We have to fall in love with our practice.  We have to find a way that what we are doing when we practice is exactly what we want to be doing, and then practice will begin to be what we are doing all of the time, whether we are doing it formally or going through our daily lives. 

If practice is a chore, or it is boring, or if you’d rather be doing something else, then I think maybe it is good to reassess what is going on in your process.  

What do we really want?  Truly want?  And how can practice be a way to work on that?  How can all of our lives be a part of that?

Maybe you are suffering. You have seen really impressive people who have been practicing a long time, or you’ve read some books about enlightenment, and so you agree to put in some time. But in truth, you’d rather just enjoy life or spend time in other ways, and so practice is something to get out of the way in order to live.  

For me, I did not care about Buddhism really or care about the Japanese clothing, or the bells or the aesthetic of Zen.  I did not like seated zazen at first.  I did not like the unstable or manipulative people in the scene.  But at some point, a sempai (more experienced practitioner in the Sangha) told me I had to love my training.  I had to find a way to love it.  And I really tried to digest that, as I respected this sempai friend.

I set off to change my way of being in practice. I tried to find a way to interact with my seated zazen in a way that I enjoyed it. To enjoy the meals and the chanting, to enjoy the work of the monastery.  In fact, I began to change my way of being from someone who was against life, to someone using my life to deepen and explore the joys of training. So the idea of loving my training helped me to open my heart to it.  Somehow I had the notion that I had to be suffering in some way in order to get enlightened. If I was enjoying it too much, then I’d be compromising it. I’d become soft in my training.  

As I turned 180 degrees around in my training, I saw that everything began to give me energy.  I loved working on the grounds. I loved the chanting and made it beautiful. And in making it beautiful, something else began to shine.  I made it beautiful, and a joy began to shine. I began to be happy for no reason. I couldn’t figure out why I was happy.  It was as if I had taken the present moment, and learned how to meet it fresh.  I’d fallen in love with it.

And the more I did this, the more my tanden opened up, the more my body opened up. I began to meet the environment in a harmonious way.  I began to move differently. My Qigong became much deeper. Whisking a blow of tea became big, a way to feel into how to connect with this great life energy and joy.   My practice became so exciting! Such an adventure! I began to see that I could feel the immense present moment, I could become intimate with it, allow it to guide me, feel it like texture, melt into it. I felt as if I were now living in a sea of Qi around me, supporting me, filling me up.

The present moment was ripe with alchemy. And gifts began to emerge out of this meeting, this alchemy. The world became alive. I saw that things I felt were solid were not solid. I saw that reality was much more precious, much more rich and magical.  I also saw that any hard beliefs I had were dissolved in this field of light. And I found the love I had so longed for my whole life. A sense of connection to life. I found the universe guiding me in every cell, and it felt like my life became Grace.

Truly meeting life and feeling it, loving it, began to help others, as I began to shine in mysterious ways which surprised people.  So by me falling in love with the training, that began to help others to see that they could fall in love with the training, and with life.  Practice was no longer something to dip into and then leave when I got the chance. Practice became a seamless shining of joy.  A joy not dependent on circumstances or bound to a specific time or place.

“Your true nature is bright”, the Roshi would tell me, and I found it myself (and we all have to find it ourselves). And that same brightness became a light, a guide to go deeper into the practice, until it led me like a divining rod to some big permanent changes.  So anyway, if you don’t like practice, maybe you need to find a way to love your practice. That is a personal exploration, and requires a lot of creativity (Kufu).  It can’t be someone else’s practice. Or something you read about and are imitating. It’s got to be something you want to be doing.  We’ll be fools together, laughing and goofing off in this beautiful soup of reality. Thanks and good luck!

 

Here we were last summer. I had built some barriers and was about to dig a moat as the tide was coming in threatening our beech fire!
Advertisement