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Listen to Yourself: Think Everything Over
Don't Push for Speed
No matter what method you use in applying your effort at cultivating the Way—whether it be reciting the buddha’s name, holding mantras, studying the teachings, holding precepts, meditation, cultivating the pure Land School, the Teachings School, and so on—you shouldn’t be greedy for quick results. If you are greedy for a quick accomplishment you will make a mistake. Greed for speedy success still boils down to having a greed-mind, and that will obstruct your wisdom on the causal ground. It will also obstruct the light of your self-nature, because the light of your self-nature doesn’t have any greed in it.
Never has there been an efficacious response founded on greed. If you retain a greed mind while you cultivate the Way, it’s like having a piece of gold and covering it up with dirt. So, don’t be greedy for quantity or speed, don’t try to get off easy without doing the requisite work. If you don’t have a greed mind, you can put things down; if you can put things down, you can obtain samadhi, and only after obtaining samadhi can you open great wisdom. All of you should very deeply understand this. Don’t be greedy for speed. If you are crazed over the idea of getting there quickly, you won’t arrive at your destination.
For instance, if you want to go to new York and wish to get there fast but don’t do the necessary things to get there—such as taking a plane, or a train, or a bus—but just figure, “I’ll get there on my own two legs, and I’ll get there quickly!” then you’ll rush on and die of fatigue and not get there at all. Cultivating the Way is also like that. You do everything very naturally. You should apply your effort very naturally and you shouldn’t think about whether or not it’s being effective or whether you are obtaining any good results. Don’t think about anything at all. Just go forward in applying your effort—continue with your hard work.
Moreover, every day you should change your faults—this is really important. If in any single day you don’t find any faults to correct, then for that day you won’t have made any progress. People who want to work hard at their cultivation shouldn’t think, “I have been reciting Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name and petitioning him to do something for me.” On the contrary, you should recite for everyone in the world so that the world won’t have any calamities or disasters. You don’t need to be reciting for yourself.
Don’t be like an opium smoker, greedy for the quick high so he smokes opium. Then, after he gets high, he comes down again and wants another fix. People can develop a similarly unhealthy attitude toward cultivating the Way. But if you don’t have a greedy mind for results, just that is the manifestation of proper mindfulness, in which case you will truly be able to apply effort.
Proper mindfulness is just the proper thought for cultivation—not having any greed. Not being greedy for the slightest ease in cultivation means not trying to get off cheap. You shouldn’t have the thought that today you are going to cultivate the Way and tomorrow you will become a Buddha, because that principle doesn’t exist anywhere. You can’t dig a well in a single thrust.