As long as we are vague about our and others’ reality, believing in mysteries and magical mantras, we might feel safe but will go no further in our evolution. Teachings will never become practical and we cannot be relied upon because we are merely adhering to theoretical Dharma. It’s easily done; we slip into routines, and never realise that we are still clinging to a confused cycle of existence.
The question is why.
As long as we are vague, we stay needy and fearful, and feel that we have to follow covert rules, thus showing submissive obedience. We mistakenly think that the more humble we appear, the more the teacher will notice our piousness. This merely exposes our hopes and fears.
An idea, a mystery, a mantra may make us wonder, or may inspire us for a while, but that is only in the beginning. We need to do some work to cut through our acquired ideas, and question everything until there are no more questions.
Only when we know the meaning of an idea, a mystery or a mantra can these devices become practical. We can spend years – decades even – chanting OM MANI PEME HUM and hope it’s doing something for us, but that is merely to remain within a belief system (I remember a Tibetan teenager asking the Dalia Lama what it meant. I was shocked …)
OM MANI PEME HUM is said to be the mantra of compassion – but how? That is still vague; we have to know what it means.
There are several aspects to becoming a decent person, and showing compassion – in the Tibetan system – is said to be the five perfections: generosity, patience, discipline, morality, concentration.
These reminders help us to be able to listen with a compassionate ear. Many Buddhists can’t do this as all they want to do is chant OM MANI PEME HUM or another mantra :D. It’s all about their compassion, whereas true compassion takes self identity completely out of the picture.
These five perfections open us up to be responsive – that is, if we are practising their meaning. Once we are open and less contaminated with self interest, we can then start to realise the wisdom of beyond, and that is the pure consciousness that is aware of a situation within a compassionate atmosphere of these five perfections. That is the sixth perfection – the wisdom of pure consciousness itself.
Once realised, then the five perfections help sustain this pure view through our conduct: we live in accordance with OM MANI PEME HUM. It is now practical advice to cut through the cloud of vagueness and confusion in the mind.