A Totally Ordinary Buddha

A Totally Ordinary Buddha

Zazen cultivates clarity and in time, the illusory nature of phenomena breakdown, allowing an experience of limitless, boundless peace. There is no other, no me or you, no being or non-being. Enlightenment has unfolded. Congratulations. What now?

Dissolve into infinity, and continue.

Realise the True Self, and continue.

Become One, and continue.

End, and continue.


The Enlightening process shouldn’t end in the World of one colour, the unified field, Oneness. To even consider this would be a mighty shame. To come back into the world of observances, and go on, continue, is the imperfect perfection of a totally ordinary Buddha.



On the 8th Day of Christmas…

On the 8th Day of Christmas…

On the eighth day of Christmas, my True Self gave to me;

8 Great Tenets of Mahayana Buddhism

(7 Factors of Awakening; 6 Paramitas; 5 Indriyana; 4 Noble Truths; 3 Dharma Seals; 2 Satyas; and a Buddha by the Bodhi Tree)


The Eight Great Tenets of Mahayana

The eight great tenets are exercises of shifting perspective; rattling the cage of the conformed self image. And of course it will be no surprise to you now that we don’t need to look deeply into all 8 to realise and actualise the fruits of the message. By touching one, the other seven are known.

  1. All beings are intrinsically awake

  2. The illusory notion you are a separate self is the veil that masks Buddhahood

  3. Life continues (life and death is just life and death- Dōgen)

  4. All phenomena are the inevitable manifestation of cause and effect

  5. Buddhas actually exist… like right now, at this very moment; not abstractly but in reality

  6. Mutual interaction/intermingling (kan’ō) of sentient beings and Buddhas

  7. Self and other are not two

  8. All beings are in the process of becoming Buddhas (… yes that includes you)

Look at the list. I’m sure, as it did for me at first, there are a few there that seem quite outlandish. But remember- there only needs to be one that resonates for you to read in to, explore, exercise the possibility of and of course let permeate into your current daily meditative practice, and all the other 7 will be apparent. If one is realised so too will the seven.

I will do a series of exploring each of these tenets soon, giving a post to each otherwise this would be a long article. So I would like to say something about the general message, and it is a positive one- you are it. And the realisation of this in each and every one of us is inevitable; it can’t not happen. At the very core of each of us we are perfect and infinite existence, and thus can’t not be on the path to Buddhahood, even if in the world where we live, of conditioned phenomena, Nirvana seems in the far distance. In one sense it is in the far distance and equally true is that it literally could not be any closer.

Once you touch that seed of awakening during meditation, once prajña paramita is exercised, you know who you really are. Now you just have to remember, remember, remember.

A lotus for you a Buddha to be,

– dharmacaterpillar

On the 1st Day of Christmas

On the 1st Day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my True Self gave to me,

A Buddha by the Bodhi Tree

We are all familiar with the story of Gautama’s life and enlightenment, and if one is not then there are numerous and accessible sources of this information in various formats to suit your preference. So, there is little point of me copying it here, but I do wish to briefly talk about two poignant factors of the tale. The Tree and Buddha’s relationship with Mara.

The Protectors of Wisdom

The Bodhi Tree, Ficus religiosa, is a wonderful tree with its heart shaped leaves and fruits the sacred fig. The Mahabodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya was the tree where Gautama Buddha realised Buddhahood and is especially revered, but the Bodhi Tree generally is a very sacred tree in the Indian Peninsula. What the Bodhi Tree symbolises, for me, is the protection of the Buddha during the haunted stages of his meditation, but also the timeless wisdom that was the fruit of the sadhana.

Personally, trees hold those two characteristics; protection and wisdom, in perfect harmony. They are the organic, fleshy, natural embodiment of protection and wisdom. This leads me to view trees as great protectors of wisdom itself. For in many spiritual traditions in times gone by trees have played a fundamental role, the Tree of Life/Creation or Sacred Tree, can be viewed as quite the common denominator of so many prominent theologies/cosmologies connecting the wisdom of the heavens with human life rooted in the Earth; Yggdrasil of Norse Legend; the Tree of Life of Genesis and the Book of Revelation and Kabbalah; the Grandmother Ceder of Ojibway cosmology; the leaves of the Akshaya Vata of which the baby Lord Krishna rested upon during the great destruction and also of featuring in Biology’s own centrepiece, the Evolutionary “tree” of life.

I practice the Dharma as realised and taught by the Buddha over 2000 years ago the best I can, but I do not live in India, there are no Bodhi trees to protect me during my sadhana, or produce that conducive atmosphere of wisdom. Should I be concerned? No. Because in Europe, there is the Oak.

The Oak, Zeus’ own tree in Ancient Greece, Thors’ in Scandinavia and in my own native islands of Albion, the Oaks were the sacred groves of the druids. I feel something distinctly different when meditating by the Oak, as oppose to meditating inside for example. There is a certain presence, accompanying me. I am not alone. The Dharma, in its way, is present and is rich in the Oak tree. I can’t help but wonder if this sometimes subtle, sometimes intense feeling of wisdom and protection I experience when meditating by an Oak, is conductive enough to express at least a stream of the Buddha’s own awakening by the Mahabodhi Tree over 2000 years ago, through soils and roots, through air and leaves, through timeless wisdom and spirit.

But what do we need protection from, or wisdom for?

This is where Mara springs to mind, but hopefully not too literally!

the Buddha and Mara

Mara is the demon figure that arose during the Buddha’s sadhanas, the Great Tempter; tempting us off the spiritual path of awakening and instead leading us towards the mundane, unwholesome activities and thoughts. This is all too evocative for me, since Mara has succeeded more than once in my own path. For me, it’s the illusion that I have done enough, the collapse of structure and discipline and then, all of a sudden, I find myself completely lost, on the more unfortunate occasions with Mara whispering in my ear; paranoia strikes, anxiety erupts, the noise of my mind becomes unbearable, scattered, voices merge into one, fear freezes any kind of skilful response.

But this is OK.

The Buddha and Mara, they are but the Rose and Faeces. The Rose blooms because the soil is fertilised; the Buddha realises Awakening because of Mara’s visits. Without Mara’s visits, there is no Buddhahood to be realised.

The Buddha, in his sadhana, transformed the temptations and illusions of Mara, he didn’t resist, ignore, go along with/accept and fall into Mara’s temptations. He used the energy of transformation, by cultivating compassionate one-pointedness, and was thus able to work with Mara and the Dharma only built in momentum. Now, I hear, the Buddha and Mara sit and have tea together. It’s not about defeating, winning, victory against temptation or sin; it’s about blooming and growing at every opportunity, and this, for me, is what is so poignant about this tale. That even when Mara comes to call awakening is possible; the Dharma does not disappear under any circumstances, just one’s awareness of it.


sitting with the tree

Isn’t it a wonderful practice to be?

In to the body,

Out to the tree.


Isn’t it a peaceful practice to be?

In to the tree,

Out to the body.


Isn’t it great to share a breath?

The disappearance of me is not the end,

Goodbye to the Tree, is my True Death.


every opportunity

Everything and everyone, every moment;

Every momentary glance and fleeting thought;


is an invitation to stop and look deeply,

hence to realise the limitless capacity of heart.


Thank you kindly for reading, and I hope to see you visiting again soon!

Feel free to like and share, but most of all- feel Free!

-a dharmacatapillar