The human race is engaged in the pursuit of external things. We seek the Dharma outside the mind. The more we chase it, the farther we stray. We can never catch up with it. Although we cannot catch up, we are ever more eager in our pursuit. Paying attention to trivialities, we forget our main objective. Rejecting what is near at hand, we seek far away.
People think computers, televisions, telephones, refrigerators, and so on are good things, and they tend to become attached to them. If we truly understand these things, they can help us become enlightened. They are like the six senses: the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. These six thieves can cause people to indulge in evil ways. However, if you know how to use them, they can help you to cultivate and attain Buddhahood.
Computers and the like appear to be external objects, but actually they exist within our own nature. We do not have to seek outside for them. We cannot see these treasures, which come from our everlasting true mind and our pure, bright nature, simply because they have been obscured by the five skandhas. Since they are covered up by ignorance, we forget what is near to us and seek what is far away. We don't know how to look within ourselves.
Within our own nature, we each have a computer called the divine mind, the sacred mind, or the Buddha mind; it is simply great wisdom. Nowadays, scientists come up with an endless stream of new inventions, but they are actually wandering farther and farther off the track. They are searching outside themselves, on a superficial level. They may seem to have attained something, but actually they have forgotten their inherent wisdom. This is to concentrate on details while forgetting the main objective.
Cultivators should concentrate on the main objective and renounce the petty details. We should discard the minor parts and search for the fundamental Dharma-door. How can we perfect our own original Buddha-nature? How can we return to the source and go back to the origin? How can we recover our inherent Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom, our Wisdom of Equality, our Wonderful Contemplative Wisdom, and our Wisdom of Accomplishment? These four are manifestations of wisdom, while the computer is only a tiny fraction of one-trillionth part of the Four Kinds of Wisdom. People tend to mistake brass for gold; they are very pitiful. As cultivators, we should recognize our inherent wisdom instead of seeking far and wide outside.
Does that mean we should not use external things at all? A while back, I mentioned that computers and other products of technology are monsters that put people out of work, making them lazy and causing them to detest toil and be fond of ease. If this continues, human beings will soon become useless. Once there is no use for the human race, the show will be over and the curtains will fall. What will people be needed for? On the other hand, if people wake up and utilize scientific technology wisely instead of letting themselves be controlled by it, it can benefit humankind in many ways. In general, no matter what it is, it depends on how you use it. People should use computers, but not let their minds be controlled by computers.
If you recognize what you see, you can transcend the world.
If you are confused by what you see, you will sink and drown.
A talk given on March 25, 1983,
at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas