is surely the boss up in heaven, but just in heaven. He's not the boss in the Pure Land of Eternal Stillness and Light. He doesn't have such status I prefer to believe in the Buddha of the Pure Land of Eternal Stillness and Light.

The Buddha encompasses God, but God does not encompass the Buddha. The Buddha is the complete substance, totally pervading the entire Dharma Realm. God only lives in heave, couldn't even live on earth. Why do I say that? Isn't it obvious If you believe in him, he's the Almighty; if you don't, where does that leave him? Nowhere. With no one to believe in him, he has no command. The Buddha is the Buddha whether you believe in him or not. He doesn't need people to believe in him. It makes no difference to him at all. If you believe in the Buddha, you can become a Buddha. you don't believe in the Buddha, you can still become a Buddha in the future. This is because the Buddha and living beings are one and the same. It's not that the Buddha is the most high with living beings way below him. That's not how it is at all. Between the Buddha and living beings there are no distinctions of high or low. We say, "The Dharma is level and equal, with nothing above or below. " It's an entirely democratic, non-authoritarian Dharma-door. If you cultivate, you will become a Buddha. If I cultivate, I will become a Buddha. Whoever cultivates will become a Buddha. There is not a single living being who isn't complete with the Thus Come One's wisdom. This is the meaning of the doctrine of the One Vehicle.

Today I put up the first line of a couplet for you to match. It said,

Cultivation is like paddling upstream:
If you don't go forward, you drift back.

If you are swimming upstream and you don't use effort, you won't get anywhere. You may even drown. Here, we are all swimming. Everyone should apply effort. Don't just retreat. Someone just heard me talking about space and how wonderful it is. That person now wants to become space. He thinks, "Once when I was meditating and several times when I was listening to the Sutras, there was nothing at all. It was empty. It really was! I saw it!"

Hah! In that case, you aren't empty yet. If you were really empty, how would you know you were empty? If you we're empty, how could you see emptiness? If you were empty, how could you feel you were empty? How could you have the sensation of being empty? Take a good look at yourself. Are you empty or not? If you are empty, why is there still a "you"? How can there be the notion of "I feel"? Is that empty?

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