Our attitude is that of someone doing research, looking into the different characters and inclinations that living beings have. We should never think, “I’m fine. I’ve learned enough. I don’t need anything more. I’m great.” Rather, we can look at our encounters with living beings in all their brilliant variety as a chance to be educated about how to benefit others. If we approach our relationships with living beings in this way, we will receive only benefit and profit through our relationships with living beings because we will be learning something new every time.
When you realize that all that appears and exists to be your mind, there is no path of enlightenment apart from that.
Just as a person who has a ‘bile’ disease sees a shell as being yellow even if one can see objectively that that is not its true color, so in just the same way, as a result of the particular karmic causes of sentient beings, the various illusory visions manifest. Thus, if one were to meet a being of each of the six states of existence on the bank of the same river, they would not see that river in the same way, since they each would have different karmic causes. The beings of the hot hells would see the river as fire; those of the cold hells would see it as ice; beings of the hungry ghost realm would see the river as blood and pus; aquatic animals would see it as an environment to live in; human beings would see the river as water to drink; while the demi-gods would see it as weapons, and the gods as nectar. This shows that in reality nothing exists as concrete and objective. Therefore, understanding that the root of Samsara is truly the mind, one should set out to pull up the root. Recognizing that the mind itself is the essence of Enlightenment one attains liberation. Thus, being aware that the basis of Samsara and Nirvana is only the mind, one takes the decision to practice.
I have no wings, but still I fly in the sky;
I have no magical power, yet like magic
I journey throughout realms of illusory display,
here and there, in nine directions,
exploring the connections of my karma.
The goal we are aiming for is not far off in the distance; the goal is already here and now, just as the path is working here and now. The path is practical.
When we analyze our experience, we have ideas of time or space, big or small, heavy or light. A scale of some kind is necessary, and with various scales in our mind, we experience things. Still the thing itself has no scale. That is something we add to reality. Because we always use a scale and depend on it so much, we think the scale really exists. But it doesn’t exist. If it did, it would exist with things. Using a scale you can analyze one reality into entities, big and small, but as soon as we conceptualize something it is already a dead experience.
We “empty” ideas of big or small, good or bad from our experience, because the measurement that we use is usually based on the self. When we say good or bad, the scale is yourself. That scale is not always the same. Each person has a scale that is different. So I don’t say that the scale is always wrong, but we are liable to use our selfish scale when we analyze, or when we have an idea about something. That selfish part should be empty. How we empty that part is to practice zazen and become more accustomed to accepting things as it is without any idea of big or small, good or bad.
Life is short and no one knows what the next moment will bring. Open your mind while you have the opportunity, thereby gaining the treasures of wisdom, which in turn you can share abundantly with others, bringing them happiness.
To progress, we need the constant guidance of a qualified teacher. As we report to him the progress of our meditation and describe our experiences, he may say, “You should relax more,” or on the contrary, “Be more vigilant.” It is important at this time to rely upon a teacher’s instructions. When the great Gampopa had many spiritual experiences, he explained them to Jetsun Milarepa and was thus able to avoid deviations and continue to progress.
Once you’ve been introduced to this nature of the mind, you should achieve stability and confidence in recognizing it, so that the mind remains in that state of simplicity without wavering.
If we allow water to remain still without agitating it, it becomes limpid and transparent; but if we stir it up with a stick, mud rises and the water becomes turbid. Likewise, leave the mind in a state of natural clarity, without interference, so that awareness remains limpid.
Foolish people think that if they help others first, their own benefit will be lost, but this is not so. Beneficial action is an act of oneness, benefiting self and others together.