The True Meaning of Non-Regression


A monk who had been the abbot at a Zen center for many years had experienced many difficulties. He felt mentally and physically frustrated in teaching the Dharma and cultivating the path of the bodhisattva. He wondered how to achieve the “stage of non-regression” in spiritual practice.

One day, the Master came to the center for a meal.  Although it was way past mealtime, and despite having been on the road for days and giving Dharma lectures one after another, he was calm and centered, displaying not the slightest trace of weariness.

Seeing this, the abbot inquired, “Shifu, the social climate for teaching the Dharma gets worse and worse. Why do you still build monasteries and Zen centers? Why does your mind not regress even for a single moment in its determination to help all sentient beings?”

The Master closed his eyes and answered firmly, “The worse the conditions get, the stronger your determination should be. That is true non-regression.” Upon hearing this, it was as if a flash of light had entered his mind—the monk’s frustrations suddenly disappeared.