In polite society everybody notices if a man's hands are dirty. He'll be stared at contemptuously. Why, the fellow will be wretched until he washes his hands.
But isn't it funny how a man can character that's defiled by greed and hate and nobody will pay the slightest attention? He'll move about in perfect ease. Evidently, a dirty character isn't worthy of notice as a dirty hand.
It's so simple to restore dirty hands to a state of purity. Just wash them. But what about corrupted character? That's quite another problem...
Everything in the universe is subject to change. There's only one exception: death always follows life. Isn't it strange that people haven't noticed this, that they conduct their lives as though they're going to live forever, that death is nothing to worry about?
Of course if they want to live as long as they obviously expect, they'd best pursue the Dharma. Life, death and change itself are transcended in the Dharmakaya.
People think that if they possess worldly knowledge they know everything. But that's not correct. Even when subjects are mastered there's always room for error. And if the finest archers can miss their targets occasionally, what about the mediocre ones?
When we know the Dharma, we have all the information we need. No matter what the other facts we acquire additionally, our storehouse of knowledge, though very deep and wide, is already full.
If men can't even evade the demands of their father and emperor, what can they do when Death gives them an order? They may protest bitterly and scream at heaven, but they've got to obey. The man who howls the loudest is the one who thinks he has just reached the pinnacle of worldly success.
The enlightened understand life and death. They always live well and never complain.
The rich are admired because they have saved money. But what's been saved can be spent. The admiration goes with the money. A king receives loyalty because his people regard him as noble. If they decide he is acting badly, he may lose more than his throne. Those who are in rich in the Dharma and noble in the Buddha's Way always retain their wealth and the fealty of the people.
There are people who, having accomplished nothing, connive to receive great honors or high positions of authority. Well, people who gain high rank without having earned it are like rootless trees. They live in fear that even the slightest wind will topple them.
What are the two most common goals for people who live in the world? Wealth and fame. To attain these goals, people are willing to lose everything, including their health, mind and spirit. Not a very good exchange is it?
Worldly wealth and fame fade so quickly that we wonder which will last longer: the money, the fame, or the man.
But consider the goal of enlightenment, of attaining the wealth of the Dharma. Those who reach this goal are vigorous in body, keen in mind, and serene in spirit... right into eternity.
People are always looking for the easy way. The hard way - the way learned by difficult experience and painful realizations - doesn't interest them. They want a short cut.
True Dharma seekers are afraid of short cuts. They know better. They know that without effort, there's not sense of accomplishment. It's that sense that keeps them going.
People who don't appreciate the struggles of climbing lack understanding of where they've been, awareness of who they are, and determination to continue climbing. That's why they never attain the Dharma.
It is easier to do the right thing when we know what the right thing to do is. We can't rely on instinct to find the Way. We need guidance.
But once we're shown the path and begin to climb it, we find that with each step up, we grow in wisdom and fortitude. Looking down, we see how many of our old desires have fallen dead on the wayside. They look so feeble lying there that we wonder why we ever thought we lacked the courage to resist them.
The Mountain of Wisdom is different from other mountains. The higher we climb, the stronger we grow.
Look at people who keep tigers as pets. Even while they're laughing and playing with them, in the back of their minds they're afraid their pet will suddenly turn on them. They never forget how dangerous tigers are.
But what about people who lust after possessions, indulging themselves with one acquisition after another? They remain completely unaware of any danger.
Why are certain material objects so treasured? A gem is virtually useless and a gilded scabbard is no better than a plain one.
Man decides that gold is valuable because it is rare and enduring and brilliant. He then thinks that if he possesses gold, he himself will become rare or unique, that his individual worth will endure, and that he also will be considered a rather brilliant fellow. So obsessed he may become with these foolish notions that in trying to obtain gold, he will destroy the very life he is trying to embellish.
In the darkness of delusion the unenlightened believe that they can glorify themselves by reflecting the qualities they have assigned to their possessions. Those who live the enlightened life readily discern that the qualities of an object are not transferred to its possessor. They can see right through them.
Great accomplishments are composed of minute details. Those who have succeeded in attaining the Whole have attended carefully to each tiny part. Those who fail have ignored or taken too lightly what they deemed to be insignificant.
The heart's weather should always be clear, always sunny and calm. The only time the weather could turn bad is when clouds of lust and attachment form. These always bring storms of worry and confusion.
A single speck in the eye blurs good vision, we see double or triple images. A single dirty thought confounds a rational mind. Many errors in judgement can arise from it.
Remove that speck and see clearly! Remove that dirty thought and think clearly!