Worldly Dusts - our motivations, our blind spots
Hello everyone, I’ve been silent over the last two days because I’ve lost my voice. Now that my voice is coming back to me, I can give this Dharma espresso again.
I would like to give a bit more information about this concept of ‘guest and dust’. Some people have emailed and texted me asking me to talk further on this interesting topic. I’ve done a radio program on “Guest and Dust”. There is one word that we should talk a little bit more about, and that word is dust.
We can see dust clearly. When we open the door, it is there. When we open the windows, it is there. We can especially see it when the light shines through. If there is no light, then we are not able to see the dust. Usually, when I turn on the light in my room, I can see the dust floating. When we have cleaned our room, it looks all nice and neat. It is only when we turn on the light that we can see the dust. Do you know what dust represents? It represents our blind spots, our motives and things that hide behind those motives, like our ego. The ego creates all kinds of things all the time! The dust usually lies in front of us, but we can’t see it.
For instance, if you fly to a certain state and someone has promised to meet you at the airport but that person is very late in coming to pick you up, you get very upset, you sulk, you get angry, but you can’t do anything except to sit and wait for that person for an hour or two. Your anger or sulking is like dust. You don’t know that you are angry or sulking. Sometimes, we have a deep complex, like a guilty complex. We make some mistakes then we get afraid, we are worried; we don’t dare say or do anything. That guilty feeling is like dust that is right in front of us, but we can’t see. You may ask me, “Dear Thay: what’s that guilty feeling?” For example, if you do something, and you get scolded, then when someone asks you to do something, you try to avoid it. You don’t want to do it, because you feel that you have done it incorrectly once, and you don’t want to do it again. But when you’re asked, you can’t answer that, though.
So, there are things that are right in front of us, but we don’t see it and don’t accept it. They are very subtle because we can’t see them. They are called blind spots because they lie beyond our focus area. We are therefore unable to see them or recognize them. Sometimes those subtleties or sufferings are the motives that we can’t talk about. Sometimes we do this or that kind of volunteer work because we want to accumulate boundless credits. By the way, I really admire the Muslims whom I met in London because when they do their volunteer work, they never think about accumulating credits for themselves. They think that it is very common to do charity because it is their religion. They live and grow up doing charity work, volunteer work. Accumulating boundless credit is not part of their religion. So, you see the notion of accumulating boundless credit is a very subtle motive. If someone asks us to do something, we might not do it if that person is not a Buddhist. However, if a monk from a pagoda or a Buddhist master asks you to do it, then you will do it because you know it is credit accumulation. Sometimes we are willing to donate money to build a pagoda, but we are not willing to give money for other charity work, I remember in the old days, people used to tell me: “How can you let people use money from the Three Jewels? No, we can’t let people us the money for the Three Jewels.” But that is a misconception because the Three Jewels do not need money. When we donate money to the pagoda, it’s for the pagoda sangha to do charity work for living beings, because living beings are future Buddhas. There are many subtle concepts.
Sometimes people around us make us think that we have to be afraid, that we have to follow the opinions of other people, of the community. And sometimes they can go astray. These things are very subtle, and they are right in front of us, not behind our back. Only when we become the light can we see through and not get stuck; otherwise, we are afraid to face it, to look at it. So, in order to cultivate what we call “dust”, we cultivate how to recognize our own motives, our blind spots, our ego. Our ego is our self, our face. We do things to save our face.
Those are not the guests. They are very subtle, they are right there. We just need to have the light to shine through so that those dust particles will gradually settle down, so that our face saving, our ego, our running after fame and name will also gradually fall. You know, there are many people whose skin is very thick. They are very big on keeping a good appearance. If anyone scolds them, or makes them loose face once, they then hate that person for life. So, we should let the intention of face saving gradually fall down. We look at everything as dust, and let them all fall down. All our life experiences can settle down in our heart and mind, just like the dust settling down. But this takes a lot of work, a lot of cultivation practice...And this is only a five-minute dharma espresso to wake you up. Now I only have one minute left to tell you that Houston still needs a lot of help from all of us. Please pray and dedicate the merits to Houston and surrounding areas, like Dallas and Austin in Texas, to have peace and safety. I’ve seen pictures of many houses that have been flooded, so we certainly need to help the victims of those houses. And if you are from Houston, I hope you will feel assured and continue to cope with this hurricane. Those of us outside the Houston area should continue to send our prayers, and to also help in any way that we can, to relieve some hardship for the Houston people. For anyone who is having problems, don’t hesitate to email me, to email our CSS family members to let us know how you are doing, how your house is doing, so that we can help you. Not only should we send our prayers, but we should also send our help in any kind of way that we can to those flood victims in Texas.
I wish you a safe and peaceful day. Namaste.