Monday, January 4, 2010
What Is The Best Approach To Buddhist Practice?
People sometimes ask me what would be the best way they should approach the Buddhist practice. Given the hectic pace of modern living, the traditional ways of Buddhist practice don't seem feasible at all, and so many of us are left wondering and scratching our heads -- is there a way to practice Buddhism and still continue living in modern society?
Well, the good news is -- yes, there definitely is a way to do that, however, the caveat will be that you'd have to assume a proper orientation in order to successfully do that. The aim of this article is to provide you with exactly that -- a proper orientation on your spiritual path.
Here, then, is how you should do it: imagine for a moment that you have injured your right arm (like, you've broken it). The pain would be excruciating, and from that moment on there will be only one thing, one intention on your mind: how to heal the injury as quickly as humanly possible. All other thoughts, wishes and dreams would all of a sudden take a back seat, and all your best efforts wold be fully engaged in healing your broken arm.
But the healing does not happen overnight. So it would require some time, and you must be patient with it. Not only that, you must also be extremely careful not to exacerbate and further aggravate the injury. All these intentions will no doubt be constantly on your mind, no matter how intelligent or how educated and trained you might be. Even the biggest simpleton in the world would have no problems recognizing the seriousness of his injury and focusing all his efforts on healing it.
While the healing is slowly going on, you would be extra careful when moving about your daily business. Like if you were forced to move through an unruly crowds, for instance, you will no doubt spend each and every second of that event being painfully aware of your arm, of its position, and of your bodily movements. This is so that you don't further aggravate the injury.
And the fact is that if you persevere in doing that, your arm is guaranteed to heal. But if you remain reckless (an extremely unlikely event, by the way), then the arm will not only not heal quickly, its condition may worsen to the point of flaring up with a gangrene, in which case this whole affair may end up fatally.
The above is super easy to understand and grasp, right? Well, in the exact same manner, day-to-day Buddhist practice is super easy to understand and grasp. Simply put, in the Buddhist practice, the fundamental premise is that your entire presence in the world has been fatally injured, and the only way to prevent tragedy is to mobilize all your forces and resources and to work on healing the injury. What that means is that in the Buddhist practice you will be switching your attention from your thoughts to your intentions. Thoughts are like clouds, they come and go, in a seemingly unpredictable fashion. Intentions, on the other hand, are much less random, as they are strictly concerned with the present injury. Admit and acknowledge the injury, and you immediately formulate an iron-clad intention to heal it.
Only an utter fool would leave his injury unattended. And that's why in Buddhism we usually refer to regular, non-practicing people as 'foolish'.