I suspect most people come to Buddhism to better their life, perhaps hoping for a calm, ordered mind or transcendence of suffering. They may even aspire to become a bodhisattva or buddha.
And - good news! - practice may actually deliver one of these results. Many of us have some experience of this.
But, the Buddha Way goes through the self, an untidy and unruly place that contrasts with our aspirations. So grab some gloves 'cause we're gonna get dirty.
Mumon, who writes Notes in Samsara, posted this passage from the Lankavatara Sutra on Tuesday:
The Tathagatagarbha* holds within it the cause for both good and evil, and by it all the forms of existence are produced.
Similary, the Roman playwright, Terence (2nd century BCE) wrote:
Homo Sum: humani nil a me alienum puto
I am human; nothing human is foreign to me.
If we sustain our practice, we will inevitably encounter the foulest of aliens and demons (along with angels and devas). We may not want to touch but this is the soil that nourishes our relationship with all humanity.
Imagine the importance of this!
If we attain our own predatory nature, Eido Shimano becomes clear. If we attain our own compassionate nature, HH Dalai Lama becomes clear. If we attain ourselves, all beings shine with luminous clarity.
Perhaps we might even remove the gloves and get our hands dirty. That would be most intimate.
*Tathagatabarbha is a synonym for Buddha-nature.