What objective is Maitreya speaking of in verse XIV. 11 of the Mahayanasutralamkara? Any virtuous objective. Maitreya is not referring specifically to meditation training, but to life-training and life as the training ground. These constitute the arena for bodhisattva training, and every human being is at essence a bodhisattva.
Let’s enter his statement more fully. If one’s objective is patience, then “one should not let its continuity waiver” all through the day, through all circumstances. If one’s objective is non-reactiveness, then “one should not let its continuity waiver.” Self-discipline? “One should not let its continuity waiver.” Self-less-ness? “One should not let its continuity waiver.” Simplicity or simplification? Yup, you guessed it: “one should not let its continuity waiver.”
Maitreya continues. “Being quick to recognize its wavering, one should be quick to draw it back again.” “It” is the mind as stated in the first sentence.
This instruction is straightforward, makes sense, and is doable. Set an positive and beneficial intention. Commit to it knowing that it is beneficial, will bring benefits to self and others, and will assuredly undo habituated limiting habits. Then, do one’s best to be self-recollected about that intention through the day. The intention, commitment, and dedication will create a feedback loop that will, in fact, notice when one has veered away or been distracted from the intention. The feedback loop will draw one back.
The challenge for everyone who has struggled with this simple instruction in all its modern non-Maitreya expressions is commitment/investment. The reason for not investing in one’s self and overall betterment is secretly or boldly preferring what is (which is limitation and the consequences of non-virtuous actions). Sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.
The same instruction is then applied by Maitreya to meditation training. Before quoting that, it is important to pause and repeat: the same instruction is being applied. This goes to the heart of on the cushion and off the cushion practice/living. One’s life is the primary training ground that we have. When thoughtfulness, self-recollectedness, interest in one’s arising emotions and thoughts is one’s inner attitude, then one is living shamatha and vipashyana. That being the case, when engagement of these methods is called for on the meditation cushion, half the training (or more) is already in place.
Maitreya continues. “The intelligent person should repeatedly draw the mind within, away from external objects. Then he/she should tame it (the mind), seeing virtue in concentration.”
Away from external objects; hmmm. Yes, because what’s going on is inside the emotion-mind complex of the person. The event, circumstance, person, place, or thing is not the source of the thoughts, feelings, emotions, or craving, attachment, jealousy, happiness, or love that is being experienced. These are inside one, not outside. The outer is merely a trigger or catalyst to the inner micro-event. Maitreya is pointing out that truth and understanding of oneself, one’s emotions, habits, the quality of mind, as well as the nature of Awareness all lie within. The external is not where an intelligent person puts one’s deeper attention.
Maitreya is calling one’s intention inside, and instructing repetition of this action, because one’s bodhi nature is within. What is bodhi nature? Compassion, wisdom, true intuition, pure being, tranquil, luminous dynamic Presence, and so forth. You are this – all of these attributes of pure Presence. But, as long as one is focused on the external, the internal cannot be realized. Repeatedly drawing oneself and one’s mind back to the noble and bodhi (patience, compassion, diligence, self-less-ness, wisdom, and such), one will discover the innate “continuity” of Being. One will discover bodhi and live it, thereby benefiting the world.
- The translation being used is The Universal Vehicle Discourse Literature, Mahayanasutralamkara published by the American Institute of Buddhist Studies at Columbia University.