People who have good roots are in the Way-place every day, being permeated by incense. Over the course of time, they will become one with the Dharma and will experience enlightenment.
As we study and practice the Dharma in the Way-place every day, we are being permeated by incense, and eventually we will become one with the Dharma.
In Buddhism there are fivefold fragrances: the fragrance of precepts, the fragrance of samadhi, the fragrance of wisdom, the fragrance of liberation, and the fragrance of the liberation of knowledge and views. After being permeated by these five kinds of fragrances for a long time, we can become enlightened.
Newcomers cannot accept this idea. They think that incense is just incense, and they just themselves, and there’s no relation between the two. However, through constant permeation, we become one with the fragrance before we know it. The ancients said,
Living with good people is like being in a house of orchids;
After a while, one no longer smells the fragrance.
Living with those who are not good is like being in a fish market;
After a while, one no longer smells the stench.
This happens because you become one with them.
People who have good roots can experience sudden awakening (enlightenment) after being permeated for a long enough time here. What advantages are there to being enlightened? They will understand all theories and principles, and will no longer be muddled. They will shatter ignorance and reveal their wisdom. Being ignorant is like being in a dark cave where one cannot see anything. Enlightenment is the coming of light, which drives out darkness. It’s a state in which one sees everything with perfect clarity.
A talk given on October 16, 1983