What Is Authentic, Genuine, Verifiable Practice?
It’s not meditation, chanting mantras, saying prayers, waving vajras and bells, doing prostrations, listening to teachings, holding retreats, shaving your head: neither is it in flags, Buddha statues, tanka paintings, shrines, beads, cords, robes, brocade, thrones, monasteries, exotic terminologies…
It’s what’s going on in our heads right now that matters; all those doubts, fears and yearnings.
Formulaic practices are just a reminder of what actually matters. There is a danger of being so addicted to rituals that we, in fact, become lazy when dealing, on a very ordinary level, with our mind. Actually, it is not ‘an ordinary level’ at all: right now, it is the quiescence – the heart of the matter itself – of being still in the moment now and facing our obstacles.
It is the sudden shock of facing those doubts, fears and yearnings. This is a personal matter, verifiable and, yes, painful.
There can be a problem with adhering rigidly to the religious approach – the lower vehicles of strict discipline. If we are a sleepy type of person, and a little lazy, then we may need to engage in the paraphernalia, but there comes a time when sticking to the paraphernalia actually makes us lazy (again) because we are not facing the conditions in our own mind now. We need to remember constantly that we are consciousness, which is mind essence that is aware of the obstacles being created.
We are not these obstacles. We are the consciousness that is aware of these obstacles. These obstacles are ideas that we have acquired by consent, and which are traumatising us.
Most practitioners are experts in the above paraphernalia, but they cannot listen to another’s problems because not only have they been traumatised themselves, but their addiction to the lucky charms of the paraphernalia also traumatises them. All they want to hear is a reinforcement of their addiction to religious ideals. They are, in fact, still asleep in Dharma talk.
Authentic, genuine, verifiable practice is acknowledging one’s own doubts, fears and yearnings, and so being able to empathise, and have genuine, selfless compassion.
A practice is method.
To practise is to carry out.
It’s important to know the difference.
This inspiring video is about being creative, but if you transpose the word ‘creative’ for ‘practice’, and ‘artist’ for ‘practitioner’, it may be enlightening! 😀
Get over the fear of starting!