Why Buddha Nature is one of the most important understandings in Mahayana Buddhism and why Tathagatagarbha Buddha Nature is not the soul

In teachings by Khenop Tsultrim Tenzin, the teacher explained it this way: “Impurities and defilements are the fruition of mistaken view… When defilements are removed (it is like) when the sun is freed from the clouds, then all the sun quality is there.”

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche defined Buddha Nature as: “… our fundamental nature of mind is a luminous expanse of awareness that is beyond all conceptual fabrication and completely free from the movement of thoughts. It is the union of emptiness and clarity, of space and radiant awareness that is endowed with supreme and immeasurable qualities.”

All sentient beings have Buddha Nature, obscured by our cravings and defilements, but ultimately, with compassion, practice, meditation, and renunciation, we can emerge from the filth like the perfect lotus from the mud.

Why Buddha Nature is not soul

From a western perspective, it is important to remove any immediate comparisons to soul. Buddha Nature is not soul as understood in non-Buddhist traditions. Because Buddha taught “impermanence” and the importance of removing our attachment to ego, Buddha Nature is not similar to the soul. (Not referring to Hindu Atman, but rather Judeo Christian soul.)

Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche has taught in the West for 30 years and is spiritual head of Gaden Choling for the West centres in Canada, U.S. and Australia.

“In Buddhism we don’t have a soul, we don’t have a concept of soul.” said Venerable Zasep Rinpoche [in a soon to be released video on Buddha Nature.] “To me, soul sounds like some sort of permanent thing, within us. Nothing is permanent. Instead of soul, we have consciousness, mind stream, and Buddha Nature.”

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