What has to be done,
do with determination.
The lazy disciple only spreads
the dust of passion more widely.
Dhammapada: verse 313
Making our Effort
When we are serious practitioners of Dhamma, the enlightenment of the Buddha is not a romantic ideal to be reflected upon only in the Dhamma Hall or in special moments, but a real possibility for all of us in our ordinary, everyday life.
To let go of our suffering, to put down what we carry and to realise for ourselves, the smile of enlightenment.
However, for us to realise the enlightenment of the Buddha we have to want it as much as he did, cultivate the same determination as he did and so make the necessary effort. This does not mean a life of hard ascetic practice, not eating properly or punishing the body as was his initial practice, rather it means simply to be aware and loving in every moment. To use the limitless potential contained in every moment as the opportunity for our own illumination.
It means to make our Dhamma practice, the most important thing in life.
However, there are many occasions when we simply don't feel inspired to practice. These are the times when it is much easier for us to watch television or to be with friends than to sit in meditation, even for half an hour. It is here, in these moments, when the mind becomes our greatest enemy, convincing us that other more superficial things, are equally as important as our Dhamma practice. This mind always speaks quietly and rationally, always giving many extremely good and seemingly valid reasons and excuses for us not to what is so important to do. To live with love and be aware.
And so it is here where we need to make our effort. To go past the point in our life where we usually stop. To go past the point in our life where we can always give reasons and make excuses to justify our laziness and lack of discipline.
Without the quiet, love orientated determination of practice, our spiritual endeavour becomes just one more thing that we do when we feel like it. Another hobby to fill in the time when there is nothing good to watch on television, or we are not ready to go to bed.
The true disciple of Dhamma does not listen to the mind. They are at one with it.
The true disciple of Dhamma does not argue with the mind. They are at one with it.
The true disciple of Dhamma does not allow the mind to determine whether they practice or not. They are at one with it.
This means that they gently follow the practice of Dhamma, of meditation, awareness and love however they feel in any moment. It means that they practice whether they are inspired or not.
When they want to meditate, they meditate. When they don't want to meditate, they meditate anyway.
To no longer be a victim of the mind is the great liberation. To see the mind, to know the mind and to be one with the mind, but not to be influenced by it, is the way of the Buddha. To do what we have to do, enjoy it if possible and to move on. This is the way of Dhamma.
Dhamma can be found everywhere, even in the modern world of advertising and selling, and so, as strange as it may seem, the true disciple of Dhamma follows the recommendation of Nike. Practice is the most important thing. Practice is everything, so
Just do it!
There are no obstacles to practice – there is only the mind!
Without our unhappiness, how could we end our unhappiness?
As human beings our common goal is to be happy. It is our first thought in the morning and our last thought in the evening. It is what unites us all. But happiness is not something to be achieved through doing something special, or by acquiring more and more things. Happiness is the natural disposition of the mind, and so we don't have to create happiness because happiness is always there, always present and always ready to be accessed. What we need to do is let go of the causes of our unhappiness.
However, to bring about real change in our life we have to reach the point where we are truly tired of our unhappiness. But at the same time, it is important that we see unhappiness, not as the enemy, but as the condition for change. Without our unhappiness, how could we end our unhappiness?
What is it that creates these feelings within us? Once we know that we have something to work with and we can begin the process of ‘letting go’. It is the letting go that makes a space for the real and lasting happiness.
So don't see your unhappiness is as the enemy, see it only as the motivation and the opportunity for beautiful change in your life.
From the new version of Life is not Personal
Available late 2007