Harada Tangen Roshi:
I struggled mightily, as you struggle. But I stuck with the practice — the one single way of practice — and made no excuses for myself. I did not allow my practice to fade out in feelings of discouragement. There were hard times. Even times when I thought I was not going to live through it. But I stayed with the practice, no matter what. And this is what each one of you must do. There were times when I could not breathe, times when all went dark before my eyes, times when I thought I was going to pass out. But even then I refused to give in to my old self-centred patterns of behaviour. I did not try to adjust the practice to do it my way. I stuck with the simple practice that was given to me.
I cannot stress enough to you the absolute importance of sticking to your practice no matter what. No adjustment is required; no calculation is needed. I went through the same thing that you are going through now, so I can tell you from personal experience what you must do. You must give your life to this, and refuse to let anything — any thoughts, ideas, attitudes — get in your way. Your ‘yes’ must be open. Your resolve must be like steel. Even though some people seem to be blessed and joyous, that doesn’t mean that they have true peace of mind, or that you would have true peace of mind in those circumstances, not deeply, not really. So ask yourself: Are you really going to be all right, no matter what?
In the daily activities of a student of the Path, to empty objects is easy, but to empty mind is hard. If objects are empty but mind is not empty, mind will be overcome by objects. Just empty the mind, and objects will be empty of themselves. If the mind is already emptied, but then you arouse a second thought, wishing to empty its objects, this means that this mind is not yet empty, and is again carried away by objects. If this sickness is not done away with, there is no way to get out of birth and death. Once this mind is empty, then what is there outside of mind that can be emptied? Think it over.