Teaching of the month - Dec 2019

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THE POINT OF CHANGE

30 Yi Ru Guan Yin

A moment when a new practitioner decides to wake up to reality, to replace one’s worldly desires for unusual happenings and miracles with learning and practising the teachings of the Buddha to rise above all obstacles in order to journey forward in the direction of the true goal of spiritual cultivation.

OM MANI PADME HUM

Attachment to manifestations, to miracles, to unusual happenings, or reactions of all kinds can be a great hindrance to spiritual progress. It is true and quite common of many wondrous happenings that the early seekers will experience and they will certainly rejoice in them and taking them to be great and auspicious signs of advancement so that they are caused to cultivate with greater zeal. However, there will come a time when all such happenings become quite ordinary and mundane again. The mind has got used to them and is seeking for more and more. This is the point of change. It is a vital period of the practitioner’s life, he or she may progress further, or become stalled, or even begin to go backwards. This is the moment that determines one’s understanding of his early foundations; his motivations in taking up the spiritual path. When the mind is weak and there is no guide around, such a moment may be quite disastrous as there is the tendency for the weak mind to fall to superstitions beliefs or weakness of his or her character. Be aware of such moments of those who come, be aware of your own moments of change too. You may be asked why this is so or why should such happy signs come about if there is the possibility of negative results. It will be quite difficult to give a general answer that will be satisfactory to all because of their mental states which are so varied. Still you will have to explain that to them!

Why do so many things happen to a new practitioner of spiritual cultivation? It’s quite natural really and they should accept them as blessings, as signs of divine blessings. The mind is opening up a new field, attaining new insights through the sincere practice of devotion and purification of the mind. Whatever happens to him, around him, is seen and felt by him, he is cultivating awareness and he is full of faith. For that, many other things do happen as a result of deep faith and sincere devotion, karmic seeds ripen, “miracles” seem to happen spontaneously. This person is gratified, satisfied, and jubilant! This is indeed a good and auspicious sign! But in time, all such little but wonderful ‘miracles’ will lose their attractions and flavours if the person is of a greedy nature who has no doctrinal foundation. He seeks for more and yearns for the impossible - he will be let down. He has lost his directions, he has no idea of the spiritual goal and instead of purifying his mind, he gathers more defilements and practises non-virtuous attainment. He may be caused to seek for some power to inspire himself or others. It will be quite fortunate for such a person, if, at such a moment, he does not meet up with a wrong teacher who can easily sway his mind!

But then, not all will have such a nature, so why do ‘miracles’ stop? It’s a sign that cultivation is not for the purpose of experiencing unusual happenings and events; it is a sign to tell you to wake up and seek for the true goal of cultivation - to do away with minor attractions which are just means to attract you to the new path. But such attractions will no longer be beneficial after some time. The person must wake up to reality and learn to stand solidly on the ground by his ownself! For that, one must be ready to leave behind all kinds of attractions which are actually distractions to the true seekers! What are they seeking for ultimately? Realising this very important point, they must be ready to do away with petty attractions which can hold them to the ground, progress will be difficult! The great importance of learning the teachings of the Buddha will help them to cross over this obstacle! This is the moment for more solid foundation building! One no longer need to cling on to miracles to help him, that stage is over! One must learn to walk and must be able to walk boldly! The entrance to a cave is always an attraction to those who are there for the first time - the sights, smell, and feelings are so different from the mundane world, they are aesthetic! So calm, so beautiful to their minds. As they enter, the attractions begin to dim and then there is the darkness which they are unfamiliar with. Even though all the original signs of attraction are still there but no longer visible, their minds will come to a standstill!

Will the journey forward really bring them to any real rewards? Will this or that happen? Will there be better and greater sights for them to enjoy? These and numberless questions may arise. This is the moment of doubt! Some will be brave to venture forward because they know that further along will again be light and greater sights! They have heard from others about what’s in store for them but most will retreat! This is the kind of situation that each and every one who is a ‘seeker’ will have the experience! And such situations will happen all over again and again as one journeys forth. Faith is needed but more important, guides are needed. Experienced ones are the best! They have walked the path so many times, have gone through such fears and doubts, have fallen and learned, have attained knowledge which are true and helpful, have developed the ability to walk on even without the help of the torches! They have spent energy, determination and time to become such useful beings to the beginners, they are already wise to the ways! They have decided to become guides so as to give help and encouragement, so that others too may enjoy the bliss of goal’s end! These are the Beings that are the examples to cultivators! They have learned to stop clinging, to stop depending on attractions which have held them back from progress before, they have displayed courage and won the perfect knowledge of wisdom!

So do you still need to see signs before you will go any further? Miracles are happening at each moment of time but the original zeal that you have discovered at the beginning of the search has been clouded by doubts, complacency, and false views, may be clouded by them, would be affected by them - awareness is no longer sharp! Know that even in the darkest area of the cave, there is no change, the wonderful sights are still there if you can see! Move on, move on and do not be used to doubt so easily! Develop courage and faith in yourself or you will not walk the way. The moment for moving up the next step awaits those who are ready - such a moment is when one is ready to discard the attractions, when one is bent on realising the true goal!

From this day onward, those who have understood the benefits and pitfalls of unusual happenings to their early cultivation, should be able to rise above all kinds of attractions which may be quite subtle! There is no longer need for more signs to stir you on. Like a person who has finished school and is about to seek his fortune in the world, he no longer needs his school books. He must be confident and he has had all the knowledge gained at school in the past to be his foundation. Therefore, treat the past experiences as being necessary for that period of time only. Sticking on to them and refusing to go forward is foolishness!

Discard foolish views but hold on to the good motivations of practice. Apply wisdom to everyday living, keep the precepts but adopting the Noble Eightfold Path as the way of life! Nothing will bring about enlightenment except by the practice of the Dharma. In the process of learning and practising Dharma, many experiences must be encountered and they are good and beneficial only at that point of time, but they do not bring about enlightenment unless one is ready to move on to the next stage. Having experienced some spiritual awakening, one must be ready to develop the seed of greater awakening - Bodhicitta! This second awakening requires greater practice, greater commitment, greater understanding of the Dharma, frequent deep meditation and contemplation!

Move on to this next stage of spiritual development, know the precepts, practise them as best as you can each day, see the world with a different eye, practise loving kindness to all and become ‘miracles’ to other beginners!

Wednesday, 20th June 1984
5th Moon, 21st Day

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