So, with this I have given you something to chew on. That’s the important point. With these things we are discussing, it is never enough to hear about it once. You have half- understood and half-not understood. You may think, “He has got an accent, and he said something, but I didn’t get it.” But even if you did, understanding what I said it not enough. You really have to think about it. This is a meditation, and meditation does not necessarily mean sitting with your mind blank. Here what’s needed is meditating on yourself, your needs, and the spiritual path.
Meditation here means chewing on it, analyzing it, finding out if it is right or wrong, thinking about it, arguing with yourself, and convincing yourself. Once you are able to convince yourself, then you are definitely on the path for a while, and if you don’t convince yourself, then everything is artificially decorated. That is not necessarily going to soak in. We are not a sponge. If you are a sponge, you can soak up any liquid, but we need a little more convincing for the message to soak in. Without soaking in, it will not affect us.
It is necessary to think carefully. When you begin to soak it in, you realize that your approach to your life will be different. Whether problems arise or don’t arise, your attitude towards your life will become different, and that will make some difference. Until you see that, no matter how much you sit, or meditate, or think, or read, or say mantras, it is not going to affect you too much. It’s sort of artificially decorated on your consciousness. It is almost like the paintings on the walls here. They look nice, but they are not in the wall’s nature. If you get a good sponge and some detergent you can wash them away. That sort of spiritual thing doesn’t help. It may look nice and serve a purpose—other people will think it looks funny. Again it depends on the individual who looks. To some people it looks nice; to other people it looks funny. Anyway, the purpose of the paint is to make it look different and that’s the end of it. But that doesn’t affect the nature of the wall at all, because it is just painted.
Likewise, it is the same thing with spiritual practice. You can’t just paint it on yourself. When the Dalai Lama gave that address in the Washington Mall, in the middle of the talk he said, “If some people think, ‘I am great, even better than Buddha’ and sit there looking holy, they are hypocrites.” He just said that all of a sudden, with no other sentence. It didn’t seem to fit into the talk. But that’s what he said. I think it’s a very important point, because spiritual gain really has to affect you. You have to go beyond Buddhist rules. spiritual gains must affect the soul of the individual and make a dent and a difference. As a Buddhist I am not supposed to say “soul,” but you get the message better. That’s why I’m using it purposely. so, if you don’t get the effect there, then it’s just painted on and doesn’t make much difference. Maybe it looks nice. I don’t know whether you become a hypocrite or not, but it just ends there. I’m sure His Holiness had some thought that came up from somewhere. He just said that out of nowhere. He just threw this one sentence in. But it means something.
Many of us do that, right? Many of us are in the habit of sitting, and we try to pretend to be something, or maybe we sincerely think we are. We get into the habit of saying mantras everywhere, not only as part of a commitment practice, like it is sort a nice thing to do when you are on the train, without thinking about it. I don’t know whether that is being a hypocrite or not, but it doesn’t make any dent in the individual’s development. It is just like paint. The spiritual path should not be paint or decoration. It must be solid and affect the individual.
~ Gelek Rinpoche, Foundation of Perfections, 2013, p 145