As Bankei once stated, “The Unborn Buddha Mind is marvelously illuminating”. Bankei’s Zen was refreshing and life-giving; as part of this “illumination”, Bankei was empowered to assert that “Everyone is endowed with the Buddha-mind, only they don’t know it.” He knew that the hidden bodhiseed lay dormant beneath layers of ignorance, avidya, but if properly invoked, it would awake within the mind of the dreaming. He was no elitist, as though his own self-realization and sect alone held the necessary gnosis for salvific freedom; indeed, the common person (worldling), too, was allowed entrance through his dharma-gate into the all-inclusive and healing embrace of the Unborn.
Another essential element within Bankei’s Zen was the significance of having the discerning Dharma-eye—this was critical for someone expounding the true dharma, as Bankei wrote:
“A Zen teacher cannot help others unless he himself possesses the discerning Dharma-eye. If he has fully perfected his Dharma-eye, he is able to know someone to his very marrow just by observing his face as he approaches. He can know all about him by merely hearing his voice come from outside the temple walls. It is like a bright mirror, which reflects fully and distinctly whatever faces it, revealing both the beautiful and the ugly. Each word he speaks, everything he does in dealing with students, strikes right to the place of their affliction like a sharp gimlet, dissolving their attachments, breaking off their shackles, ushering them into a realm of wonderful freedom and blissful joy. Unless he can do that, what help can he hope to be to others?” Indeed, as Bankei further noted this discerning — all pervasive Dharma eye—was the one factor wherein his sect surpassed all others.
It is good and healthy to acquire proper discernment—the Dharma eye—within this dharma-ending age. It fully empowers one to see with perfect clarity what teachings prove helpful, joyful and valuable, and those that purportedly offer salvific freedom, but in actuality, subjugate many beneath a veil of dark deceit.