HENG SURE: June 25, 1977.
Cultivating the Way
"Cultivate" also can be translated as "to repair," "to correct," "to fix," "to adjust," "to trim," "to prepare." And what you do when you "cultivate" is to repair your way, path, road, channel. You are engaged in the work of re-directing or repairing the mid-directed energies that went astray when you lost your innocence. You are adjusting the channels for the energy to flow through in the correct path. First you have to have faith that there is a right way. You have to admit that you are no longer on the right path and then you have to resolve to find it again. Make vows that bind you to the purpose. Next you have to find a method that can transform the old to the new--back to the original. And you then have to do the hardest part, which is sticking with your method no matter how the world changes. While cultivating you have to endure tremendous pressure from inside and from outside. You have to be able to bear long periods of distress, of discomfort and mental and physical tension that borders on "insanity." Stick with it and all these temporary states will pass and the new/old channels will be full of life and flowing with the Buddhaís light.
The other requisite is an experienced, wise, and compassionate teacher/advisor/guide who has already practiced the path to completion and who can lead you away from mistakes and inspire you towards the goal. Such teachers are rare, and more valuable than the earth itself. When you find such a teacher, your success in cultivating the path is possible. The needed element comes from you: sustained effort and patience. Be solid sincere and constant and then practice, practice cultivating the path.
Donít Go Back to Go
When youíve got the juice up and youíre practicing, youíve got to be more careful than ever not to leak your energy. Donít risk cracking even a little hole in your circuit. You know what to watch for: anything "you" like such as food, comfort for the body, approval from others, talk, entertaining reading, music; in general when the heat is on and you feel like a ripe plum about to fall from the Bodhi branch, and the pressure has just subsided for a moment before the next uphill climb to a plateau or before the next big test, donít relax at this point. Sound the alarm and close the hatches because itís right here that you lose mindfulness and there goes the whole ball game and "youíve to start anew."
Vow that last time was the last time you go back to go. From start to finish, be irreversible in mindfulness, position, and practice. This is the time to cultivate-hold your precepts like a bullet-proof vest. They keep your mind from running your body wild throughout empty space.
Beach-rock Orange Juice
Got oranges you canít eat and no squeezer handy? Are you near the beach? Go down to the water and find a rounded stone the size of a tennis ball. If it has a flat side, better still. Wash it thoroughly, best to soak it overnight in case small aquatic creatures live in hidden cracks. Find a clean pot, cut oranges in half and taking the rock in your left hand and the orange half in your right, commence to squeeze orange onto rock over pan until all the juice has been extracted. Voila. Beach-rock orange juice.
Donít Be a False Hero
Having trouble with a nervous stomach--canít hold much lunch. Had a powerful morning of bowing--found my center, found my stride, thought: You should skip lunch altogether. You know how it brings you down. Stay mindful and keep this clarity going. I entertained that false thought for about one bow and then I remembered the last couple times I fasted on impulse--I wound up getting hungry, cranky, and tired and then ate too much when breaking the fast--all this hassle because I tried to sustain the high of "cultivation." This is not the way. The way is every day slow progress, no heroics, no sudden bursts. You should get more normal, not less. So I decided to eat lunch, just eat less and chew more.