Dear Friends,

The gift of Faith is like a rare and precious jewel; but strangely, it is a gift that often remains hidden from the one who possesses it. Like Aladdin's treasure, it lies hidden behind a cave's strong doors until, in some unexpected moment, a magic sound - monks chanting in a temple or someone reading a beautiful line of scripture - is heard, and the "Open, Sesame!" cries out loud and clear. The doors obediently open, and the person sees the truth and beauty of what he possesses. He can enter the sanctuary and hold his Faith securely in his hands.

For those who haven't been given the gift there are no magic words. There's only the hard work of struggling along a difficult path, searching the unreal for the real. The problem is that the instruments we use to search are themselves unreal. So the unreal is searching the unreal looking for the real. This statement sounds like nonsense. The truth, we believe, ought to be evident to us. But the kind of truth we strive to find is hidden beneath a veil of material illusion.

What we call reality is the world that we perceive and know, and these perceptions and knowings are determined by the tendencies of our mind and of our individual personalities. We get to know the things we like. These are the things we strive to encounter and possess. Rarely do we trouble ourselves to become familiar with people or objects we do not like. Already we have compromised our values. Already we know that no sooner do we begin to like something, the seed of dislike is planted. We will grow tired of it. Our personality likes to be amused and entertained. We need new and fresh aspects of a person or an object to keep us interested. Without a constant supply of novel thoughts and sensations to distract it, the personality experiences the world not as a magic cave full of wonders, but as a tomb - and life as the living hell of Samsara.

This cannot be reality. For how can the real be subjected to our likes or dislikes, our interest or our boredom? True reality is a state of ultimate rest, in which all forces are balanced and all contradictions resolved. It does not change every time our minds change, or move whenever our bodies move. It is, in a word, Peace. And, dear friends, our faith in the Buddha's Dharma provides the key to achieving that peace - the magic power to unlock that true cave of treasures.