Speaking of the fire’s quality that always illuminated the dark, Bhikshu Nagasena taught that a Monk had to know how to use the fire of wisdom to dispel the darkness of ignorance, desire and wrong understanding. “Ignorance—the father” and “desire—the mother” give birth to us in samsara (the cycle of birth and death). Wrong thoughts also belong to ignorance. Hence, it is those three factors that lead sentient beings to be in samsara.
Therefore, we have to regularly reflect on our mind and practice meditation in order to observe and recognize our mind. For instance, we feel annoyed when seeing our brothers doing good deeds, achieving success and being complimented by the Master. That is when we must reflect on our mind and recognize that it is the jealous and envious mind. We have a feeling when walking with someone beautiful, then we know for sure that is the mind of lust. We look down on someone and consider them as nothing, we know that is the mind of arrogance and disregard. We have to reflect on the mind of lust, anger and hatred, jealousy, envy and arrogance, etc.
A Buddha’s disciple has to carefully reflect on the mind, that is to say use the fire of wisdom to light up every corner of the mind so as to see the ignorance, desire and wrong understanding inside. If not, we will never be able to see them. However, we often use that fire of wisdom to judge the outside through our eyes. The light of wisdom is within us, we have to light it up, yet we often use that to seek others’ faults. If anyone makes small mistakes, we are able to point out those immediately. The Trúc Lâm Most Venerable (Most Venerable Thích Thanh Từ) said we were like “the international police” and unwilling to reflect on ourselves.
Hence, we have to always reflect on ourselves to see what arises in our mind and recognize what they are. That is when we cultivate ourselves. We cultivate nowhere else but right ourselves.
(An excerpt of the Dharma lecture “Learn from the fire” in Milindapanha Sutra, preached by Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh)