In Cultivating the Way, Don't Be Too Smart
In cultivation, the dumber you are, the better.
You should be so dumb that you know nothing and have no rambling thoughts whatsoever.
The ancients said,
When one cultivates to the point of great
stupidity, one is truly clever.
When one learns to be like a fool,
one experiences that which is wonderful.
We should learn to be dumb. Being dumb is not that easy, because we meet situations which tell us not to be dumb. "When one cultivates to the point of great stupidity, one is truly clever." Cultivation is just "nurturing stupidity," being very dumb. In cultivation, the dumber you are, the better. Be dumb to the point that you know nothing and have no rambling thoughts whatsoever. If you aren't dumb, you have many rambling thoughts. You want to study the past and verify the present, meddle in other people's business, or keep up with the news; these are all obstacles to cultivation.
How can you be truly dumb? You must enter samadhi. Once you are in samadhi, you won't be aware of north, south, east, or west, and you won't care about worldly affairs; you'll be free and at ease. You cannot be this way now, because you still have thoughts of fighting, greed, seeking, selfishness, and self-benefit. You aren't satisfied with the way things are. You feel that you treat everyone well, but that everyone treats you badly. You always defend yourself and secure the most advantageous position for yourself. That's not the way to cultivate. If you want to cultivate, you cannot defend yourself, argue, or talk about other people's shortcomings.
Mahasattvas don't care about others.
Amitabha Buddha, each man for himself.
A true cultivator constantly watches over himself and doesn't entertain false thoughts, while a phony cultivator generates false thoughts and tries to think of ways to benefit himself all day long. A true cultivator "puts down all conditions and has no thoughts." He has no wish for name or gain, and he does not pursue wealth, sex, fame, food, or sleep. "Unattached to the ideas of self, others, living beings, and lifespan, he is always truly carefree and happy."
What does being "truly carefree" mean? Having no false thoughts. If you have false thoughts, you cannot be carefree, because your thoughts will go running all over the universe. If you truly don't want to cultivate, there's nothing to be said. But if you do, then don't have false thoughts. Keep your mind single-pointed and concentrated. "When you concentrate, every endeavor is successful. When you're distracted, nothing turns out right." Anyone who wants to cultivate should know this principle.
A talk given on May 7, 1982
at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas