The Story of Water Margin (All Men Are Brothers) helps us see ourselves: we might originally be Bodhisattva or angles, but if we do not practice spiritually, we could still be very coarse and ferocious and destroy everything. We could not distinguish good from bad; sometimes we are so angry and ferocious but sometimes more reasonable and virtuous, all because we still haven't practiced the true Dharma, or we have not yet cultivated and trained ourselves well; we haven’t got rid of Maya’s qualities and developed Bodhisattva’s quality to one hundred percent. Therefore, it’s not good enough to do good deeds or protect the country, and not even great enough to pacify the world; that’s why Confucius said: we shouldcultivate ourselves, take care of our family, goven our countrybefore pacifying the world.
We’ve learned too much stuff and read too many scriptures for too long that we think we know everything and become arrogant. Only after we meet the Master do we know that we have not even begun and our level is so low. Only at that time, we are truly detached and have nothing to grasp; we will be like a kid not knowing what to do. This is the best time to learn the Dharma. Therefore, the ancient Zen masters and enlightened masters all tested their disciples harshly in order to let them know their short-comings, and also realize how great their virtue and patience is to bear the bearable or unbearable situations.
We read Tao Te Ching, The Doctrine of the Mean and Great Learning everyday but we can not put it into practice. That's because we haven't attained our inner Tao, or heavenly kingdom or Buddha nature. If reading scriptures and being virtuous were enough, then Sakyamuni Buddha wouldn’t have to meditate and go into Samadhi every day and wouldn’t have to go to heaven and hell to save people; if reading the Bible were enough, then Jesus Christ wouldn’t have to meditate in the desert and fast for 40 days, being all alone to cleanse himself, including his body, speech and mind in order to teach sentient beings. Scriptures are outer teachings while spiritual practice is the inner teaching. The Tao is the balance of the outer teaching and inner practice.