Lesson
31

Bankei

3 of 6

Abide in the Unborn

Bankei's entire teaching can be reduced to the single exhortation: "Abide in the Unborn!." The term "Unborn" had been used in Buddhism previously to suggest that which is intrinsic, original, uncreated. But Bankei was unique in using the term as the core of his teaching. Bankei didn't teach that one should try to obtain the Unborn; rather one should simply abide in it. The Unborn is not a condition to be created; it is already, complete and perfect—the mind just as it is.

Unborn and imperishable
Is the original mind.
Earth, water, fire and wind—
A temporary lodging for the night.

But, of course. we have forgotten how to be spontaneous and natural in our lives. So Bankei taught "letting thoughts (and physical sensations) arise or cease just as they will." In response to circumstances thoughts and feelings come and go. While these are neither good nor bad in themselves, we are slaves to our responses. Failing to see them as merely passing reflections, we obstruct the free flow of the mind. We need only to step aside.

If you think the mind
That attains enlightenment
Is 'mine', your thoughts
Will wrestle with one another.

These days I am not bothering about
Getting enlightenment all the time,
And the result is that
I wake up in the morning feeling fine.

To those who listened to his talks he demonstrated this by having them notice that while they listened to him speaking they spontaneously registered and identified everything else around them—the sounds of birds, colors and aromas, the weather, the other people around them. All this happens, Bankei pointed out, without any conscious effort. It simply happens, and that, Bankei is how the Unborn functions.

When someone tosses you a tea bowl—
Catch it!
Catch it nimbly with soft cotton,
With the cotton of your skilful mind.

We create our own enemies

Bankei explained how we acquire bad habits and self-centeredness after we are born, These are not innate but rather acquired. As we develop self-centeredness we create a false self, and from then on we see everything and everyone from a narrowly selfish viewpoint. Deluded, we give up the Buddha-mind we are born with and take on learned responses.

People have no enemies
None at all right from the start
You create them all yourself
Fighting over right and wrong

Clear are the workings of cause and effect
You become deluded, but don't know
It's something that you've done yourself
That's what's called self-centeredness

To free ourselves from such delusion and attachment Bankei taught than we must return to the unconditioned, the uncreated, the unborn.

What we have from our parents innately is the Unborn Buddha Mind and nothing else

The Buddha Mind is unborn and marvelously illuminating, and with the Unborn everything is perfectly managed.

Abide in the Unborn Buddha Mind!