Each time you find that thoughts are harassing you and making it difficult to sit, you must put forth greater energy, you must treat this as an opportunity to practise vigorously. Unless you decide to conquer your mind, no one can help you. Once you have developed your practice to the state where peace of mind is quite easily attainable, you must sit longer and be prepared for further occasions of more and more intense tests to come.
The day when you have finally attained peace of mind, life becomes somewhat different and you will be in the position to see life as it is. When you are filled with faith and confidence, when you are able to live without too much attachments to worldly things, you will no longer be affected by joy and pain. You will know that the arising and ceasing of pains and happiness are but natural releases of former karmic energies. Then you will not hold views of things related to life as you are doing now. You will be moved to live meaningfully even as a householder and there is no need for you to think of leaving home to cultivate. Unless you are able to detach yourself from your family and your possessions, leaving home is the worst that you can do and the chances of success will be small. When you are ready to take up a spiritual life, all kinds of conditions and circumstances will not deter you. Family will be taken as a great blessing and motivation for practice. Possessions shall not cause you to feel great pains when you lost them one way or another. Both are not evils in any way if the right attitude and views are held.
Therefore, I do not require you to plan to live by yourself somewhere in the hills when later years approach you. You will only act selfishly if you hold such a view because you will not be able to benefit many by living as a recluse. The way of the bodhisattva is to live among beings so that they may be helped at all times. Do away with the idea of wanting to live by yourself some day and be prepared to be in the midst of people, in the mist of good and evil so that evenness of mind can be cultivated. It is understood that the place of prayer and worship or cultivation should be where others may come easily. Causing burden to others to come and join you in worship will not be a very good act.
Those who are with you need not learn all the difficult doctrines if they do not have the capability to do so. All of you need only to develop faith in your prayers, strength in your practice, love and warmth within your hearts, and sincerity in your vows. Even if you do not find enlightenment within this life time, just sow the seeds that are good, set causes which are noble and live as meaningfully and courageously as possible and the future lives will be blessed with even greater opportunities to cultivate. Follow the path that is slow and steady. Reduce haste or you will be filled with the desires which may be the very sources of disappointment that will cause you to abandon the path. Expect weaknesses in yourself and in others and be ready to correct yourself and overlook others’ fault. A humble mind must be present before you can start practising patience and equanimity of mind.
Each day is an opportunity to learn and to practise. There is no need to abandon wealth, possessions and family and treat them as hindrances. When the state of mind is not pure, hindrances will be more than just visible things which are more harmful to your practice. The way you put effort to gain wealth and possessions should also be the way you apply to seek spiritual wealth, but it must be the noble way without any foul means, then what is yours is not harmful to you. But the clinging to the worldly possessions must be watched, must be destroyed so that when you have acquired much, you must be able to reflect and understand that all other beings too are trying hard to have something in life.
Then be ready to give. Give in terms of assistance of money, advice and help that will encourage others to move along the right path. Avoid causing others to envy you or giving wrong directions. Be ready to lose your possessions too and do not hold wrong views in times of defeat and losses. Wealth is good only when you know what to do with it wisely, is bad when it causes you to fall to greater greed. But when you have a mind which is wise through discipline, nothing in this world will be good or evil, you will be able to live happily whether you have much or little, because you have gained peace of mind!
Sunday, 15th January 1984
12th Moon, 13th Day