Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Practice (修行)

Mind-training is a key practice. According to the “Eight Verses of Mind Training” which I often referred to, we should reflect on our own shortcomings but not those of others. When you reflect on the shortcomings of others, you will never succeed in your practice. The more you reflect on the shortcomings of others, the more shortcomings you will see in others. If you reflect on the shortcomings of your teacher and if he happens to be an enlightened master, the more you criticize him, the faster you will fall. So, do not criticize others of their shortcomings. It is most crucial to reflect on our own shortcomings, which is the only way to succeed in your practice.

Reflect on the merits of others but reflect on the shortcomings of our own. A teacher nearest to us is always right! Do not look too far away because you might think that a teacher far away seems better, but you have no opportunity to follow him closely. Assuming you have the opportunity to follow another teacher closely, you will still continue to find faults in that teacher. Do not look afar, just look at our own shortcomings.

Mind-training is the most important practice. When you have accomplished your mind training, you will see amber in a stone. Asanga went into a 12-year retreat, longing to meet Bodhisattva Maitreya one day. Finally, when he came across a sick dog with half its body infested by maggots, he felt strongly for the poor dog and decided to help remove the maggots by licking them away without hurting them too. The very moment he fully developed his great sense of compassion, Bodhisattva Maitreya appeared before his eyes. Upon seeing Bodhisattva Maitreya, Asanga was so touched that he cried.

He asked Bodhisattva Maitreya why had He not appeared before him in the past during his long retreat. Bodhisattva Maitreya said, “It was not true that I did not appear before you. But it was your own lust, hatred and ignorance that blinded your vision. I had always been around you without you knowing. When you have fully developed your sense of compassion, you can see me. This story tells us the importance of mind-training.