How easy is spiritual cultivation? You could say that it is easy and yet not easy. You could also say that is tough and yet not tough. The numerous enlightened beings including the bodhisattvas and the enlightened masters have re-incarnated at will in this world to provide the opportunity for other sentient beings to learn from them directly, but there had been very few cases of success. Sentient beings have accumulated too great a negative karma (lust, hatred and ignorance) since time immemorial; although they do their daily practices, the merit generated from which is completely nullified by the negative karma created on a daily basis through their own actions, speech and thoughts. Although you do not kill or hurt others, your negative thoughts could have already more than adequate to nullify all your merits. That explains why so many cultivators actually regress on the spiritual path instead of making progress.
In Vajrayana Buddhism, you will need to spend the first 12 years studying the Hinayana and Mahayana doctrines and observe the precepts very closely, before being admitted into the Vajrayana practices. That was the practice in the old days by the patriarchs. So, we have skipped the rule. The danger of skipping the rule is that you will end up confused when you are given the higher teachings before you are ready; you will sometimes find yourself completely lost, not knowing what to do. Sometimes you would have spoken some wrong words and created a bad karma without you knowing. That is why the precepts are so crucial. You had better not say anything you are not sure of.
There is a precept in the Vajrayana Buddhism – the fellow vajrayanists must not quarrel with one another. So, please abide by this precept strictly when you learn about it. If you quarrel with a teacher of the dharma, that is even worse. The Vajrayana precepts are very crucial. Please watch your own thoughts, speech and actions closely, and repent immediately when you harbor ill thoughts; this is the only way to make progress on the spiritual path. So, you should know it whether you have made advancement in your cultivation.
If you end up becoming more opinionated, argumental and easily annoyed, you have to pay attention. You should just reflect inward to see if you have gone astray. If it is your own mistake, make amends. You should not be picking on others as it will lead you to nowhere. Only when you reflect inward, do your own soul searching, you will be able to eradicate your own lust, hatred and ignorance gradually.
Even the patriarchs went through numerous lifetimes to perfect their cultivation. There is no one who could succeed in his cultivation in one single lifetime, including myself. I reflect inward daily and ask myself if I did it right? Did I say something wrong or did it cause any misunderstanding by others? If I did it wrong, I will need to make amends. Sometimes, as I am getting old, I tend to forget what I have just said, or what I said yesterday. So, please do not just pick on the flaws of others, but learn to see the positive side of another person.
Cherish the time we have together, especially the opportunity to learn and practice the Tantras which is in fact very rare and inconceivable. No one can succeed in his cultivation instantaneously, and I dare not give you the guarantee that you can achieve great success in your cultivation. If you finally succeed in your cultivation, I will be the most happy person to celebrate your success, and it will be worth my pain of going through the learning process with you. I will be more than willing to go to hell for your enlightenment. So, I wish that you would gradually cleanse your negative karma by constantly reflecting inward, but not outward. You must progress towards reducing your own anxieties and becoming an easy person. Otherwise, you will need to reflect upon yourself – maybe it is time to repent?
Please think about this crucial point.