I meditate daily before the altar,
Yet I am still covered with sin.
In spite of daily efforts to improve ourselves, we still have many faults. We eliminate one, only to find new shortcomings. We free ourselves from some unwanted involvement, only to find new entanglements. Why is it so hard to find liberation? Because our own minds are the source of our difficulties.
Each one of us who has intelligence and ambition has profound desire. We want things. We devise strategies to get them. Whether it is the nearly instinctive drive for food or whether it is desire clothed in societal approval, our minds never rest in their hunger for satisfaction. Once we have desire, we grasp for the object of our desire. If the grasping is unsuccessful, we become angry, frustrated, and disappointed. If we get what we want, we only want more.
This grasping never ends. Though we meditate, we cannot eliminate this habit all at once. Therefore, though we may sit with all sincerity before the altar, we must also accept that we will not be quickly redeemed. The follower of Tao knows how to eliminate desire, accept personal shortcomings, and work toward a patient elimination of the mind’s own hunger for outward satisfaction.