Buddha Nature Talks

In Buddhist philosophy, Buddha-nature is the potential for all sentient beings to become a Buddha or the fact that all beings already have a pure buddha-essence within. "Buddha-nature" is the common English translation for several related Mahayana Buddhist terms, most notably tathāgatagarbha and buddhadhātu, but also sugatagarbha, and buddhagarbha. Tathāgatagarbha can mean "the womb" or "embryo" (garbha) of the "thus-gone one" (tathāgata), and can also mean "containing a tathāgata". Buddhadhātu can mean "buddha-element," "buddha-realm" or "buddha-substrate".

Buddha-nature has a wide range of (sometimes conflicting) meanings in Indian and later East Asian and Tibetan Buddhist literature. Broadly speaking, it refers to the belief that the luminous mind, "the natural and true state of the mind," which is pure (visuddhi) mind undefiled by kleshas, is inherently present in every sentient being, and is eternal and unchanging. It will shine forth when it is cleansed of the defilements, that is, when the nature of mind is recognised for what it is.

The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra (written 2nd century CE), which was very influential in the Chinese reception of these teachings, linked the concept of tathāgatagarbha with the buddhadhātu. The term buddhadhātu originally referred to buddha relics. In the Mahāparinirvāṇa, it came to be used in place of the concept of tathāgatagārbha, reshaping the worship of physical buddha relics of the Buddha into worship of the inner Buddha as a principle of salvation.

The primordial or undefiled mind, the tathagatagarbha, is also often equated with emptiness; with the alayavijñana ("storehouse-consciousness", a yogacara concept); and with the interpenetration of all dharmas (in East Asian traditions like Huayan). Buddha nature ideas are central to East Asian Buddhism, which relies on key buddha-nature sources like the Mahāparinirvāṇa. In Tibetan Buddhism, buddha-nature ideas are also important, and are often studied through the key Indian treatise on buddha-nature, the Ratnagotravibhāga.

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Title Speaker

Women in Buddhism Class

Lotus Sutra, Mahayana, Buddha Nature, Six Realms, Instruction, Lay, Religion, Balance...
Nov 13 1995

Women in Buddhism

Serial: SF-00153


Religion, Discrimination, Priest, Ceremony, Bodhisattva Vow, Buddha Nature, Ego,...
Oct 23 1995
1 of 6
Green Gulch Farm

Causes and Conditions

Serial: SF-03660

One-day sitting

Emptiness, Posture, Book of Serenity, Subject-and-Object, realization, Buddha Nature...
Oct 14 1995
Green Gulch

October 11th, 1995, Serial No. 02703

Hsin Hsin Ming, Faith, Enthusiasm, Soto Zen, Nirvana Sutra, Gratitude, Vows, soto,...
Oct 11 1995

Tokubetsu Sesshin Lecture

Dharma Transmission, Transmission, Ceremony, Big Mind, Precepts, Bodhidharma,...
Mar 29 1995

Saturday Lecture

Serial: SF-04059

At times in Japanese history, Zen has been interpreted with a fascistic bent - we need to consider our practices carefully

Emptiness, Four Noble Truths, Buddha Nature, Repentance, Rinzai, realization, Daily...
Jan 08 1994
City Center

Saturday Lecture

Buddha Nature, zen meditation, Birth-and-Death, Lineage, Repentance, Mahayana,...
Nov 13 1993
City Center

Transmission of the Light

Serial: SF-00041

Wednesday night teisho

Birth-and-Death, Buddha Nature, Karmic Consequences, Karma, Attachment, Delusion,...
May 26 1993

Saturday Lecture

Heart Sutra, Bodhisattva Way, Bowing, Avalokiteshvara, Lotus Sutra, Soto Zen, Duality...
May 08 1993
City Center

Hokyo Zammai Class

Five Ranks, Emptiness, Sixth Patriarch, Rinzai, soto, Buddha Nature, Evil, Darkness...
Feb 19 1992

Mumonkan Case 10

Serial: SF-00046

Seizei lonely and destitute.

Enthusiasm, Priest, Sanctuary, Sangha, Buddha Nature, Faith, soto, Balance, Zazen...
Apr 28 1991
Green Gulch Farm

One-Day Sitting

Serial: SF-01078


Precepts, Vows, Nirvana, Buddha Nature, Bodhisattva Vow, Suzuki Roshi, Attachment,...
Mar 09 1991

Jewel Mirror Samadhi

Precious Mirror, Buddha Nature, Samadhi, Faith, Diversity, soto, Patience, Ego,...
Oct 24 1990

October 27th, 1989, Serial No. 01055

true dharma, Emptiness, Oneness, Buddha Nature, Separation, Vows, Karma, Suzuki Roshi...
Oct 27 1989

Mumonkan Case #25

Mahayana, realization, Samadhi, Blue Cliff Record, Rinzai, Teacher-and-Student,...
Oct 03 1989

September 11th, 1989, Serial No. 04068

realization, Hsin Hsin Ming, Buddha Nature, Lay, Samadhi, Evil, Transmission,...
Sep 11 1989
Green Gulch

Five-day Sesshin

Dragons, Suzuki Roshi, Buddha Nature, Blue Cliff Record, First Principle, Zendo,...
Aug 30 1989

Going Beyond Limitations

Blue Cliff Record, Suzuki Roshi, Buddha Nature, First Principle, Dharma Transmission...
Aug 28 1989
Green Gulch

August 11th, 1989, Serial No. 04067

Serial: SF-04067


realization, Buddha Nature, Hsin Hsin Ming, Evil, Lay, Samadhi, Transmission,...
Aug 11 1989
Green Gulch

Sunday Lecture

Mill Valley, Blue Cliff Record, Zazen, Buddha Nature, Liberation, Harmonizing, Zendo...
Jul 09 1989
Green Gulch


Renunciation, Zazen Mind, Zazen, Buddha Nature, Concentration, Suzuki Roshi, Ceremony...
May 18 1989

Lion's Roar

Lineage, Liberation, Letting Go, realization, Teacher-and-Student, Buddha Nature,...
Dec 29 1988

Lion's Roar

Don't Know Mind, Emptiness, Diversity, Buddha Nature, Letting Go, Liberation,...
Dec 27 1988


Serial: SF-01878

Ngondro Class - Guru Yoga

Lineage, Samsara, Emotions, Emptiness, Transmission, Attachment, Describe,...
Dec 20 1988

December 10th, 1988, Serial No. 01056

Buddha Nature, Nirvana Sutra, Concentration, Intimacy, Posture, Fundraising, Faith,...
Dec 10 1988

November 26th, 1988, Serial No. 01910

Serial: SF-01910

Retreat - Description of Vajra

Liberation, Instruction, Doubt, Continuous, Obstacles, Buddha Nature, Attachment,...
Nov 26 1988


Samsara, confusion, Karma, Buddha Nature, Nirvana, Don't Know Mind, Emotions,...
May 01 1988


Passions, Emotions, Duality, Emptiness, Lineage, Vinaya, realization, Buddha Nature,...
Apr 30 1988

April 25th, 1988, Serial No. 01893

Bodhidharma, Monastic Practice, Ordination, Doubt, Religion, Mahayana, Interview,...
Apr 25 1988


Duality, Lineage, Ordinary Mind, confusion, Don't Know Mind, Discrimination,...
Apr 17 1988

Guru Yoga

Lineage, Buddha Nature, Chanting, Describe, Don't Know Mind, Transmission,...
Apr 08 1988


Lineage, Aspects of Practice, Right Effort, Emptiness, Balance, Instruction, Don...
Apr 07 1988

Four Levels of Tantra

Vinaya, realization, Lineage, Buddha Nature, Mandala, Anger, Beginners, Continuous,...
Apr 06 1988


Karma, confusion, Duality, Emotions, Anger, Ego, Beginners, Buddha Nature,...
Feb 14 1988


Mantra, Buddha Nature, Lotus Sutra, Soto Zen, Zazen, Bowing, soto, Chanting, Posture...
May 03 1987
Green Gulch Farm

March 1987 talk, Serial No. 03986

Study Period, Ceremony, Death-and-Dying, Impermanence, Posture, Buddha Nature,...

The Fifth Grave Precept: Do Not Misuse Drugs

Serial: SF-04058


Precepts, true dharma, Giving-and-Taking, Buddha Nature, Sangha, Lay, Bodhidharma,...
Oct 08 1984

The Fifth Grave Precept: Do Not Misuse Drugs

Precepts, Bodhisattva Precepts, true dharma, Giving-and-Taking, Sangha, Lay,...
Aug 09 1983
Green Gulch

Practice Life

Serial: SF-00102

Talk given at Berkeley per introduction.

Teacher-and-Student, Daily Life, Buddha Nature, Posture, resistance, Suzuki Roshi,...
Aug 07 1983

The Second Grave Precept: Not Stealing

Precepts, Peace, realization, Greed, Buddha Nature, Non-violence, training, Emptiness...
Aug 05 1983

The First Grave Precept

Serial: SF-00026

Not Killing

Precepts, Buddha Nature, Peace, Heart Sutra, Politics, realization, Mahayana,...
Aug 04 1983
2 of 3

The Second Grave Precept

Serial: SF-00027

Not taking what is not given.

Buddha Nature, Precepts, Peace, training, realization, Samadhi, Ceremony, Ego,...
Aug 04 1983
3 of 3

The First Grave Precept: Not Killing

Precepts, Heart Sutra, Buddha Nature, Peace, Politics, realization, Mahayana,...
Aug 04 1983