Why do we practice, and what does it mean to practice?
For some, practice is what they call their meditation time on the cushion. For others, they may think of practice as their weekly visit to the Temple for a meditation service with the community. While some, like myself, feel that my practice is my life. And meditation is only a part of that, which can actually be observed in everything we do.
But why do it at all? Why meditate, why practice, what’s the purpose of these efforts?
I think that many people enjoy having one day a week to simply be quiet and peaceful, joining with other like-minded individuals to enjoy an hour of joy and inspiration. And this is a great thing, and likely helps affect the rest of the week for many of them. Like a watering-hole for the spirit, getting the weekly quenching can be just enough to once again move forward with your life. Forward with a renewed energy and loving-friendliness towards the self and others. Not a bad thing at all, is it!
Still, there are others who wish to make this practice a more integral part of their existence, and bring it to each moment of every day. A powerful example being those who take on the robes to become a monastic. Dedicating their life to the study and practice of the Buddha’s teachings. Renouncing all worldly goods and attachments, walking a path of selfless service to others while also pursuing their own liberation from samsara.
For most of us, this may sound a bit extreme. Giving up all possessions, Family, and home, likely seems unimaginable to most of us. Yet I think there is a middle path for the rest of us. Living and breathing the dhamma every day, yet still managing the lay life and all that entails.
I have come to learn this, not by reading books or studying suttas, but by simple observation of my Teacher (Bhante Sujatha) and other monastics. I have witnessed first hand, a million times over, the loving-kindness, compassion, acceptance, and joy that these individuals embody. Not just something they may show people during the once-a-week mediation service, but in every moment and every situation of normal life. I have seen them face the financial difficulties, severe health problems, and the death of parents. And regardless of the situation, they show such confidence in the practice and acceptance of the nature of this life. And I see that this is the same determination that is available to me (and you) with daily practice. With gentleness and continued determination, our practice truly does become our nature.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.