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Thread: Practice is Life

  1. #1

    Practice is Life

    I apologize if it seems like I'm plugging my blog. . .truth is I'm not. I write for myself, just a means to process my inner workings.

    I just posted about something that I've currently decided on I feel the need to share this with my Sangha (you guys).

    http://enteringthepath.wordpress.com/20 ... e-is-life/

  2. #2
    For those of you who don't want to follow the link, here is the text. . . .

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    Iíve been doing some reflection about my practice. To tell the truth I donít like everything Iíve seen. It is time for me to take things in a more difficult direction. I am not referring towards any idea of achievement or spiritual attainment ó- that stuff is ego created crap. What I am talking about is commitment, hard work, and being honest with myself. Iím vowing today to approach practice with a new understanding, a realization that life and practice must fully encompass one another.

    Practice is another term for habit or training, in order to build a robust and skillful practice a certain amount of discipline and hard work is necessary. What is it I am practicing and what for? Obviously, Iím referring to the practice of Zazen Ė but more fundamentally the practice of Dharma in general. It sounds very ďBuddhistĒ to say that I am working towards aligning my life with the Dharma; but does that really mean anything substantive?

    Firstly, it means using The Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold Path, and The Five Precepts as the blueprint for my life. Overcoming my attachments by recognizing them, feeling the suffering they cause and letting go of them. Working hard to recognize where my actions relate to the Eightfold path and doing my utmost best to walk that path. I must honor and follow my interpretations of the Precepts to the letter. Each thought I think, each word I speak, or decision I make is an opportunity to live the Dharma or to continue my delusions. I vow to make those choices with my eyes wide open, not clouded by excuses or rationalizations.

    Secondly, on an existential level the Dharma is the underlying nature of all things. It means seeing reality for what it is and nothing more. Therefore practice and life are one and the same. There is no separation between the two. To practice skillfully is to live skillfully.



    Practice = Life.

  3. #3
    Hi Greg,

    I admire your level of commitment. That form of diligence and care and hard work to make Buddhist Practice, through-and-through, the foundation for every moment of our lives ...

    That being said, one must often relax, and not try. Thus, I often compare our practice to a bike ride (not the Tour-d'-France version, just an easy bike ride through life). If you try too hard, grip the handlebar too hard, worry which leg must follow which leg ... over you go! But, just, relax, pick up your feet and ride! Our Soto practice is a fine mix of hard effort, no effort, and a skillful union of the two.

    The Rinzai practices often include a hard, mountain climbing effort, up up up the steep mountain ... only to realize that there was no place to go! Then, it is all cruise, cruise, cruise down the winding road, taking in the scenery, enjoying the breeze. Soto practice is more a a gentle glide from the start. But, like the 'tortoise and the hare', we all get where we are going at the same time ... no winners or losers in this race.

    So, be gentle with yourself ... even as you have the iron will to sit every day, to keep polishing that mirror that never needs polishing!

    Gassho, Jundo

    P.S. - Yes, this week's book reading on "What Practice is Not" is rather on point. I think.

  4. #4
    Jundo,

    I don't disagree with anything you have to say. But its really a razor's edge isn't it? That skillful union of hard practice and soft practice needs to be played with, and surely is a bit different for each of us.

    I will head your warnings to take it easy, I know that an honest practice must be a source of joy. I don't mean to suggest that I am grinding my teeth and settling into things with an iron will; just vowing to be brutally honest with myself.

    My practice was a very hard one, lately its been a bit too soft. . .I'm simply bringing myself to balance on that razor's edge, hopefully I won't get cut!

  5. #5

    pratice is life

    Hello Gregor!
    What you raise is a perennial issue for me.
    I just think it stems from the way we, with our calendars and the way we schedule everything in our lives, try to maximize the time we set aside for zazen/practice. At least this is the sense I have from what you are saying as I compare it with the ebb and flow of sitting on my own and attendance at zen centers/sangha groups.
    I do think it is a natural process to want to put our energy and fervor and sincerity someplace. We are used to having some kind of feedback in our other activities, after all--we throw ourselves into it, and 4 hours later, the laundry is all done, the kitchen sparkles, the bathroom is beautiful, the living room a place we aren't ashamed to receive guests...
    but sitting is not anything that 'shows' no matter how hard or soft we go about it.
    Years on the zafu and bupkiss to show for it.
    It is more like growing a silent, invisible diamond which no one can weigh, taste, or ever cut.
    I find it grows at its own rate, no matter what I do: hard training, soft training. But at the same time, I can't get away from it--like an oyster with a pearl--I can't say "ok, I've got a 3 day retreat--let me work on doubling that pearl's size" No matter where I am or what I am doing, it's with me at all times and I am growing it at all times--unnoticeably. Turns out there is no way I can not grow it.
    No matter what I do, I'm doing it--and can't find anythiing that isn't practice. So even that word and concept of 'practice' grows its own way too.
    There really is nothing to show: but this 'nothing' is everything to me!

    So....
    Each of us at our own pace, hard training, soft training, no matter what we are eating, no matter what jobs we work at or how long the commute to get there, no matter if we have a partner, families, pets, gardens to tend to, no matter we exercise by pumping iron or swimming...

    May we all realize the Buddha Way together!

    gassho,
    Keishin

  6. #6
    Hi everyone,

    great topic, I think the intensity of our practice is an issue for every Buddhist, whereby it's not a 'problem' which we can solve, but something which always accompanies us. At least that's how I experience it. As you say, Gregor, it's a razor's edge: complacency on the one hand, cramped or rigid practice on the other hand. I think the key is to let the Precepts manifest themselves from within by means of our practice, instead of forcing them upon ourselves from without (even though there is no real 'within' or 'without'...) and clinging to the very ideas which are intended to free us. And we shouldn't forget that mistakes are also an essential part of our lives, not something separate. Anyway, as far as I can tell from afar, you seem to be on the right track, Gregor!

    Gassho
    Kenneth

  7. #7
    Hi Guys,

    I have to semi-correct something I said (not the first time today) ...

    Thus, I often compare our practice to a bike ride (not the Tour-d'-France version, just an easy bike ride through life). If you try too hard, grip the handlebar too hard, worry which leg must follow which leg ... over you go! But, just, relax, pick up your feet and ride! Our Soto practice is a fine mix of hard effort, no effort, and a skillful union of the two.
    I spoke to a friend of mine, who is actually a competitive bicyclist in the Tour d'France-ish mode. He said that my description of weekend biking also applies to some degree to competitive, long distance biking: It take a tremendous relaxation combined with intensity, and a skillful mixing of the two. So, while one needs an iron will to overcome the moments of pain and exhaustion, one must be very comfortable and unstressed in the sadle as the road winds around (actually, he said something like that, and I paraphrase).

    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8
    I think the key is to let the Precepts manifest themselves from within by means of our practice, instead of forcing them upon ourselves from without (even though there is no real 'within' or 'without'...) and clinging to the very ideas which are intended to free us.
    Very well put, Kenneth. Thank you.

    Gassho.

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