In Buddhism, the development of Buddha nature is synonymous with enlightenment. Knowing how to awaken that quality is a first step to Buddhist practice.
There’s an episode of the 1970s television show “Kung Fu” in which David Carradine’s character, Kwai Chang Caine, tells a woman who betrayed him “you are worth better deeds than betrayal”. Instead of telling her what she did was wrong, he took a more conscious approach. He tried to awaken her to the idea that she’s inherently better than such behavior.
The Characteristics of Buddha Nature
In Buddhism, it is believed that Buddha nature is inherent in all human beings, but just has to be realized. It’s a state of life in which a person’s highest, enlightened self, is in the driver’s seat steering his or her daily life. It is also the realization that everything in the universe is connected and essentially one thing, and relating to others based on that principle.
According to Buddhist teachings, people operating primarily by their Buddha nature possess a happiness that is not dependent upon outside circumstances. Their happiness is firmly rooted in the foundation of knowing that all humans are one and inherently divine. Therefore, there is no reason to think of anyone as higher or lower than anyone else.
Buddhists believe that if the woman in the episode of “Kung Fu” who betrayed Kwai Chang Caine had realized his and her own value; she wouldn’t have felt the need to try to manipulate a situation in her favor through the act of betrayal. Her Buddha nature would prevent that thought from ever occurring. The Buddha nature is known in other spiritual traditions as knowing thyself. Buddhist teachings try to bring people back to self realization. The source of all negative actions and suffering is within, and brought about by ignorance and delusion about one's true nature.
Most Buddhists practice meditation in one form or another to bring about a higher level of self-awareness. Some time is spent each day examining through meditation what their thought process is that brings about what Buddhists call delusion.
Once the delusions or false beliefs are realized, then slowly practitioners begin to awaken to the true nature of reality and themselves. Eventually a change is manifested at the core of their being and they begin to function more on the level of an enlightened being or Buddha. Some Buddhists call this inner transformation, human revolution.
Benefits of Enlightenment in Buddhism
The process of self-realization in the attainment of enlightenment is at the essence of Buddhist practice. It is the inner transformation that is of greatest importance in Buddhist practice. If each person can reach the point of operating primarily by their Buddha nature, the result is a more cooperative, and compassionate world.