Venerable Hui Feng,
The word is 自性 zi4xing4, which is a translation of "svabhava", meaning "own-nature". Sometimes translated as "self-nature", but the "self" here is "sva-" and not "atma-", so it doesn't imply a "soul", but rather has a sense of "specific" to that thing itself, and not to something "other" (para-). one needs to see oneself in the mirror in order to attain basic awakening
. "own nature"
would be a helpful translation, better than self nature. in McRae one finds "one needs to see ones own nature" [in my own words] thus tathagatagharba becoming mature Tathagata. in the McRae translation. also i see in the corresponding paragraphs that i have quoted above, in McRae also a strong hinting at Tathata... seeing, tasting, touching: one needs to be mindful for the tathagata seed to mature. (reality being the womb). Tathata sometimes referred to as being the One, a sort of super self, without being atman, immutable and indestructible, though giving the appearance of defilement. as a friend said to me recently... this table will cease to be, however there will always be tables.
pointing at the immutable essence or nature of reality. or in other words there will always be reality. Tathata. just so. so.
This term has a number of meanings, but in the early Mahayana, it was used to indicate the emptiness of phenomena, in a similar way to the suchness of phenomena, but not 100% the same.
thanks Hui Feng... I appreciate these words.
To translate it as "essence of mind", well, I just can't figure out how they come to that translation. Now, granted, the Platform sutra does use this term in a similar sense to that of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, and it does at times - but not always - have some Tathagatagarbha connotations. However, even that is nothing to do with "mind" per se.
I see the use of self nature and essence of mind as being suchness, in the sense that all is suchness/form/dharmakaya, in the same sense that this all is empty. this is the oneness of things, their sameness (samata). the buddha seed is the buddha womb. the tathagatagharba being the same as the tathata/Form, being the same as emptiness. There are strong indicators of Shunyata, Tathagatagharba and Tathata/Dharmakaya. I find that remarkable, this biography, origins of Hui Neng.so far
... i am not impressed by the Tung Huang manuscript, but feel that McRaes translation is ok on tahtagatagharba, but not quite so clear on tathata. (though stongly points towards it). I dont know who translated my copy of the Platform sutra and feel that it is great on tathata, but not so clear that tathata is 'own nature' (which initially needs to be seen, in order to pass the gateway of basic enlightenment), though really these are both the same thing. (if these things are looked at with a mind of particualrisation/distinctions. knowing that really they are all one and the same thing... some call it Mind, self nature, essence or tathata, others reality, some like emptiness etc.)
i am finding that i am getting a better understanding by comparing texts. I like Mcraes text. which one was it he used? (but feel his translation doesnt flow, nor make meanings clear).
best wishes, White Lotus. xbuddha nature - seeing oneself in the mirror.
emptiness - that self is no longer there.
tathata - 'this' is all that is left. and it is bounteous!