Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai,
Hsihu, Formosa, October 19, 1990 (Originally in Chinese)
You should pursue spiritual practice in a moderate way. It's OK to become a Saint tomorrow, so why must you rush to make it today? You have waited for many lifetimes, so what is the big deal in waiting just a few more days? The more you are anxious, the more you obstruct yourself.
In ancient times, there was a person who followed an Enlightened Master to practice. One day, he asked his Master, "Master, how many sincere persons like me can you find in this world?" His Master replied, "The universe is full of disciples like you." (Master and everyone laugh.) Still skeptical, the disciple asked again, "Master, I am truly sincere. If I were to renounce everything, including my parents, wife, children, relatives, and friends, then how many years of practice would I take to reach Sainthood?" His Master told him, "If you are diligent, you can achieve it in five to fifteen years." The disciple asked further, "This is too slow. If I refrain from eating and drinking, and even skip sleeping, and only meditate with my legs crossed twenty-four hours a day, when do you think I can become a Saint?" His Master said, "In this way, perhaps it will take you thirty to fifty years to become a Saint." (Master and everyone laugh.) Do you know why? He was being too anxious. Who did he think he was? Who cares whether he becomes a Saint or not? Who would need a person like him?
Shakyamuni Buddha was very magnificent, and India was a holy land. Lots of people were vegetarians, and knew that they should pursue spiritual practice. Yet, He delivered no more than several tens of thousands of people. Even after His departure, some people still defamed Him. Other religious sects said that He was a heretic, an evil practitioner, and a demon! Similarly, people also slandered Jesus Christ. The two of Them are still defamed by people today. It is because They were predestined to become Enlightened Masters, and were assigned by God to deliver people, so They had no choice but to come to deliver sentient beings. When sincere aspirants pleaded with Them to impart the Truth, They didn't have the heart to refuse, because They didn't want to break their hearts. Therefore, there is no big deal in becoming a Saint; eventually, everyone will become a Saint .
Shakyamuni Buddha used to have a disciple who didn't sleep even at night. It seemed that he meditated in the day and chanted the sutras at night, until later his eyes almost became blind. Shakyamuni Buddha told him, "The way you are practicing will soon make you Maya instead of a Saint. When you play the zither, and the strings are stretched too tightly, can they produce any sound?" The disciple answered, "No!" "And if the strings are too loose, will any sound come out?" He said, "No, none." Then Shakyamuni Buddha said, "The best way is the middle way."
Therefore, a balanced life is the Tao; an ordinary mind is the Tao. We should not crave for anything. Craving to become a Saint quickly is also a kind of greediness. We ought to be moderate in whatever we do. How can you demand a newborn baby to ride a bicycle? You may be anxious to see him grow up and become a capable person, but you must not rush him. He cannot even walk steadily, so how can you ask him to run? Even if he forces himself to run, he will soon fall down. When a toddler learning to walk tries to run, won't he fall down in just a few steps? As a result, he will break his nose and injure his body, all because he is too anxious.
We should first take good care of our mind. Check whether or not we have a pure and noble ideal, that we have reined in our greed, wrath and infatuation, that we are loving and patient enough to others, that we are magnanimous, understanding and generous enough to tolerate others' mistakes. When we have achieved all these things, it is still not too late to become an Enlightened Master or Saint. Before we have reached perfection, who can benefit from our becoming an Enlightened Master? We have not yet erased our guilty feelings, or cleared up our preconceptions and ignorance. Being still very narrow-minded, we cannot tolerate many people. Our love is still too insignificant to love a lot of people. Then what is the benefit of rushing to become an Enlightened Master? Even if all the Saints and Masters pour all of Their power into such a narrow-minded, agitated and ignorant person, what is the use?
Endowed with power but not love, one will become Maya. There is no significant difference between Maya and a Saint. Both have similar power, but the Saint has love, which Maya lacks. Maya is very selfish, demands everything and takes all. He only criticizes and never forgives. The Saint not only criticizes, but He also forgives. He criticizes when it is the right time to do so, in order to help people to progress, and let them realize their own shortcomings. When it is time to forgive, He will, giving people due encouragement to live on, without being burdened by heavy feelings of guilt.
To really become a Saint, we have to be perfect in every aspect, not just a particular aspect. If we are only magnanimous, but never criticize, then it is also no good! For instance, at times when you should criticize and educate people, you praise them instead, then you will only spoil them and ruin their judgment ability in spiritual practice. That's why I say, "One must be balanced in Yin and Yang to become a Saint." We should penetrate all aspects of this world. Living in the world, we still need to eat, sleep and interact with people; therefore, we ought to be normal. As to our inner level or spiritual progress, we should just keep it to ourselves, and refrain from revealing it through our outer deportment.