Mazu’s “Mind is Buddha”

Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 5/22/2019

True Dharma Eye 278
Main Case: Damei Fachang asked Mazu, “What is buddha?”
Mazu said, “Mind is Buddha.”

Daido Roshi’s commentary: The buddha mind is the basis of truth, and gateless is the dharma gate. If you seek after the dharma, you will move away from it. Outside of mind there is no buddha; outside buddha there is no mind.
Although Mazu is able to enlighten Damei with his “mind is buddha,” in the end he only succeeds in creating a nest for generations of practitioners that persists to this day.
Putting aside the words and ideas of “mind is buddha,” right now, show me the reality.


How to avoid having a simple equation like “mind is Buddha” become a conceptual dead-end for generations of practitioners is reflected in this exchange between the great Dharma master Mazu and his student Damei. We are easily enticed by words and concepts like “mind is Buddha,” thinking we understand while we continue our habits of grasping and dividing, perpetuating suffering in the world. Until we do something different. Shugen Roshi offered this discourse during the ango’s Shuso Hossen sesshin.

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