Excerpt from “Buddha Mind, Buddha Body” by Thich Nhat Hanh
About 150,000 years ago, humans began to stand up on their feet and their hands were liberated. Once they liberated their hands, their brain began to grow very quickly. Buddha nature is inherent in early man, even though the Buddha appeared on Earth on 2,600 years ago. We learned from him that other Buddhas have appeared before him, like Buddha Dipankara and Buddha Kashyapa.
There is a race of human beings who are capable of generating the energy of mindfulness all day. And we belong to that race, “conscious homo sapiens.” We all belong the the family of the Buddha, because we are able to generate the energy of mindfulness that inhabits us twenty-four hours a day. Buddhas are those creatures who live mindfully twenty-four hours a day.
In the beginning, we become part-time Buddhas, and as we continue to practice we become full-time Buddhas. We learn not to discriminate because we understand that everyone has the seed of Buddha nature. That is why we are free from racial discrimination. And our practice is to help the Buddha nature manifest in as many people as possible, because collective awakening is the only thing that can bring us out of this present difficult situation.
After enlightenment the Buddha already knew that he had to share the practice with may others. Buddha means “the awakened one,” the conscious one. During the forty-five years of his ministry, the Buddha always tried to help other people to wake up, to be mindful. He always taught that the path of mindfulness, concentration, and insight is the path of liberation, the path of happiness.