By Bhikshu Heng K'ung

In unity there is strength, in diversity there is weakness. Strength is the ability to penetrate to the marrow of a matter, pluck out what's necessary, and go your way. Weakness is an inability to hold to good intentions. Unity is uniting with the proper Way. Diversity is allowing a sense of otherness to creep in. Otherness is thinking that perhaps one would be better off doing something else than what one is doing. This creates doubt and takes the force out of one's action.

In cultivating the Way, one must be definite about what one is doing and be able to act without hesitation. As the saying goes, "He who hesitates is lost." This especially applies to treaders of the Path. A moment's hesitation and the source of our inspiration is no longer there to support us. We lose contact. The True Way does not exist apart from one's first thought. It is the first thought that we unite with and allow to be the motivating principle of our actions.

Uniting with this first thought means at all times and in all places to maintain a passive receptive awareness. If this awareness is not maintained, we will not be able to discriminate our thoughts from the thoughts of others.

Most people are good at self assertion, quick to assert their own ideas and opinions and act upon them. Only the docile cultivator of the Way whose body is subdued from enduring hardships and whose mind is quieted after enduring many mistakes can be considered truly receptive and capable of uniting with the Way and untying the knot of ignorance.

It is the assertion of personal views and wishes that causes us to be blind to the self existent Path that is laid out before us. If we can dwell in non-duality, everything we do can be considered cultivation. If we continue to assert and never unite, we will continue creating obstructions for ourselves. Until one is awakened, the Way often seems simple and ordinary and without flavor. After awakening, even the most common acts of daily lift will cause a sense of wonder within us and be a source of inspiration. One only need look at the smile of a Buddha to know this is so.

AUGUST 24th-31st

"In cultivation it is important to be vigorous, courageous, and not lax or lazy, but just go forward and cultivate, just as when you plant things. When you've planted the ground then you have to fertilize it, water it, care for it, and then you will get a harvest. If you plant the seed and you don't give it any water, earth or sunlight, and all the other conditions necessary, it will not grow.

      "Our cultivation of the Way is also like that. Our sitting in the Ch'an Hall is planting a vajra seed. On planting a vajra seed. Once the vajra seed is planted you should practice giving, hold the precepts, be patient, be vigorous, have ch'an samadhi, and prajna wisdom. In this way, sooner or later, the vajra seed will sprout.