Well it’s time to get back to it. Tomorrow we will begin our exploration into the four section of lojong practice – Showing The Utilization of Practice in One’s Whole Life. This section deals primarily with bringing practice into one’s everyday experience. From my reading of this section, one must consider that unless practice becomes an ordinary aspect of your life, you are wasting your time. This may seem harsh to some and I may be wrong, but a lot of what this section’s slogans point to is how to overcome laziness around practice. No matter how much we understand the Dharma, love the Dharma and/or appreciate the support of the Dharma, if we don’t practice it all day, every day, we will never experience the full impact of Dharma. Moreover, practice should not be some arduous task. It should be as simple as putting on your shoes in the morning and walking around all day with them on. The slogans in this section basically point to how to utilize practice in such a way that we can hold practice with the same ease and commonality.
The first slogan in this section is Practice The Five Strengths. They are determination, familiarization, seed of virtue, reproach and aspiration. We will explore the first two this week, the second two next week and the last week of June. Determination and familiarization are the joy and intimacy of practice. I like that Trungpa Rinpoche refers to the Dharma or one’s practice as a lover. Its like asking the question, what would you do to care for and appreciate a kind and supportive partner? You would make some kind of effort to connect and engage with them. This is a good way to think of practice. We often talk about the benefits and gifts of practice but then if we look at the practice in our lives it is barely noticeable. Trungpa Rinpoche is saying that if we think of practice as a lover, we will want to keep it close. Go to sleep with it, wake up with it, think about it all day, call on it in times of difficulties and share our joys with it. This is so alive for me because I can honestly say that this is the way I live my life right now.
Norman Fisher has a slightly different approach. He looks at this first slogan as the five strengths that get us started. The way he talks about it, this section is the beginning of Mind Training. Everything else was prep work. This first slogan is our resolve to begin. To do this we need a connection with our deepest motivation which resides in the heart of every human. Habits of mind block our ability to connect with this deep and nourishing motivation. Dharma practice is what helps us dissolve, release, untangle, or unblock our heart connection so we can live a more inspired life. A life connected to a full throttle level of kindness.
Which of these two approaches work best for you? We’ll explore this question tomorrow night. Until then…