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Green Koans Case 61: The Naked Dharma

Clark Strand

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CASE #61: The Naked Dharma

Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen taught:

Even if you do not search or study anything, the natural state is always with you from the limitless beginning. There is nothing to lose and nothing to find. If you search yourself can you find it? Therefore you should not speak about searching for the nature of mind. From the beginning it was always with you and never separate from you. No other beings can see the nature of your mind. It is always self-originated. When you realize this you have realized the ‘Naked Basic Dharmakaya.’


Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen A famous master in the indigenous Bön religion of Tibet, Shardza (1859-1935) gave Dzogchen teachings to many students from other schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The present case is taken from the book Heart Drops of Dharmakaya.

The natural state The goal of practice in both Bönpo and Buddhist Dzogchen teachings, the natural state is a condition of non-dual awareness in which the mind abandons its ceaseless interference with reality, accepting all things simply as is.

Nothing to lose and nothing to find Such language is common to the teachings of most forms of Mahayana Buddhism, including those of the Vajrayana. The meaning here is that nothing can be lost or gained. This teaching is virtually identical to the fundamental principle of ecology, which applies it to a working ecosystem.

It is always self-originated
In ecological terms this can be explained as the self-organizing principle of Nature that works effortlessly and without apparent recourse to any unitary intelligence. The Japanese Zen poet Ryokan expressed it this way:

With no mind, flowers lure
the butterfly;
With no mind, the butterfly visits
the blossoms. 

Yet when flowers bloom,
the butterfly comes; 

When the butterfly comes,
the flowers bloom.

Naked Basic Dharmakaya Dharmakaya refers to the ground of being from which all Buddhas (all phenomena) arise, and to which they likewise return. In ecological terms, dharmakaya is Earth. “Naked Basic Dharmakaya” would, in that case, be Earth with no modification or conceptualization whatsoever—our origin, our destination, our place of being, and ourselves.


Even if you do not study anything, Nature is there.
Actually, it is not there. It is here.
Actually, it is not here either.
It is not even it.

We speak of searching
For the nature of mind,
Like some professor
At a blackboard. Embarrassing,
But it happens all the time.

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Dominic Gomez's picture

"When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. (Genesis 3:6–7)
Which is more embarassing? To gain knowledge or to remain naked?