People are always looking for the easy way. The hard way – the way learned by difficult experience and painful realizations – doesn’t interest them. They want a short-cut. True Dharma seekers are afraid of short-cuts. They know better. They know that without effort, there’s no sense of accomplishment. It’s that sense that keeps them going.
People who don’t appreciate the struggles of climbing lack understanding of where they’ve been, awareness of who they are, and determination to continue climbing. That’s why they never attain the Dharma.
Once in a while I see someone say “You probably have to practice for X amount of time to become a dharma teacher.” And there are always those that argue, people that say things like “Why should it be so hard? Why should it takes years instead of a weekend? Why should it require one long retreat (or several)?”
People want it to be easy and also to not take very long. I don’t know why, and I wonder if other religions have this kind of debate.
That being said, that’s not really what Han Shan is talking about here. He’s not talking about the journey to become a Dharma teacher. He’s talking about the journey to Enlightenment. (although to some that’s the same thing).
This path is difficult and there are no shortcuts.
You have to face your personal shit and be really truly honest with yourself. There are no excuses on the Buddhist path.
So often we lie to ourselves about our own shortcomings. Buddhism requires you to face yourself, to recognize your place in the world and to test your limits with things like patience and concentration. We are working to transform ourselves, to become more aware, mindful, and kind. Transformation never comes easily. And there will be constant struggles. Our attachment to our selfishness and our baggage is very strong. And it’s hard. There are things we realize about ourselves that are very painful. We have to face everything and there’s nothing that we can hide from.
Daniel Scharpenburg is a meditation instructor and dharma teacher in Kansas City. He regularly gives teachings through the Open Heart Project, the largest virtual mindfulness community in the world.
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