Master Hongzhi’s Practice instructions. Number 9: The Misunderstanding of Many Lifetimes
‘Emptiness is without characteristics. Illumination has no emotional afflictions.
With piercing, quietly profound radiance, it mysteriously eliminates all scars. Thus, one can know one; thus the self is completed. We all have the clear, wondrously bright field from the beginning. Many lifetimes of misunderstanding come only from distrust, hindrance and screens of confusion that we create in a scenario of isolation. With boundless wisdom journey beyond this, forgetting accomplishments. Straightforwardly abandon stratagems and take on responsibility. Having turned yourself around, accepting your situation, if you set foot on the path, spiritual energy will marvellously transport you. Contact phenomena will total sincerity. Not a single atom of dust is outside yourself.’
For practice the most important thing is faith. Not belief, faith.
Specifically, faith in two things.
Firstly that when we read descriptions of practice such as this, no matter how apparently fantastical they first appear, we should understand them as a sincere attempt by a practitioner, a practitioner like ourselves, to express their actual experience.
Second, that the actual experience that this practitioner has had is experience which is also available to us. What we should not do is make the language of description literal. We should not for instance, think that we must experience the bright field that Master Hongzhi talks about and if we can’t experience that, our practice is worth nothing.
We need to understand that the experience that Master Hongzhi and other practitioners write about in their own way is available to everyone, but the experience of each person will be different, and hence the expression. Master Hongzhi experienced a bright field. Other people might experience a profound connectedness, or a great, luminous silence, or a sense of a dynamic interconnected body. If you wait impatiently for the bright field to appear, you will remain in darkness forever.
We are always striving to express our experience in language, but we must understand that our language and the language of all our teachers is descriptive language, and hence, to a greater or lesser extent, unique. It is not telling us what we should experience. Each experience is another brushstroke in creation.