To be able to recall the activities is to have a mind which is collected through practising awareness. It does not matter whether the day has been pleasant or not, one must still live through it and one must learn from each day’s living experiences. Those who live the day through without reflection will not be able to benefit by it, may find living to be unmeaningful, and so the beauty of being alive is not felt or appreciated. How can such a person progress spiritually?
There is no need to dwell in prayers the whole day through unless one is fully committed to the path of practice and is living in monasteries or the mountains, resolved to do away with worldly affairs. Those who come here are worldly ones with lots of worldly responsibilities and commitments. They must first of all fulfill all their worldly responsibilities and have their worldly needs attended to. This is necessary or the mind will be troubled and it will be difficult to talk about even simple practice. But lay people can practise and may even do better than some who have left home.
The environment may help but cultivation can be done at any place when motivation is right and energy is present. One may be up in the mountains trying to improve his meditation methods or live in accordance with the path of practice, yet who can say that his mind is not still with the world below? It is the mental state that is important so that it does not matter where one practises. Just as long as one has the firm belief that one is able to succeed in the practices and puts energy to it, he will certainly succeed. The Buddha succeeded through great effort over countless lifetimes and had been in our worldly states before. All the great ones too have been subject to the same kind of conditions and have patiently worked out to reach their enlightened states. One must accept the conditions before him and patiently practise. It is easy to give excuses that the conditions are unsuitable for practice but when will such suitable conditions arise? It is all a state of mind and so one must start with removing the mental factors that are moving the mind and causing it difficult to practise.
With simple practice and great determination, one will begin to live a life that is freed of unwholesome actions of the body, speech and mind, and gradually the defilements within will be recognised. The practice of reflection and meditation will help to remove the negativities of one’s own self. This is already the practice of the highest order as it leads to purification of the self and then the desire to practise seriously will arise. Starting with easy practice, one will gradually end up with the greater practice that cleanses others too!
Friday, 4th January 1985
11th Moon, 14th Day