Bankei repeatedly drove home the profound if paradoxical point that no sentient being, in their Absolute Identity as Buddha-Nature (Skt.: Buddhata, Jap.: Bussho), has ever really “been born.” That is to say, no one has actually ever gotten entangled in phenomena, bodies, minds, experiences, relationships, etc. We are always already none other than the One that is also Many; our real Nature is the undefined, unstructured, infinite Openness-Emptiness (Skt.: Shûnyatâ) of Pure Awareness that is also simultaneously appearing as all phenomena. We are Formlessness associated with and permeating forms, but never “born” or caught up as these forms.
The Master always advised people, “don’t get born,” i.e., don’t take on seriously even for a moment any false, limiting identifications of being a man, a woman, a Buddhist, a Confucian, good, bad, old, young, angry, elated, mortal body or even a distinct, immortal soul. In our True Nature we are always only the unmanifest Absolute, which manifests as the conventional “dream” of life while yet always remaining Absolute. Freedom is always Free, and our Real Identity is this Spiritual Freedom or Mind/Heart of Buddha-Nature.
When Bankei told his disciples that his death was near, they asked him for the customary Zen farewell poem. He replied that they should listen to the sounds of everyday life, as the gist of his teaching is this: “Awaken to the Unborn in the midst of everyday life.”
From ‘Enlightened Spirituality’ (T. Conway)