What is it that people seek in life? It is the feeling of joy and being spirited, as opposed to a feeling of sadness and being depressed. How can we find this happiness? Some look to drugs and alcohol, while others seek power and material wealth. These remedies may temporarily bring upon joy, but will gradually become less effective with time; causing one to seek more and more to regain the feeling of joy. Look at the opioid epidemic in our country and its devastation on families.
In the Tip of the Writing Brush (Ofudesaki), God tells us that all we need to do is remove evil from our minds to gain joy or become spirited. These evils are the thoughts of greed, arrogance, miserliness, covetousness, and self-love. But like the dust imbued in a mirror, these evils are sometimes difficult to remove from our minds. It is not as easy as saying I am going to remove these evils from my mind; it requires a commitment and a calming of the mind, especially when unexpected events or inconveniences occur.
In the Tip of the Writing Brush, God tells us that removing evils from our minds is a difficult task:
Over steep mountains, through tangles of thorns, along narrow ledges and
through brandished swords, if you come1-47
Yet a head a sea of flames, and a deep
you will arrive at a narrow path 1-48
After following the narrow path step by step, you will come to a path.
This is the trustworthy main path (path of joy). 1-49
God is telling us that when inconveniences or sufferings occur in our lives, we must calm our minds, and not take actions upon our evil thoughts. When we do not act on our evil thoughts, gradually these evil thoughts will not emerge from our minds. For some of us, this process of purification of the mind may take some time due to the amount of dust (negative thoughts) in our minds. We may experience many thorns, or sea of flames before our minds become pure. These inconveniences are ironically God’s blessings or guidance. God helps us to purify our minds. That illness (tangles of thorn) may be God guiding you. That co-worker, who angers you, may be God’s blessing. One only needs to calm one’s mind and not act upon one’s evil thoughts.
In this path of purification of the mind, there will progressions and regressions. Sometimes we fail to calm our minds, and accumulate more dusts by acting on our evil thoughts; but if we are determined and lean on God, we will eventually purify our minds. When this happen, we will become spirited and full of joy. When we become spirited, there will be everlasting joy.