Cosmic Luck Machine
What is the ideal human life that supports a spiritual awakening? We need time or leisure to practice and ability or endowments to prepare for enlightenment. Leisure and endowment come from luck or fate you made by karma previously.
In the airport one day, I was attracted by some bright sparkling lights and found a machine where you get these little cards for a dollar or two dollars, sometimes five dollars. You put your money in, whatever you are willing to spend, and out pops a card that you scratch. Are you a winner? You do not know if you have the good luck you are depending on, and that is part of your karma. Even you put a lot of money in, thinking it will bring a better chance of getting a good card, you still don’t know.
However, you do possess some luck and perhaps not realize that you can manipulate it by making effort. That is the purpose of this discussion. You are capable of manipulating luck by understanding that it is possible, also being serious and realistic about what your efforts are directed toward and why you are doing it. The very stuff of your own life becomes honed by practice, like putting a proper edge on a knife, so that ordinary life becomes spiritual practice in the best way. This is real leisure and endowment.
Real leisure comes from having time. That is hard for Western people, making time. Endowment, or the basis of your nature, is the other aspect that needs more explanation than today’s discussion. However, whatever leisure and endowment you do have, whatever the luck of your draw, you must grab a hold of it like this, arrahnnnghh!! Not like, “Whatever,” This is unskillful, “Whatever. Now I’m a spiritual person, so whatever come that is ok.” No, you grab a hold of it. “Now I’ve got this perfect opportunity and if I let go, how do I know that I can create another?”
The Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by Shantideva 5. Just as a flash of lightning on a dark cloudy night for an instant brightly illuminates all… This analogy is about power and immediacy. If we could harness the electrical power from a single flash of lightning, there would be enough electricity to light a city. But so far there is no way to channel the power, so it goes into the ground and does whatever electricity does, feeding the nutrients of the plants, like that.
Like a flash of lightning, the awakening blessings are not just a gentle entry of illumination and power into the ordinary mind of ordinary needs using ordinary leisure and endowment. That is not enough leisure and endowment. We are requesting a tremendous burst of illuminated power and energy that will open the door to enlightened nature. “For an instant brightly illuminates all…” The power of the prepared wish to be enlightened is like a flash of lightning coming partly from your own mind. You should facilitate the wish correctly, as the blessing power illuminates the mind. (1) As you are coming awake, do not think, “Oh, this is like everyday. Who cares? It will come again and again”.
Shantideva continues, “Likewise in this world, through the might of Buddha, a wholesome thought rarely and briefly appears.” There is a steady and careless march toward decay. What do they say? Entropy. The law of entropy has microcosmic and macrocosmic valuation. It is said this is the time of decay, 2,500 years since the time of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni’s original teachings. Decay or natural entropy describes everything, like water flowing down, that tends to continue to go down and down.
One must make effort so natural cosmic laziness or entropy does not permeate you. Truly, in some ways, samsaric existence is like a bath of entropy. Shantideva, and I in my commentary, say, “Watch out, watch out.” It is natural for samsara to grab you away from transformation. You must accomplish everything in spite of natural laws trying to prevent you from gaining enlightenment. Enlightenment does not happen by itself, but through tremendous personal effort.
Footnote (1) This is a more advanced topic so please do not try to make it happen right now. You need the personal attention of someone who is already trained to help others. I introduce this so perhaps someone out there who already experienced some kind of awakening can understand better what happened to him or her if they not have a mentor.