A person is like a cartwheel; each stage of his life is like a spoke. When the wheel hits a rock, it will either stop, shatter, or roll right over. But the rock cannot be avoided. So it is for you: no matter what happens, you must meet life head-on.
You must proceed from one stage to another, just as the spokes of the cartwheel revolve. At each stage, you will experience new knowledge. It is only by using this knowledge and following uninterruptedly the turning of your life that you will fulfill your destiny.
(…) At the edge of each new phase, you will feel aspiration, curiosity, inquisitiveness. You will want knowledge, and acquiring some will only make you thirst for more. That is right. You are a human being, and it is human nature to seek knowledge. Therefore, pursue knowledge without hesitation or compromise.
Remember, however, that the time to go from stage to stage is precise, just as the spokes of the cartwheel are precisely set. If you try to skip a stage, or rush to the next, your personality will warp. If you do not move on to the next stage, you will be retarded. The stages of growth can neither be avoided nor held fast. You must proceed through them. This requires guidance. Only a master can guide you, only he can perceive the stages, only he can shape you into the perfection you will need to succeed.
If you do not work, you do not eat. Work and reward go hand in hand.
Everyone in the temple must work, and humility is always fostered. One who works, one who serves, cannot set himself above others. This is important, because with humility you will never become arrogant. No matter how high you climb on the path of knowledge, you will not misuse your powers but instead will help others. Through work and humility, you will know compassion.
“The more you learn, the more you must use your knowledge for others,” said the Grand Master. “The wiser you become, the more unselfish you must also become. As your experience deepens, and with it your humility, you will realize unfathomable depths of knowledge. You can never become arrogant and narrow-minded if you perceive how small your abilities are when contrasted to those of the greatest.
Remember to use your knowledge in the service of others, but expect nothing in return. Never seek a reward for your labors, for that is a sin.”
Learning martial arts means self-assurance, not arrogance. Your confidence should make you the meekest, most humble person on earth. If you are secure in your techniques, nothing anyone can do has any meaning. It is impossible for them to annoy you because you know they cannot harm you. You know you can fight, but you do not exercise that ability. You remain free of violence.
Walking away from a confrontation makes one superior. You have not been taught martial arts to kill, to win glory for yourself, or to exalt religion. Rather, the purpose is self-discipline and self-defense.
You can only see the gods and heaven by mastering this world.
Meditation is not simply something you do by itself, casually. Other disciplines complement it and must also be mastered. Martial arts generate mighty strength, and the raw energy for meditation, but the mind must be cultivated through music, calligraphy, painting, and metaphysics before you can be ready for contemplation.
Good and evil exists as destiny and fate. (…) No, they aren’t [the same]. Destiny is that which you must fulfill in this lifetime. You are born with a task. During your life, you must continually strive to identify it and complete it to its last detail. This is no simple errand, mind you. It is a terrible intricate and unique enigma for each person that must be slowly be brought to fruition. The issue at stake is nothing less than transcending the consequences of past lives in order to be reborn in a higher state or, better yet, to escape all together. That is destiny.
Fate is an active agent that exists solely to deter you from fulfilling your destiny. It struggles against you, impedes your progress. Fate functions through illusion. It is responsible for mirages that lead you astray. It is temptation. It tricks you, fills your mind with grand notions and proud thoughts. Fate would like nothing better than to deter you from your goal. Whenever you think of doing wrong or play a trick, and you become aware of yourself, you have instantly found fate. Give and fate has won. Resist and it has lost. But it will be there, tirelessly waiting to distract you once more.
This is what “Heaven and hell are right here on earth” means. Don’t look outwardly for heavenly beings and hellish denizens. Look within you. Pursue your destiny and you are closer to heaven. Yield to fate and you slip toward hell. If you ultimately fulfill your destiny, you transcend human existence. If you fall to Fate, you suffer in a quagmire of delusion and ignorance.
If you understand good and evil as destiny and fate, you understand that your actions alone move you toward one or the other. Nothing else enters into your life equation. Solve a bit of your destiny and you triumph. Give in the slightest to delusion and your vision is all the more obscured.
Source: Deng Ming-Dao – Chronicles of Tao