10) Why Do We Need to Endure Suffering?
Why do we need to undergo pain and suffering when we cultivate? If you do not break through the pain barrier, you will not be able to get out of the cycle of birth and death. Imagine Shakyamuni Buddha in his initial cultivation sitting in the Snow Mountains (Himalayas) for six years and eating only one sesame seed and one grain of wheat a day. Wasn’t this suffering? He sat for six years. Do you think his legs or back didn’t ache? He experienced the same kinds of pain and suffering, but he managed to break through them and become a Buddha. Suppose we want to become Buddhas or emulate the Patriarchs. If, without bearing any suffering, we expect to easily attain enlightenment and become Buddhas, then our cultivation and roots of virtue must be deeper and greater than those of the Buddha. Shakyamuni Buddha “cultivated blessings and wisdom for three great
asamkhyeya kalpas and perfected his hallmarks and subsidiary characteristics for an additional hundred
kalpas.” The Buddha had to sit for six years in the Snow Mountains (Himalayas) and sat under the Bodhi tree for 49 days. Upon seeing a bright star at night, he attained enlightenment and became a Buddha. Just take a look at our own foundation. It is definitely shallow compared to the Buddha. Our good roots and virtue certainly cannot compare to those of the Buddha. Therefore, if we cannot even suffer a little pain, it would be a fantasy to think we can attain enlightenment.
11) Taking the Imperial Examination to Become a Top Scholar
We should not leave the meditation topic (huatou) of “Who is mindful of the Buddha” whether we are walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. We should constantly wield the vajra sword to cut off the seven types of emotions, the six desires, as well as our bad habits. When we get rid of our bad habits, our original nature will manifest and Bodhi can be achieved. In our cultivation, we need to face true reality and overcome all circumstances. Although this is difficult, it is the beginning of happiness. A saying goes: “To endure suffering is to end suffering; to enjoy our blessings is to use them up.” Now we are taking the imperial examination to become top scholars. If you do not pass the exams, how would you know you are a top scholar? Therefore, in cultivation, one needs to do things in reverse. Normally people walk with their heads upright, but when you cultivate you should do the reverse. Everybody fears pain. However, a cultivator should endure a little suffering. Another saying goes: “To endure pain is to end pain; to endure suffering is to end suffering.” If it is something that one must go through, then, one should pay off his debts. An average cultivator might say, “It is not right to go through suffering.” We should see from which vantage point this person is making this statement. If he himself refuses to suffer, then, of course he will say it is not right to suffer. But for a person who is willing to endure suffering, then enduring suffering is the right thing to do. Why is that so? Because this person is willing to undergo suffering. Therefore, we should know who is making the statement and not apply it to everyone.
12) Put Our Determination on the Vajra Drill
None of us needs to spend money or use a lot of strength. If we are just able to walk, sit and to investigate Chan and not engage in false thinking, then one day we may bump into or encounter something unexpectedly, and then become enlightened. A person who investigates Chan should be vigorous and put all his determination on the
vajra drill. He should complete the Chan session no matter how difficult is. However, if he puts his determination in the ashes, then when the wind blows, it will be all gone. He will not be successful. A successful person must be able to endure suffering and difficulties. We hope more people in this country will become enlightened, because it will be a great help for the future of Buddhism. If a person truly and sincerely cultivates, then he will have a response. If no one makes the sincere resolve to cultivate, then no one will have a response. Therefore, a person who investigates Chan should use a sincere and determined mind to practice and obtain true wisdom. If you obtain true wisdom, then you will not be deluded. If you are not deluded, you will be able to teach living beings. If you are still not clear about the path, how could you possibly guide others? This is a very important matter.
13) ‘Samadhi’ Defeats the Demons
Someone mentioned that whenever he sat in meditation he felt that he was about to fall into a deep abyss and he was very scared. This is the very initial stage prior to obtaining Chan
samadhi. You should not be frightened. When you are sitting there, you will feel as if a millstone is hanging over your head and is about to drop, or as if an atomic bomb about to explode over you. What should you do? Open you eyes. If you are attached to that state, it is easy to enter a demonic state. The atomic bomb will blow your head off. However, if you are not attached to marks and remain calm, you will be fine. It is said, “Samadhi can defeat all demons” If you have
samadhi, all demons will run away. It is a false state when you see yourself falling into a 10,000 foot abyss. Why does the state of a 10,000 foot abyss manifest? This represents that your past karmic offenses are as deep as an abyss. If you know that you have heavy karmic offenses, you should cultivate and not be afraid. In Chan meditation, states will appear. Sometimes they are good states and other times they are evil states. Why do these states appear? In the past, you harbored good thoughts and now they manifest when you sit in meditation. Or you harbored evil thoughts, so demonic obstacle states will manifest. No matter whether it is a good or a bad state, it comes from the false thoughts you had in the past. Therefore, cultivators should not casually engage in false thinking.
14) The End of All Desires Is a True Blessing
If you have a bit of purity in your mind, the Buddha’s light will shine upon you, eradicating your karmic offenses and increasing your good roots. Sometimes, it is a kind of movement in which you feel like a bomb is about to explode. It is said, “With movement there is change. With change there is transformation.” When the bomb explodes, it will reduce your afflictions and ignorance. When you encounter states, do not attach to whether they are good or bad. Simply carry on with your work. Eat your fill when you are hungry and after you are done, do not start to analyze how good or bad the food was or how it gets digested in your stomach. Do not think about whether the food tasted good or bad; it will all get digested in your stomach. When a state manifests, do not think about whether it is a good state or a bad one. If you start to analyze it, you will fall into the secondary meaning. It is not the primary meaning. This is because your thoughts stirred. Therefore it is said, “When thoughts move, a hundred matters arise. When thoughts cease, ten thousands events disappear.” “The ceasing of the mind and thoughts is true wealth. The end of all desires is a true blessing.” So, no matter what you cultivate, you must cut off your selfish desires. If you don’t, then whatever state you experience will be superficial.
15) This Is Incredible!
There are people who feel at ease whenever they sit in meditation. It is a state of true freedom that words cannot describe. You forget everything when you obtain this kind of state. I have said that those in the Form Realm are attached to the flavor of Chan. The blissful flavor of Chan cannot be compared to anything, how much the less the pleasures of marriage or taking hallucinogenic drugs. This state is incomparable and indescribable. It is like a person who drinks water. Only he knows if it is cold or warm. Therefore it is called freedom – true freedom and ease. Only a person who has gone through this state, knows what it is like. What is meant by “a person who has gone through it”? This refers to a person who has walked the path; he will know at which state or what level you are at. It is like a person who is about to reach the state “the ground of bliss from leaving production” of the Four Dhyanas, this kind of bliss is incomparable. Therefore it is called “the bliss from leaving production”. The person leaves afflictions behind and experiences the bliss of meditation. This is one kind of
samadhi. But do not think this state is something incredible! This is actually a common, ordinary phenomenon. Any person who cultivates Chan can obtain this if he is truly sincere.