15. It is because your samadhi is insufficient.
Cultivators who know how to apply effort can cultivate even in a noisy place. Those who do not understand how to apply effort cannot cultivate even in a total vaccuum. In this world, it is virtually impossible to find a place without sound. In the Chan halls in China, you can also hear sneezing and coughing. If there is a lot of human traffic moving in and out of the Chan halls, it is hard to deal with because some people do not want to cultivate and abide by the rules. When it is not the proper time to take care of worldly matters, hardworking cultivators should not pay attention to these matters.
Someone said to me, “There isn’t a single quiet place here.” Well, if you are calm, then everywhere is quiet. If you are not calm, then everywhere is noisy and you will always be afflicted. Even when no one else is around, you will still not be able to get along with yourself. Why? Because you cannot overcome the environment and are influenced by your surroundings. If you can look but not see and listen but not hear, then you are truly a cultivator of the Buddhadharma. Someone may say, “You must just be kidding around with us; we cannot achieve any of these things!” If you cannot, then you have not realized the Way. Once you realize the Way, these are but small states. You can change a noisy city into a mountain forest, and it feels no different being in the woods or in the noisy city.
16. Do not blame others.
Now I will discuss “looking but not seeing, and listening but not hearing.” When you first see something, you take notice of it. With time, you forget about it. Suppose there is an old grandfather clock that goes “tick tock, tick tock.” Once you are used to it, you won’t hear it anymore. The clock continues to tick-tock everyday, but you are not aware of it. Why is this? It is because you have forgotten the clock. Your mind does not focus on the clock, but when you suddenly remember the clock, you hear the tick-tocking again. That is why I said, “The eyes see forms, but inside there is nothing. The ears hear mundane sounds, but the mind does not know.”
If others seem to be disturbing you, do not blame them. It is just that you do not have samadhi. If you did, then no matter how much others tried to disturb you, you would not be distracted. How do you know that others are moving? It is because when they move, your mind moves. If your mind did not move, others’ movements would not be able to influence you. Whether you experience a minor or major, good or bad state, if you know how to use the Buddhadharma, it will not be an issue at all. Someone says, “I do not know how to use it now.” If you do not know how, then you must learn. This is the path you must walk. When your skill deepens, you will not be affected by your surroundings. When you have samadhi, nothing can move your mind.
17. Let’s see if your mind moves.
There is a saying in China, “One who is learned has no temper.” If you truly are a learned person, you will not flare up. Why do people have tempers? It is because they are not learned. If you have enough samadhi, then even if a place is supposed to be bad, you can influence it to become good.
I once told you, “As long as I am in San Francisco, I will not allow an earthquake to happen here.” For a person who does not understand Buddhism, this may sound impossible. However, a person who does understand Buddhism knows that if one has samadhi, no matter where one is, that place will be stable and will not experience calamities. We are now learning samadhi and if you really have samadhi, no matter where you are, that place will be peaceful. On the other hand, if you do not, then even if you go to a peaceful place, that place will not be peaceful for you. This is because your mind is moving.
18. I am better than you are.
Q: I have sat in meditation for so long, why have not I entered samadhi?
A: It is because you are sitting there indulging in false thinking and not really cultivating. That is why you have not entered samadhi. In the past, people used to become enlightened very quickly if they really cultivated vigorously and could see their true nature. Nowadays, many people just cultivate superficially and are not able to deeply enter samadhi. They may sit in meditation for an hour, two hours, three, four, five, six hours or even one day at a time, and never become enlightened. Why is that the case?
It is because they have the mentality of competing with others. They want others to look at them, and they think, “Look at me! I have sat for the longest time in meditation and have the most experience in cultivation. I am much more capable than all of you.” It is precisely due to such a competitive mentality that they may meditate for eighty thousand great eons and never become enlightened.