The Ordinary Mind and the Mind of Wisdom

Life is full of risks; there are risks in politics, industry and commerce, in the workplace, and even in the family. If we are prepared to face risk at all times, with no need to get excited or panicky no matter what happens, and don’t feel surprised when something good or bad happens, this is called “ ordinary mind.”

This ordinary mind corresponds to no-mind and is similar to original face. Ordinary mind does not think about gains or losses, about having more or less, of being a success of a failure; it is only concerned about doing what can or should be done. After undertaking something, if problems occur, one keeps a cool head and deals with the crisis with ease.

Last week I met a successful Taiwanese businessman, and I said to him: “ Your success was no easy task.”

He said: “ It was really nothing, I just worked hard.”

I said:" Working hard does not necessarily bring success."

He said: “Yes, that is true. Many people work hard all their life and accomplish nothing. So working hard does not necessarily bring success, but one cannot succeed without effort.”

I said: “Effort along with luck brings success, luck is very important.”

He said: “ Yes! Yes! Without luck, no matter how hard you work, it’s useless. However, sometimes luck depends on whether you have vision.

I told him: “ Vision is your wisdom, and luck is your blessing. It’s useless if one only sits there and thinks, “ I have far-reaching vision and great capacity of mind. To succeed, I need a chance, and this chance and this luck are a blessing, the causes and conditions of merit.”

To have vision and wisdom is a blessing, and everyone is at a different level, depending on their self-centeredness. People who are extremely self-centered may succeed, but their success will be small and won’t last long; given the opportunity to succeed, they will snatch, struggle, and seize by whatever means necessary.

In the long run, their success may be harmful to society, so that kind of personal success cannot last long. True success is when one’s success also benefits society. To have a far-reaching and broad vision, one should first moderate the selfish mind; it will then be easier to accomplish things. When meeting with difficulties, one can turn misfortune into a positive outcome. Those who suffer in adversity and are elated when the sailing is smooth think they are extremely capable, with the power to create a world. But people with such attitudes will likely bring ill fortune to themselves and people around them. It is because those who lack wisdom also lack merit. Only those whose compassionate vows are eternal and selfless obtain everlasting success.


Liberated in Stilness and Motion, p.104-105
Master Sheng Yen's Talk, Given at DDM Chan Meditation Camp, April, 1994

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