Retrospective - 追溯 - Zhuīsù
A student may spend a decade under a master,
trying to decipher the lessons of the universe.
In search of absolute truth...
All that may be learned through this
is that one must live one's own life.
~inspired by Deng Ming-Dao
When starting out on a path of spiritual instruction, there are many absolute statements that masters make. They are not necessarily lies, but the student must accept the words with provisional faith. Each assertion must be tested individually, proven in direct experience before it can be integrated and believed. The student will be exposed to all types of esoteric and abstract knowledge. He or she must find out which lessons work, and which do not, for one's self.
There may be moments when the student achieves a momentous, elated state where certain techniques may work even more effectively than the scriptures have indicated. Following discoveries such as this, the student may find life as thorny and difficult as before. This may lead to thoughts of abandoning the Tao, as experience seems to indicate its lack of long-term effectiveness. This is wholly false, and entirely of one's own self-deception. Attaining skillful proficiency in Tao is but one aspect. The next is going out, and living life to the end.
When looking back, later in life, the student may see the lessons which have become so thoroughly integrated as to be unobtrusive. No longer sensing the distinction between the lessons and the self, the student may think it is time to shrug off the past, to fill the gap that seems to be left behind. This is false. It is time to utilize the teachings, not to turn one's back. Express one's self, take part in new circumstances, and find your path in the world. Only then will the long acquisition of skill be worthwhile, as the purpose is finally clear.