“So, in the very beginning, I specifically emphasized that if we are not able to truly understand [the teachings] at the present time, we will not be able to fathom a more profound level. This is a very important concept, very important! Therefore, due to this constant perception that we have already embraced [the teachings], we often take it for granted and stop advancing [at that point.] We don’t know how to realize the [meaning of the teachings].” - Master Jih-Chang
Global Lamrim 2, Lecture 0020
What is the reason we are unable to fathom the teaching further? At our current level, what do we understand?
As Master stated, the reason that we are unable to go deeper into the teachings is because we claim that we already understand. Once we think that we already understand or we claim that we have already understood then the response that we would have is that since we already understand, we do not need to explore further. There is nothing else for us to further explore. Once we stop the exploration, then of course we are not going to go deeper, or further into the teachings. This is the main reason we cannot go deeper, because we have having this attitude of “I already know it”, “I already understood".
So if we can actually examine ourselves when we attend class, if we think that we already understand, then our the normal reaction would be to switch off. We will start to think of other things and not pay as much attention. We wouldn’t be paying attention to Master’s discourse or to the monitor’s explanation. This is something that we can reflect and examine ourselves the next time we go for class.
Therefore Master’s analysis of our level of understanding is that it is just a textual understanding, which is at a mundane or secular level. We may have gained a better understanding of the text according to the mundane world, but that is only at the textual level, which is not what the Buddha really wants to teach us. So we are actually still very far away from the Buddha’s teachings, thus Master says it is not even close to the entrance.
Master and Venerable has illustrated my flaw here accurately - I have a habit of switching off when I feel that I already “understood” the teaching that is being explained.
I must do better in reflecting and supplicating.