Just that that period of time that you sit before your altar, your heart is filled with devotion and you are able to generate the feeling of love and compassion towards all beings, whatever prayers that come to mind and from your sincere heart, you have succeeded to start the day well and with the correct frame of mind, and heaven will be moved by such a being as you.
Of the many methods of worship which you have come across which one is most suitable to you? Practise that whole-heartedly so that your whole being may be absorbed into it and then you have experienced one-pointedness in worship. Other methods of practice may be wonderful too, but if they cause impatience and unwillingness of practice, they are not suited to your temperament. Instead of being involved and committed by such practices which do not lead to tranquility of mind, do not force yourself to adhere to them for the time being. There will be days when the mind is more settled and you have the wish to spend a longer time in worship, at such times, you should practise all other methods too. At all times, the period of worship must bring you a happy and calm mind, must develop your compassionate nature, must teach you to be contented with and appreciative of your life’s situations, and must lead you to greater faith and devotion in the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are limitless in number and they all share the same essence of wisdom and compassion, they are but different aspects of the same Pure Nature, so there is no need to seek the practices of each one of them. Having faith in one is having faith in all. If you are one whose mind can easily be confused, then only accept worshipping just a Buddha or Bodhisattva and one-pointedly adore Him. Adoring the Enlightened Ones for worldly benefits do not make you into a Buddhist no matter how regular your worship has been. Know your religion; read, hear and understand the Dharma and know that the purpose of life is not one of grasping, nor one of escapism, but one of detachment and one of facing the eternal Truth! Those who become Buddhists for the sake of worldly advancement have missed the Path completely and they will develop a mind which is filled with greed, anger and delusion. They are increasing the poisons of the mind and they will make a mockery of Buddhism. They are Buddhists in name only but will never know eternal joy for a long long time, for they have only Mara at heart!
To have become a Buddhist in this lifetime is the result of good karma and practice in the past. To succeed in becoming a Buddhist will again depend on the generation of good karma through the various disciplinary practices which are likely to be quite painful to many. There is no question of one attaining a free and happy life just because he has accepted and began to practise Buddhism. If they are able to understand that discipline will always be painful at the beginning for all, they must not complain and give up. To have to reject the attractions of worldly pleasures cannot be a happy practice at first and no one should think that just by accepting sufferings and rejecting worldly pleasures, enlightenment can be won. Each person who is best on the path of cultivation must exercise wisdom and therefore needs the help of a teacher. He must be led to understand that everything arises from the mind and therefore his attitude and motivation of practice must be such that he does not hold a narrow view, and he must be led to understand the nature of life and its relationships with the Dharma. Then pains and pleasures will not disturb his mind and wisdom is won.
Attachment to guru or teacher is good for a certain extent, but those who are over attached to one are warned against developing emotional attachments which cannot be beneficial. The results of emotional attachment should be meditated upon so that one is attached to the guru only for his great compassion in imparting his knowledge, for his kindliness towards others and for his other virtues. At no time must anyone become emotionally attached to the guru or the guru to the disciples, this is a golden rule which must be observed!
In cultivation there must be peace of mind and only pure love may be developed. Treat all mankind as one big family, love the older ones as your father or mother, those around your age to be your brothers and sisters and those much younger than you to be your own children! Then it is easier to learn to care for all without discrimination, then there will be lesser problems in practice.
What is the sole aim of human life? Not for the worldly attainment which will bring temporal joys only to be followed by great sufferings but to seek for the ultimate and peerless bliss of liberation from the rounds of birth and rebirth. How many times have you practised and how have you failed? Otherwise Enlightenment would have been won and there is no need of yet another lifetime. Again you are now faced with the opportunity which will lead to enlightenment, will you accept the challenges or not? How many times have such opportunities come before you that you have let go of? Fearing pain and yet preferring to live in it, how deluded the mind is. What then is the reason for not accepting Dharma as practice?
Again it’s the fear of pains, the pains of missing out life’s attractions and novelty and the pains of discipline. Knowing the causes of happiness and having them before you, you are still faltering, how can true happiness that is free from misery be won? This then is the state of mind that all human beings are suffering from. Clinging on to the causes of pains and treating them as joys of life when in actuality they are the very causes of all lives’ problem! Life must therefore be lived with wisdom if you are really hoping to be rid of its miseries. This calls for a serious understanding of your own nature and your weaknesses for indeed you are your own worst enemy!
Tuesday, 26th November 1985
10th Moon, 15th Day