Volume XV, Leaf 104

March, 2015

Who are you?


The announcement by researchers at Cambridge University that they had discovered “alien” DNA in the human genome was, predictably, widely misunderstood by both  media and public.  See, for example, http://eden-saga.com/en/biology-genetics-sitchin-creationism-human-genome-sequencing-two-hundred-twenty-three-alien-genes.html/  The genes in question are not contributions from some technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilization, (which would presumably be unrecognizable to us) but from the plants, fungi, and bacteria in our own environment.


What this means is that, so far from “conquering” nature, we are simply a part of it.  That is to say, our identity is not wholly unique, but a composite of various animal species, trees, grasses, mushrooms, et al.  Current theory is that every atom of which our bodies are composed was forged in the heart of stars.  Physically, we are the eyes of the universe, staring at itself.  Or, in the words of the Heart Sutra, “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.”  Empty of what?  Why, empty of any independent and permanent “self,” of course!


It required 2,500+ years for science to discern what Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha, discovered in a single flash of complete enlightenment.  At this rate of progress,  by C.E. 3015, it may be realized that just as there is no wholly separate person, neither can there be a completely isolated individual mind.  A name is not an identity.  Our consciousness is, indeed, the awareness of the universe itself.  For, to quote once again from the Heart Sutra,  “Mind is emptiness, emptiness is mind.”


This is not intended to deny the existence of technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations, potentially capable of manipulating human DNA and/or of influencing the development of human civilizations.   Simply, Toshiyori has no knowledge of any such beings.  But it can be said with a high degree of certainty that if such exist, they — like ourselves — are products of this same universe.  They would be composed of  the mind and matter of their environment; they would have evolved out of the mists of time and, at “death,” dissolve back into it, just as we.


The “self” which has been the center of our concern throughout all the days of our lives simply does not exist.  It was a product of casual assumptions, a “ghost in the machine.”  The good news of the Buddhadharma is that you can never be less than you are at this moment, and that — as your understanding expands — the probability of becoming very much more increases proportionally.


Please remember to send your gifts to http://shingonjitemple.org/  The need is great, and provides all who have embarked on the Bodhisattva path with a field of merit for the practice of dana (generosity).  Thank you so much!


In Gassho,

Toshiyori Hodoh-san


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