The Classic of Eternal Purity and Stillness, by the High Master Lao Zi, says:
Why do living beings fail to obtain
the True Way?
Because they have false thoughts.
With false thoughts, the spirit is disturbed.
Once the spirit is disturbed,
It attaches to external things.
Attaching to external things produces greed.
Greed leads to affliction.
Afflictions and false thinking in turn
Trouble and vex both body and mind.
Thus they meet with foul disgrace and
Wander in birth and death,
Constantly immersed in the sea of
Forever losing the True Way.
The true and everlasting Way is attained
By those who are awakened.
Those who awaken to the Way
Are eternally pure and calm.
When people work hard in their cultivation yet don’t have a response, it is because they are using the false mind to seek what is lofty and distant. For example, when people seek fame and profit, the false mind is at work. The false mind disturbs the intrinsic nature. It is like a pail of water gradually becoming clear as the silt and sand sink to the bottom. But when the water is stirred up, it becomes turbid again. When we use our false mind, we muddy the water of our intrinsic nature, and we are unable to distinguish between true and false. We lack Dharma-selecting vision and our wisdom doesn’t come forth. We become unclear just like that muddy water.
When we become attached to external things, everything gets all muddled and confused and we can’t find our way out. Our minds turn to greed (because we think everything external is real), and this greedy mind is the source of our afflictions. If we get what we seek, we are afflicted; and if we don’t get what we seek, we are still afflicted. When the mind gets tangled up in afflictions and false thoughts, it drowns in the muddy river of the evil world of five turbidities, and cannot return to purity. For that very reason we are born and we die; we die and are then reborn. At birth we are unaware of how we got here; when we die, we don’t know the reason for our death. Not only are we muddled at the time of birth and death, we are muddled all during our lives, and we never become clear. We have been wandering in birth and death and have lost our true mind. Since the true mind is lost, we fall into the sea of suffering and are unable to get out. If we can understand this principle, we can get enlightened. Then we won’t be turned by false states. Our wisdom will come forth, and we won’t be confused anymore.
The Shurangama Sutra says, “When the mad mind stops, that very stopping is Bodhi.” Why don’t we have any response in the Way? Because the mad mind has not stopped. This mad mind is dissatisfied with the way things are; it is insatiable-it is the mind of love and hate. If we can put this mind to rest, then we have wisdom; we have the enlightened Way, the substance of the Buddha-nature. But in fact we have ignored this principle. We wallow in our muddled state, feeling perfectly at ease, and make no attempt to escape from the bitter ocean of birth and death.