The Essential Characteristics of Buddha Nature

Based on the teachings in the Uttara Tantra Shastra

All beings are equally endowed with Buddha Nature. It is not something that saints and sages have in a greater measure, and ordinary people have less.In all places and times, in all cultures, for all people, this essential, perfect, true nature is exactly the same. Seeing this at once removes both self denigration, and any pride we may have.


Although their sum is limitless, inconceivable really, a few of its attributes can be described:

What we call Buddha Nature is the source of all positive qualities, up to and including enlightenment, which is freedom from suffering, nibbana, coolness, as well as the realization of all that is good in us.

A few of these qualities inherent in our fundamental nature can be named, as kindness and compassion, intelligence, strength, patience, gentleness, generosity, joy, and peace. These are there simultaneously.

All of the spiritual practice that we do is to reveal and manifest this true nature.

This Buddha Nature in us is indestructible. No matter what sentient beings go through, no matter how deluded they are, no matter how much they suffer or cause others to suffer, it remains the same, and to be realized.

This is the holy amen hallelujah of Buddhism.

Glimpsing this for even a moment can change everything for a person. It can be like finding a single gold coin, when before we thought we were poor; seeing it for a while, in more depth and fullness can be like finding a whole chest of gold in a field – we then have enough for a lifetime, or several lifetimes. Seeing our Original Nature even more fully, is like seeing first a single ray of light, and then, the dawning of a new day. Everywhere this light illumines, enriches, and brings joy.

It’s been known as our intrinsic intelligence, that is self refreshing. We need not look outside of our present experience for it, but certain conditions have to come together for it to be known. The process for knowing it can be understood this way.

The Third Turning of the Wheel depends on the Second, and First

In Buddhism, the teachings on anatta, or personal self-lessness developed into shunyata, the selflessness of all dharmas;

The third turning comes after that, organically, with additional elements active for a person.

Each realization in Buddhism needs a number of factors to come together. The wisdom teachings of the first and second turning need ethics, and meditation, and inquiry, or the kind of clarity that understands directly the nature of our experience. First we remove the conceptual obscurations, and then the qualitative obscurations as well.

The Third Turning of the Wheel, recognizing Buddha Nature in addition to these then is more an awakening of the heart.

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, as it says in The Little Prince.

Appreciating beauty, having gratitude, humility, and a sense of humor; practicing kindness and compassion, joy, and steadfastness all help to recognize this our true nature.

Buddha Nature is the foundation of the Tantras. This is what we draw from for all our practices.

All of the divine qualities we can access and make use of in our lives, and use to benefit others are contained right here, within this very nature of ours:

The Wisdom, Compassion, Healing Nature, Strength, and Purity, and others.

All these qualities are inseparable aspects of one essential nature.

How wondrous!

If we understand the poetry expressed through the names and forms that are used in our formal practices, then we understand directly how this fundamental nature is, everywhere, at all times. It is beyond any one name and form, custom and time. We can say it is a mystical realization.

This Buddha Nature, the clear light nature of mind, the Dharmakaya, the unconditioned, innate freedom is contained within the earlier Buddhist teachings. Here though is it emphasized, and brought into functioning more fully.

From Buddha Nature arises spontaneous beneficial activity, as needed, and for as long as is needed. It is effortless in a way, inexhaustible, creative, and adaptive, bringing joy and peace, and fulfillment.


See also: {Buddha Nature is Here and Now}