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Shodo Harada Roshi, taken at the Sogen-ji monastery located in Okayama, Japan.

Original Mind

by Shodo Harada Roshi

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In Buddhism, its often said that humansí Original Mind, that Mind we have at birth, is like a clear mirror, pure and uncluttered, with nothing in it whatsoever. Without shape, form or color. If something comes before it, the mirror only reflects it, but the mirror itself gives birth to nothing. If what has been reflected leaves, its image disappears, but the mirror itself loses nothing. Within the mirror there is no birth, no death. No matter how dirty a thing is which is reflected, the mirror doesnít get dirty, nor does it become beautiful because something beautiful is reflected in it. The mirror doesnít get dirty, clean or beautiful. Just because something is reflected doesnít mean anything increases in it either, nor does anything ever decrease. A mirror is without increase or decrease.
Humansí pure Original Nature is just this. Without shape, form or color, without birth and death, not clean or dirty, no increasing, no decreasing not male or female; not young, not old; not intelligent, not stupid; not rich, not poor. There are no words, no explanation possible, no description that will apply here, only a pure mirror-like base. This is humansí true quality, this is an actual experience. From our zazen (sitting meditation), cut all nen (mind-instant), did down completely to the source of those nenódig, dig, dig until we reach the place where the human character has been totally cleared. When the source point is reached, this state of Mind can be touched.
This clear human character, which is like a mirror, can accept and receive everything, but nothing which is reflected can get stuck to this mirror. It reflects everything exactly as it is, but the mirror itself stays untouched. This mirror-like Mind has no sense of "thatís me" or "thatís him, not me." It has no dualism; it makes no distinctions like that. At that true base, there actually is no differentiation between self and others. The world which is reflected in-- reflected by--that mirror is not one of self and other; it has no such separation, it accepts everything as one unified whole. It was originally one world, no division into "my" world and "his" world. There are no such two worlds; from the origin there is only one, unified world. To understand this as an actual fact with your own experience, is the wisdom of the Buddha. From there arises the functioning, the activity of the human Mind which naturally feels anotherís pain as oneís own pain, feels anotherís joy as oneís own joy. A warm, encompassing Mind naturally arises and comes from this wisdom and experience. That is what is called the compassion of the Buddha.
If we can realize the source point of our human character, then naturally all of the world becomes One. Not divided, it is encountered as one unified Whole; a great, expansive and huge world of One. Wisdom works here and humansí joy, suffering and sadness become our own joy, suffering and sadness. It is not somebody elseís joy; it is oneís very own joy as well. This is how a warm, all-encompassing Mind becomes naturally revealed and serves as the source of our action. Simply put, this is what the Buddha meant when he said, "Seek the light within yourself."