摘要： The Path of the Ordinary and the Path of the Sage
We often say “cultivating the Way”. The Way is a path. What path? The path of the mind. Both the ordinary and the sage have their respective journey of the mind. For the sage, they are constantly accumulating merit and wisdom, while for the ordinary being, their journey is filled with all manner of afflictions and karma that would cause them to transmigrate through birth and death. The ordinary being is constantly experiencing such a process, so their mind follows a path different from that of the sage. To take the path to enlightenment is to cultivate the way, the way of the sage rather than the way of the ordinary. The path of the ordinary leads to cyclic existence, only the path of the sage leads to liberation, sublime enlightenment and Buddhahood.
Nevertheless, as ordinaries, or living beings abiding in afflictions, how do we enter the path of the sage? Admittedly, we are a long way off the path of the sage and there is still a dividing area between the two. This dividing area is the groundwork we need to lay before entering the path of the sage, which is quite essential. What is this groundwork?
First, it involves how we know our mind as well as its state of ignorance, afflictions and other problems. It also involves how we change and correct these problems. Only when these problems are identified, addressed and removed, can we possibly enter the path of the sage. Otherwise, we will always fall behind.
The teachings preached by the Buddha are ultimate. They are no doubt faultless and can lead us to Buddhahood. But if we study the teachings with the mentality of an ordinary being, we are still on the path of the ordinary — one of the Six Destinies. This path is entirely different from that of the sage. That is to say, though we have initiated the study of scriptures and treaties, that does not equal an entry into the path of the sage; we are actually still on the path of the ordinary, and as a consequence we still go forward and backward. We are happy when we find the teaching useful; we are distressed and miserable if we fail to carry on with our study. If we are still caught in such a state, it shows that we are still far from being on the path of the sage.
As a matter of fact, when we read sutras and treatises, we can only correspond to them for a brief time — probably two to three minutes during a period of one or two hours. In most cases, we do not accord with them in the true sense of the word. When we approach the sutras and treatises with an afflictive mentality, our mind is unlikely to be in complete accordance with the Dharma. The concordance of the mind and the Dharma is a high realm in that both the subject and the object die out. It is a state hard to achieve.