Sweet dew of the Dharma: Faith in Mind (II)

Excerpt from a talk given by Ven. Jian Hu at Buddha Gate Monastery

The more you speak and ponder,
The less you concur with the way.

Cease all talking and pondering,
And there is nowhere you cannot reach.

As soon as right and wrong arise,
The mind is scattered and lost.

Two sides comes from one,
Hold on not even to one.

“Two sides” refers to the dualistic view of things, the dichotomy we perceive. Justice and evil (are justice and evil opposites?). Good and bad, life and death-they are not opposites, they are the of the same fabric-living is dying, and dying is living. Every moment you are dying; every moment you are living. It’s all the same.

When even one-mind does not arise.
All dharmas are flawless.
The Great Way is broad and wide.
Neither easy nor difficult.
The narrow-viewed have doubts,
Rushing on they fall behind.

So the Great Way, the Path, is broad and wide. It’s not easy; it’s not difficult. Those with narrow views have doubts. When we are stuck in our own views, biases, and prejudices, then our choices become very limited. When we open ourselves up, we will have many choices no matter where we go. Many years ago I saw an movie “Coming to America” starring Eddie Murphy. He was a prince from Africa who came to Harlem and took a job at a fast food establishment. He served fast food and cleaned windows. One thing I remembered clearly from the movie: He whistled while cleaning the windows; he was very happy as if it were the best job in the world. Think about that. When he served burgers to the customers, he always had a happy attitude. It made the customers happy and kept him happy. Some people may think that it was a lowly and useless job. But he was so happy to be cleaning windows. We should throw away our prejudices and get down to the simple basics. What makes us happy? What do we really need? Is happiness really that complicated?

Once when I was on a plane to Taiwan, I took out the in-flight magazine where I found an advertisement promoting a very high tech bed. It had different controls on each side, and different levels of softness. The husband slept on one side, the wife on the other. You could adjust the curvature of the bed, make it vibrate, and change the temperature. It said, “Now, you can finally have a good nights’ sleep.” I was very amused. That is a typical thinking of many people here: thinking that your comfort and peace of mind depend on something physical, on the environment. We take great lengths in molding our physical environment. Automatic doors always amuse me. How much effort does it take to open a door? People invent all these technologies to open a door. When I first came to America about 25 years ago, very few people owned a car in Taiwan, while everyone here owned a car. People drove to the supermarkets even though they may only be five minutes away. And what’s more, they will circle around many times just to find a parking space a few steps closer to the entrance. So it takes them three extra minutes to find a closer parking space when in reality it would have taken only 20 seconds to walk from another space further away. You spend all this time trying to save your energy, and then you go and spend money at the health clubs to use up your energy so you can become healthy. We make our lives so complicated.

On Friday, I went to the Walnut Creek Intermediate School to teach sixth graders about Buddhism. I was very impressed that they had such a program to teach the religions at sixth grade. The kids asked me, “What do you do for fun? What do you do for exercise? Can you go skateboarding?” It was a little hard to explain to them that my job is fun, my work is fun. I totally enjoy it. It does not make sense to work for five days and then have fun on the other two days, does it? You job should be meaningful, fulfilling, and fun every day. I couldn’t quite explain to them that my exercise is sweeping the grounds, washing the windows. They wouldn’t understand how it could be fun. The best time of the day is to go up the hill to sweep the leaves if I have the time, to see the morning sun come up and shine through the trees. The morning sun is so beautiful. Sweeping is a great exercise for me.

With clinging one loses discernment
And will surely go astray.
Let everything go and be genuine
The essence neither goes nor stays.

When you need something badly, it is called clinging. When you desire something intensely, it hurts you, it makes you suffer, and makes you unhappy. Then you lose your rightful judgment, you do foolish things, and you go astray. In your spiritual practice, if you want something badly, but you don do it the right way, you are not persistent and patient; if you want enlightenment very badly, you will never get it. It when you dispense of all thoughts of enlightenment that you will attain it.

So that’s difficult. It is very easy but very difficult. Let everything go and be genuine. Let all your gripes, all your prejudices, and all your preconceptions go; let them go. Be open like a newborn baby but with the intelligence of an adult, with the discernment and wisdom of an adult, but open-minded like the newborn baby-it called the beginner mind. And you will find that life is full of wonders. The essence, the truth, will not come and go. Truth just is. Truth is not out there somewhere else, very far away. Truth is right here, right now, at every moment. You can discover it, you can just open yourself to it. The wise make no effort; the fools entangle themselves, right? Don’t we create a lot of machines to make our lives very complicated and then take lessons to learn how they work and then hire someone to fix them when they breakdown? You invent ways to make your life more comfortable, so you don’t have to walk; you spend years of your intelligence to create new technology so you don have to walk, and then you had to invent these walking machines. Isn’t it ironic?

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