Take the landing of aircraft for instance, the airplane flies at high altitude at a certain speed, and when it lands, there is the inertia force of dashing forward, on and on, and will then gradually slow down. It is impossible for an airplane to come to a full stop right after landing, otherwise, that might cause problems. Thus, there are several steel wire ropes laid across the flight deck to rapidly decelerate the aircraft.
If our mind in a way were the fighter aircraft, what kind of pulling force does it require to halt us right on this Dharma ship?
While you are fully occupied with lots of mundane tasks just like the aircraft soaring high up in the air, how fast could you land on the aircraft carrier and listen to the teaching? The carrier can carry us to the shore of the unsurpassable enlightenment. How soon you could land, also takes practice.
Hence, those steel wire ropes are very crucial. The design and making of these steel wire ropes are very sophisticatedly precise. To stop the fighter aircraft running at high speed on the runway, you can imagine how important these ropes are! That is why later on people named it as the fighter pilot’s “lifeline” because if it can’t halt the fighter aircraft, the airplane will land short and race all the way into the ocean. Thus, these steel wires are very important.
Thus, what exactly is this steel wire rope, the rope or the lifeline that can halt us quickly? Is it the blessing power from the teacher? Is it my faith? Is it my aspiration for virtue? Or is it something else?
Are you grabbing onto that rope? Did you see the rope? The rope is crucial because it would quickly halt you in a very short timeframe and make you stay focused on the teaching!
When we encounter a troublesome matter, quieten down and observe ourselves. What is the major thing that has happened? Consider if there is an even more major concern that is happening at that time.
Have you discovered the two following points? No.1 – I have already taken refuge in the Three Jewels. No. 2 – I apply correct views and mindfulness.
As disciples of the Three Jewels, the things that we ought to do are to take refuge in the Three Jewels, and be vigilant in and uphold our correct views and mindfulness. These are the most major matters.
If we take refuge in the Three Jewels, there will be assurance in our voyage of life.
If we are able to apply correct views and mindfulness, our quality of life will remain at a high level, thus, enabling us to utilize our life of leisure and opportunity in the most satisfying way.
If we can do that, we will not be obstructed and blinded by troublesome matters.
Are we able to shift our attention away from various hectic conditions, and quickly stay focused on the teaching? How quickly can we collect ourselves?
Maybe you were angry or sad, or burned out or you were tied up and can’t let go, so on and so forth. There seem to be many things distracting you from being focused. So, we have to force ourselves. But what does it mean to “force ourselves”? It is to deliberately guide our minds to stay attentive to the teaching.
So, it all depends on how quickly we can switch our minds. For some people, upon hearing the teaching, they can immediately become fully attentive. <Illuminating the Path to Enlightenment> says that such a state is like a thunderclap coming out of the clear sky in the wilderness; a small animal would suddenly focus its entire attention. It is described as “like an animal hearing sudden noises” – everything else is halted, and the animal becomes attentive to the sound.
Our listening to the teaching should be like that — all the other objects of concern just disappeared, except for the teaching that is in our minds or by our ears.
The desire we seek to cultivate is that which directs us to the pursuit and yearning for the Dharma.It is the essential foundation for motivating joyous perseverance and with it; our attainment of true Dharma benefit becomes available.
“So why did we develop such strong sense of desire and yearning for the Dharma? This is because we have understood the concise principles, and able to apply it physically and mentally – observing our mind. What kind of perspectives should we use to view our surroundings? It should be said that, be it judging (someone/something) or recalling the kindness (of someone), what kind of right views should be used when doing these?
Once we gradually practice this, in the deep corner of our hearts, there will at least be an understanding that has risen from our surroundings. At times, there could be the development of a better understanding of ourselves. Another example would be, say, you may be extremely tired and your mind wishes to rest for a while. But after listening, you feel that your energy has slowly regained and not feeling that tired anymore. This is because when listening to the Dharma, it will allow the extremely tired mind to receive rest and adjustment, these are the benefits that the Dharma bring to us.
Hence, if we are in a situation where we can adequately adjust our mindset, or when facing certain dire situations at our wit’s end, and we receive insights and then suddenly find some hope – all these can be obtained from the Dharma. And this is how we can develop the yearning aspiration for Dharma.”
“Cultivation is not merely cultivating concentration or the wisdom of emptiness. As long as it corrects our minds and impels us to advance forward in the correct direction, every step is cultivation.” – Venerable Jingyuan
“To become proficient in cultivating the core of cultivation requires listening to teachings and contemplating extensively, understanding the teachings, and grasping clearly the perfect and complete good qualities of the teachings in vast quantities, including stages of the path. Besides, the ability to integrate the teachings in the mind is a requirement.” – Venerable Jingyuan