We wonder why it’s so hard to awaken. It’s because that life-force, our ki, our energy that’s needed, is leaking away night and day, day and night.

One of the pivotal realizations in this practice is to realize the extent to which we live asleep. We sit down, we start seeing, and then it’s painful because we see how much we miss. And yet joy comes because we see. We see, finally!

Hongzhi says, “You must completely withdraw from the invisible pounding and weaving of your ingrained ideas. You yourself establish the mind that thinks up all the illusory conditions, false conceptions and attachments we do not realize. Accept your function and be wholly satisfied.” Most of our thoughts arrive predictably, mechanically, from our conditions. Rarely do we know who we are, except in a very narrow, self-conscious way. We hardly know what we’re doing while we’re doing it. But right there, when we become aware of this gap, we can make contact with the energy we need to awaken.

We also need to acknowledge the extent to which we do not want to be where we are, the extent to which we make the choice “no”—choosing not to meditate, to just be entertained, or choosing to blame, to complain. In one sense, resistance is fine, because we can use it to sharpen the lens. We can press against what is being resisted. Hongzhi says, “The insight must be perfectly incorporated,”—this is to take responsibility—not to blame the thoughts, the thinker, or anyone else. See the attachment clearly, take responsibility, refrain, relax, concentrate, and have compassion for yourself. Humor helps. See the absurdity of what we’re believing in at that moment. And at the same time, see how profound that is. How absurd, and how profound. Concentrate. Enlarge. Touch the infinite possibility of mind.

The Buddha spoke about the ways that we get distracted and leak our concentration. If we want to plumb the depths of being here, then we need to recognize these leaks and learn how to plug them. One is unnecessary talking. It takes the form of mindless chatter—elevating ourselves, put- ting down others, gossiping, complaining or overdramatizing.

Another leak is internal daydreams, whether they are planning, fantasizing, worrying, or just random thoughts about nothing in particular. Random thoughts about nothing in particular—Leak. Do you feel it? Worrying—big loss. Gossiping—total leakage. Every time we indulge in unnecessary thinking, we lose a small amount of that energy that could be turned around to penetrate and awaken.