done, and visited a famous master. He asked him: "I am a sinner,

I am in torment. What's the way out? What can I do?"

The master looked the bandit up and down and then asked

him what he was good at.

"Nothing," replied the bandit.

"Nothing?" barked the master. "You must be good at something!"

The bandit was silent for a while, and eventually

admitted: "Actually, there is one thing I have a talent for, and

that's stealing."

The master chuckled: "Good! That's exactly the skill you'll

need now. Go to a quiet place and rob all your perceptions,

and steal all the stars and planets in the sky, and dissolve them

into the belly of emptiness, the all-encompassing space of the

nature of mind." Within twenty-one days the bandit had realized

the nature of his mind, and eventually came to be

regarded as one of the great saints of India.

In ancient times, then, there were extraordinary masters

and students as receptive and single-minded as that bandit

who could, by just practicing with unswerving devotion one

single instruction, attain liberation. Even now, if we were to

put our mind to one powerful wisdom method and work

with it directly, there is a real possibility we would become


Our minds, however, are riddled and confused with doubt.

I sometimes think that doubt is an even greater block to

human evolution than desire and attachment. Our society promotes

cleverness instead of wisdom, and celebrates the most

superficial, harsh, and least useful aspects of our intelligence.

We have become so falsely "sophisticated" and neurotic that

we take doubt itself for truth, and the doubt that is nothing

more than ego's desperate attempt to defend itself from wisdom

is deified as the goal and fruit of true knowledge. This

form of mean-spirited doubt is the shabby emperor of samsara,

served by a flock of "experts" who teach us not the

open-souled and generous doubt that Buddha assured us was

necessary for testing and proving the worth of the teachings,

but a destructive form of doubt that leaves us nothing to

believe in, nothing to hope for, and nothing to live by.

Our contemporary education, then, indoctrinates us in the

glorification of doubt, has created in fact what could almost be

called a religion or theology of doubt, in which to be seen to

be intelligent we have to be seen to doubt everything, to

always point to what's wrong and rarely to ask what's right or

good, cynically to denigrate all inherited spiritual ideals and

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