The Dharma body of all Buddhas enters my nature,
Which is the same as the Tathagata’s.
One stage encompasses all stages,
Not form nor mind nor karmic act.
Eighty thousand doors are completed in the snap of the fingers,
In a flash three kalpas are extinguished.
What do numbers, expressions, and their negations
Have to do with my spiritual awakening?
Even though we speak of unlimited Dharma gates, innumerable Buddhas, and infinite manifestations of Buddha-nature, if in a single moment you realize your true nature, then you come face to face with all the Tathagatas and Buddhas. It means that you are not separate from them.
The realization of Buddha-nature is the same no matter what stage of practice you are at. The essence of Buddha-nature is always the same. You might drink coffee, but you would not drink someone else’s spit; however, the water in them is the same. What you attain at one stage of realization is the same as what you attain at any other stage. At the first stage, perhaps you attain a cup of spit. Be happy, it’s a start. At least at base it is water. At the next stage you might get a glass of plain water, and at a later stage, perhaps a pot of freshly brewed coffee. One person might use a little cup, and receive only a few drops of water. Another person might use a barrel. The water is the same but the vessel is different. What each person obtains is the same, yet different.
Remember, true nature is the essence, not the amount. You may experience true nature without a long period of practice; it is possible to acquire everything in a single instant of your life. It is the same as equating all of King Solomon’s treasures with a single grain of sand. The nature or essence of a grain of sand is inherent in everything else. It would be wrong to say that a grain of sand has a small Buddha-nature whereas a mountain has a large Buddha-nature. If I yank your finger, I can say it is only your finger, but I am pulling all of you. Your hair is still you. If I were to pull only a few strands, I bet you would agree with me.
My explanations, as well as this poem, are unsatisfactory. It may help you to understand Buddhadharma a little, but once you experience the principle, you will realize how inadequate words are. The last lines in the stanzas above remind us of this. Debates, disputes and discourses have nothing to do with the genuine experience. The most eloquent speech comes from a moving mind. Only when your mind is unmoving does wisdom manifest.
— The Sword of Wisdom by Master Sheng-Yen (page 164)