What traps us? The Buddha taught that we trap ourselves because of deluded thinking. We misunderstand our true nature and thus imagine that we’re fundamentally broken. And in this cloud of ignorance, we experience frustration, anxiety and remain firmly persuaded that we’re flat tires and desire a new one.
On the one hand, we are corrupted and do need a new one. Evidence of such corruption surrounds us. But when seen from a fundamental level there is nothing to save. This sounds like double-talk but only because we don’t understand our true nature. If we did there would be no confusion.
In the commentary on the Diamond Sutra, Huang-po said, “Buddhas and beings share the same identical mind. It’s like space: it doesn’t contain anything and isn’t affected by anything. When the great wheel of the sun rises, and light fills the whole world, space doesn’t become brighter. When the sun sets, and darkness fills the whole world, space doesn’t become darker. The states of light and darkness alternate and succeed one another, while the nature of space is vast and changeless. The mind of buddhas and beings is like this. Here, The Buddha says to save all beings in order to get rid of the delusion of liberation so that we can see our true nature.”
Because we rely solely on bodily manifestations, a conclusion of corruption is inescapable and from that common logical premise, desire arises. From that perspective this is correct. But we are not fundamentally a body. As Huang-po points out, fundamentally we share the same mind space as a Buddha. The mind is the production factory and our body is what’s produced. This is an important distinction. To not recognize this error is like imagining that our car manufactured itself and just suddenly appeared in our garage one day. Obviously our car was produced somewhere and just as obviously so was our body. But then some will say, “This is nonsense. Our body was produced through the biological union between our father and mother.” Okay, so where did their bodies come from? This sequence must go all the way back to the beginninglessness of time, and we’re still left with the same dilemma.
On the other hand, consider the possibility that there is a difference between an objective body and an ineffable spirit that inhabits and is integrated with the body. An object is inanimate and has no consciousness or power to do anything, much less produce itself. Ah but a spiritual mind is an entirely different matter. Our spiritual mind produces everything, either for the good or for the worse depending on what we think. So long as we dwell only on bodily manifestations of pain and suffering without understanding the source, our mind will convert what is unreal into something that seems real, in a fashion similar to being in a dream without being aware that our dream is just an illusion. Our spirit is the engine. Our body is the vehicle of motion and unless we see this distinction we’re left with the swing between the rising sun of goodness and the darkness of despair.