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Tulku Urygen on Ground, Path, and Fruiition

Ground, Path and Fruition

The basic ground is our buddha nature, the dharmakaya of all the buddhas that is present in every sentient being. It is compared to pure, undefiled gold endowed with supreme qualities and free from any defects. How is the buddha nature present in everyone? The example given is that of oil in a mustard seed. When pressed, a mustard seed always yields oil. In the same way, in all sentient beings there is the essence of buddhahood, the buddha nature. No one lacks it. All the buddhas and bodhisattvas have buddha nature, as do all sentient beings down to the tiniest insect, without any difference whatsoever in size or quality.
The buddha nature encompasses all of samsara and nirvana. Space is beyond center and edge. Wherever space pervades, there are sentient beings. Wherever there are sentient beings, buddha nature is present. That is what is meant the statement that buddha nature encompasses all of samsara and nirvana, all worlds, all beings,
Although buddha nature is present in everyone, we fail to recognize it This ignorance is the main cause for wandermg in samsara. Due to the ignorance of not knowing their own nature, sentient beings have strayed into confusion, like pure gold that has fallen into the mud and is temporarily defiled. Buddhas did not stray into confusion but retained their "natural seat'. The difference between buddhas and sentient bings is the difference between knowing and not knowing our innate nature.
Although gold is gold, when it falls in the mud it gets covered by dirt and becomes unrecognizable. Gold temporarily covered by mud is the analogy for sentient beings who fail to recognize their own nature. All sentient beings are buddhas, but due to temporary obscurations they do not realize it. The ground is likened to pure gold, while the path is like gold that has fallen in the dirt and is covered by defilements. In this context, the path means the state of confusion.
Buddhahood, the realized state of all awakened beings, means not straying onto the path of confusion but recognizing the state of the ground as being pure gold. Due to the power of confusion, we have now strayed into the state of the path—the pure gold is temporarily covered by mud. We^ are temporarily under the power of confusion. Because the sleep of ignorance, we go through the dreams of the three realms, taking rebirth among the six classes of beings again and again, endlessly.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, From Jewels of Enlightenment by Erik Pema Kunzang