All day long, our six sense faculties lead us in external pursuit of the six defiling objects, so that we are unable to reflect upon ourselves. This is called having outflows.
Since time immemorial, ordinary people’s six sense faculties have been following the six external defiling objects, seeking for sounds and chasing after forms, creating tremendous impure karma. Our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind are like six treacherous accomplices inside our house, who let the thieves in to plunder the family treasures of our own nature. We consider the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind to be our good helpers, but these six are actually villains who let the bandits come and rob the Dharma treasures of our own nature, and we’re not even aware of what’s going on. It is truly hard to stay on guard against thieves inside our own home.
Take the eyes and ears as an example: “If the eyes don’t see it, the mouth won’t be greedy for it; if the ears don’t hear it, the mind won’t be afflicted.” When we see people eating delicious things, our mouths want to have a taste, and so the mind entertains greedy thoughts about food. Pleasant sounds make us happy, while unpleasant sounds make us upset. Don’t think that the eyes are that great, just because they help us see things. It’s exactly because of their help that we give rise to all kinds of afflictions. For instance, when we see an attractive person of the opposite sex, we become greedy for sex. If we get what we want, we’ll be afflicted, and if we don’t, we’ll also be afflicted. The other faculties, nose, tongue, body and mind are the same way. They make one give rise to many afflictions.
Once afflictions arises, one loses the Dharma treasures of one’s own nature. That’s why it is said, “The firewood chopped over a thousand days can be burned up in a single morning.” This is like skill in meditation that has been cultivated over a thousand days, resulting in a light and peaceful state. But when affliction suddenly arises, the skill is burned out. It is also said, “A tiny spark of fire can burn down a forest of merit and virtue.”
Therefore cultivators must have the samadhi power where “the eyes see shapes and forms, but inside there is nothing; the ears hear mundane affairs, but the mind does not know.” Then the family treasure won’t be plundered. Otherwise, our six sense faculties lead us in a constant, external pursuit of the six defiling objects, so that we are unable to reflect upon ourselves. This is called having outflows. We flow out and fall into the three evil paths for an endless length of time. Isn’t this terrifying? So we should cut off affliction and look for the original source.
The Buddha called the six consciousness thieves inside the house, because the six sense faculties collude with them. When the six faculties meet with the six defiling objects, the six consciousnesses are brought forth, causing delusions to arise and kama to be created. The six faculties are matchmakers, enticing us to do evil things.
What is our family treasure? It is the eternal true mind of the Treasury of the Thus Come One, the wonderful enlightened bright nature. It is not a worldly treasure which has forms and marks. Your own nature is replete with the Buddha treasure, the Dharma treasure and the Sangha treasure – these are the real treasures. The accomplishment of the three non-outflow studies of precepts, samadhi and wisdom through diligent cultivation is also your true Dharma treasure. Some people say that this kind of treasure isn’t visible and thus cannot be believed. Well, I can’t blame them. Since it has no form or appearance, it can’t be seen. But you can still feel it. People with wisdom roots will know. People who have no wisdom roots won’t know, because their potential has not ripened yet. That’s why they can’t bring forth a mind of faith and understanding.