Mexico Zen Center is celebrating the anniversary today. I think that the best gift for the Zen center is your sincerity, your practice, and your effort. The real center is at the bottom of your mind. The center you celebrate now is the phenomenon center, not the real center. When you come to this place, you have joined the karma with this center. How to make this center become better is all our responsibility.
You come to this center to donate your efforts, good thoughts, and good practice. If everyone does that, it will make this center become a pure land. A harmonic and peaceful center is the collection of all the practitioners’ effectors. Right effort, right center. Wrong effort, wrong center.
Harmony creates strength. Without harmony, the strength will be broken into pieces and there is no strength. When we can donate and contribute our right efforts to this center and make this center have strength and power, we will have the ability to deliver the right message to those who never come to this center. This is the way we are propagating the Dharma.
I. The Real Zen Center—Our Mind
Every single person possesses a mind and our mind is the real center. If you create an angry thought, it means that you donate an angry thought to your mind, to your own center. Every single thought and every single action are the donations that we donated to our own mind. If we want to have a pure mind or pure land, we should donate right things to our own mind. No matter what we are thinking or doing, all results are the manifestations of our mind because they are the donations by ourselves. Of course, we have to take our responsibility. No excuse!
When situations happen in our life, we start to have lots of emotions, blame someone else, or have many complaints. All of the negative emotions are signs that we don’t want to take responsibilities to what we have already done. Worries and sufferings are ours, not the person who is around us. Those who blame someone else are fools. A good practitioner never blames someone else. We are the one whom we should blame to. Take responsibilities to what we have already done. This is the right attitude for a real practitioner.
Only with right attitudes and understandings, we will be able to elevate ourselves. Seeing the root of the problem, which is the mind, which is the fundamental concept for a real practitioner.
Being a practitioner, you should realize what goal you try to achieve. This is very important. You need to set a goal first. Without a goal, everything becomes disordered. It is just like driving. If you don’t know where you are heading for, you cannot choose a right path for your destination. Without a right view for your goal or without a right destination, it is hard to achieve that. If we can set a right goal, we will know how to make it happen. We will have motivations to change our own defects. We are not perfect. In order to achieve perfection, we need to change our own defects. When people start to practice, they want to make progress; but sometimes it is difficult to achieve that. It is because that first, they don’t know what their goals are; second, they don’t know which path is the right path to achieve their goals; third, they don’t have motivations to change themselves.
II. Motivation—Strength to Change and Achieve
The motivation coming from your own mind is most powerful weapon to overcome hindrances. Without motivations, everything becomes in vain. Being a practitioner, ask yourself what goal you want to achieve? Ask yourself this first question. For example, as a practitioner, to achieve enlightenment is a very common goal for the Zen practice. You should keep asking yourself, “If I try to achieve enlightenment, what are problems or hindrances that are keeping me away from achieving enlightenment?” What are the problems? You should figure it out! It is not the problem that the goal or enlightenment is never manifested; instead, it is the problem that you never overcome your self-attachment. We should realize that all problems are our attachments. The only problem is our ego. How can we put down the ego? How can we put down the self-attachment? How can we put down the habitual thoughts and patterns? This becomes an issue of practicing.
The way how we can achieve enlightenment is the way how we can overcome and let go of our self-attachment. In order to achieve the goal or enlightenment, we need to have the strength and motivations to overcome our hindrances which are our self-attachments. Finding a motivation to achieve enlightenment is not an issue; finding a motivation to eradicate our own self-attachments is the issue.
Practitioners are trying to achieve enlightenment; so they think they have motivations to achieve enlightenment. Achieving enlightenment is not an issue. The real issue is to have motivations to fix our own mistakes in life. If you want to achieve your goal, you should have motivations to correct your mistakes and your motivation should focus on how you can fix your own mistakes.
Mistakes and self-attachments are real hindrances to keep us away from achieving enlightenment.