Bombu or buddha nature

The bombu paradigm in Japanese Pure Land buddhism stresses the ‘foolishness’ of human beings. In an interesting blog post from 2011 David Brazier explains how Zen and Pure Land depart from different perspectives only to arrive at similar destinations

David Brazier
David Brazier

The article by David Brazier (Dharmavidya) makes me realize the complementarity of buddha nature and bombu. Whereas the former is a familiar concept in western buddhism, the latter is, in my view, too little known.

This could be because ‘human potential’ (buddha nature) resonates better with modern audiences than a bombu notion which looks as if it limits people’s freedom. Each, however, sits at the opposite side of a continuum. Tilting towards one extreme involves the risk of losing a precious balance, Brazier rightly argues.

The same applies to the other pairs which Brazier juxtaposes in a highly illustrative table which goes with his article:

Tabel David Brazier
Source: David Brazier (2011)

In short, it is not either buddha nature or bombu but both at the same time.


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