Heaven and Hell are not places high up in the sky or down underground; they are nothing but states of mind. Rather than constantly complaining about the world, we have to take responsibility for our personal suffering and make a decision to make changes to our mind.
The Buddhist path recommends that we each become an “independent unit of happiness.” Some people ask how we can be content while there is so much suffering in the world. We may know people whose lives are a never-ending state of pain, and there may be little we can do about it. But Buddhism is a simple teaching, free of holy aspirations. The Buddhist teaching, unlike many others, does not ask us to sacrifice our own peace because of the restlessness of others.
“Just as the lotus flower grows in muddy water and rises above the mud to blossom, so can you raise yourself up from suffering,” said the Buddha to people who sacrificed their happiness for the sake of others. It is so hard to make everyone happy, and for many, hell is no longer a temporary state of mind.
Yet if your roots are not solid, how can you have the confidence to blossom into a radiant lotus flower? Whoever has weak childhood roots must develop an alternative support system, an inner anchor. Having an inner anchor means knowing you can rely on yourself, and knowing deep inside that in the end everything will work out and you will do the right thing, no matter where you go or what you do.
Imagine that your mission is to save the world from a dangerous villain who is threatening to use nuclear weapons. How would you feel about it? Would you have grave concerns about your mission and doubt your ability to save the world? Or would you be anchored in optimism and self-assurance?
Being a spiritual James Bond means setting out on a mission to save the world, with a smile and the confidence that you can accomplish the task. We might take a few knocks and it may be scary at times, but nothing stands in the way of pure will, and we may even enjoy the ride.
So your mission is to save the only world you have, from an inner villain, a critical coward who insists on total control over his surroundings.
Save your world. Literally.
To accomplish this task you will not be provided with laser guns or a car with sophisticated weapons. This is a personal journey full of surprises, and when you do succeed it will be thanks to your inner anchor, which gave you the self-confidence to count only on yourself.
The inner strength of a spiritual warrior lies in his heart. It’s a basic optimism that doesn’t give way, even in the face of the enemy’s sharp sword and golden armor. There is a Zen saying: “In the midst of battle, not even a single hair is out of its place.” In other words, this inner power enables absolute calm in the eye of a storm.
According to Zen teaching, in order to create an inner anchor one has to meditate once or twice a day for at least ten minutes. Sit very still, not even moving your hands to scratch if you are itchy. Slowly become aware of an unfamiliar dimension, the gap between thoughts.
Further instructions will be given later.