The state of awakening
Buddhatā, a Sanskrit word, is the state of awakening to our true nature/self. It is a matter of transcending all that is conditioned and finite to reach the unconditioned and infinite. But just setting aside the conditioned is not enough. Negation alone will not culminate in direct intuition of this state.
The intuitional process does not rely on the intellectual or discursive process. It’s more like trying to remember where we last put our car keys and we are already late for work. Those who favor intuition over-analysis are the best students of Zen and may likely arrive at buddhatā. They are better at remembering their true nature which, before they came to Zen, had completely forgotten.
Zen is truly an intuitional tradition which is precisely what dhyāna is (Siddhartha Gautama’s means of attaining enlightenment). The most difficult part of Zen is transcending dualistic thinking (vijñāna) which obstructs intuition. In buddhatā subject and object, observer and observed have suddenly disappeared. Yes, this sounds strange to modern ears who are used to thinking dualistically.
Such thinking is relative thinking in the sense of comparison to something else which is not absolute. In fact, both sides of dualistic thinking, that is vijñāna, are not absolute but always relative to the other. As the reader can see, we are in a situation that we cannot easily transcend. It seems apparent that we have to let go of subject and object. This situation is what makes the Zen koan (公案) so tantalizing yet inscrutable.