The Sword of Wisdom 106

Many practitioners become attached to their practice or to experiences arising during the course of practice. Often, practitioners have studied under several masters, have read sutras, and have attended lectures and retreats. They have encountered several religious traditions and have tried different methods of practice. Practitioners can develop strong attachments to their previous experiences and learning. If they cling to their spiritual experiences, their practice will suffer. When people decide to study exclusively with one master, they should put aside everything they learned before and practice their new methods diligently.

When people with previous practice come to study with me, I warn them not to be proud. I advise them to leave behind everything they learned before and act as if this were the first moment they had ever heard the Dharma. If they can forget all that they learned in the past, and accept even one line of Dharma that they hear from me, they can make quick progress. However, if they cannot do this, then all their previous years of practice, experience and learning will rise up, and whatever I say will have minimal effect. The residue piled up from the past will prevent them from learning from me.

When you come on my retreats, I tell you to leave behind not only what you learned from other teachers, but also what I myself have told you in the past. What I said yesterday is not necessarily useful to you today. What I said two weeks past has no bearing on your practice now. Only what I say today is useful to you today. What I say this moment is useful to you this moment. Furthermore, what I say to you is useful to you only. What I say to another person has nothing to do with you.