The disciple who loves the Dhamma
and always thinks of the Dhamma
will not fall away from it.
Dhammapada verse 364.
The value of Dhamma
Many years ago I was with my youngest son in the town when he asked me to buy something for him, ‘Adam,’ I said, ‘I haven’t got any money.’
He looked me straight in the eye and said without hesitation, ‘well, go and get some!’
This is still some of the best life advice I have ever received.
When the Buddha renounced his princely life, he gave up everything to be free. To ask him later was it worth leaving everything behind, we know that he would say yes, and that nothing can equal enlightenment and freedom from suffering.
For myself, when I was training with my teacher for all those years, I often had to sell things, including my Beatles and Beethoven cassettes to afford the train and boat fare to travel to the monastery and then leave a donation after my time with him.
It is certainly true that I didn’t want to give up my music collection, but was it worth it? Yes, undoubtedly, yes.
One martial arts teacher I knew in Israel was visited by a young man who told him that he would like to be a student and train with him, but he had no money. ‘That’s alright,’ said the teacher, ‘you can paint my house!’
The Master wants to see effort from the disciple. They want to see how much value you place upon your training and how much determination you will make to be free. They want to see you transcend any hardship by placing your Dhamma practice above everything else. Only in this way will we go past the places in our life where we usually stop.
However, these days it seems that many people don’t really want to end their suffering at all, they only want to negotiate it and so in the end, they are not prepared to prioritise Dhamma in their life if it means that they may miss out on something else.
For the Master the most important thing is their own integrity, for the disciple it is effort and clarity of intention. When we are disciples we need to ask ourselves, ‘do I really want to be free, is that why I’m sitting in meditation and going to monastery's occasionally, or do I want something else?
A woman telephoned me one time and said, ‘I need to change my life, but I’m too busy!’
Confusion is everywhere and when we place Dhamma training as just one more thing in our life, how will we ever proceed?
If you want to go to India you must work, make money and arrange many things. Once you are in India you will find that all your effort is well rewarded.
Dhamma training is not different to this.
Make your effort and you will receive the result of that effort. Make no effort and you will receive the result of making no effort.
True Dhamma understanding is the greatest and most valuable thing in the world, but it is always ourselves that put our own value on it.
So, don’t make excuses about your practice. Be clear, be honest and give everything for your own liberation. You will always be the first person to benefit.
May all beings be happy.
The Master said: “Heaven and earth have no practical purpose, yet they touch everything. So it is with the person of Dhamma. What does this mean?
Our suffering only arises when we oppose the truth. To know the truth, we have to know this mind.
From Not This and other teachings from the Spiritual Heart: by Michael Kewley