Tathata (suchness, thusness). ‘Merely thus,’ ‘just such’: everything is such as it is and in no way different from that thusness. This is called ‘tathata.’
When tathata is seen, the three characteristics of anicca, dukkha, and anatta are seen, sunnata is seen, and idappaccayata [things arise and exist due to certain causes, and cease once these causes are removed.] is seen. Tathata is the summary of them all — merely thus, only thus, not-otherness.
There is nothing better than this, more than this, other than this, thusness.
To intuitively realize tathata is to see the truth of all things, to see the reality of the things which have deceived us. The things which delude us are all the things which cause discrimination and duality to arise in us: good-evil, happiness-sadness, win-lose, love-hate, etc. There are many pairs of opposites in this world. By not seeing tathata, we allow these things to trick us into believing in duality: this-that, liking-disliking, hot-cold, male-female, defiled, enlightened. This delusion causes all our problems.
Trapped in these oppositions, we can’t see the truth of things. We fall into liking and disliking, which in turn leads to the defilements, because we don’t see tathata.
From ‘The Natural Cure for Spiritual Disease’ by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.
Image: Seated Bodhisattva Manjusri (Wenshu Pusa), Wearing a Crown and Holding an Accordion-Fold Sutra.
Manjusri, East Asia, late 8th-9th century © President and Fellows of Harvard College