We allow our delusions to remain because we have pride. Pride blinds us to the delusions in our mind. We don’t even realize that we have delusions, and we don’t seek to identify the delusions within our mind. A good example of this is sometimes people read Dharma instructions where it says, “we are lazy” or “we have pride” or “we have self-cherishing,” and they get all offended, thinking, “no I don’t. Speak for yourself.” Geshe-la explains in Universal Compassion that we need to train in the three difficulties, the first of which is identifying the delusions in our mind. If we don’t admit the delusions in our mind, how can we possibly overcome them. It takes humility to admit we have delusions, it takes effort to identify them. It takes work to overcome our delusions, and most of the time we can’t be bothered.
We sometimes feel like Shantideva is exaggerating, but that is only because we do not realize our samsaric situation. We are lured into a false sense of security based on what is currently appearing to our mind. We should not be fooled. Our real home in samsara is hell, and it is to hell that we are bound to return if we do not get out. Maybe not at the end of this life – maybe we will get lucky – but what about the life after that? What if we do not get lucky? What if we die today?
(7.75) To ensure that I have the strength for all of this,
Before I commence I will recall
The instructions on conscientiousness
And rise to these tasks with suppleness of body and mind.
(7.76) Just as a piece of cotton moving back and forth
Is controlled by the movement of the wind,
So with my body, speech, and mind controlled by the joy of effort
I will swiftly accomplish all realizations.
We do not have very much suppleness, do we? We do not have any suppleness, really. Or at least I don’t. We almost have the opposite of suppleness, really. Our body and mind are often quite rigid and inflexible. Tightness in our body or mind makes it quite hard to turn to and remain on virtue. Why do we have tightness? Because we are holding ourselves back. When we throw yourself completely into our practice without looking back, then we get this kind of suppleness. We need to be more determined than ever to overcome our delusions, because they are like chains binding us in samsara. When we realize this and we understand what real freedom is, then we will naturally want to break free from them.
To attain enlightenment, all we need is effort. With effort comes everything else. Without effort, nothing is possible.
This concludes the seventh chapter of Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, entitled “Relying upon Effort”.