Revealing the Essence  

We are unconditionally Buddhas, without need of meditation or Dharma practice. At the same time, we are trapped by afflicted emotions and limited dualistic perceptions.  

So we need to ask, “What is the main hindrance that prevents us from unfolding our primordial essence?” It is the sense of “I” that prevents us from actualizing who we are in this moment, who we are as the mind of love and wisdom. Ego is a very powerful habit that continuously obstructs us because it is the most entrenched, deeply rooted habit that has occupied our lives. Therefore, it requires some kind of path. This is the work of purification.  

At the same time, we must recognize our own Buddha essence, otherwise the practice becomes stale and lifeless because we have no target, no real understanding of why we are practicing; we do not know what we are really aspiring towards.  

All beings have Buddha essence, therefore sentient beings and Buddhas are the same. We are not trying to be anybody else, not a saint, not a spiritual person. We are not trying to become anyone in particular, because we are already Buddha as we are. Who we are in this very moment is completely divine.  

But, we do not recognize who we are? Do you understand this tendency? If we have not recognized our Buddha essence, then no matter what we try to acquire from the outside, we will be ridden with the same lingering sense of dissatisfaction. We will be coupled with guilt, shame, and regret, because we have this intuitive knowledge that we are somehow cheating ourselves out of real happiness. There is no lasting happiness in acquisition. True happiness arises from the contemplation and recognition of our Buddha essence, which is a surrendering, regardless of what we are experiencing, whether we are joyous or sad.  

The great Tibetan lamas I have known never experienced any sense of judgment towards themselves. They really live in each moment because they do not want anything. We never live in this present moment because we get stuck with memories of the past concerning unfortunate events. This tendency creates obscurations in the moment. We also think about the future, projecting the obsessions of our insecurity and uncertainty regarding fear of death. This makes us strive to achieve so that we may continue our petty evasions of reality. But living in this moment is the most amazing spiritual achievement, and the practice of compassion is about living in this moment.

Experiencing Naturalness 

Do we live in the past, in the future, or do we live now? We only live now! But where is this now, and who is living it?  

Living in the moment is the most authentic spiritual discipline we can cultivate—connecting with every moment of reality, aware of what is happening around us in an openhearted way, open to the suffering and the beauty of all beings. Living in this moment is the only place we can practice compassion, the only time we can be genuinely concerned with the welfare of others.  

By being caught up in the past, identified with memory, or projecting into the future, identifying with our fantasies, we are unable to live and connect with other beings, naturally unfolding our innate love and compassion.  

This present moment is called the meditative moment. In this moment there is meditation. We do not have to practice love and compassion. It already exists. So when we practice tonglen, it is actually the natural state of things. When the sun shines, the flower opens automatically. So meditation is non-doing, it does not require any effort or discipline to a certain degree. Realization is just a matter of being here, letting go. Then rigpa (pristine, nondual awareness) arises naturally, Bodhicitta mind arises naturally.  

Patrul Rinpoche said, “When we are able to relax, meditation grabs us, but when we can’t relax, we constantly chase meditation, and experience no joy, no peace. This is the wrong understanding of meditation.” Wrong meditation is like the hunter chasing deer, but real mediation is like a puppy dog following you around. We like to stuff our minds with advice and spiritual literature because we have not recognized our natural state.  

Our natural state-of-being automatically inspires confidence and trust. But real meditation is a non-doing art. All we have to do is be in this moment, then meditation arises naturally. We only have to open our hearts to all phenomena happening in this moment, as this moment. When we are open in this way, the gateway to Buddha essence opens and Buddha essence reveals itself as the all-pervasive, natural vibrancy of this moment, where everything is seen and understood, the suffering as well as the happiness. We see the Buddha essence inherent in all beings.  

But we tend to practice idiot compassion, which is limited, because it is based on duality; it is mixed with judgment. Our latent tendency is to hide from the complete enjoyment of this moment, which entails a frightening sense of abandonment to our egos. We feel bad or sorry for those people on the streets, for those who are less fortunate, for those whom we perceive have problems, but this is not genuine because we are not recognizing Buddha essence. This is because we are not seeing our own Buddha essence!  

Without recognizing the inner divinity we do not experience Bodhicitta; we experience idiot compassion which has no wisdom. Authentic compassion, which is Bodhicitta mind, is the union of emptiness and awareness—this is the natural extension of wisdom and love. Bodhi means awakening, citta means heart. So we are talking about the awakened heart, which is the full realization of the Buddha essence of one’s self and all sentient beings. Bodhicitta recognizes the inner divinity as well as the illusion of suffering. 

Source: Used with permission from