14 Limiting the Environment With no aversion to the sense realm, You become one with true

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14 Limiting the Environment ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ With no aversion to the sense realm, You become one with true enlightenment. The true practitioner is not affected by the environment. If you enjoy your surroundings too much, you will not even think about practicing. But if you despise your surroundings, you will not be able to practice even if you try. It is impossible to throw off your environment all at once. It must be peeled away like an onion. In order to do this, it would be helpful to think of the environment as three concentric circles. The outermost circle is the world around you, the middle one is your body, and the inner circle is your mind. On the first day of retreat, I said that you must forget your affairs in the world outside of the Ch'an Center; in other words, put aside all thoughts of past and future. But once you do that, new thoughts related to the world inside the Center will come up. It may be a smaller world, but it is still external to the body. You may be distracted by the others, or you may become attached to my words, or even to my presence. Some people take notice of where I am in the room, and anticipate what I am going to do next. If you limit your attention to your body, either you feel comfortable or uncomfortable. It is difficult to totally forget the body. Your legs are painful, your back hurts, your head aches, your neck is strained, your skin itches, or you just feel tired. Ignore any sensations, pleasant or unpleasant, that may arise. On the other hand, if the pain is too great to ignore, consider your body as a corpse. To be able to conquer your pain and your fear of death requires great determination. If you can develop this will power in Ch'an training, you will be able to succeed in any other endeavor. Once you narrow yourself down to the mental environment, there are two things you are involved with -- the method, and stray thoughts. You will find that your mind is just as full as the outside environment. As the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment says, "Mental activities are just a shadow of the sensory world." Thus if you manage to dispense with all your environments, you will attain the state of no mind, and you will reach a great realization. The wise have no motives; Fools put themselves in bondage. The more you strive after liberation, the more you tie yourself up. This is also true of seeking safety, health and security. Once I was approached by a life insurance agent who did not know I was a monk. He said, "Our insurance policy is excellent. No matter what happens to you, your wife and children will be taken care of." I asked, "What if I don't have a wife and children?" He had nothing to say after that. He saw that I had no worries about death. One monk I know actually took out a policy. I asked him, "Why did you do that?" He said, "So that after I die there will be money for my funeral rites and burial." I said, "Don't you think that a monk would be buried in any case? Even if he is not, maggots would eventually dispose of the body." A practitioner should not consider his own security. Otherwise, he would not be able to practice in the mountains far away from society. Whatever fears or desires you can discard will give you that much more freedom. But whatever protection you seek will become your karmic obstruction. This is why you should not look for something here you can take home with you. On the contrary, you should try to lose what you brought in. Why should you add to your burdens? After you learn something and absorb it, then it becomes part of you and you should be able to throw it away. Just as when you eat, you obtain the nutrients from the food and then eliminate the waste. If you carried it home with you, your bowels would be in serious trouble. * * * * * * * *


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