The transformation from the mind of sentient beings to the mind of Buddha is to clarify and purify the defiled and unwholesome mind into the awakened mind. This process is called practice or cultivation of the mind.
In such training and cultivation, if every thought is grounded in the “Right Path”, and in every moment the mind remembers the Dharma and the Truth, this mind is the “Mind of the Way”.
The process of mind transformation is a rather long one because confusion and contamination of the mind run deep. From beginningless time, sentient beings have gone through countless numbers of births and deaths, sinking in the sea of suffering. However, it is never too late to turn from the wrong way and to awaken to this moment. It requires an extended period of time to gradually cleanse the accumulated stain in order for the original mind of the Buddha to shine and for the mind of the universe to fully function.
In this transformation process, the “Mind of the Way” is an inner force — like a catalyst for cleansing and purification that is powerful and long-lasting — and enables the transformation to progress from happening to completion.
It is not unusual that some people know the great “Mind of the Way” after experiencing awakening, practice for a while, and then lose the aspiration or continued strength due to the heaviness of the stain and their weakness of willpower. They are unable to resist the stimulation and temptation of the external world. We call such a mind a “dew mind of the Way” for, like the dew, it evaporates and disappears when the sun rises high over the horizon. It is not something to be criticized, however. After all, sentient beings have drifted in the sea of birth and death for eons, having forgotten the way home. Even if they have found the path at some point, they often get lost again and again. Nonetheless, because they had found it, no matter how many times they forgot the right path, they can eventually make a correct turn regardless how many countless times they have been lost. Finally, they will get back on the path leading home.
Getting on the way, however, does not mean that the journey will be smooth, because the road is uneven, not so straightforward, and is filled with shrubs and thorns. Some practitioners follow a narrow path carefully and find their own way home. Others may open up the path for an easier passing of the people who are following behind. The journey of these pioneers may take a longer time, or they may choose to go home first and then come back to help build the road. Regardless, the mind of taking the broad path is the “Great Mind of the Way”.
(1989/11/9 written at 金馬侖, Malaysia. Published in《爾然小品》 by Dharma Drum Publications.)