At the Winter Retreat we talked about the Tathagatagarbha Sutra. Tathagata means ‘thus come’ or ‘thus gone’, and refers to the Buddha, and Garbha means womb, or embryo.
The Sutra gives expression to the idea in Chinese Buddhism that everything has Buddha nature; which Dogen later reformulated as everything is Buddha nature.
It uses eight similes to describe Buddha nature, six of which are to do with concealment.
Thus: a precious statue concealed in rags, gold concealed in dirt, hidden treasure underneath a house, and others.
The two anomalies are, first, a seed which grows into a huge tree, and second the simile after which the Sutra is named, a humble person carrying in embryo a great person. But which is great: the embryo or the womb? If we regard practice from an individualistic perspective, we obviously want to say the embryo, because how would it be meaningful to say that what is great is the womb?
Unless we broaden our gaze. We can then see it as a description of our practice together. We are within, and we uphold, this Buddha space. Both.