The Buddha-nature factors refer to various aspects that are part of our mental continuum that will enable us to attain the various bodies of a Buddha. The major presentation of Buddha-nature divides it into three different types:
- The evolving factors, which will evolve to transform into the non-static bodies of a Buddha. This refers to the Form Bodies of a Buddha – Nirmanakaya and Sambhogakaya – and the omniscient mind of a Buddha, which is known as the Deep Awareness Dharmakaya.
- The second group is referring to the abiding factors, and this refers to the voidness of our mental continuum, which is responsible for the Svabhavakaya, the Essential Nature Body of a Buddha, which is the voidness of the omniscient mind of a Buddha.
- Then, we have the third aspect, the third feature of Buddha-nature, which is that our mental continuum can be inspired and uplifted by inspiration so that these evolving factors and various good qualities and so on that we have can grow to become the various features of a Buddha.
The main presentation of the evolving factors is in terms of the two networks, sometimes called the two collections or two accumulations. These are the networks of positive force (or merit) and the network of deep awareness (or wisdom it’s sometimes called), and we need the two of them working together. The network of positive force is built up by constructive behavior, and it is the obtaining cause for the Form Bodies of a Buddha, and for these Form Bodies, the network of deep awareness acts as the simultaneously acting condition. This position is reversed with respect to obtaining the omniscient mind of a Buddha; for that, the network of deep awareness is the obtaining cause, and the network of positive force is the simultaneously acting condition. That network of deep awareness is built up by our meditating on the sixteen aspects of the four noble truths, and more specifically, on voidness.
One point that needs to be understood is – especially when we speak in terms of the network of positive force – that this gives rise to what we experience in samsara, in our rebirths, not only what will eventually give rise to our enlightening bodies, the non-static ones, namely the form bodies of an enlightened being. It gives rise to that. We have what is known then as the samsara-building networks and the pure-building networks, and everything depends on the motivation, we saw, and the dedication. If we build up these networks with no aim, no motivation, no dedication, then it just perpetuates our samsaric existence. If we build them up with the aim and dedication to achieve a better rebirth, then it will lead to that. If we aim for liberation and dedicate it to that, it will lead to the state of an arhat. And if we have the intention and dedication for this to go to enlightenment, then it will lead to enlightenment.
Whether we build up this positive force, this network of positive force, through constructive behavior in sutra, or we build it up – in addition to building it up through constructive behavior – we build it up through imagining ourselves in the form of a Buddha-figure, as we do in tantra (that’s referring to all the classes of tantra, in other words, tantra in general); or we build it up, in addition to both of those, through eventually generating our subtle energy in the form of a Buddha-figure (that’s known as illusory body), which we do in the highest class of tantra practice, anuttarayoga tantra practice, the basic structure is the same. The positive force will give rise to a samsaric body or a better rebirth body (which is also a samsaric body) or an arhat’s body or a Buddha’s physical bodies, depending on the intention and the motivation. This is why it is stated that if we visualize ourselves in the form of a tantric deity but without a bodhichitta motivation, it’s just a cause for rebirth as a ghost in the form of this Buddha-figure. That is a very strong statement and one that we need to take to heart.
When we visualize ourselves as a Buddha-figure, of course, we need to have some understanding of voidness of what we’re doing. But we have seen that even without a very profound understanding of voidness, and even with a conceptual understanding of voidness, if we have the bodhichitta motivation for doing the deity yoga, it will still act as a cause for reaching enlightenment. However, even if we have some understanding of voidness, and we meditate on ourselves being in the form of this figure without a bodhichitta motivation, we’re not going to build up the enlightenment-building network; it will still contribute to samsara, still contribute to being a ghost in this form. So, the bodhichitta motivation is absolutely essential.
There’s a difference between labored and unlabored bodhichitta. The labored is the one that we have to work ourselves up to feeling, by going through the various lines, like “everybody’s been our mother,” etc. The unlabored one is when we have built up such tremendous familiarity with bodhichitta through the labored phase of it that just automatically we have that motivation, without having to go through all the steps to build up to it. We shouldn’t fool ourselves by thinking that as long as we recite a verse in the beginning and a verse at the end of bodhichitta that that means that we have a bodhichitta motivation. That means that we shouldn’t think that we already have the unlabored stage of bodhichitta when in fact we don’t. We don’t feel anything; we’re just reciting words. That means that we really need to work ourselves up to feeling bodhichitta, which means on the basis of love, compassion, and so on, and knowing what bodhichitta actually is. We’re focusing on some representation of our future enlightenment, which has not yet happened. Our own individual enlightenment; we’re not focusing on the enlightenment of Buddha Shakyamuni, we’re not focusing on just some general amorphous type of enlightenment, we’re focusing on our own individual enlightenment. It’s not yet happened but can happen on the basis of Buddha-nature.
Then, motivation has two aspects. Intention, aim, is one aspect, so that is to attain this enlightenment so that it becomes presently happening and to benefit all beings by being a Buddha. The emotion that is driving us to achieve this aim, love and compassion – the wish for everybody to be happy and have the causes for happiness, wishing everybody to be free of suffering and the causes of suffering – and the exceptional resolve, taking responsibility to bring everybody to liberation and enlightenment, even if we have to do it ourselves, that’s bodhichitta. It’s important to know what it is so that we can work ourselves up to actually feeling that, having that state of mind, in order to really have this intention before our tantra practice and this dedication afterward, so that the positive force that we build up will actually contribute to our attainment of enlightenment and not just to becoming a ghost in the form of this deity. That cannot be emphasized enough.
Please take a minute or so to let that sink in and try to generate the strong intention, if we are already involved with tantra practice, that we are going to make sure that our daily practice of deity yoga, tantra, visualizing, imagining ourselves in the form of this figure is going to be sandwiched in between… at our stage, it’s going to have to be labored bodhichitta, building it up so that we actually feel it. If we are not at that point where we can really start to feel a little bit of bodhichitta, then sorry, but we’re not ready for tantra practice. It’s dangerous because it can act as a cause for being reborn as a ghost in this form. If we have already engaged ourselves in tantra practice prematurely, then even though we might not really feel very much and not really be sincere in generating bodhichitta, at least go through the steps of it. Don’t think that actual bodhichitta is easy to generate; it’s not. When we think in terms of “I’m going to bring everybody” – that means countless number of beings – “to enlightenment, with equal regard to everybody,” this is not exactly easy to be really sincere about, is it, especially if we think of those unfortunate sentient beings who presently are in the form of cockroaches and mosquitoes. Let’s take a moment to let this sink in and make the intention.
If we have done a great deal of bodhichitta meditation in our sutra practice, then we have built up a great deal of familiarity with generating bodhichitta in this labored way. That’s the whole point of meditation, to build up something as a beneficial habit by repetition so that eventually the state of mind that we are trying to generate with the motivation becomes unlabored, just automatically arises. That’s the whole point of the meditation. If we have done a great deal of bodhichitta meditation in our sutra practice before we have engaged ourselves in tantra, then all we need to do at the beginning, before we do the tantra practice each day, is to just go through quickly all the stages for building ourselves up to feeling that motivation, because we’ve familiarized ourselves already very much with it. If we can’t do that, and if we can’t even remember what the stages are, we really need to go back and do a tremendous amount of bodhichitta meditation, step by step, familiarizing ourselves.
Tantra practice is very advanced. Unfortunately, many people start to engage in it prematurely. Even if we have engaged in it already, prematurely, it doesn’t mean that we can skip all these necessary stages beforehand and only do this little sadhana of tantra. That’s a big mistake. Try to imprint this on your mind: “If I am practicing this without bodhichitta, I’m only building up causes to be reborn as a ghost in the form of this deity.” Take that seriously, please. OK? Try to imprint that on your mind for a moment. Because then our tantra practice, rather than being a cause for happiness and enlightenment, is a cause for suffering.
Karma and Building Up the Network of Positive Force
Let’s look a little bit further and more deeply at the network of positive force. It’s built up by constructive behavior, and then that will be a cause for achieving – if it’s dedicated with bodhichitta – for achieving the Form Bodies of a Buddha. The constructive behavior that we do now, if it’s going to be a samsara-builder, then it is involved with karma. When we engage in some type of physical, verbal, or mental behavior, then it leaves an aftermath, something afterward, that becomes part of our mental continuum. There is a certain karmic force. I won’t go into all the variant interpretations and explanations of that, but in just a simple way, it is some sort of karmic force and karmic tendency.
If our behavior, what we do, is mixed with unawareness of reality but not motivated, not mixed with any other disturbing emotion, but rather motivated by some more positive emotion – like love, compassion, etc. – then that karmic force is positive karmic force, so-called “merit,” and it leads to a better rebirth.
If that action is built up together with not only unawareness of reality but also unawareness of cause and effect – we don’t realize that what we do will cause suffering, cause us suffering – and that action is also accompanied with a disturbing emotion (another disturbing emotion besides unawareness, in other words, desire or attachment, anger, jealousy, pride, etc.), then we are engaging in what is the structure of a destructive action; we’re doing something destructive. That builds up negative karmic force and leads to a worse rebirth state.
We have this karmic mechanism, as it were, building up positive force or negative force, positive tendencies or negative tendencies. There’s a slight difference between the karmic force and the tendencies, and I won’t go into the technical details, but it’s slightly different.
Ripening of the Samsara-Building Network of Positive Force
If we look at the result of this network of positive force in terms of samsara-building, and we extend our discussion to also thinking in terms of a network of negative force, then these are the types of results that will follow. I’ll list them.
First of all, we have a ripened result (rnam-smin-gyi ’bras-bu). This is referring to our tainted aggregates (zag-bcas kyi phung-po) with which we are born. Tainted (zag-bcas) has several different interpretations of its meaning. If we use the most general definition, it means that it is obtained from unawareness of reality and is mixed with that unawareness. This is referring to the five aggregates factors that make up each moment of our experience:
- The aggregate of forms of physical phenomena (gzugs-kyi phung-po, Skt. rupa-skandha), that’s referring to the type of body that we’re born with – body of a human, body of a cockroach, body of a dog, body of a ghost, whatever. Complete body, deformed body, complete one, one that’s blind, etc.
- Then the aggregate of feelings (tshor-ba’i phung-po, Skt. vedana-skandha), and this is referring to feeling happiness, unhappiness, somewhere on that spectrum. Although the presentation of these results is usually given in terms of what we’re born with, it can also refer to what we experience each moment. So, each moment, we feel happy, unhappy, etc. What we are born with is basically a certain spectrum or range of happy or unhappy that our physical basis can support. If there’s too much pain and suffering, unhappiness, our body goes unconscious, for example. In the hell realms, our body wouldn’t go unconscious, so we would be able to experience far stronger levels of unhappiness, of suffering. That’s the difference. It’s dependent on our physical basis, how much on that spectrum of unhappiness and happiness we can experience and can be supported.
- The aggregate of distinguishing (’du-shes-kyi phung-po, Skt. samjna-skandha), sometimes called recognition, has to do with, within a field, a cognitive field – our field of vision, our field of hearing, and so on – what that is, and what we’re able to distinguish within it. That, of course, will depend on the physical basis and so on, if we have better eyes, we have better hearing, and so on, and we can distinguish more. Or intelligence. Someone who is colorblind can’t distinguish colors; they can only distinguish various shades of gray. Someone who is not colorblind can distinguish all sorts of colors. This is just an example of what we’re talking about here.
- Then, the aggregate of other affecting variables (’du-byed-kyi phung-po, Skt. samskara-skandha). Here what needs to be mentioned is that these ripened results are all unspecified phenomena (lung ma-bstan, Skt. avyakrta). Buddha didn’t specify them to be constructive (dge-ba, Skt. kushala) or destructive (mi-dge-ba, Skt. akushala), so they’re ethically neutral; they can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes. We wouldn’t include here things like the amount of instinctive compassion or anger or things like that; those things come from the tendencies of having anger or having compassion in previous lifetimes, and that builds up a tendency to be like that in future lives. Here we’re talking about the unspecified other affecting variables, for instance, intelligence. Things like intelligence, concentration, these sorts of neutral things, they can be used for positive or negative purposes.
- Then the aggregate of consciousness (rnam-shes-kyi phung-po, Skt. vijnana-skandha). This, in terms of a ripened result, would refer to how many, for instance, sense types of consciousness do we have. Desire realm gods, for instance, do not have smell and taste consciousness. Maybe it is form gods. Well, now I’m a little bit confused. Anyway, some class of gods don’t have taste and smell. In the form realm, as we go higher and higher, then they’re missing certain types of feelings, but I don’t remember, I’m sorry, where we lose the various types of sense consciousness. I have to look that up. I apologize. [It is, in fact, the gods of the form realm – the plane of ethereal forms – that do not have smell or taste consciousness.]
These are the ripened results in terms of our rebirth state, and, by extension, we can think in terms of what we might experience from moment to moment. We might go blind later in our life, that’s also a ripened result, or lose an arm, and our body is incomplete.
Results That Correspond to Their Cause
Then, we have results that correspond to their cause in terms of our behavior (byed-pa rgyu-mthun-gyi ’bras-bu) and in terms of our experience (myong-ba rgyu-mthun-gyi ’bras-bu). We have impulses or urges come up to repeat the type of behavior that we’ve done in the past. We’ve built up a strong tendency to yell when we get angry, so we get angry, and then that urge comes up, that impulse comes up – that’s what karma actually is referring to – that urge comes up to yell again, and we act it out. That’s a result that corresponds to its cause in our behavior, and a result that corresponds to a cause in our experience is primarily referring to that urge to get into a situation in which, well, it’s not really the urge, but it is getting into that situation in which things similar to what happened to us in the past occur back to us. Unconsciously, usually, totally unconsciously.
I have to qualify what I just said because now I remember a principle that karma never ripens from karma, so what ripens here is we like to yell. Corresponding to its cause is that we like to yell, we have the wish to yell; we like it. Then karma comes, the urge to yell. We like yelling. We like killing flies, killing mosquitoes. We like a certain type of improper sexual behavior. Whatever it might be, we like doing that. Then, depending on different conditions, circumstances, the urge will come up to act on that, on the basis of that liking. This is more precise of how karma works, how it ripens.
We like certain people, sort of just instinctively, we like this person or that person, and it’s going to be somebody that will always yell at us. So, this is what it means, getting into a situation in which things happen back to us. We sort of have a karmic attraction to people who are going to yell at us and verbally abuse us, and we get involved with them and then we experience being yelled at. Very nasty, isn’t it? We’ve caused separation, divisive language, for others, and as a result, we are attracted to people that we get involved with, we fall in love with, and they’re going to leave us; they’re going to be moved to a different city, they’re going to divorce us, whatever it might be. That’s the type of person that we like, and we don’t even know. We’re always falling in love with the wrong person. Terrible.
Then, the third type of result is called the dominating result (bdag-’bras). This is the type of society and environment into which we’re born or which we encounter during our lifetime, how they treat us and how they treat our possessions. We’re born into or move into a place where there’s war or there’s poverty, or stuff like that, and the people there are very aggressive toward us or treat us or our possessions in one way or another.
Try to remember this, ripened results. There are the tainted aggregates – our body, feelings of happiness, unhappiness, etc., and intelligence – what we like to do, and what our environment is like and how it treats us. OK? Let that sink in. It could be in a wonderful state (positive karmic force) or a horrible state (negative karmic force), and obviously, it gets mixed because we’ve built up lots of different karma, karmic tendencies and forces. This is how a samsara-building network of positive force or negative force ripens.
Tantra and the Ripening of the Pure-Building Network of Positive Force
How about pure networks? We will see that here it’s a parallel structure to how karma ripens. I think it’s important to see the parallel between so-called samsara and nirvana, to see that basically, we’re talking about a certain mechanism that can be directed in one direction, samsara, or another direction, nirvana (nirvana being either liberation or enlightenment) because this is fundamental to understanding the theory of tantra. We’re talking about the basic mechanisms of life and knowing how it works, and knowing how to go in and fix it, adjust it, so that rather than it giving rise to samsara existence, it gives rise to nirvana existence.
In general tantra, we’re going in and fixing and adjusting the system in terms of this whole ripening of karma phenomenon – ripening of positive and negative force – through the utilization of, as we’ve seen, bodhichitta, basically.
With the highest class of tantra, in addition to fixing the mechanism of how the networks of positive force and deep awareness ripen, we are also fixing the mechanism of death, bardo and rebirth. When our consciousness withdraws and becomes more and more subtle and reaches the clear light subtlest level, and then gives rise to a subtle body in bardo and then a gross body with rebirth – instead, we go down to the clear light mind, the subtlest stage, in meditation (although it could be done at the time of death if we really have meditated a lot and haven’t been able to accomplish that during our life). Then, using that same mechanism, we change it so that instead of giving rise to a subtle body of bardo and a gross body of rebirth, samsaric, it gives rise to a subtle Sambhogakaya body and a grosser Nirmanakaya body. So, in addition to bodhichitta, using various methods in anuttarayoga tantra to basically get us down to that clear light mind in meditation, there are various methods that are used for that. There’s working with the energy systems (wind yoga), there’s working with levels of blissful awareness (bde-ba, Skt. sukha), there’s dzogchen methods, which are all accomplishing the same thing for the same purpose. So, we want to fix the system, go in and adjust it, make that adjustment.
Pure network of positive force, let’s just speak in terms of the enlightenment-builder ones to make it simpler, rather than speak in terms of the case of liberation-building and what happens with becoming an arhat. Similar to ripened results of karma, we have something slightly different – although parallel – with achieving enlightenment. The difference being that ripened results in terms of samsara are unspecified phenomena, whereas, if we speak in terms of an enlightened state, they are constructive phenomena (so it’s not technically a ripened result).
Similar to a ripened result, we get Form Bodies. Rather than a samsaric body, we get Form Bodies of a Buddha from this positive force built up with bodhichitta. They can have the 32 excellent signs and 80 exemplary features. Right? Various types of features and it could also be – we can include here – speech, so 64 qualities of a Buddha’s speech. We have, similar, this enlightened body and speech.
We also have, similar to a samsaric feeling of happiness or unhappiness, the untainted bliss of a Buddha. It never ends – not like our ordinary happiness – never diminishes, it’s never unsatisfying, none of that stuff. It’s not mixed with unawareness.
In sutra methods, we built up the causes for these – body and feeling of happiness or unhappiness – by means of constructive behavior. The 32 signs of a Buddha, for example, are indicative of their causes. For instance, a Buddha has a long tongue, and that indicates that as a bodhisattva… a bodhisattva takes care of others with love and compassion and affection, the way that a mother animal does by licking her young, so to indicate that type of affection, Buddha has a long tongue. Well, like that, there are the descriptions of all these different features of a Buddha. In sutra, we are practicing constructive behavior, and that body that we’ll achieve as a Buddha will resemble that. What does constructive behavior ripen into? It ripens into happiness. We will experience happiness, untainted bliss, as a Buddha. So, constructive behavior, bodhichitta meditation, all these sorts of things, that’s the side of method.
In general tantra, it is known as the resultant vehicle. In addition to constructive behavior – and compassion, bodhichitta meditation, all this sort of stuff – we now practice similar to the result that we will achieve in order to bring about that result more quickly. It’s like in the theater. I don’t know what you call it here; we call it a dress rehearsal in English. Just before we are ready to put on the performance for an audience, we go through the whole play with everybody dressed in the costumes and everything as the final stage of preparation. It’s like we are in the actual performance. It’s called a dress rehearsal in English. Tantra is like that. We imagine that we already have the form of a Buddha; we imagine ourselves in this form of a Buddha-figure. In the highest class of tantra, anuttarayoga, we also imagine that we have blissful awareness like the untainted bliss of a Buddha.
Do you see the structure here, the parallel? Constructive behavior – samsaric level – makes a samsaric body and samsaric happiness, and, if it’s enlightenment-building, it will give rise to a Buddha Form Body and untainted bliss, this positive force. Not only do we practice constructive behavior, but we imagine now that we have the body that will ripen, the Buddha-body, a Form Body, and we have that untainted bliss that will be at the resultant level. Follow that? Then, parallel to results that correspond to their causes – we like to act in this way or that way, and that brings about actually acting like that on a samsaric level – and instead of that, we have the enlightening activity of a Buddha, what a Buddha does to help everybody.
Dominating result. Instead of the environment and how it treats us, and so on, and society, etc. that we’re born into, on the enlightened stage, it’s a Buddha-field and we’re in a mandala with all bodhisattvas and so on.
Do you see the parallel structure? I think this is quite helpful to understand. Let’s think about that and let that settle.
The Network of Deep Awareness
Then, in terms of the network of deep awareness, if we are studying about the four noble truths and about voidness, and we know all sixteen aspects of these four noble truths, and we know all the texts and so on about voidness, but there’s no bodhichitta motivation, then this will lead to just having knowledge about this. We could be become a professor and teach about this just in terms of scientific knowledge, no different from knowing about different classes of insects. However, if we build that up with a bodhichitta motivation, it can lead to the omniscient mind of a Buddha, this so-called Deep Awareness Dharmakaya, with which all of that is applied to helping people, and not just people, but all beings. OK? We have something similar here to what we discussed with the network of positive force.
In our practice of tantra, we usually engage in sadhana (sgrub-thabs) practice. Sadhana is a Sanskrit word; it means a method for actualizing ourselves as a Buddha, to make ourselves into an actual Buddha, actually do it, by imagining that we are already like that. Everything is done within the context of bodhichitta, of course. The beginning absolutely has to have, as part of the sadhana, generation of bodhichitta motivation; at the end, it absolutely has to have a dedication. If we receive a text that is missing those two, those aspects, they need to be added. Whether we add them with actual words that are written and we recite something, or we just do them in our head, it doesn’t matter, but they have to be there, as we have seen in our whole discussion. Because, in fact, visualizing ourselves in this Buddha-figure, that Buddha-figure is representing the not-yet-attained enlightenment of ours, which we’re aiming at, and which we’re focused on with bodhichitta. Of course, the practice has to be done with bodhichitta; otherwise, what are we doing? It’s a wonderful method for keeping us mindful of bodhichitta, not just some arbitrary exercise in visualization, such as visualizing a lovely beach and sunset, and so on, in order to relax. It’s not that.
Then, we have the understanding of voidness. It starts out with any of the visualizations, and it’s maintained through all the visualizations. So, it’s the voidness of our ordinary form, which then we dissolve and generate ourselves as a Buddha-figure, and the voidness of that Buddha-figure, and we are imagining already that we have this body of a Buddha. We are imagining that our speech is like the speech of a Buddha, so we’re reciting mantras. We imagine that lights go out from us and benefit all beings, so we are practicing the type of activity of a Buddha, and we imagine that our environment is a mandala, a Buddha-field. Right? Mandala is the palace that we’re inside, and the Buddha-field includes the palace and the whole environment around it. We are imagining that, in anuttarayoga tantra, that we have blissful awareness, blissful awareness of voidness, while visualizing ourselves as this Buddha-figure.
In general tantra, we can’t just have an understanding of voidness; that mind that understands voidness has to have a physical basis, and so that physical basis is the form of a Buddha that we’re visualizing. When we hear instructions like “the mind that understands voidness now takes the form of a Buddha-figure,” we have to understand what that means. It doesn’t mean literally that the mind becomes a form; it means that the physical basis for that mind is in the form of a Buddha-figure.
In anuttarayoga tantra, then, we – on the advanced, advanced levels – we generate the subtle energy of the body into the form of this Buddha-figure; it’s called illusory body (sgyu-lus). There are many different tantras. Working with the body on this complete stage, there are many variants of doing this. Illusory body is perhaps the most widespread one. We also have things like light body (’od-lus), rainbow body (’ja’-lus), devoid form (stong-gzugs) and so on. There’s a whole group of different types of bodies that are made from especially this anuttarayoga or dzogchen class.
What we are doing then, in short, in tantra is, in addition to the constructive behavior that we’re doing all the time and our usual meditation on noble truths and voidness, which we would do with bodhichitta motivation (in other words, our sutra practice), in addition, we are imagining now that we already are experiencing, like in a rehearsal, what will come from this positive force and deep awareness, these networks, when they are enlightenment-building. We do this as a method in order to achieve it more quickly. Similar to what will come from an enlightenment-building network of positive force, we imagine we have a body of a deity, the body of a Buddha. We have the speech of a Buddha, mantra. We have the activity of a Buddha, lights going out [going forth, radiating] and benefiting everybody. We have the environment of a Buddha, mandala, pure land. We have the blissful awareness, the level of happiness of a Buddha.
Also, similar to what comes from this network of deep awareness, we have the full understanding of voidness, omniscient mind, of not only voidness (that’s deepest truth), but all the different aspects of the four noble truths (which covers all of conventional truth, speaking very generally; it’s actually the first, second and fourth noble truths that cover conventional truth; the third one, true stoppings, is included in deepest truth). That’s what we’re doing in tantra. It’s the fullest development of our Buddha-nature factors. We can see from this, I think, how it is developed in terms of working with Buddha-nature. The Buddha-nature factors enable us to become a Buddha through either sutra methods alone or through a combination of sutra and tantra methods.