E-mail: bdea@buddhanet.net
Web site: www.buddhanet.net
Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.
by David Smith

Ðavid Smith
A Buoon:s+ HaNonoox oN Coxviv+v Mvo:+a+:oN
Aiox~ Puniic~)ioxs
About Tis Book
Ðharma Mind Vorldly Mind
© 2002 Ðavid Smith.
Publishcd by Aloka Publications.
Tis spccially prcparcd clcctronic vcrsion ol thc book is oßcrcd
lor lrcc distribution and may bc printcd lor your pcrsonal usc
only. !l you wish to print morc than onc copy plcasc contact thc
author lor pcrmission.
Tis book may bc acquircd in papcrback lorm by writing
Aloka Publications
ÐharmaMind 8uddhist Group
65 Lindcn Road
Vcst Midlands
866 4ÐZ
You can acquirc thc papcrback vcrsion lrom othcr sourccs by
visiting www.dharmamind.nct whcrc you can also rcad back
ground inlormation to thc book. You can cmail inlormationC
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!t is hopcd that by oßcring this book lrcc through
8uddhaNct to thc Vorld Vidc Vcb it will bc rcad by a lar
grcatcr audicncc than through normal publishing channcls, and
il lound to havc valuc by its rcadcrs may it hclp support thcm on
thcir spiritual journcy.
May all bcings discovcr what thcir hcart truly dcsircs!
Ð~vib S:i)n
Published by
Aloka Publications
¡mail: inlormationCdharmamind.nct
Vcb: www.dharmamind.nct
© Ðavid Smith 2002
Printed and bound by
Antony Rowc Ltd. ¡astbournc
8ritish Library Cataloguing in Publications Ðata:
A cataloguc rccord ol this book is availablc
From thc 8ritish Library
!S8N 09542475 0 7
Tc right ol Ðavid Smith to bc idcntincd as thc author ol
this work has bccn asscrtcd by him in accordancc with thc
Copyright, Ðcsigns and Patcnts Act 1988
Acknowlcdgcmcnts ...................................................................................................................... vi
Ðn~v:~ Mixb Vovibiy Mixb .................................................................................... ·
Ðharma Mind ..................................................................................................................................... 7
Vorldly Mind ..................................................................................................................................... 7
!ntroduction .......................................................................................................................................... 8
Spccial Mind ..................................................................................................................................... 11
Tnv 8~sics ov Pv~c)icv ...................................................................................................... +±
!ntroduction ....................................................................................................................................... 14
Tc ¡ightlold Path ....................................................................................................................... 17
Tc Trcc ]cwcls ............................................................................................................................ 20
Tc 8odhisattva ............................................................................................................................. 24
Tc Framcwork ol Practicc ................................................................................................... 27
Tc ¡ightlold Practicc .............................................................................................................. 32
1. Sila. right spccch, right action, right livclihood ............................................... 34
2. Samadhi. right cßort, right conccntration, right mindlulncss ................. 35
3. Prajna. right vicw, right rcsolvc .................................................................................. 37
4. Complctc ................................................................................................................................ 38
Practicc in ¡vcryday Lilc ....................................................................................................... 43
!ntroduction ....................................................................................................................................... 43
Ðharma Mind .................................................................................................................................. 44
Staying at Homc ............................................................................................................................ 47
Practicc in Lay Lilc ..................................................................................................................... 53
Containmcnt in ¡vcryday Lilc .......................................................................................... 58
Kindncss to all Tings .............................................................................................................. 67
Mindlulncss ....................................................................................................................................... 70
Awarcncss ............................................................................................................................................ 75
Tc Middlc Vay ............................................................................................................................ 78
No \aluc ]udgcmcnts ................................................................................................................. 80
Changc — Ðharmic and Vorldly .................................................................................. 83
Karma and Rcbirth ..................................................................................................................... 87
Scll ............................................................................................................................................................. 94
Spirituality and Faith ................................................................................................................. 99
vi 7
! would likc to cxprcss my gratitudc to both ]nanasiddhi and
Shantavira lor thcir cßorts with thcir cditorial skills in hclp
ing put this book togcthcr, and to \cssantara who hclpcd
with thc cditing also but in addition gavc mc thc support
throughout that has madc it possiblc lor my manuscript to
nnally bc publishcd. And my gratitudc gocs also to Mikc
Lconard lor crcating thc wcbsitc that is important in making
this work known.
vi 7
Jharma ´ind 7orldly ´ind
Dharma Mind
‘Mind’ is uscd as thc translation ol thc Pali and Sanskrit
word Citta. Citta mcans both thc mind that is thc thinking
laculty in thc hcad, but morc cspccially, mind that is thc
intuitivc, cmotional ‘hcart’ ol our bcing, and locatcd in our
body. !t is hcrc ‘bcyond thc thinking mind’ in thc body that
thc Ðharma Mind is to bc nurturcd, lor it is hcrc that Truth
waits to bc discovcrcd. Tc thinking mind has its part to play
in thc discovcring ol thc Ðharma, but is to bc uscd only as
a skillul mcans to hclp silt and undcrstand thc vcrbal and
writtcn Ðharma that wc all takc in on our spiritual pilgrim
agc ol discovcry.
!orldly Mind
! usc this tcrm to dcnotc our normal cvcryday mind and statc
ol bcing that is goal oricntcd and saturatcd in cgo and scll
intcrcst. Tis cgo and scllintcrcst, in its conccit, turns away
lrom thc Citta as a wholc thus making it impossiblc lor it
cvcr to know thc Truth.
8 9
Ònc ol thc grcat joys ! cxpcricnccd shortly altcr thc publica
tion ol my book · (ecord of ·.akening was cngagcmcnt in
thc qucstionandanswcr scssions at various 8uddhist ccntrcs
around thc 8ritish !slcs that lollowcd thc launch.
Tis nrst book was an attcmpt to cxprcss thc dccp spir
itual undcrstanding that arosc in mc in Sri Lanka in 1981,
though ! only wrotc thc nrst dralt somc cight ycars latcr, in
1989, whilc living in London. Òn complction, ! put thc dralt
in my dcsk drawcr and lorgot about it lor quitc somc ycars.
Ònc day, howcvcr, just out ol curiosity, ! scarchcd it out and
rcad it ovcr again, and ! was surpriscd how much ! likcd what
! had writtcn. !n thc intcrvcning ycars ! had lcarncd how to
usc a computcr and gaincd cxpcricncc in wordproccssing so
! dccidcd to clcan up my rathcr poor nrst dralt and improvc
thc gcncral prcscntation. Tis took somc timc but cvcntually
! had a prcscntablc copy, which ! thcn had ambitions to gct
Tc prclacc, writtcn by thc loundcr ol thc Fricnds ol
thc Vcstcrn 8uddhist Òrdcr, Urgycn Sangharakshita, picks
up thc story ol how it was nnally publishcd by Vindhorsc
Publications in Novcmbcr 1999. For mc this was quitc an
achicvcmcnt, to writc a manuscript that nnally rcachcd pub
lication was somcthing bcyond my drcams. Publishing a book
didn’t somchow sccm to nt thc sort ol upbringing ! had — a
vcry ordinary working class background in Òxlord, ¡ngland.
! am thc son ol a car workcr, and at thc agc ol 25 ! dccidcd to
8 9
travcl thc world just lor thc sakc ol it. !t was whilc lcading a
quitc hcdonistic cxistcncc in Sydncy, Australia, that ! lound
8uddhism — through books. Rcading thc Ðharma — thc
tcaching ol thc 8uddha — translormcd my wholc lilc, and
thc rcason lor living it.
! rcturncd to my nativc ¡ngland to scck out a Zcn
tcachcr, as this was thc lorm ol 8uddhism that intcrcstcd
mc most at thc timc. ! traincd with that tcachcr lor ncarly
six ycars bclorc bccoming a Tcravada monk in Sri Lanka.
!t is my cxpcricnccs thcrc in thc subtropics that arc thc main
locus ol thc nrst book. Altcr thrcc ycars in Sri Lanka ! dis
robcd and rcturncd to thc UK, whcrc, dcspitc rctaining my
Tcravada links in this country, ! havc on thc wholc bccn
practising on my own cvcr sincc. Tc major changc sincc thc
launch ol that book has bccn thc opportunity to transmit
somc ol my undcrstanding ol thc Ðharma to lcllow practi
tioncrs through Ðharma groups that ! lcad.
At thc book launchcs ! was struck vcry strongly by thc
intcrcst and cnthusiasm shown by thc audicncc in thc book
itscll, but also by thcir cnthusiasm and dcsirc lor knowlcdgc
about how to practisc thc 8uddha’s Path. So whilst thcrc
wcrc a lcw prcdictablc qucstions on mctaphysics, and a lcw
cvcn morc prcdictablc qucstions cxprcssing curiosity about
my own practicc, thc grcat majority ol qucrics wcrc about
thcir own practicc: how thcy should approach it and how
thcy should dcal with thc dimcultics thcy cncountcrcd.
!t has bccn this cxpcricncc abovc all clsc that has moti
vatcd mc to put togcthcr this sccond book. ! considcr it to bc
10 11
rcally a continuation lrom thc nrst publication, committing to
papcr thc answcrs to most ol thc qucstions ! was askcd at thc
book launchcs. !t also allows mc to air scvcral qucstions put
to mc during thc many pcrsonal mcctings !’vc had, and lrom
thc numcrous lcttcrs and cmails ! havc rcccivcd lollowing
thc book’s publication. ! havc also includcd onc or two cxtra
pointcrs and suggcstions which thc rcadcr may nnd usclul.
! hopc you will discovcr whilst rcading that this rcally
isn’t a book ol lists and lormulas but rathcr an cxprcssion ol
a living cxpcricncc. 8ccausc ol this ßavour you will oltcn
comc across words that try to convcy that living cxpcricncc
— which is an cmotional onc. Vc arc scnsitivc, warmbloodcd
mammals, and our lcclings and cmotions arc thc prcdomi
nant cxpcricncc ol our lilc. Troughout thc book you will
comc across cxprcssions such as ncgativc and positivc cmo
tions, and words such as lcclings, outßows, passions, ctc. All
thcsc words point to thc dißcring intcnsity ol our cmotional
cxpcricncc. ! hopc all thcsc words arc scllcxplanatory, but
just a notc on thc word ‘passion’. !t is uscd in this book to
cxprcss a morc intcnsc cxpcricncc than thc cxprcssion ‘ncga
tivc cmotion’ can convcy. !t dcscribcs thosc timcs whcn wc
arc rcally caught up in our cmotions and carricd away by an
cxpcricncc ol gripping intcnsity — lalling into an old lamil
iar habit that wc havc littlc or no control ovcr. Tc taming ol
thc passions is thc most important part ol practicc.
! havc tricd to makc my rcsponscs and rcßcctions to
Ðharma qucstions as short and to thc point as possiblc, so
that thc rcadcr can takc thcm in and rcßcct on thcm without
10 11
having to wadc through lots ol background and incidcntal
inlormation. Howcvcr, at somc points in thc tcxt ! couldn’t
hclp drawing things out morc than ! would havc wishcd, just
bccausc ! lound that ! nccdcd to construct a lramcwork so
that thc point bcing madc could bc sccn morc clcarly and
in contcxt. ! am prcsuming, howcvcr, that thc rcadcr has at
lcast somc basic knowlcdgc ol thc principlcs ol 8uddhism.
!t is my hopc that thosc who arc practising thc bodhisattva
path ol thc mahayana (thc ‘grcat vchiclc’ ol 8uddhism) will
usc this book, cspccially at thosc timcs whcn wc discovcr wc
arc lost and conluscd and whcn thc incvitablc dimcultics
arisc and wc strugglc to know what is happcning to us and
what to do ncxt:
'pecial ´ind
Tosc ol us who practisc thc Ðharma arc oltcn in thc position
ol rcading books or listcning to talks so that our knowlcdgc
has a chancc to grow and dccpcn. 8ut do wc rcally know how
to opcn to thc Ðharma during thcsc timcs: !t docs takc a
spccial typc ol mind, not thc onc wc would normally cmploy
whilc accumulating morc worldly knowlcdgc. Òur usual way
ol absorbing knowlcdgc and trying to undcrstand somcthing
is accompanicd by a proccss ol silting thoughts and notions
that arc bascd on cstablishcd assumptions and knowlcdgc
that wc alrcady havc. Tc mind is thcrclorc cngagcd in
thinking and absorbing at thc samc timc. Tc mind that wc
usc to absorb thc Ðharma should bc quitc dißcrcnt.
12 13
Vhcn listcning to thc Ðharma it is bcst to try to kccp
your mind cmpty ol thoughts and judgcmcnts, not to cngagc
with thcm and gct caught up in thcm. Tc corrcct way is to
bc likc an cmpty vcsscl. ]ust opcn and lct thc Ðharma pour
in, lct it pour into your bcing, into your hcart. Ðon’t stop it
with thoughts, don’t scrutinizc it and play it oß with what
you alrcady know — lor you cannot do this and bc lully alivc
and rcccptivc to thc subtlctics that arc always inhcrcnt in thc
Ðharma. Tc wholcncss ol thc mcssagc may wcll bc misscd.
So cmpty thc mind whilst rcading this book. !ndccd, scc it
as an opportunity lor mcditation, whcrc you arc clcaring thc
mind ol thoughts and obstructions, and stay conccntratcd on
thc Ðharma in this book.
Tc Ðharma has two quitc contradictory charactcristics:
it is immcnscly powcrlul yct, paradoxically, vcry lragilc. !t is
powcrlul bccausc it is capablc ol swccping thc world away
with a strokc. Yct unlcss you crcatc thc conditions ol opcnncss
and stillncss, and allow it to cntcr you at timcs ol lcarning,
without thc impcdimcnt ol thoughts and vicws, it will not
manilcst. ]ust a thought that comcs whcn you arc supposcd
to bc opcn, just a wrong vicw that may arisc at this timc, just
a momcnt’s inattcntion whilc you arc supposcd to bc attcntivc,
is cnough to prcvcnt its cntry, and it is dcßcctcd, gonc, and
will rcmain so until you crcatc thc corrcct conditions again.
Vhilc contcmplating thcsc two apparcntly contradic
tory charactcristics, considcr a third, and that is thc vcry
subtlc naturc ol thc Ðharma. Tis is why wc havc to ap
proach Ðharma input with this spccial mind. 8y allowing it
12 13
to cntcr without obstructions wc arc allowing it to pcnctratc
dccply into our hcart and saturatc our cntirc bcing.
Ðo not worry about suspcnding your thoughts and
opinions in this way, thc Ðharma you havc takcn in will
not bc lost, so thcrc is no nccd to chasc altcr it. !l you havc
listcncd to a talk on Ðharma, with your hands joincd, bow
your hcad at thc cnd in gratitudc to both thc spcakcr and to
thc Ðharma, thcn go to a quict placc and musc ovcr what
you havc hcard. Try not to just think about it. !l you can’t
rcmcmbcr all that has bccn said, you may indccd havc lor
gottcn most ol it. Ðon’t worry — it is thcrc, dccp within, and
it will always bc thcrc, waiting to arisc whcn thc conditions
arc ripc. 8ut il you takc yourscll oß, and arc still and opcn, it
will likcly arisc by itscll to thc surlacc ol your mind lor you
to pondcr and comprchcnd.
Vhilc thc Ðharma that you havc opcncd up to may
still only bc a conccpt, a word, a sound, it is still ablc to havc
a prolound cßcct on you il it is pondcrcd quictly and dccply.
Vhat was oncc just a conccpt can communc and conncct
with that which is bcyond conccpts, and gcnuinc insight can
arisc, insight that can bccomc a part ol your rcality, that has
strcngth lor you to draw on in your lilc. All this is possiblc
bccausc you havc lcarncd to listcn with a spccial mind.
Altcr rcading this book you can pondcr or rcturn to
parts ol it, or put it to onc sidc, il you choosc, but why not try
to bring into bcing that spccial mind whilc you takc in thc
words you arc about to rcad: Vho knows whcrc thcy may
14 15
Tnv 8~sics ov Pv~c)icv
!n ordcr to bc as prccisc and as dircct as possiblc in thc body
ol this book, ! would likc to takc thc opportunity hcrc to
crcatc a background to thc practicc. Most ol you rcading
this will alrcady bc practising in a similar way — cngaging
in this practicc that will hopclully onc day, as a rcsult ol all
our cßorts, takc you bcyond thc cndlcss cyclc ol dukkha that
wc clcarly cxpcricncc in our lilc and want vcry much to put
an cnd to.
Tosc ol us who arc attractcd to 8uddhism and its
practiccs havc cxpcricnccd thc unsatislactorincss or sußcr
ing ol lilc (dukkha) at lcast to thc cxtcnt that wc rcspondcd
whcn wc camc in contact with thc Ðharma. So now, at thc
vcry lcast, wc bcgin to undcrstand why lilc is this way. Vc
scc, and may havc sccn bclorc wc cvcn lound 8uddhism that
thc basis ol dukkha has vcry much to do with our scll or
cgo, with its pcrpctual prcoccupation with scll intcrcst and
its dcsirc to control so many cxpcricnccs in our lilc. Sccing
thosc two lacts within oursclvcs mcans wc havc alrcady rc
ßcctcd on thc nrst two ol thc lour noblc truths — thc truth
ol sußcring and thc causc ol sußcring, thc third truth bcing
that thcrc is a way out ol sußcring and thc lourth bcing thc
14 15
way ol practicc. Tcsc lour truths arc thc vcry hcart ol thc
8uddha’s tcaching and arc lound in all schools ol 8uddhism,
howcvcr thcy may bc drcsscd up or disguiscd.
Tc grcat attraction, whcn ! nrst camc across 8uddhism
was not so much thc amrmation ol thc nrst two truths. Vhat
attractcd mc was that it thcn wcnt on to oßcr mc thc third
truth — that proclaimcd thcrc was a way out ol this dilcmma,
which ! had thought lorcvcr cntrappcd mc. Ðiscovcring it
was possiblc to cnd my wocs madc mc givc up my lun lilc in
Australia all thosc ycars ago and rcturn to my homc country.
!n ¡ngland ! kncw thcrc wcrc Ðharma tcachcrs who could
tcach mc how to cxpcricncc thc lourth and last noblc truth
— thc wondcrlul wisdom and practicc ol thc cightlold path.
Tis was thc practicc that ! intcndcd to takc hold ol and nur
turc with all my dctcrmination, in ordcr to gct mc oß this
whccl ol ctcrnal bccoming.
Tat brings us to thc basics ol thc complctc practicc
ol thc 8uddhaÐharma. !n ordcr lor thcrc to bc thc changc
in oursclvcs that most ol us vcry much dcsirc, wc nccd to
undcrstand thc ccntral and most important tcaching ol thc
8uddha — thc cightlold path. Changc will only rcally bc
possiblc in a dccp and mcaninglul way whcn wc arc prcparcd
to lcarn to cultivatc thc wholc ol this Path. !n this scction thc
Path is outlincd so as to introducc it in its complctcncss. And
whilst many may nnd thc practicc ol thc wholc Path dimcult,
wc must ncvcrthclcss rcalizc that onc day wc will havc to
makc that cßort to round oß and complctc our practicc ol
thc Path.
16 17
Tis opcning scction also dcals with going lor rclugc,
which is anothcr crucial clcmcnt in changc. Going lor rclugc
is lcss tangiblc in many ways than thc stcps ol thc cightlold
path, and can thcrclorc bc morc dimcult to cultivatc, but it is
crucial in that it complctcs thc wholcncss ol practicc which is
our way lorward into thc grcat mystcry ol lilc — and thcrc
lorc nccds attcntion. Going lor rclugc posscsscs thc indis
pcnsablc quality ol laith, which is thc csscntial ingrcdicnt on
our dccpcning spiritual journcy. !t could bc said that going
lor rclugc cradlcs and supports thc cightlold path.
Tc third part ol this scction is an outlinc ol thc bodhi
sattva and how thc spirit ol this bcing is also an intcgral part
ol thc complctc practicc. Tc bodhisattva, too, is cradlcd by
going lor rclugc, so thc csscncc ol thc bodhisattva practicc
cannot rcally bc succcsslully lormulatcd in thc usual way
bccausc in this intcrprctation it is much morc to do with thc
spirit ol practicc rathcr than any lormula or conccpt. Tc
spirit is onc ol opcnncss and inclusivity ol thc wholc ol lilc
without thc discrimination ol picking and choosing as to
what you want your practicc to includc.
!n ordcr to makc it clcar what thc Path is, wc havc to
rcsort to this kind ol brcakdown — but it isn’t so casy to scc
thcsc dißcrcnt parts whcn thcrc is commitmcnt to a wholc
hcartcd practicc. Commitmcnt is thc ingrcdicnt that unitcs
and bonds thcsc apparcnt dißcrcnccs, so whilc it is csscntial
to undcrstand thc parts, unlcss thcy arc brought togcthcr
through commitmcnt, thc Path ol libcration will always
rcmain in thc rcalms ol thcorics and drcams.
16 17
Te 8ightfold (ath
Tc cightlold path, consisting ol right vicw, right rcsolvc,
right spccch, right action, right livclihood, right cßort, right
conccntration, and right mindlulncss, is thc way lorward
with practicc. Tis path can bc rcduccd to thc morc graspablc
thrcclold way ol sila, samadhi, and prajna. Sila translatcs as
cthics or conduct, samadhi as mindlulncss and conccntration,
and prajna as wisdom — wisdom that has myriad lcvcls but
that cvcntually lcads to ‘knowing thc way things rcally arc’.
Tc practicc ol thc cightlold path is oltcn taught as
somcthing that is to bc cultivatcd in a lincar lashion. Tis is
truc to an cxtcnt — in that wc havc to lcarn to idcntily thc
thrcc limbs (as thc thrcclold way is oltcn dcscribcd) and givc
thcm individual attcntion. ¡thics is considcrcd to bc prima
ry, and so wc havc initially to cultivatc our gcncral bchaviour
through words, action, and how wc makc our living. Sccondly
wc cultivatc our ability to conccntratc and bc mindlul pri
marily through mcditation. Tirdly, wc go on to dcvclop our
undcrstanding ol thc Ðharma, whcthcr by rcading, listcning
to othcr, or slowly bcginning to undcrstand oursclvcs. 8ut as
wc arc putting this convcnicnt ‘thcory’ into practicc wc soon
discovcr that it is much morc ol an actual living proccss and
can’t always bc approachcd in this convcnicnt lincar way.
!t is hard to imaginc that anyonc with thc scllawarc
ncss and scnsitivity to at lcast bc alivc to thcir unsatislac
tory human condition, and who sccks out 8uddhism and its
practiccs, will not havc mct thc basic rcquircmcnts ol thc
18 19
thrcc limbs ol thc thrcclold path: thc scnsitivity would lcad
thcm to an acccptablc dcgrcc ol bchaviour which bccomcs
thc loundation ol thcir practicc ol cthics, thc scll awarcncss
indicatcs an ability, to somc cxtcnt, to dcclutch lrom bcing
caught and blindcd and totally carricd away by thc turmoil
ol thc coarsc mind, which in turn indicatcs a dcgrcc ol con
ccntration thus lulnlling thc basic rcquircmcnt to practisc
thc sccond limb, and thc lact that thcy want to changc thcir
human condition indicatcs that thcy havc rcßcctcd, probably
to quitc a lot on thcmsclvcs, thus lulnlling thc basic rcquirc
mcnt to practisc thc third limb ol wisdom.
Vc can scc how, within normal cvcryday activity cx
pcricnccd cvcn by thc ncwlyborn practitioncr, thc wholc ol
thc cightlold path is actually bcing practiscd. Vhilst cn
gaging in our daily lilc, wc lcarn to hold on to and contain
thosc lamiliar habitual outßows ol words or actions drivcn
by thc cmotions and passions, and that causc so many ol our
problcms. Vc try our bcst to act and lunction as humanly
as possiblc. 8y doing this wc arc practising sila. 8ccausc in
thc proccss ol this containmcnt wc will bc always rcstraining
oursclvcs lrom bcing carricd away by habits — and lcarning
to stay ccntrcd within — wc will bc practising samadhi. And
within that containcd and conccntratcd statc wc will quitc
naturally bccomc morc and morc lamiliar with oursclvcs
and gain somc undcrstanding ol why wc arc caught by thcsc
sccmingly uncontrollablc habits — thc limb ol wisdom. !n
this way, it is hard to imaginc that anyonc taking up Ðharma
practicc hasn’t actually alrcady bcgan to practisc thc Path.
18 19
!ndccd, a Zcn mastcr oncc said that scllawarcncss and thc
dcsirc lor rclcasc and changc was cnlightcnmcnt alrcady.
So pcrhaps at nrst wc locus on onc ol thc limbs, thcn
anothcr, and thcn thc third. Tcn wc may bring onc com
bination togcthcr, thcn anothcr, thcn maybc onc morc
combination. Tcn wc cultivatc all thrcc limbs togcthcr.
Somctimcs wc losc that nnal thrcclold combination and lall
back into a twoway combination. Tcn somctimcs wc losc
cvcn that, and go back to just cultivating onc limb. !t docsn’t
mattcr, this to and lro, two stcps lorward and onc stcp back.
Vc kccp mindlully cndcavouring to bring all thrcc limbs to
gcthcr. Slowly, slowly wc bccomc ablc to maintain a thrcclold
practicc until thosc thrcc limbs arc stcady and consistcnt and
harmonizc with cach othcr morc and morc.
!n timc this harmonizing bccomcs so balanccd that wc
can actually scc onc limb in anothcr limb, thcn anothcr, thcn
maybc yct anothcr. ¡vcntually wc can scc all thrcc limbs in
cach limb — all pcrlcctly balanccd and in harmony with
cach othcr, until thcy mcrgc and truly bccomc just thc onc.
Vhcn this statc is rcalizcd, pcrlcction ol practicc has bccn
rcachcd and thc ultimatc balancc ol thc middlc way (thc truc
dcnnition ol thc lourth noblc truth, which is dctailcd latcr)
attaincd. Vhcn that statc ol pcrlcct balancc — bctwccn thc
pull ol oppositcs that charactcrisc our mind and cmotions —
has rcachcd pcrlcction, thcrc ariscs a sccing into thc naturc
ol mind that makcs your cntirc consciousncss, and thc wholc
world, vanish, allowing awakcning to bc rcalizcd.
Tis is thc path that wc practisc, whcthcr wc scc it in
20 21
thosc traditional tcrms or whcthcr wc usc othcr conccpts
lrom lcss traditional schools, such as Zcn, to pursuc it. 8ut
thc pursuit ol thc cightlold path has a vcry important cxtra
lcaturc to considcr, lor without it thc rcalization ol thc
middlc way will bc impossiblc, and that is thc undcrstanding
and nurturing ol going lor rclugc to thc thrcc jcwcls.
Te Tree (e.els
Tc thrcc jcwcls arc thc 8uddha, thc Ðharma, and thc
Sangha, and undcrstanding thc conccpt ol going lor rclugc
to thcsc thrcc jcwcls is absolutcly crucial to thc nurturing ol
truc Ðharma practicc. !t is thc ongoing rcnncmcnt ol going
lor rclugc ovcr thc ycars ol practicc that will bc thc lramc
work, support, inspiration, and guidc to thc rcalization ol
ultimatc truth.
Tis most basic ol 8uddhist principlcs — ol going lor
rclugc to thc thrcc jcwcls — is valid throughout 8uddhism
and accompanics almost cvcry ritual that takcs placc. !t is
said that it is going lor rclugc that makcs onc a 8uddhist,
and signincs a commitmcnt to thc practicc, so this ritual
should bc ol dccp importancc and signincancc. 8ut prcciscly
bccausc it is dcclarcd so rcgularly, thc rcßcction on that im
portancc and signincancc runs thc dangcr ol bcing ncglcctcd
or cvcn lorgottcn altogcthcr, which is vcry unlortunatc.
To takc rclugc in thc 8uddha, Ðharma, and Sangha
is ol thc utmost importancc — and should bc sccn to bc so
— to scrious 8uddhists, thosc who considcr thcmsclvcs to bc
20 21
truc and complctc practitioncrs ol thc Vay. Vhcn wc takc
our commitmcnt to thc thrcc jcwcls not just into our hcad
but into our total bcing it bccomcs alivc, it bccomcs thc cnvi
ronmcnt that thc cightlold path is nurturcd and cultivatcd in.
Vc rcamrm this commitmcnt continually by rcßccting on
thc thrcc jcwcls, and it is through this commitmcnt that wc
gathcr thc inncr strcngth that is csscntial to walk thc Vay.
Vhcn wc havc this commitmcnt wc havc all thc ingrcdicnts
wc nccd to changc our lilc.
! lollowcd Zcn lor ncarly six ycars bclorc lcaving
¡ngland to bccomc a Tcravada novicc monk in Sri Lanka.
Ònc ol thc main charactcristics ol Zcn is that it likcs to
dcscribc itscll as outsidc thc scriptural tcachings, a char
actcristic that makcs many outsidc that school qucstion its
authcnticity. !t docs not conccrn itscll with thc usual con
ccpts ol thc morc traditional approach. Going lor rclugc to
thc thrcc jcwcls is not cxprcsscd in thc usual way, but has its
cquivalcnt: thc lour grcat bodhisattva vows. Tcsc lour vows
can bc prcscntcd in various ways but this intcrprctation is thc
onc that ! havc always carricd within myscll.
Innumerab/e are sentient beings, I +o. to sa+e them a//.
Inexhaustib/e are the passions, I +o. to transform them a//.
Immeasurab/e are the 9harma teachings, I +o. to /earn them a//.
Infnite is the Juddha-Truth, I +o. to attain it.
! rccitcd thcsc rcgularly with thc group that ! practiscd
with, and took thcm vcry much to hcart and always saw
thcm as ccntral to my practicc.
22 23
My nrst cncountcr with thc morc traditional vcrsion
ol thc rclugcs took placc in Sri Lanka at thc timc ! was
lcarning my ordination ccrcmony. Tcrc is vcry littlc taught
about thc importancc ol thc rclugcs thcsc days, so lor mc, at
nrst, it was just part ol thc ritual. ¡vcn though ! was about
to partakc ol thc morc traditional vcrsion ol commitmcnt to
8uddhism and its practicc, ! rctaincd a grcat amnity with thc
bodhisattva vows ! had rccitcd lor all thosc ycars.
Vhilst contcmplating thc rclugcs ! discovcrcd that
altcr my ycars ol Zcn practicc ! tcndcd not to vicw thc
8uddha, Ðharma, and Sangha in thc way ! would il ! had
bcgun my practicc in thc Tcravada tradition. For mc, thc
rclugcs had gonc bcyond thc convcntional, dualistic way ol
looking at thcm, into somcthing dccpcr. Now thc 8uddha,
Ðharma, and Sangha wcrc sccn as somcthing that was a part
ol mc rathcr than somcthing cxtcrnal.
!n addition, ! did not always nnd it casy to pull apart
thc 8uddha and thc Ðharma — as thcy wcrc now bccom
ing onc. Tc 8uddha was not sccn as only our historical
loundcr, but as thc wondcr and mystcry ol lilc itscll, whilc
thc Ðharma was not thc tcachings ! had oncc rcad about,
but thc truth that was hiddcn within all that is, and that
cxprcsscd thc 8uddha. Tc Sangha, which was my prccious
support within thc practicc, was still an cxtcrnal support, but
thc division bctwccn it and mc was gctting morc and morc
blurrcd bccausc it was gctting clcarcr that it, likc cvcryonc
and cvcrything clsc, was a crcation ol my mind. So ! lclt a
growing intimacy, a togcthcrncss, bcyond thc convcntional,
22 23
as thc Sangha and ! not only bccamc morc and morc at onc,
but cxprcsscd both thc Ðharma and thc 8uddha as wcll.
! thcrclorc lound that it was a qucstion ol nurturing
my rclationship with thc thrcc jcwcls through a willingncss
to surrcndcr, rathcr than ‘going lor rclugc’ morc and morc,
on a dccpcr lcvcl. Going lor rclugc was, lor mc, somcthing
to bc cultivatcd, not somcthing that paid much attcntion to
lormal rccitation. !t was much morc about carrying around
thc warmth ol lccling that my wholc laith and trust could bc
handcd into somcthing that was not so much thrcc rclugcs
now, but onc. And it was thc trust that thc rclugcs would
support and carry mc through any dimcultics causcd by lcar
ol giving up thc scll and cgo, that hclpcd mc to go, littlc by
littlc, bcyond thc habits ol attachmcnts. !t would bc my laith
in thc thrcc jcwcls that ! trustcd to ‘catch’ mc as ! practiscd
turning away lrom thc crcatcd world and my attachmcnts
ovcr and ovcr again. !t was this dcvcloping intimacy with thc
thrcc jcwcls that was crucial to my ability to lct go. Lctting
go ol all thosc things that makc ‘mc’ up: attachmcnt to my
vicws and opinions — drivcn by thc passions and ncgativc
cmotions — that wcrc so vital to my scnsc ol scll and cgo and
that continually amrmcd it.
Tosc who arc ncw to thc practicc, but also pcrhaps
many who havc bccn practising lor somc timc, may not bc
ablc to rclatc to this, or nnd anything ol usc lor thcmsclvcs,
in rcading about my rclationship with thc thrcc jcwcls. 8ut
lct it bc an indication ol thc spirit ol cultivating going lor
rclugc. Maybc going lor rclugc now is much morc objcctivc
24 25
and conccptual lor you, but thc spirit ol going lor rclugc is
to bccomc morc and morc intimatc with this ‘conccpt’ until
it bccomcs your own living rcality.
Te Jodhisatt.a
For mc, onc ol thc grcat advantagcs ol thc bodhisattva path
is that this typc ol practicc can bc applicd in all thc situations
that lilc in our culturc can prcscnt us with. Tc bodhisattva
practicc cncouragcs us to takc on board all ol lilc’s cxpcri
cnccs, whatcvcr thcy may bc, and usc thcm all as ‘grist lor
thc mill’. Òl coursc, quict timcs and rcstraint nccd to bc
nurturcd, lor without thcm thcrc is littlc mcaninglul mcdita
tion, but as most our lilc is spcnt of thc cushion, this Path is
much morc appropriatc to thc nonmonastic — and thcrclorc
thc idcal practicc lor most ol us.
Howcvcr, a lundamcntal distortion can arisc il thcrc is
a bclicl that bodhisattvas arc intcrcstcd solcly in libcrating
bcings lrom samsara whilst having littlc rcgard lor thcir own
pcrsonal insight, undcrstanding, and rclcasc lrom sußcring.
A lact ol thc bodhisattva path is that it is not actu
ally possiblc to bc ol rcal spiritual usc to othcr bcings until
you nrst know yourscll dccply, and that rcquircs you to givc
priority to your practicc. Ðon’t misundcrstand mc. ! am not
saying ‘lorgct othcrs, just locus on yourscll ’. Tc bodhisattva
path is thc practicc ol thc grcat vchiclc, and that mcans wc
takc on not just oursclvcs, not just othcr bcings, but also thc
totality ol lilc. Vc cultivatc an opcnncss to cngagc with lilc
24 25
as wholchcartcdly as possiblc, bccausc truc undcrstanding,
and our truc homc, is in lilc in its totality.
Skillul practicc involvcs gctting our prioritics right,
and that mcans putting thc practicc ol knowing oursclvcs
lorcmost. Tis mcans living a lilc that allows us thc timc
and spacc to rcturn to our inncr ‘homc’ ovcr and ovcr again
during our daily lilc. Ðo not lccl that living your lilc cxclu
sivcly lor othcrs is what thc bodhisattva lilc is about. ‘Charity
bcgins at homc’: you havc to bc prcparcd to givc yourscll thc
spacc, in a consistcnt way, to stay with yourscll, cvcn whcn it
may not bc what you want to do or may cvcn bc lrightcning
lor you. Òthcrwisc you will ncvcr scc into yourscll dccply
cnough to bc ol any rcal usc to othcrs — ncvcr mind bcing
ablc ultimatcly to rcalizc thc nnal act ol thc bodhisattva and
rclcasc all scnticnt bcings lrom samsara. Rcßcct on thc lilc
ol thc 8uddha, or indccd many, ol thc wcllknown ngurcs in
thc history ol 8uddhism. Tcy all spcnt many ycars working
on thcmsclvcs alonc bclorc rcturning to thc community to
hclp guidc othcrs in thcir practicc. !’m not saying wc should
all takc to thc lorcsts or mountains. 8ut wc do nccd to un
dcrstand that thcrc is much morc to thc bodhisattva path
than a twodimcnsional imagc ol it may lcad us to bclicvc.
! wondcr how many pcoplc, altcr rcading dcscriptions
ol bodhisattvas, could imaginc thcm as ordinary pcoplc,
maybc somconc you may mcct on thc bus, or stand ncxt to
in thc supcrmarkct chcckout qucuc: Yct thc bcing that has
rcturncd to his or hcr original naturc altcr many ycars ol
practicc, who thcn is rcborn as a bodhisattva, is somconc
26 27
with morc apparcnt contradictions than thc avcragc pcrson
could cvcr possibly crcatc lor thcmsclvcs, howcvcr much thcy
may try. !maginc somconc who livcs and lunctions in thc
world, who still rctains likcs and dislikcs, but with thc dil
lcrcncc ol knowing thc ‘rcality’ ol thcsc likcs and dislikcs and
so lcss likcly to grasp at thcm and turn thc whccl ol bccom
ing. !maginc both a knowlcdgc that is dccp and unknowablc
to thc ‘worldly man’ (and is unlikcly to bc sccn unlcss askcd
lor) and somconc who is vcry ordinary and downtocarth,
somconc who is working through and translorming habit
and cncrgy in just thc samc way as thc ‘ordinary’ practitioncr
on thc Path docs.
!n this aspcct ol training thc bodhisattva is idcntical to
thc aspirant who cultivatcs thc qualitics and undcrstanding
that onc day will allow him to alight upon thc truc bodhi
sattva path that lcads to lull and complctc cnlightcnmcnt.
Tc bodhisattva is vcry much conncctcd to lilc and this world
— is morc normal and groundcd than you may imaginc. Vc
should not thcrclorc bc put oß by thc imagcs that havc bccn
crcatcd ovcr timc. Ðon’t think you arc not worthy or capablc
ol such lolty idcalism.
Anothcr advantagc ol this path is its robustncss. Tis
givcs us thc pcrlcct opportunity to work with thc powcrlul
ncgativc scllvicw that obscss and wcigh down most ol us
Vcstcrncrs. Tc allinclusivc naturc ol this Path cncouragcs
us to bring our rclationships with othcrs, as wcll as with
oursclvcs, into thc practicc, it cncouragcs us to dcvclop thc
spirit ol making lricnds with all that wc arc. Òltcn wc buy
26 27
into somc lamiliar ncgativc scllvicw that splits us down thc
middlc and crcatcs still morc conßict. Tis adds to thc hcavy
psychological wcight that so many ol us arc lamiliar with. As
undcrstanding dccpcns, wc lcarn to lovc oursclvcs morc and
morc, acccpting oursclvcs thc way wc arc givcs us a platlorm
ol cquanimity lrom which wc can movc cvcr morc dccply
into thc proccss ol Ðharmic changc.
My own cxpcricncc ol trcading thc Path ol thc bodhi
sattva journcy is that it is not rcally thc mystcry oltcn por
traycd in thc scripturcs, but a vcry downtocarth way ol
practicc — yct onc that is lorcvcr rcvcaling thc sccrcts ol lilc.
!ts spirit is not to push away what wc considcr to bc unwholc
somc but rathcr to contain it whilst it is translormcd. Vhcn
thc ‘dark’ has translormcd, it will unitc with thc ‘light’ which
by thcn wc shall undcrstand morc dccply — and go bcyond
cvcn that unity whcrc wc will discovcr thc lull wondcr ol
what wc truly arc.
Te Trame.ork of (racice
! would now likc to touch bricßy on thc lramcwork ol prac
ticc that makcs up thc path ol thc aspiring bodhisattva. Tis
lramcwork, il it is corrcctly crcatcd and nurturcd, will soon
support and carry practitioncrs to thc actual bodhisattva
path, and, bcyond thc cyclc ol ctcrnal bccoming in which
wc arc all caught up.
Tcrc arc two lundamcntals at thc hcart ol Ðharma
practicc: awarcncss ol oursclvcs in all lour posturcs ol bcing
28 29
(standing, walking, sitting, and lying down — as 8uddhism
dcnncs our physical cxpcricnccs ol bcing) and thc ability to
usc that awarcncss to look into oursclvcs and scc thc rcality
that lics bcyond thc world thc dcludcd mind has crcatcd. !n
a way, that is all. Tcrc arc no othcr lactors involvcd. !t is as
simplc as that. Tc lact that wc cannot pcrlorm this simplc
act, and nnd that wc havc to cmploy all sorts ol skillul mcans
in ordcr to accomplish it, docs not diminish thc ultimatc
simplicity ol Ðharma practicc.
!t is a lact that wc cannot stay in a statc ol scllawarc
ncss, which is ncccssary lor insight to arisc, lor morc than a
lcw scconds. Tat statc ol scllawarcncss mcans, lor cxamplc,
that whcn drinking a cup ol tca you know you arc drinking
that tca, staying with that cxpcricncc in its totality without
mcntally wandcring oß. Tis wandcring oß is, ol coursc,
what will happcn, only lor you to discovcr whcn you comc
back that you havc drunk thc tca and havc littlc rccollcction
ol thc cxpcricncc. Tis samc loss ol awarcncss applics whcn
you walk down thc road and rcalizc you arc now at thc cnd,
and you havc littlc rccollcction ol taking thc walk or any cn
gagcmcnt with thc cnvironmcnt that must havc takcn placc.
Tc samc is truc ol all thc cndlcss ßow ol cngagcmcnts with
lilc: thcrc is in truth vcry littlc consistcnt scllawarcncss.
Most ol our lilc takcs placc on autopilot, whilc wc arc
cngagcd with our chattcring mind. !t is bccausc ol this that
wc cxpcricncc a lack ol wholcncss in our livcs, and this is
thc rcason lor thc cxistcntial dilcmma ol unlulnlmcnt and
incomplctcncss that wc cxpcricncc. Tc cultivation ol bcing
28 29
with our awarcncss, and thcrcby bccoming wholc and lul
nllcd, is what thc cightlold path is lor.
Vc nccd to tamc thc chattcring mind lor surc, but wc
nccd also to tamc what drivcs it — our ‘lilccncrgy’, that
which kccps us alivc and is what wc rcally arc. !l lclt alonc
thc chattcring mind will risc and pass away sccond by sccond.
8ut this docsn’t happcn bccausc whcn thoughts arisc thcrc
ariscs an idcntincation with thosc thoughts, an idcntinca
tion that is crcatcd by thc scnsc ol scll and cgo that ariscs
in thc lilccncrgy and so distorts it. !l that scnsc ol scll and
cgo docsn’t gct its way, it will cmploy thc lilccncrgy itscll
in its cßorts to makc its will prcdominatc. Tc lilccncrgy,
that in its csscncc is our original naturc, now gcts lost in this
dclusion ol a scll and cgo which in turn bccomcs cvcr morc
harmlul. Tc warm cmotions ol thc hcart bccomc ncgativc
and translorm into thc dcstructivc passions ol grccd, hatrcd,
and dclusion, thc thrcc passions that charactcrizc thc lilc ol
thc scll and cgo. !t is lrom this that thc whccl ol sußcring is
crcatcd, and it is this that wc nccd to contain and translorm
by complctc practicc ol thc bodhisattva path.
Vc havc to work on that dcstructivc willulncss ol scll
and cgo in ordcr to attain a still mind that will givc risc
to thc awarcncss wc nccd in ordcr to scc into and bcyond
this scnsc ol scll and cgo. Vc thcrclorc cultivatc thc limb
ol cthics and conduct, a long training ol rcstraining thcsc
ncgativc outßows through containmcnt. Tis containmcnt is
not opprcssivc, nor docs it mcan wc havc to turn away lrom
our cxpcricnccs ol lilc in ordcr not to bc carricd away, lar
30 31
lrom it. Vc lcarn to contain thcsc dcstructivc outßows by
making usc ol thc ncgativc prcccpts ol not taking lilc, not
cngaging in wrong spccch, ctc. Vc also bring into our lilc
positivc prcccpts such as hclping othcrs, cngaging in skillul
spccch, ctc., actions that nurturc thc natural warmth ol thc
human hcart. Tcsc prcccpts rcprcscnt a turning away lrom
thc old habits ol dcstructivc scllintcrcst and nurturc ncw
habits. Tcsc ncwly acquircd Ðharmic skills harmonizc with
our own hcart’s natural statc, which compassionatcly uscs
thcm to hclp othcrs.
As wcll as thc support and guidancc ol thc prcccpts,
thc skillul cultivation ol an appropriatc mcditation practicc
can also bc uscd. Tc lour doctrinal conccntration practiccs,
also known as thc sublimc statcs, arc traditionally uscd lor
this purposc. Tcy arc cquanimity (upckkha), sympathctic
joy (mudita), compassion (karuna), and loving kindncss
(mctta) — and togcthcr thcy makc up what arc known as thc
8rahma \iharas. Tc loving kindncss or mctta mcditation
is thc most commonly uscd. Tc grcat valuc ol a mcditation
likc mctta is thrcclold. Firstly, it promotcs thc opcning ol thc
hcart to othcr living bcings. Sccondly, it has thc immcnsc
bcncnt ol nurturing thc mcditator’s positivc lcclings towards
thcmsclvcs, thus dcvcloping scllcstccm (lor wc Vcstcrncrs
do havc this propcnsity to dislikc our scllimagc, and carry
around such a ncgativc, hcavy burdcn ol scll, thc likc ol
which, !’d hazard, has ncvcr bccn known in thc history ol
8uddhism). Tis nurturing ol mctta through mcditation can
also harmonizc with thc loving kindncss nurturcd towards
30 31
oursclvcs whilst practising in daily lilc through our contain
mcnt practicc. Tus wc naturally makc lricnds with oursclvcs
bccausc ol this dcvcloping nonjudgcmcntal rclationship.
Vhat wc gain lrom this most important aspcct ol prac
ticc is making lricnds with oursclvcs, indccd lcarning to lovc
oursclvcs, through a willingncss to stay with and cmbracc
an cxpcricncc ol oursclvcs that wc havc hithcrto rcactcd
against. 8y staying with thosc outßows ol body, spccch, and
mind, wc arc ‘rcpairing’ our brokcn hcart by bringing back
into a wholc thc countlcss, lragmcntcd picccs that crcatc thc
conßict and ncgativity wc lccl. !t will bc truc mctta bccausc
it will bc born ol sccing and undcrstanding oursclvcs — thus
making it wisdom. Vhcn wc lovc oursclvcs wc will naturally
lovc othcrs, it will bc impossiblc not to.
Tc third valuc ol mctta mcditation is that, bccausc thc
mind is morc at pcacc with itscll, it also hclps train it in thc
stillncss ncccssary lor thc Ðharma to arisc. So this is vcry
much a training ol a positivc wholchcartcd cngagcmcnt with
lilc, so that wc comc to harmonizc morc and morc as cvcry
day passcs with our truc naturc, which is onc ol lovc lor all
that is.
Tis turning away lrom thc blinding passions, and
taming thosc ncgativc outßows, slowly clcar thc mind ol thc
incvitablc turbulcncc and allow it to discovcr its natural qui
ctncss morc and morc. Vc hclp this cultivation along with
mcditation that promotcs stillncss and awarcncss. Stillncss
and awarcncss bccomc morc and morc onc, as thc lruit
ol both is thc samc. Vith stillncss, thc awarcncss that is
32 33
now strongcr than cvcr can bcgin to look through all thosc
thoughts and activitics with skillul insight tools and scc thc
truth ol thc world that grasps us all. Littlc by littlc, as it sccs
dccpcr and dccpcr, as it journcys through thc world, littlc
bits ol ‘mc and minc’ drop oß bccausc thcy no longcr dcccivc.
Finally thc world stills and its powcr, which wc so invcst in,
ladcs. !t is thcn that awakcning will takc placc — which is an
absolutc, concrctc guarantcc. Vhcn you ‘rccovcr’ and rcturn
to lilc, you can cmbark on thc inconccivablc journcy through
thc tcn stagcs ol bodhisattvahood, until thc cnd ol thc Path
is nnally rcachcd, and your initial awakcning bccomcs nnal
and complctc — and so attain 8uddhahood.
Te 8ightfold (racice
Vhatcvcr 8uddhist tradition you lollow, and indccd what
cvcr systcm ol practicc you lollow within that tradition, you
will nnd that all traditions, without cxccption, arc groundcd
in thc noblc cightlold path, thc lourth ol thc 8uddha’s lour
noblc truths. !t is this path ol thc practicc ol thc 8uddha
Ðharma that is thc hcart ol 8uddhism. And it is this that
thosc who wish to put an cnd to thc cyclc ol sußcring and
rcbirth nccd to practisc, and nccd to practisc in its totality, il
thc noblc dcsirc to put to an cnd this ctcrnal cyclc ol bccom
ing is to bc lulnllcd.
Tc path, lor convcnicncc and casc ol undcrstanding,
is dividcd into thc thrcc limbs or scctions ol sila, translatcd
as cthics or conduct, samadhi, which mcans a oncpointcd
32 33
mind born ol conccntration and mindlulncss, and prajna,
which mcan wisdom or ‘knowing how things rcally arc’.
Sila is univcrsal to all lorms ol 8uddhism — indccd
thcrc is littlc dißcrcncc bctwccn rcligious or spiritual
movcmcnts as rcgards this aspcct ol thc path. !t consists ol
humanizing oursclvcs by containing and rcstraining scll
intcrcst and thc dcstructivc outßows — our habitual way ol
bcing. !ndccd, thc laws ol thc land dcmand that wc maintain
a ccrtain dcgrcc ol sila.
Samadhi is thc cultivation ol thc ability to stay in a
statc ol oncpointcd scllawarcncss, to know oursclvcs lrom
momcnt to momcnt in whatcvcr situation wc nnd oursclvcs.
Tc loundation ol this dcvclopmcnt is laid in our mcditation,
whcrc wc lcarn to discngagc lrom our continual mcntal chat
tcr and contain thc ncgativc cmotional outßows and passions,
thus cnabling us to bring oursclvcs back, again and again, to
thc ccntrc ol our scllawarcncss. Tc ways to dcvclop this
ability may vary lrom tradition to tradition and lrom school
to school, but thcy all lcad to thc samc stillncss.
Prajna is thc ability to look into our bcing and scc thc
rcality ol it, going bcyond our dcludcd misintcrprctation ol
that truth. Tc way to thc discovcry ol thc truth is to takc a
particular lorm ol insight mcditation — thc onc that is thc
way ol thc tradition and school wc havc choscn. All insight
practiccs will at lcast scriously undcrminc thc dclusion that
cnvclops us.
8ut what is this grcat dclusion common to us all, that
blinds us to thc truth ol thc way things rcally arc: !t is thc dc
34 35
lusion ol a scll or cgo, and thc world ol attachmcnts that this
scnsc ol ‘mc and minc’ crcatcs. Tc practicc ol thc cightlold
path will takc us to thc root ol this dclusion, and dcstroy it.
Tc 8uddha spcnt ncarly nlty ycars travclling around
!ndia tcaching thc cightlold path as thc way out ol dukkha.
Hc didn’t say that to bc cthical alonc would bc cnough, and
hc didn’t say that to pcrlcct samadhi and cntcr cvcn thc high
cst dhyanas (conccntrations) would bc cnough cithcr. And hc
didn’t say that just studying and undcrstanding all that gocs
in thc namc ol wisdom would bc good cnough. Hc taught
that to bc ablc to gct to thc root ol dukkha, and to stop lor
cvcr thc cxpcricncc ol dukkha, it was absolutcly ncccssary to
cmbracc and practisc thc wholc ol thc path. Ultimatcly, cach
ol thc cight stcps ol thc path comc into pcrlcct balancc and
mcrgc to bccomc onc.
1. Sila. right spccch, right action, right livclihood
Many practitioncrs locus much ol thcir timc and cncrgy ob
scrving thc prcccpts ol cthical bchaviour, usually thc ncga
tivc prcccpts — inasmuch as thcy scc to it that thcy don’t lall
into thc crudc actions that charactcrizc many pcoplc. Tosc
with morc roundcd practiccs obscrvc thcsc rcstraints but also
cultivatc aspccts ol what arc tcrmcd thc positivc prcccpts.
Tcsc includc cultivating wholcsomc activitics that cngagc
thcm with thc world, activitics that stcm lrom kindncss and
gcncrosity, harmonious spccch and a display ol contcntmcnt
with thcir lilc as rcßcctcd in a pcacclul occupation.
34 35
For many, it has to bc said quitc lrankly, this is rcally as
much as thcy arc capablc ol cultivating (or at lcast as much
as thcy arc prcparcd to commit thcmsclvcs to). For somc, it
is not yct possiblc to sit quictly in mcditation and cultivatc
thc practiccs within that. !l so, that is nnc, and it is good
that thcy surrcndcr thcmsclvcs as much as possiblc to thc
dcvclopmcnt ol thc cthical sidc ol thc practicc. Vhat is vcry
hclplul with this lorm ol practicc is also to cultivatc thc
morc ccrcmonial sidc ol Ðharma with puja and oßcrings to
thc 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas — thcrcby cultivating both
spirituality and laith as a lurthcr way ol opcning thc hcart.
Tis hclps nurturc laith in thc 8uddha and his tcachings,
wcakcning a habitual idca that thcir practicc is a thing to bc
graspcd at.
For thosc who dcsirc to put an cnd to dukkha, this is
not cnough. !t is not cnough to bccomc a ‘good’ pcrson. Tc
Ðharma will only rcally rcspond and show itscll to thosc
with a complctc lorm ol practicc.
2. Samadhi. right cßort, right conccntration, right
Ðccp conccntration (samadhi) is possiblc whcn onc has thc
ability to stay locuscd on a singlc objcct during mcditation.
Tcrc arc many mcthods that can hclp us dcvclop that abil
ity. ¡ach tradition usually has scvcral ways, and cach school
within a tradition has its own locus on somc ol thosc ways.
Tcsc can vary widcly. Tcrc arc thc lormlcss mcthods ol
36 37
anapanasati (thc most widclyuscd mcthod and common
to all schools, and doctrinally thc mcthod uscd by all thc
8uddhas), translatcd as mindlulncss ol brcathing, whcrcby
wc locus in dißcrcnt ways on our natural brcathing without
rcsorting to thcmcs or conccpts. Tcn thcrc arc thc many
conccptual mcthods ol traditional 8uddhism, and bcyond
thcm thc visualization practiccs ol Tibctan 8uddhism and
thc koan and huado practicc ol Far ¡astcrn schools that can
act as both conccntration and insight practiccs.
Vhichcvcr way wc choosc to go thcy all lcad to thc
samc goal, a mind that is awakc through cßort and conccn
tratcd. Tc practitioncr is thcn ccntrcd and mindlul within
him or hcrscll and totally alivc to thc prcscnt momcnt. Tis
part ol thc path takcs dcdication and lcw pcoplc nnd it casy
to still thcir chattcring minds and contain thc cmotional
outßows that continuc to lucl thosc rcstlcss thoughts and
mcntal picturcs. Tcrc arc also many who locus cxclusivcly
on this part ol thc path to thc point that thcy turn away lrom
thc busy world and cngagcmcnt with lilc as much as possiblc.
Tcy scc that to rcally dcvclop stillncss it is skillul to turn
away lrom distractions ol thc scnscs in ordcr to go dccpcr.
Tcy undcrstand that a practicc ol sila is vcry important too,
in ordcr to go dccpcr — lor a mind that is agitatcd by unskil
lul acts gcts in thc way ol thc ability to attain stillncss. So
thcsc pcoplc practisc two thirds ol thc path, but this is not
cnough to imprcss thc Ðharma, bccausc thc Ðharma will
only rcally rcspond and show itscll to thosc with a complctc
lorm ol practicc.
36 37
3. Prajna. right vicw, right rcsolvc
Tc third part ol thc cightlold path is prajna or wisdom and
‘knowing thc way things rcally arc’. !t is oltcn portraycd as
thc nnal part ol thc path to dcvclop. Vhcn ! look back ovcr
thc ycars at thc somc ol thc tcachcrs !’vc hcard, and thc prac
titioncrs !’vc cncountcrcd, it would not bc dimcult to draw
thc conclusion that Ðharma practicc is rcally morc about sila
and samadhi. ! am still mystincd as to why so many Ðharma
tcachcrs sccm to go down that routc whcn it is clcar thcy arc
lcaving out thc most important part ol thc cightlold path,
bccausc it is prajna, and only prajna, that takcs thc Ðharma
larcr bcyond dukkha. !t is only wisdom that brcaks thc tap
root ol ignorancc. Tis was thc main rcason thc 8uddha took
himscll around !ndia to tcach lor all thosc ycars. Sila was
alrcady cstablishcd in his timc, as was samadhi. !t was sama
dhi in which Shakyamuni quickly bccamc an cxpcrt in altcr
taking instruction lrom thc nncst tcachcrs ol his day, yct hc
lclt thcrc was somcthing missing lrom thc ‘wisdom’ hc at
taincd lrom thcsc practiccs. !t was thc lccling that thcrc was
somcthing missing that drovc him to scck lurthcr knowlcdgc,
cvcntually by himscll, until onc day, altcr ncarly dying in thc
proccss, hc attaincd thc middlc way and thc ultimatc undcr
standing ol lilc and dcath. !t is thc 8uddhist cxprcssion ol
this undcrstanding that scts 8uddhism apart lrom all othcr
rcligions, yct still somc ignorc this aspcct ol thc Path.
Visdom should bc cultivatcd lrom thc nrst day ol prac
ticc, and it is thc slow nurturing ol wisdom that produccs
38 39
right vicw. Right vicw is cvcrchanging and dccpcning, but
this dccpcning can only maturc il wc havc thc corrcct atti
tudc. !t isn’t an intcllcctual wisdom but dccply pcrsonal and
cmotional — and rcquircs that wc bc prcparcd to changc
and lct go ol thc old ‘mc’. !t is right rcsolvc that allows this
changc to happcn, and thc dccpcning to takc placc.
Sila will makc you an cthical bcing. Samadhi will givc
you pcacc and happincss, but it is wisdom that will makc
you a truly roundcd human bcing bccausc it is wisdom, and
wisdom only, that will rclcasc thc hcart lrom thc bondagc ol
scllintcrcst and nonundcrstanding.
4. Complete
!l wc wcrc to lay out thc path in a lincar lashion wc could
say thc Path starts with sila, and thcn whcn that is rcnncd
thc loundation lor samadhi is laid, bccausc to cultivatc a still
mind our gcncral conduct has to bc balanccd — though not
ncccssarily pcrlcctly so. !l wc arc cngagcd in crudc activitics
thc mind (which is ol coursc intcgral to thosc activitics) will
not bc capablc ol stillncss, bccausc wc can’t harncss and tamc
thc coarsc cmotional outßows associatcd with crudc activi
tics. Vhcn thc stillncss ol mind has rcachcd an acccptablc
dcgrcc, this bccomcs thc loundation lor prajna. !nsight can
shinc through bccausc thc ‘agitatcd watcrs ol dclusion’ havc
stillcd cnough lor thc innatc wisdom to risc up and shinc
through that stillncss.
Tis is thc lincar lorm that many involvcd with tcach
38 39
ing thc Ðharma sccm to lollow. 8ut thc lourth noblc truth
is subtlcr than thc cightlold path lormula might sccm at nrst
sight to suggcst, and rcquircs a subtlcr and morc roundcd
prcscntation. Tis is bccausc thc lourth noblc truth isn’t,
strictly spcaking, thc cightlold path at all, it is thc middlc
A ncwborn bodhisattva, whilst abiding in thc bliss and
wondcr at thc bcginning ol thc bodhisattva path, sccs, among
thc many insights that arc rcvcalcd, thc lour noblc truths as
a dircct sccing into thc naturc and lramcwork ol samsara.
Tcy arc not sccn as a lormulation dcrivcd lrom thc insight
— somc sort ol summary ol thc naturc ol sußcring. No, thcy
arc sccn as a dircct comprchcnsion ol thc vcry naturc ol thc
construct ol thc dcludcd mind. And whilc comprchcnding
samsara, and sccing that it is a complctc labrication ol thc
dcludcd mind, thc lour truths arc also ‘sccn’.
Tc truth is that cvcry last part that gocs to makc up
this invcntion ol thc world is complctcly and always saturatcd
with dukkha. Not onc spcck is cvcr without dukkha. From
this starting point it is undcrstood that thcrc is a causc or
crcator ol this world. Tc sccond truth tcrms this dcsirc, and
it is thc scnsc ol a scll or cgo that crcatcs that dcsirc — thus
crcating thc dualistic worldvicw with its pcrpctual drivc lor
scllgratincation and amrmation. Tus it is sccn that thc
world and dcsirc and dukkha arc rcally just onc.
Vhcn thc crcator ol thc world and ol dukkha is known,
thc third truth is sccn — that thcrc is a way out ol this mcss,
which is to dcstroy that crcator. Finally, lrom this truth comcs
40 41
thc way out ol that bondagc and cntrapmcnt. 8y rcsisting thc
pull ol oppositcs that crcatcs thc dualistic world and which
givcs risc to thc conditions lor thc phcnomcnon ol a scll or
cgo to arisc, wc can abidc on thc middlc path bctwccn thcsc
oppositcs. 8y brcaking our habitual running altcr things
— which crcatcs and cngagcs us with thc oppositcs ol want
ing and rcjccting, liking and disliking, ctc. — wc starvc that
scnsc ol scll ol its vcry lilcblood.
! would suggcst that thc cightlold path as wc know it
camc about through thc coursc ol timc, through thc 8uddha
tcaching and cncouraging thc practicc ol thc middlc way,
through mcditation and daily living. Hc would havc brokcn
down thc middlc way so that his listcncrs could rclatc to it
and cultivatc skillul ways ol practicc to achicvc that noblc
As is typical ol our dcludcd mind, thc parts which
madc up thc wholc soon camc to bc sccn as sort ol autono
mous aspccts ol thc practicc ol thc lourth noblc truth and
bccamc disconncctcd lrom that wholc. Ultimatcly, parts ol
thc wholc wcrc simply ignorcd, or at bcst givcn just thc occa
sional glancc. Tis lack ol insight is not a truc undcrstanding
ol thc lourth noblc truth.
!’d likc to strcss again that though sila and samadhi can
rightly bc sccn as thc lramcwork lor wisdom, truc practicc is
thc cultivation ol all thc aspccts ol thc path concurrcntly. !n
dcvcloping sila wc rcsist our habitual dcsircs and avcrsions
and thc troublc that this causcs lor oursclvcs and lor othcrs,
and wc cultivatc and nurturc thc qualitics ol thc unlcttcrcd
40 41
human hcart as thc way lorward. Rcsisting and containing
our habitual actions is also thc csscncc ol thc practicc ol sila
that nurturcs thc stillncss ol mind that cnablcs us to bring
samadhi into our practicc. Tc csscncc ol samadhi is thcrc
lorc idcntical to sila il it is sccn as rcsisting thc tcmptation to
wandcr oß and gct caught in thc crcatcd world ol thoughts,
mcntal picturcs, and thcir associatcd passions. Vith thcsc
two limbs in placc prajna itscll has thc spacc to arisc, as it is
only in a mind that is still that it has thc conditions it nccds.
Tc arising ol prajna thcn hclps cultivatc still morc sila and
samadhi. Cultivatcd sila and cultivatcd samadhi arc not
scparatc lrom prajna but arc prajna itscll, as any cxpcricnccd
mcditator will connrm, so thc turning to onc’s own prajna in
mcditation can oltcn bring an instantly conccntratcd mind.
So stillncss and wisdom can bc sccn to bc not just intcrcon
ncctcd but idcntical in thcir csscncc. Tc applc trcc and thc
applc itscll arc not scparatc.
Tc lourth noblc truth is thc middlc way. !t is not cight
parts but onc, which wc pull apart and dcnnc in ordcr to un
dcrstand what it rcally is, and how wc can procccd to attain
that lolty statc. !l wc gct on with our practicc with that in
mind wc will not gct trappcd into thinking that Ðharma
practicc is only about bcing good, or that Ðharma practicc
is only about bliss and happincss, or that Ðharma practicc
is only about somchow undcrstanding wisdom that wc rcad
and hcar about. !t is about thc cultivation ol thc path in cqual
proportions. !l your practicc is truly balanccd, thcn in quict
momcnts it should bc possiblc, whilc pondcring on any onc
42 43
ol its aspccts to scc that aspcct as containing all thc othcrs.
Look at any onc ol thc cight stcps and you should bc ablc to
scc thc othcr scvcn in thc vcry samc placc.
Tc ultimatc sccing ol thc bodhisattva sccing thc intcr
pcnctration ol lormations, that part ol thc doctrinc that thc
ordinary mind cannot cvcr comprchcnd. Tc doctrinc says
that any onc dharma contains all othcr dharmas through
out thc cntirc univcrsc and bcyond, and yct that vcry samc
dharma rctains its individuality and uniqucncss. !t may not
bc possiblc lor you to scc that truth lully, but il you can look
at any part ol thc path whilst pondcring your practicc and
you scc it containing thc othcr scvcn, and bcing idcntical
with thcm, you arc vcry closc to sccing that truth ol intcr
pcnctration. You will bc sccing thc middlc way, and thcrc
is only onc middlc way — not cight. Vhcn you scc and
know your practicc to bc this way, you arc on thc thrcshold
ol lulnlling and pcrlccting thc lourth noblc truth, which is
thc pcrlcction ol Ðharma practicc in thc world. \cry soon
altcr this, thc samsaric world that you havc bccn cnslavcd by
sincc timc bcgan will abruptly ccasc, rcvcaling rcality in all
its glory and majcsty.
42 43
Pv~c)icv ix ¡vvvyb~y Livv
So lar wc havc bccn looking at thc basic tcncts ol thc Path
which most practitioncrs will bc lamiliar with, but now !
would likc to oßcr you a biggcr picturc that takcs thc prac
ticc bcyond thc lists and lormulas that can so casily kccp us
trappcd insidc our hcads. Vc can kid oursclvcs with ‘!l ! can
just rcmcmbcr thcsc oltcn complicatcd lormulas ! will bc
undcrstanding thc Ðharma and thcrclorc making progrcss’.
Ònc way ! could dcscribc thc dißcrcncc bctwccn thc
nrst part ol thc book and thc sccond part is to say that
part onc was, in broad tcrms, about 7hat to do in tcrms ol
thc practicc, but hcrc in part two it is morc about (o. to
Altcr cmbarking on this ‘living practicc’ it is oltcn
good to rcßcct on how wc arc cxpcricncing our Ðharma
practicc. Vc obviously lcarn as wc movc along, wc start to
scc how wc arc so oltcn at thc mcrcy ol our cmotional statcs.
Visdom docs indccd start to dcvclop as wc bcgin slowly to
undcrstand what makcs us ‘tick’ and who wc rcally arc. Tc
lollowing rcßcctions arc to hclp us cxpand our awarcncss and
undcrstanding ol thc practicc out ol our hcads and into thc
totality ol our bcing. Vc can thcn livc it out in thc totality ol
lilc itscll. Tc rcßcctions can hclp us undcrstand who wc arc
44 45
and comc alivc to thc wholc spcctrum ol undcrstanding that
unlolds within this rcmarkably subtlc practicc.
Somc ol thosc who rcad thc subtitlc ol this book will
bc disappointcd il thcy arc hoping to rcad somcthing about
sitting mcditation. Tis subjcct is wcll covcrcd in many books
and !’m surc most who rcad this book will alrcady havc
a good idca how to sit and how mcditation works — you
don’t nccd any morc lrom mc. Òl coursc sitting mcditation
is crucial to practicc and it is thc corncrstonc ol changc, but
hcrc !’m cncouraging thc practitioncr, in cßcct, to mcditatc
throughout thc day. !n othcr words to bc at onc, mindlul
and ccntrcd, with what you arc doing, no mattcr what that
may bc. !’m pointing towards what nccds to bc nurturcd and
guardcd so that thc worldly mind docsn’t comc and grab you
oß balancc. ! hopc you will nnd usclul pointcrs hcrc on how
to practisc and brcak lrcc.
Jharma ´ind
A baby quickly rcalizcs that crying whcn it is hungry or wants
attcntion will soon lcad to thosc dcsircs bcing lulnllcd. Scll
intcrcst bcgins to arisc in thcsc vcry carly days ol lilc, whcn
an awarcncss ol scparatcncss bcgins to takc shapc, and lrom
thcn on almost cvcrything that bcing docs will bc drivcn by
this scnsc ol scllintcrcst. Almost all thc dcsircs, avcrsions,
and ambitions ol that young lilc will bc drivcn by an urgc to
bccomc somcthing — somcthing that has a scnsc ol a scll at
its root.
44 45
As adults wc would do wcll to look into our own
motivations. !l wc did wc could quickly concludc that thcrc
is hardly anything that motivatcs us outsidc ol this samc scll
intcrcst, howcvcr subtlc it may somctimcs sccm. Scllintcrcst
takcs control ol our livcs to such an cxtcnt that wc rarcly
cxpcricncc anything bcyond it.
For cxamplc, onc day wc discovcr 8uddhism and thc
Ðharma and wc dccidc to takc up a practicc ol thc tcachings
— lor whatcvcr rcason. !s this just anothcr intcrcst, likc so
many bclorc: Ònc in which wc cngagc our scllintcrcst in
ordcr to nll our timc, or achicvc somcthing, or gct a rcward
ol somc sort: !l wc approach our ncw intcrcst in Ðharma
practicc in thc usual way with this ‘worldly mind’, !’m alraid
wc will stand littlc chancc ol gaining thc spiritual maturity
wc may havc wishcd lor.
Òur habits arc dccply ingraincd, so wc may wcll start
oß with thc wrong intcntions lor our practicc ol thc Ðharma.
For cxamplc, wc may want to bccomc somconc who will bc
admircd and rcspcctcd, lor cxamplc, or bccomc so wisc that
wc can ‘savc’ pcoplc and bc admircd still lurthcr. 8ut coming
to Ðharma practicc wc nccd a totally dißcrcnt approach, and
mindsct, to anything wc havc cxpcricnccd or cngagcd in
bclorc in our cntirc livcs. Tis is bccausc thc root ol Ðharma
practicc is ultimatcly not about bccoming anything at all, but
about unbccoming. Tis mind is callcd Ðharma mind.
Tc hcart and spirit ol Ðharma practicc is about lcarn
ing to surrcndcr, and giving up our ingraincd habitual scll
intcrcsts. So rathcr than scck any rcward in our ncw practicc,
46 47
wc bcgin to cultivatc a spirit ol not wanting anything in par
ticular in rcturn lor our cßorts. ]ust cultivating this attitudc
and giving up thosc prccious attachmcnts will now bc rcward
cnough. Vith this practicc, thc onc dcsirc that is allowcd by
thc Ðharma — thc noblc dcsirc lor rclcasc lrom sußcring
— can bc lulnllcd. Tis ncw mind and its cultivation rcquirc
a scismic changc ol attitudc.
!n lact, this changc ol attitudc has to bc lcarncd and
rclcarncd, ovcr and ovcr again, as wc continually lall back
into our old habits ol sccking rcward. Toughts such as ‘il
!’m going to do this practicc, ! want to bccomc likc this and
not any longcr bc likc that’ crccp in. Tis ingraincd habit ol
scllintcrcst is so powcrlul that wc lall back into its clutchcs
ovcr and ovcr again. 8ut lcarning to givc up, to surrcndcr
all thosc scllintcrcsts, within thc practicc ol a wholchcartcd
commitmcnt to lilc, will in itscll rcmind us that this is thc
way ol thc Ðharma.
Tc way ol thc Ðharma is not thc way ol thc world.
Tc way ol thc world is to want and bccomc, thc way ol thc
Ðharma is to givc up and unbccomc. Tis cultivation takcs
laith in thc tcachings, and laith in thc thrcc jcwcls. Tc lcar
ol ‘!l ! am no longcr going to bc likc this and ! am no longcr
wanting to bccomc likc that, what will bccomc ol mc:’ is thc
lcar that brings us back, again and again, to thc scllintcrcst
ol wanting to bc somcthing. 8ut it is laith in thc thrcc jcwcls
ol thc 8uddha, Ðharma, and Sangha, laith that wc havc
nurturcd sincc thc bcginning ol our practicc, that will sup
port and carry us through that lcar. So wc will discovcr that,
46 47
lar lrom thc black holc, and cvcn dcath, that wc lcar will
ovcrtakc us il wc givc up all dcsircs, thc human hcart will
shinc through and takc thc placc ol lcar and scllintcrcst. !t
will shinc through and radiatc all around with warmth and
lovc bccausc it is now a hcart that is lrcc lrom thc bonds ol
dcsirc and scllintcrcst.
'taying at (ome
!t has bccn intcrcsting, but somctimcs alarming, at thc book
launchcs and in privatc talks, to hcar othcrs talk about thcir
mcditation cxpcricnccs. ! gct particularly alarmcd, whcn
! am told ol cxpcricnccs ol cncrgy gathcring during sits
— cncrgy that runs through thc body — pcrhaps nnding its
way to thc hcad, or into a limb, or cvcn to an intcrnal organ,
somctimcs causing violcnt jcrking ol thc body or limbs, or
just gcncral pain and discomlort. Somctimcs that cncrgy,
having nowhcrc to go, cvcn sccms to crcatc mcntal imagcs ol
dcvils and dcmons.
From thc rcports it sccms to bc ol no particular im
portancc what thc mcditation subjcct is — thcrc havc bccn
many tcchniqucs dcvclopcd ovcr thc ccnturics in 8uddhism,
but dcspitc thcir varicty thcy still lall into two basic catcgo
rics, conccntration and insight — as it appcars problcms
can arisc whatcvcr typc ol mcditation is bcing practiscd.
Conccntration, howcvcr, is a ncccssary lcaturc ol both.
Tc basis ol most ol thc problcms ! hcar brought up arc,
! am surc, bascd on thc assumption that thc Ðharma is to bc
48 49
lound in our hcads and intcllcct — through cncrgctic think
ing and working things out. And so wc ignorc thc body. Tis
is thc conclusion to which my obscrvations ol 8uddhists ovcr
thc ycars has lcd mc. Vhilst thc intcllcct docs havc a big part
to play in clarilying our undcrstanding ol thc journcy that
wc arc cmbarking upon, its truc part in thc schcmc ol things
is csscntially not to discovcr wisdom but to oricntatc us to
whcrc wisdom awaits our discovcry. Tat is in thc body.
Tosc who havc a dcsirc lor complctc undcrstanding
nccd to discovcr whcrc thc homc ol thc Ðharma lics. Vith
this knowlcdgc, wc will lully incorporatc thc body into our
practicc, to harmonizc it with thc intcllcct and so nurturc thc
intcgration ol mind and body. Vc involvc our body through
lcarning to undcrstand and cngagc with thc cmotional
cncrgy that drivcs our dcsircs. Òur cmotions gathcr and arc
cxpcricnccd in thc part ol thc body bclow thc navcl, in Far
¡astcrn 8uddhism this is oltcn callcd thc hara or ‘scat ol thc
cmotions’. Tis part ol our body is thc most crucial part to
undcrstand il wc arc rcally to intcgratc mind and body and
crcatc a complctc and wcllroundcd practicc.
!n ordcr to undcrstand thc crucial part thc hara plays
in our practicc wc nccd to locus on it as much as possiblc.
Tis was somcthing ! lortunatcly lcarncd to do lrom thc bc
ginning ol my Ðharma training. Òur attcntion is naturally
drawn thcrc during a strong cmotional cxpcricncc whcn wc
might lccl discomlort, or cvcn pain, thcrc. ! could scc that
this arca containcd grcat cncrgy that would lucl my dcsircs
and avcrsions and givc thosc cxpcricnccs thc drivc and
48 49
momcntum nccdcd to kccp thcm strong. ! lcarncd to givc
this arca much attcntion as ! could clcarly scc that it playcd
a major part in what ! rcally am. A major discovcry was that
this was potcntially an arca ol trcmcndous powcr, and that
il ! didn’t lcarn to harncss that powcr it could casily run into
thc body and causc physical problcms. Tis cmotional cncrgy
was a part ol thc ovcrall cncrgy that gavc mc lilc, and it
nccdcd to bc hcalthy and in a balanccd statc or it could quitc
casily bring physical (and mcntal) damagc.
! discovcrcd that il ! lcarncd to kccp my awarcncss thcrc
as much as possiblc, my undcrstanding ol myscll dccpcncd
vcry quickly. !t bccamc clcar to mc through that dccpcning
undcrstanding that this was in lact whcrc ! rcally was, and
not in thc hcad, ‘up thcrc’, as ! had always assumcd. Tis
rcalization clcarly showcd mc that this is whcrc thc Ðharma
ariscs too, whcrc it is to bc lound. Vith this knowlcdgc !
could scc thc prcciousncss ol staying with my awarcncss as
much as possiblc right thcrc in my body, and ! camc to scc
thc hara as my homc.
My practicc lrom thcn on was always to bc ‘staying at
homc’, as much as my chattcring and dcludcd mind would
allow, to catch myscll wandcring ovcr and ovcr again, and
thcn rcturn homc and stay at homc lor as long as ! could.
Vhat a placc to bc! Hcrc is whcrc thc driving cmotional lilc
cncrgy gathcrs. (! much prclcr to call thc cmotional cncrgy
‘lilccncrgy’ — or cvcn ‘lilclorcc’ — rathcr than just ‘cncrgy’.
To say just ‘cncrgy’ could suggcst that it is just a dcad lorcc,
somcthing that could cvcn bc sccn as coming lrom outsidc
50 51
and not rcally part ol mc at all, whcrcas in rcality wc arc so
intimatcly conncctcd with it that a division can’t bc lound.)
8y staying at homc ! soon discovcrcd that this is actually
whcrc ! am and that samc placc is also whcrc thc Ðharma is
to bc discovcrcd. So ncithcr thc Ðharma nor ! arc up thcrc
in my hcad, as my intcllcct is continually trying to convincc
mc that thcy arc.
My discovcrics continucd as it bccamc obvious that thc
world ! was crcating was drivcn by this lilccncrgy, as was
my scnsc ol scll and thc sußcring which all ol that brings.
Tc lilccncrgy wasn’t thc world or thc scll as such, but its
powcr gavc thosc crcations thc lilc thcy nccdcd. !t bccamc
clcar that thc way lorward was not to assumc that thc insight
proccss was purcly mcntal, but to scc it as physical also. !t
was csscntial to contain that lilccncrgy, so as to allow thc
maturing insight laculty to translorm thc dclusion ol scll and
othcr in a lull and propcr way.
So hcrc in thc hara wc havc thc main locus lor thc
complctc practicc ol thc bodhisattva path. Vc should makc
it our ‘homc’, as wc nccd to locus and abidc hcrc so that wc
can lcarn, through right practicc, to contain that cmotional
ßow. Tis allows thc prccious translorming proccss to takc
placc, through thc powcr ol wisdom, thus lrccing us ol thc
ignorancc that pcrmcatcs our wholc bcing.
8ccausc wc arc physically still, and morc cspccially
mcntally still, during mcditation, thc buildup ol thc lilc
cncrgy — cspccially whcn dccply conccntratcd — can bc
morc acutc than usual. 8ccausc it cannot ßow in any ol its
50 51
usual ways through our normal physical or mcntal activitics,
it crcatcs thcsc cxpcricnccs ! mcntioncd at thc start ol this
scction. !t bccomcs csscntial, through cxpcricncc, to lcarn to
contain this lilccncrgy. Vc nccd to allow thc chargcd lilc
lorcc to do its job and movc salcly through our bcing as wc
livc our lilc, rathcr likc rcstraining an untamcd horsc with a
ropc as you train it to bccomc gcntlc. Allow it to movc and
cxprcss itscll as a strong and hcalthy animal, but in a con
taincd and controllcd way. Vith this in placc wc can avoid
thc traumas touchcd on carlicr.
Tc way to work with this dangcr that all mcditators
lacc is to bc awarc ol it and train yourscll to kccp your awarc
ncss ccntrcd within thc hara. Always givc it your utmost at
tcntion, rcturn and abidc thcrc ovcr and ovcr again, right
in thc dcpths ol your body. Train yourscll to stay at homc.
8ccomc awarc ol thc wandcring lilccncrgy with your mind,
and thcn harncss it with that samc awarcncss and drag it
back to thc ccntrc and your homc — so prcvcnting it run
ning through thc body causing problcms. 8y cultivating this
awarcncss, thc cncrgy cvcntually shouldn’t impingc on your
mcditation at all and it should bc possiblc to stay ccntrcd and
dcvclop thc mcditation at thc samc timc.
So whatcvcr mcditation you may bc doing, makc thc
hara your homc. Takc yourscll thcrc whcncvcr you can. Takc
your mcditation thcrc and bring thc two togcthcr — cvcn
il you considcr yourscll to bc contcmplating somcthing
morc mcntal — don’t considcr yourscll abiding scparatcly
lrom your body and bc up thcrc in your mind. 8y staying at
52 53
homc you arc abiding in thc practicc ccntrc ol your bcing. 8y
ccntring yourscll thcrc you arc gathcrcd up in a controllcd
and balanccd statc, so that whcn thc lilccncrgy wants to
wandcr oß in its lrustration at its containmcnt you can catch
it quickly and drag it homc again.
! havc highlightcd this cxpcricncc by locusing on it
whilst in mcditation but it should bc notcd that it is cqually
csscntial to cultivatc that awarcncss and containmcnt in your
daily lilc as wcll, as ! havc cxplaincd in thc ‘Containmcnt in
¡vcryday Lilc’ scction.
Tosc on thc bodhisattva path should soon comc to
rcalizc that this Path is actually much morc ol a physical
practicc than a mcntal onc — bccausc wc arc actually trans
lorming thc crrant lilccncrgy which is whcrc thc prcscncc
ol ignorancc manilcsts, crcating thc samsaric world wc arc
all bound to. All this translormation takcs placc in thc body,
bccausc it is thc Ðharma that docs thc translorming and it
is in thc body, and in thc csscncc ol lilc, whcrc thc Ðharma
is to bc discovcrcd. Vith our awarcncss, whosc csscncc and
ccntrc is in thc body, it should bc possiblc to rcmain in con
tact with thc body at all timcs, and stay morc and morc in
thc body as our practicc dcvclops. Vc can thcn stay with
thosc powcrlul lorccs that wc nccd to contain to cnablc thc
translorming proccss to takc placc. As wc lcarn to stay at
homc, wc arc not only salc lrom thc dangcr ol bcing takcn
into thc clouds by our dcludcd mind, but also stand a much
bcttcr chancc ol not succumbing to many physical and
mcntal sickncsscs.
52 53
(racice in Iay Iife
! was oltcn askcd during qucstionandanswcr scssions il it is
rcally possiblc to practisc in lay lilc, cspccially in a largc, busy
city such as London. Vc oltcn vicw thc practicc ol a tradi
tional monk, who spcnds his timc away lrom thc hurlyburly
ol lay lilc, as in many ways morc idcal. Ðuring my short
timc in robcs in Sri Lanka ! ncvcr had to worry whcrc thc
ncxt mcal would comc lrom, or il thcrc would bc a problcm
in rcplacing my worn out robcs, or whcrc thc moncy would
bc lound to rcpair thc lcaking rool ol my hut. All my basic
rcquisitcs wcrc providcd whcn ncccssary by thc lay sangha
that so gcncrously supportcd thc ordaincd sangha. 8ccausc
! was totally lrcc lrom having to considcr thc basics ol lilc !
was ablc to locus on my practicc without distraction. For cx
amplc, ! could mcditatc lor many hours a day, which would
not bc possiblc to do in lay lilc simply bccausc ! would havc
to go out and carn my living. So wc might considcr that lay
cxistcncc not only scvcrcly impairs our practicc, but in thc
vicw ol many that ! havc mct, cspccially in thc Tcravada
sangha in Sri Lanka, rcndcrs dccp pcnctration into thc
Ðharma impossiblc. All ! can say about it is that lrom my
own dircct cxpcricncc ol ycars ol practicc that notion is not
at all corrcct.
Tcrc could bc a qucstion mark ovcr thc lcasibility ol
practicc in lay lilc il onc is pursuing typcs ol practicc that
nccd cxtrcmc stillncss and quict, and whcrc normal cngagc
mcnt with lilc is sccn as a hindrancc. 8ut thc bodhisattva
54 55
path which is thc onc that ! practisc and is thc only Path
that ! conccrn myscll with and cncouragc othcrs to pursuc, is
most dcnnitcly possiblc in lay lilc, lor thc bodhisattva path is
thc path ol totality and has no timc lor dualistic discrimina
tory attachmcnts, but takcs on all ol lilc, whcthcr it is robust
or quict, and uscs it all as grist to thc mill. Tc bodhisattva
path is thc path that lcads to 8uddha naturc, and onc ol thc
marks ol 8uddha naturc is that it is thc totality ol lilc. !l you
wish to scc 8uddha naturc thcn any thoughts ol dissccting
lilc into convcnicnt parts has to bc abandoncd. Cultivating
thc spirit that wisdom is to bc lound in all situations is thc
way lorward with this practicc ol totality.
Vhilc daily practicc is crucial, in a nonmonastic lilc
thcrc should always bc timc to gathcr up all thosc cxpcricnc
cs to rcßcct upon and digcst all thosc wccks and months ol
practicc. You can usc that ncwlound ability to dccpcn prac
ticc by taking rcgular rctrcats. Altcr all, monks takc thcm as
wcll! !l you scc thc rctrcat as a continuum ol your daily prac
ticc thcrc should bc a lccling ol scamlcssncss as you cmbark
upon this spccial timc. Rctrcats arc indccd vcry spccial on
your spiritual journcy, but thcy havc an inhcrcnt dangcr in
much thc samc way as locusing too much on sitting mcdita
tion during your cvcryday lilc. Tc complctcncss ol Ðharma
undcrstanding can only bc attaincd through consistcnt prac
ticc throughout thc wholc day, but a trap that many lall into
is thc thought that ‘il ! just pilc up my mcditation milcagc
that will bc all ! nccd lor cnlightcnmcnt.’ Tc samc trap also
applics to rctrcats. How oltcn pcoplc think ‘Vcll, il ! mcdi
54 55
tatc a bit that should bc good cnough bccausc !’m oß on rc
trcat soon so that should takc carc ol any incrtia and any lack
ol commitmcnt that ! now havc towards thc practicc.’ Tis
is vcry much a wrong undcrstanding. Vhatcvcr mcaninglul
brcakthrough may bc cxpcricnccd on rctrcat is vcry much
thc lruit ol daily commitmcnt that maturcs during thosc
prccious days ol cxtraordinary commitmcnt — commitmcnt
that is not possiblc on a normal daily basis. So makc usc ol
rctrcats as yct anothcr aspcct ol practicc that compcnsatcs lor
thc lack ol advantagcs ol a sccludcd lilc.
To contain and dclvc into thc powcr and robustncss that
charactcrizcs much ol lay lilc rcprcscnts a prccious opportu
nity to practisc. Vith this in mind, it could cvcn bc said that
lay lilc is bcttcr lor practicc than monastic lilc. !t is clcarly a
much morc robust practicc but a practicc that is thcrclorc also
lraught with many morc dangcrs. !t is robust bccausc wc ob
viously havc to dcal with thc powcrlul situations with which
lilc can prcscnt us with, lor cxamplc in human rclationships,
or just thc gcncral grind ol trying to lcad a normal cxistcncc.
!t is lraught with dangcrs bccausc wc arc continually bcing
tcstcd and tcmptcd to givc way to thc strong pull ol dcsircs
thrust upon us by thc vcry naturc ol our living in our socicty.
Tis is why it is csscntial to know how to practisc throughout
thc wholc day whilc wc arc cngagcd with lilc. Usc all thcsc
situations to dcvclop containmcnt and insight. !t bccomcs
csscntial in this kind ol practicc that wc lcarn to cultivatc
skillul mcans in our livcs — and to mc thc primary skill to
lcarn is to lcarn to takc control ol your lilc.
56 57
!t is a common cxpcricncc ol many pcoplc that with a
hcctic and prcssurcd job, plus pcrhaps a lamily to look altcr,
and othcr commitmcnts, wc scldom sccm to gct a minutc to
oursclvcs. Vc arc pullcd this way and that — hardly sccm
ingly ablc, cvcn, to takc a brcath. For thc most part wc arc
unablc to changc thcsc circumstanccs, though wc would
oltcn lovc to do so, simply bccausc ol thc prcssurcs in our
!n ordcr to practisc corrcctly it is vcry important to
bccomc mastcr ol our circumstanccs rathcr than bc pullcd
around by thcm. Vc nccd a mcasurcd day — whcrc wc can
movc lrom onc task to anothcr as casily as possiblc. 8cyond
that wc nccd to crcatc somc spacc whcrc wc can rclax and
gathcr oursclvcs up, rcßcct and bc with oursclvcs. !l wc arc
always running this way and that, it is ncvcr going to bc pos
siblc to cultivatc thc csscncc ol practicc — which is to know
oursclvcs whilst cngaging with lilc. !l our lilc is such that wc
cannot havc thc spacc and timc on a daily basis that allows
us to practisc consistcntly and cvcnly, our practicc will havc
no chancc ol maturing.
!l our work docsn’t allow that spacc wc should makc thc
utmost cßort to crcatc somc at homc. Try to rcarrangc thc
schcdulc and crcatc timc just to bc with yourscll and rcßcct
not just on thc day but gct lamiliar with your rcactions and
lcclings to it, and in many rcspccts bccomc rcacquaintcd with
yourscll. ! know thcrc is mcditation timc lor thcsc things,
but that can bccomc just a part ol thc busy schcdulc as wcll,
and just anothcr thing that has to bc donc. Find thc timc
56 57
to just quictly pottcr around, maybc do thc dusting or somc
othcr job, rcad a book, or listcn to thc radio or, darc ! say it,
watch tclcvision. 8c so that whatcvcr you arc doing you can
bc awarc ol yourscll and gct acquaintcd with thc lcclings and
cmotions that may arisc during thcsc timcs. Mull ovcr thc
Ðharma in your mind and scc your conncction with it, lcarn
to cnjoy your own company and bc still. !t is this dcvcloping
skill in taking control and making spacc that compcnsatcs
lor thc quictncss that monks cnjoy.
!t can bc that wc bccomc so uscd to intcracting with
othcrs, busy and spccding around, that thc prospcct ol just
bcing with oursclvcs alonc in our homc can bc a lrightcning
prospcct. Ycs, you may say, ‘but ! am happy to sit by myscll
mcditating quictly lor an hour cvcry day and ! do havc rcgu
lar mcditation rctrcats, thcrclorc that is not a problcm lor
mc.’ 8ut how many ol us, whcn wc discovcr thcrc is a gap in
our diary, lrcczc at thc thought that thcrc will bc nothing to
do, and !’ll bc lclt all by myscll, alonc: ]ust thc thought ol
bcing alonc lor cvcn a short timc can bring up such lcclings
ol lonclincss and lcar that it can bc vcry dimcult to bcar. 8y
not giving in to thc tcmptation to nll that timc but lcarning
to stay with that lcar, to stay at homc and opcn up to that cx
pcricncc whilst pottcring around doing nothing in particular
can bccomc a grcat sourcc ol insight.
So you can scc that taking control ol your lilc, and
building thc dctcrmination to crcatc skillul situations lor
practising thc Ðharma, not only allows us to crcatc thcsc
prccious pcriods ol stillncss and spacc in our hcctic days, but
58 59
also thc possibility lor insight to arisc.
! would say, ycs, most dcnnitcly it is possiblc to practisc
in lay lilc, to practisc in thc hcctic prcssurcd world ol noisc
and pollution and thc crazy pcoplc ol big citics, to bc ablc to
stand in thc middlc ol Piccadilly Circus and practisc. !t just
rcquircs commitmcnt and thc dcvclopmcnt ol skillul mcans
to makc it possiblc.
(ontainment in 8.eryday Iife
Ònc ol thc most plcasing aspccts ol my book launchcs and
thc qucstionandanswcr scssions that would lollow, and
indccd ol thc Ðharma groups ! bccn lcading sincc that timc,
is thc numbcr ol timcs ! havc bccn askcd to say somcthing
about containmcnt in daily lilc. To mc this is thc arca ol
practicc that is so crucial to total translormation and yct littlc
sccms to bc known about it. 8ut as lar as total translorma
tion is conccrncd — which is thc main charactcristic ol thc
bodhisattva path — it nccds to bc graspcd and undcrstood
morc clcarly than any othcr aspcct ol thc practicc.
Many ol us who comc to 8uddhism havc an imagc
ol it as a practicc ol sitting mcditation and vcry littlc clsc.
Tis wrong undcrstanding is cncouragcd as so many ol thc
imagcs associatcd with 8uddhism arc ol thc 8uddha sitting
pcacclully crosslcggcd. Most ol us thcn, whcn wc comc to
8uddhism almost gravitatc to mcditation as soon as pos
siblc and lcarn somc sort ol tcchniquc that wc work on and
dcvclop. Tcrc is so oltcn this incvitablc cmphasis on sitting
58 59
mcditation that somchow, il not quitc sccn as thc complctc
picturc ol practicc, is sccn almost as thc complctc practicc.
Somc lorms ol 8uddhist practicc sccm to lay almost cxclu
sivc cmphasis on mcditation, with an clcmcnt ol sila in thc
background to hclp crcatc thc cquanimity conducivc to good
mcditation. !t thcn rcally bccomcs a practicc ol mcditation
and cultivation ol an cnvironmcnt that will hclp with that
practicc, but thc bodhisattva path is not likc that at all.
Tc bodhisattva path is about thc total translormation
ol all that wc arc, which mcans that in ordcr to walk and
nurturc that Path thc practicc nccds to bc cultivatcd in what
is traditionally known in 8uddhism as thc lour posturcs
which charactcrizc thc cxpcricncc ol lilc. Tcsc arc standing,
sitting, walking, and lying down, all thc lour posturcs ol
bcing without sccing onc posturc as supcrior to anothcr. Tc
csscncc ol this practicc is to train oursclvcs to walk bctwccn
thc cxtrcmcs ol craving and rcjcction that charactcrizc much
ol our livcs, to rcmain in thc placc wc call thc middlc way. !n
ordcr lor that to happcn our training will havc to takc placc
and bc consistcnt throughout thc wholc day in all situations,
whcthcr good or bad, plcasant or unplcasant ctc. !t is ol no
conscqucncc what thc situation is, as thc Ðharma is prcscnt
in cvcry momcnt, and is always waiting to bc discovcrcd. !t
is our job to discovcr it.
!t has bccn intcrcsting to obscrvc ovcr thcsc past ycars,
in thc Vcst and indccd in thc ¡ast, how casy it has bccomc
to walk in oß thc strcct, so to spcak, into a mcditation ccntrc
and bc taught a tcchniquc in a lcw days. Vc can thcn just
60 61
walk out again — with littlc rclcrcncc madc to thc ncccssity
ol to crcatc a daily practicc away lrom thc sitting, so as to
support and complcmcnt thc dimcultics incvitably cxpcri
cnccd in dccpcning what has bccn lcarncd. Apart lrom an
csscntial daily practicc thcrc is also, lor cxamplc, thc nccd
lor a sangha to support this ncw practicc. Tis is not an op
tional addon, il it happcns to bc convcnicnt or il you lccl
likc it. Going lor rclugc to thc sangha is a part ol thc going
lor rclugc to thc thrcc jcwcls, and thc sidcstcpping ol onc
ol thc thrcc jcwcls takcs thc practicc outsidc thc paramctcrs
ol thc cightlold path, so gcnuinc and pcrmancnt changc is
not going to bc possiblc. ! would cvcn go as lar as to say that
a bcing ol dccp spiritual undcrstanding docsn’t cvcr rcally
go bcyond thc nccd lor sangha cithcr. To bc apart lrom likc
mindcd pcoplc could aßcct his wcllbcing as hc wouldn’t bc
ablc to sharc his undcrstanding through associating with
likcmindcd pcoplc.
Soon altcr coming to thc Ðharma wc arc gcncrally
taught that thc way lorward is through our mcditation. Vc
know that wc arc trying to rcmain in a statc ol oncpointcd
awarcncss by coming back to our mcditation subjcct thc
momcnt wc catch oursclvcs wandcring oß into thoughts
and mcntal picturcs. Vc soon discovcr this is not an casy
cxcrcisc to pcrlorm. Altcr a short whilc wc go a bit bcyond
our practicc ol coming back to our ccntrc altcr thoughts and
mcntal picturcs havc carricd us away, wc start having to dcal
with ncgativc lcclings that now bcgin to impingc. Gonc is
thc ‘honcymoon’ ol thc novclty, now ncgativc lcclings ol
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rcstlcssncss bcgin to arisc. Tcsc lcclings crcatc thoughts
and mcntal picturcs to accompany thcm, so that not only do
wc gct lost in thoughts and mcntal picturcs again but this
timc thcrc is somc sort ol ncgativc cmotional powcr bchind
thcm as wcll. Vc now nnd it morc dimcult to catch oursclvcs
and bring oursclvcs back to thc ccntrc ol awarcncss, as thcsc
ncgativc cmotions makcs our loss ol awarcncss morc acutc.
So what may havc startcd out as an casy, plcasant cxcrcisc in
pcacc and quict now bccomcs somcthing that rcquircs morc
cßort, but wc mustcr up thc dctcrmination to stay with our
mcditation subjcct and soldicr on.
]ust whcn wc think wc havc got to grips with this ncw
il slightly unplcasant dimcnsion, a third lactor ariscs that
thcn takcs us to thc crossroads whcrc wc arc prcscntcd with
thc rcality ol our commitmcnt to mcditation: thc passions.
Vhcn thcsc bcgin to arisc thcy not only condition our
thoughts and mcntal picturcs to a grcat dcgrcc but cngagc
thc body much morc than bclorc bccausc thc passions arc in
csscncc morc ol a physical cxpcricncc. Now wc havc much
morc to dcal with than bclorc, and our timc spcnt trying
to conccntratc can bc almost unbcarablc. Tc naturc ol our
cvcryday mind abidcs in rcstlcssncss, just watch it and scc
how long it can stay with onc thing. Vhat that subjcct is is
not vcry important, somchow it just has to wandcr oß into
somcthing clsc cvcn il only lor a lcw scconds. Normally wc
livc with this and acccpt that thc mind spcnds just about
cvcry sccond ol cvcry minutc chattcring away to itscll about
cvcrything and nothing. Trough all this wc carry on and
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livc our livcs lor much ol thc timc sccmingly on automatic
pilot bccausc ol this nonstop thinking, and conscqucntly
not rcally bcing awarc ol what wc arc doing in any givcn
momcnt. Vhcn wc dccidc to still that mind in mcditation
wc soon discovcr thc lorcc that can arisc il wc don’t givc in
and play its gamcs ol pcrpctual rcstlcssncss. !l wc do managc
to still thoughts and discovcr that prccious stillncss, ncgativc
cmotional lorccs bcgin to gathcr and arisc lrom thc pit ol our
stomach, or hara, and bcgin to inßamc our thoughts. Vc
soon discovcr that this rcstlcssncss bccomcs much morc ol
a physical cxpcricncc as thcsc cmotional lorccs run through
our body and manilcst in unplcasant ways. Vc twitch, wc
movc, wc scratch, wc look around, wc blow our nosc, wc
changc our posturc and chcck thc timc, wc nnd anything to
rclicvc that buildup ol lrustratcd cncrgy. Trough pcrscvcr
ancc and a dctcrmination not to givc in to thcsc distractions,
wc lcarn to bcar with it and carry on bringing oursclvcs back
to thc ccntrc and rcmain oncpointcd. Trough timc, cvcn il
it’s just a littlc, that ncgativc cmotional lorcc loscs its powcr
and calms down, it displays its incvitablc impcrmancncc.
Fcclings ol happincss and cvcn bliss can thcn arisc as wc
continuc to stay oncpointcd, allowing us to bathc in thc
lruits ol our cßorts to stay with it. Vc lcarn to stay with and
bcar with thc arising ol thc passions. Vc lcarn to stay with
what wc arc doing in thc momcnt, and that is staying ccntrcd
in thc coolncss ol awarcncss cvcn in thc middlc ol all this
mcntal and physical dukkha — but can wc do this in our
cvcryday lilc: Can wc stay with what wc arc doing whcn wc
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arc cngagcd in somc mundanc daily activity, whcn somconc
comcs to us whilst wc arc cngagcd in a particular activity
and says somcthing unplcasant that pulls immcdiatcly at our
lcclings and cmotions: Ðo wc not straight away gct caught
up and strikc out vcrbally or othcrwisc: Òr maybc wc bucklc
undcr to what is said and withdraw bccausc wc havc hcard
an unplcasant truth about oursclvcs: Òr il it’s so unplcasant
wc may cvcn turn away and supprcss our lcclings bccausc wc
can’t lacc thc truth. Tcrc is always a rcaction, and it is in
variably drivcn by ncgativc cmotions or, worsc, thc passions,
so whcn that cxpcricncc ariscs wc losc thc ability to stay with
what wc arc doing, and gct lost in thc clouds crcatcd by thosc
8ut rcmcmbcr, staying mindlul and at onc with this
particular activity is no dißcrcnt lrom staying with thc mcdi
tation subjcct whilc mcditating. !n our mcditation wc arc
always bringing oursclvcs back to thc ccntrc. Ðo you think
that wc should bc doing somcthing dißcrcnt whcn wc arc
cngagcd in a daily activity:
!n our mcditation wc lcarn to opcn up and bcar with
thc cmotions and passions that comc up, and allow oursclvcs
to burn up insidc thcm without playing and bcing carricd
away with thc gamcs thcy crcatc through thoughts and
mcntal picturcs. To practisc thc bodhisattva path lully and
complctcly it is csscntial to scc that thc practicc is cxactly thc
samc in whatcvcr posturc and activity wc may bc in, bccausc
thc bodhisattva practicc is thc practicc ol totality.
Tis rcally is such a crucial lcaturc ol thc complctc
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training ol thc bodhisattva path that wc nccd to cxplorc
and undcrstand that wc arc actually translorming habits ol a
lilctimc. Vc arc stopping thc whccl ol causation lrom turn
ing and rcturning it to its sourcc, paradoxically, putting to
an cnd thc cndlcss cyclc ol rcbirth and an ctcrnity ol dukkha.
8ccausc it is such a lolty idcal, you may lccl it nccds a lot ol
Ðharmic undcrstanding and to bc practiscd in spccial cir
cumstanccs, but it docsn’t. !n lact it is in thc ordinary whcrc
thc practicc is to bc lound, so ordinary and cvcryday that
you may lct thc prccious opportunity pass you by, bccausc
you lccl that thc ordinary is unimportant and not whcrc thc
Ðharma is. Tis is so wrong. Lct’s look at an cvcryday cxam
plc: gctting up in thc morning to go to work.
Gctting up to go to work is not somcthing most ol us
nnd casy, and wc ccrtainly do not look lorward to it most
ol thc timc. Vhcn wc arc wokcn up our practicc starts just
thcrc, whcn thc mind cngagcs and thinks ncgativcly about
having to gct out ol that warm comlortablc bcd, but wc still
do. !n doing this thcrc may wcll bc lots ol not just mcntal
rcsistancc but also physical lccling and cvcn unplcasant cmo
tional lcclings against having to do that. Maybc in thc past
wc would havc succumbcd to thosc cxpcricnccs and staycd
in thc warm and cnjoycd our incrtia, but now wc arc prac
tising thc Ðharma so wc don’t givc into thcm but do what
wc know wc should bc doing — gctting up, and containing
thosc lorccs.
Vc gct up and gct drcsscd and all thc othcr things
wc do at this timc and all thc timc contain thosc ncgativc
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mcntal and physical cxpcricnccs within thc activitics wc arc
carrying out. Vc just carry out thosc activitics as simply and
as straightlorwardly as wc can, to thc cxtcnt that anyonc
around us wouldn’t cvcn bc awarc ol our intcrnal rcsistancc
and turmoil.
!n our mcditation wc comc back to what wc arc mcant
to bc doing at thc timc, which is rcmaining ccntrcd in awarc
ncss by catching oursclvcs whcn wc bccomc lost in thoughts
and mcntal picturcs, and also, crucially, containing thc ncga
tivc cmotions and passions. Now that wc arc cngagcd in a
daily activity, wc arc doing prcciscly thc samc thing. Vc
comc back through our awarcncss to stay mindlully with
what wc arc mcant to bc doing — ccntrcd in thc awarcncss
ol our activity.
8ccausc our minds arc continually cngagcd in thoughts
and mcntal picturcs it is unrcalistic to try to cxtinguish thcm,
but thc passionatc outßows arc quitc a dißcrcnt issuc. Tcsc
wc can work on, and it is thc taming ol thc passions and
ncgativc cmotions and thc translorming ol thcm that will
cvcntually takc us out ol samsara. !t is thc taming ol thc pas
sions and ncgativc cmotions that is at thc vcry hcart ol thc
bodhisattva training.
!n thc cxamplc wc havc bccn using, instcad ol giving
in to thc ncgativc cmotional dcsirc to stay in bcd, wc don’t
allow it to takc ovcr but contain it and carry through with
thc activity wc know should bc donc. Tis cmotion can build
to a passionatc intcnsity to thc cxtcnt that it bccomcs almost
unbcarablc physical pain, usually ccntrcd on thc hara — thc
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scat ol thc cmotions — in thc lowcr abdomcn. 8ut rathcr
than givc in to it wc lcarn to opcn up and surrcndcr oursclvcs
right into thc hcart ol that physical cxpcricncc with a will
ingncss to burn up insidc that nrc. Tcrc will bc thoughts
and mcntal picturcs continually trying to dcßcct us lrom
our commitmcnt, but wc don’t yicld. 8ut what arc wc rcally
!n a situation such as this wc havc nnally dccidcd not
to buy into an old lamiliar situation and gct carricd away by
that ingraincd habit. Vc arc not going to gct carricd away
any morc by thc nrc ol thosc thoughthabits and attachmcnts,
to likcs and dislikcs and our opinions about what is right
and wrong and what wc want and don’t want. All thosc old
lamiliar things only givc us troublc and causc problcms in
lilc with othcrs and oursclvcs. For oncc wc arc not going to
givc into that, that which turns thc whccl ol bccoming and
all thc karma that accompanics it, that compcls us to bc thc
hclplcss participants in a world that is not conducivc to hap
pincss. Vc arc surrcndcring oursclvcs. Vc arc quitc litcrally
giving up this scnsc ol scll and ‘mc’. Giving all ol oursclvcs
up with a bright clcar mind that is awarc ol all that is hap
pcning, that rcsists thosc habitual rcactions and says ‘ycs’ to
all that ariscs lrom within thc mind and which cmbraccs and
acccpts without judgcmcnts and labcls. Tcrc is a willingncss
to acccpt what wc may not want to scc, and a willingncss to
acccpt that this is a part ol us, lor good or bad, and to bcar
with all thc lorcc that drivcs it. Vc stay with our world and
bcar with it until cvcntually, bccausc thcsc lorccs arc not
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bcing allowcd to turn and pcrpctuatc thc karmic cyclc any
morc, thcy gradually changc and translorm back into thcir
truc original naturc, thc truc naturc that cxprcsscs itscll as
a gcntlc and gcnuinc human bcing, who is warm and at onc
with othcrs and thc wondcr ol lilc.
Tis cxamplc ol gctting up in thc morning is simplc,
but it applics to all our cvcryday cxpcricnccs, thc samc opcn
ncss to, and containmcnt ol, thc ncgativc outßows is applicd
to cvcrything, including thc morc complcx cxpcricnccs ol
human rclationships. To opcn and acccpt, contain, and lunc
tion in as human a way as wc can, is thc practicc. Tis will
ingncss not to play thc gamc ol spinning thc whccl ol bccom
ing translorms thc driving cmotional passionatc powcr that
oncc was owncd by thc dcsircs, back into its original naturc,
which thcn rcacts spontancously to thc nccds ol mankind
without any docr or dcsirc lor rcward.
Kindness to all Tings
Somc may nnd it strangc that not only is it part ol our train
ing to cultivatc and nurturc kindncss and considcration and
all that implics to scnticnt bcings, but it is also a skillul prac
ticc to cultivatc kindncss to nonscnticnt things as wcll. Òl
coursc this wouldn’t bc lashioncd with thc samc scnsitivity
wc would havc to othcr living bcings, with all thc considcra
tions that would naturally includc. 8ut kindncss, and cvcn
rcspcct, lor cvcrything wc cncountcr nurturcs a kind hcart
in thc samc way as kindncss to bcings. Vhcn ! nrst camc to
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this practicc ! was working in Rcgcnt’s Park in London as a
gardcncr. Vc wcrc cxpcctcd to clcan and oil thc tools at thc
cnd ol cach day’s work, cvcn though thc ncxt day wc would
bring thcm out nrst thing and makc thcm dirty again. Tc
idca was that thc tools would last longcr and, thcrc was also
considcration and rcspcct lor thc pcrson who might wish to
usc thc tools thc lollowing day, but lor mc it wcnt dccpcr
than just thosc issucs. !t bccamc apparcnt to mc that to nur
turc a rcspcct lor thc tool itscll was cultivating still lurthcr a
spirit ol scnsitivity, in thc knowlcdgc that, whcthcr animatc
or inanimatc, wc arc all part ol thc wholc, bccausc Ðharma
practicc is about nurturing thc rcturn to thc wholcncss ol lilc
whcrc our original naturc is to bc lound, as it is this that wc
lost whcn wc took on a scnsc ol scll and crcatcd thc cxpcri
cncc ol objccts and scparatcncss.
Tc rcturn to our truc naturc is madc possiblc by bc
coming proncicnt in mcditation and through thc dcvclop
mcnt ol insight into rcality. As part ol our dcvcloping undcr
standing wc scc and acknowlcdgc that to arrivc at that cnd
wc nccd to dcvclop skillul mcans in our dcalings with othcrs
and thc world, through wholchcartcd cngagcmcnt, through
opcnncss and lricndlincss, bccausc wc scc this as thc cxprcs
sion ol thc hcart’s truc naturc. Vc rcadily nurturc our innatc
human virtucs, qualitics, and potcntials, so as to lulnl our
practicc. Vhat wc arc doing with this cngagcmcnt is lcarn
ing to go bcyond, not just our own scnsc ol scparatcncss
but that ol ‘othcr’ — through wholchcartcd commitmcnt to
practicc. Tis will thcn bring us closcr to our truc naturc. Vc
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nccd to go bcyond cvcn that scparatcncss ol scll bccausc wc
arc part ol a much biggcr picturc. !n ordcr to bccomc truly
wholc again wc nccd to nurturc thc spirit that wc cultivatc
not just towards othcrs and oursclvcs but also to thc wholc ol
lilc, including thc non-scnticnt, bccausc it is this totality that
makcs up thc wholc, and our truc naturc.
!t is not cnough just to cngagc with mctta and dcvclop
loving kindncss towards othcrs. !l you arc rcally intcrcstcd in
thc lull rcward ol thc bodhisattva path, cxpand that practicc
ol considcration and rcspcct to cmbracc thc wholc world and
cvcrything that is in it. Clcan thc tools you havc uscd and
rcturn thcm to thcir rightlul placc. Ðrivc your car with scn
sitivity and kindncss. Ðo not throw and kick things bccausc
you arc lrustratcd with thcm or makc thcm thc objcct ol
your lrustration. Lcarn to bc opcn to thcm and scc thcm as
your lricnds, scc thcm as a vchiclc to rcality, part ol thc samc
mystcry that you arc.
!t is said that pcoplc talk to plants. Vc don’t havc to
takc this litcrally ol coursc but what is mcant by this is that
by stilling and opcning up our minds to this lorm ol lilc, our
natural intuitivc scnsitivity is ablc to communc with plant
and scc thcir nccds. Tis way ol communicating is thc rcal
‘talking’, and lurthcr cultivatcs thc rcspcct lor all that is, a
rcspcct that lcads to thc cxpcricncc ol thc oncncss ol lilc.
Vith this cultivation wc arc not just cmbracing humans
and nurturing compassion lor thcir plight, but cmbracing all
that is, bccausc wc scc that cvcrything is a part ol thc wholc.
!n thc wholc thcrc isn’t that which is alivc and that which
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isn’t alivc. Vholcncss is thc 8uddha naturc itscll, and it is
within this truc naturc that all things havc thcir homc.
!’vc rcad many books in which thc tcrms awarcncss
and mindlulncss appcar thc samc and arc intcrchangcd quitc
lrccly, but, ! scc a dißcrcncc bctwccn thcm. Tcy may wcll bc
thc closcst ol lricnds and nrmly linkcd, but thcy arc dißcrcnt,
and that dißcrcncc is worth cxploring. To statc thc dißcrcncc
at thc outsct ! would say that awarcncss is lully alivc but non
cngaging and thcrclorc passivc (at lcast until thc latcr stagcs
ol thc bodhisattva path whcn scparatcncss and duality ccasc),
whilst mindlulncss is lully alivc and cncrgctic.
Mindlulncss is thc conscious act ol bringing oursclvcs
back to thc statc ol awarcncss. Vc usc mindlulncss as a tool,
it is a conscious tool that wc lcarn to cmploy with skillul
mcans in mcditation, and in cvcryday activitics, to bring our
sclvcs back to what wc arc cngagcd in. Mindlulncss takcs us
back to whcrc wc arc training oursclvcs always to bc abiding
— in a statc ol purc awarcncss. As most ol us would rcadily
admit, wc arc scldom lully conscious ol what wc arc doing
at any momcnt. How many timcs havc wc walkcd down a
long road and rcachcd thc othcr cnd to rcalizc wc havc no
rccollcction whatsocvcr ol thc journcy and thc cngagcmcnt
wc must havc had with thc cnvironmcnt along thc way:
And lor thosc who drivc a car, how many journcys
across a busy town, stopping and starting, continually
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making dccisions, havc wc takcn and at journcy’s cnd had
littlc rccollcction ol it: oltcn accompanicd by thc startling
thought ‘Ðid ! drivc through any rcd tramc lights:!’ Vc arc
all lamiliar with thcsc cxpcricnccs, yct it is thc purposc ol
Ðharma training lor us to bc alivc and awarc in thc activity
— howcvcr mundanc — that wc arc doing right now. How
can wc achicvc this:
!n our mcditation wc havc a tcchniquc that wc con
ccntratc on that allows us to dcvclop thc ability to stay onc
pointcd and in a statc ol awarcncss. To always bc coming
back to it whcn wc wandcr oß in thoughts and mcntal pic
turcs — cvcn il thcy arc drivcn by thc cmotions and passions.
Vc surrcndcr to thc activity ol, say, counting thc brcath. !t
is thc surrcndcr to that activity that allows us to bc alivc to
thc momcnt. !n our daily livcs it is thc samc principlc. !l !
am brushing my tccth ! stay totally with that activity. ! am
awarc ol thc lccling ol thc bristlcs passing ovcr thc tccth and
gums, ! am awarc ol thc tastc ol thc pastc ctc. ! givc myscll
to that cxpcricncc but ! havc to bring lorth mcntal cßort to
stay thcrc, and surc cnough howcvcr much ! try to stay with
it thc mind kicks in and !’m oß again into a thought and
soon losc thc awarcncss ol thc activity. 8ut it is thc ability to
rcturn, through mindlulncss, that allows mc to catch myscll
and bring myscll instantly back into thc alivcncss ol that
momcnt. Tis coming back and wandcring oß and coming
back again can happcn scvcral timcs just within this simplc
cvcryday activity, but it is thc willingncss, through mcntal
cßort and commitmcnt, to cngagc in bcing at onc with this
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that to mc is thc csscncc ol mindlulncss. !t is a proloundly
dccp cncrgctic mcntal commitmcnt to thc Ðharma. !t is
thc commitmcnt to try to bc alivc to cvcry activity. Vhcn
swccping thc ßoor bc mindlul and with that commitmcnt
bring yourscll back lrom your thoughts and bccomc alivc
and awarc to what you arc doing.
How casy it is to go through thc day and not rcmcmbcr
that wc arc supposcd to bc practising thc Ðharma and so bc
awarc and alivc to thc momcnt, all day thinking this and
thinking that and ncvcr rcally cxpcricncing thc wondcr ol
just bcing. A willing commitmcnt to bc mindlul promotcs
thc ability to train oursclvcs to comc back homc, to bc always
coming back to oursclvcs.
! havc lound, through cxpcricncc, a way that hclps
to promotc this ability. ! rcalizcd that il this mind ol minc
must always bc chattcring, it would bc bcst lor it to chattcr
about somcthing which would hclp lcad mc back to myscll
and awarcncss — i.c. thc Ðharma. ! thcn try il possiblc to
go bcyond that chattcring modc and musc or pondcr on thc
Ðharma instcad.
To musc, or pondcr, is to go bcyond our cvcryday normal
thinking and ‘look’ and bc awarc ol our subjcct with a bright,
still mind. Vith this in placc, you will nnd thc pondcring
will bcgin to takc placc much morc in thc body than in thc
mind. Tis can bccomc cvidcnt in mcditation, but try it cvcn
whilst just coming and going in daily lilc. 8y musing bcyond
thought you arc much morc likcly to bc awarc ol yourscll
and thc body. And with thc csscncc ol awarcncss bcing vcry
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much in thc body, this musing or pondcring is much morc
likcly to go bcyond thc rcach ol thc scll and thc distortions
it may bring with it. Tis brings us closcr to thc Ðharma,
bccausc truth is actually lound dccp within our own bcing.
!l your Ðharma knowlcdgc is corrcct, your Ðharmic
thoughts should always promotc a tcndcncy to rcßcct on
yourscll. Vhatcvcr Ðharmic subjcct you may wandcr oß in,
it should always bc somchow linkcd to you, and bc sccn as
somcthing pcrsonal to rclatc to. Tcrc arc aspccts ol 8uddhist
wisdom and idcas on which wc can pondcr that may takc us
outsidc ol oursclvcs, oltcn into thc clouds. 8ut lor thosc who
arc committcd practitioncrs thc knowlcdgc that wc choosc to
think about or pondcr upon should always havc thc cßcct ol
turning our attcntion inwards, should always bc pcrsonal and
lcad to a conncction within. !l you arc prcparcd to pondcr
only thosc mattcrs that makc you turn inwards, thcn you arc
just a momcnt away lrom catching yourscll and rcturning to
your scllawarcncss and to what you arc doing just thcn. So
pondcr Ðharma that turns you inward, do not pondcr what
you think to bc Ðharma that only scrvcs to takc you away.
!l you arc looking lor somcthing to pondcr thcn may !
suggcst somcthing that has bccn so usclul lor mc, thc most
wondcrlul ol contcmplations, onc that can bc pursucd both
in thc dccpcst samadhi and in thc middlc ol thc busicst
high strcct, that is, to pondcr thc tilakkhana or thrcc signs
ol bcing: anicca, dukkha, anatta — impcrmancncc, unsat
islactorincss, and notscll or insubstantiality. At any timc
ol day or night, in any activity you carc to imaginc, it is
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always possiblc to pondcr any ol thcsc thrcc signs, singularly
or collcctivcly, lor thcrc is nothing in thc univcrsc, whcthcr
it is your own mind and body or thc lurthcst galaxy, that is
outsidc thcsc truths. !t docsn’t mattcr at all what your mood
may bc. \icw thc world and all that is going on at thc timc,
and bring onc ol thcsc wondcrs to bcar upon somc clcmcnt
ol that cxpcricncc and pondcr it.
Vatch thc changc taking placc in lront ol you, as noth
ing cvcr stays thc samc lor long, and rcalizc that cvcrything
is in a statc ol ßux and can ncvcr ultimatcly bc indcpcndcnt.
And what happcns whcn ! think that this thing is somchow
nxcd and thcrclorc graspablc: Look outwards into thc world
in this way, but bcttcr still makc it rcally pcrsonal and look
insidc yourscll as wcll. Apply thcsc thrcc wondcrs to your
body and mind as you movc around. Look into mind and
body through thcsc charactcristics without thinking. Look
into your lcclings and dcsircs and avcrsions and cmotions and
passions in thc samc way — thcn usc thinking to continuc
whcn thinking dcmands its placc back. Any way you choosc,
lct total anarchy rcign! ]ust apply thosc thrcc prccious and
prolound tools to your cvcry minutc. Tcsc will lamiliarizc
you with thc Ðharma and takc you back ovcr and ovcr again,
with mindlulncss, into yourscll and into thc prcscnt momcnt.
Morc and morc you will bc ablc to stay with what you arc
doing. Try it. Tis is callcd ‘skillul mcans lor thc chattcring
mind, and loss ol awarcncss’.
!t is thc commitmcnt to thc cncrgctic mcntal cngagc
mcnt ol mindlulncss in thc momcnt that is thc Ðharma’s
74 75
most important tool. !t is lull ol lilc, bccausc it tcmpcrs and
cvcn stops thc inccssant karmic ßow ol thoughts that takc
us away lrom thc cxpcricncc ol thc lullncss ol lilc, and it is
this lack ol lullncss (lulnlmcnt) that is thc root ol dukkha.
!t is mindlulncss that applics thc brakc and slows down thc
whccl ol samsara, prcparing thc conditions lor thc diamond
cuttcr ol awarcncss to slicc that samsaric whccl to shrcds.
Having lookcd at mindlulncss wc can now look at its bcst
lricnd ‘that which mindlulncss is born ol ‘: awarcncss. Vc
humans not only havc awarcncss, as all scnticnt bcings must
to onc dcgrcc or anothcr, wc also posscss thc grcatcst jcwcl
ol all, scllawarcncss, that ability to know oursclvcs and, as
it wcrc, stand back and rcßcct on that knowing, which thcn
givcs us thc ability to control and manipulatc our actions. !t
is thc highcst cvolution ol awarcncss that scts us apart lrom
all othcr lorms ol lilc, and whcn uscd to its highcst potcntial
it takcs us straight as an arrow to 8uddhahood.
Vhat a wondcrlul aspcct ol our bcing to contcmplatc!
Vhcn wc rcally discovcr this mystcry ol mystcrics on all its
lcvcls, it is thc grcatcst ol insights, onc that whcn its ultimatc
undcrstanding is rcvcalcd, is discovcrcd to bc thc 8uddha
Tc wholc ol our Ðharma practicc is gcarcd towards
cultivating thc habit ol staying lor as long as possiblc in that
barc, nakcd awarcncss, whcrc wc know oursclvcs in cvcry
76 77
momcnt ol bcing. To stay thcrc lor as long as our ability
allows is truly to go bcyond thc world ol samsara, bccausc in
thosc momcnts wc arc ccasing to crcatc karma lor oursclvcs
and abiding in thc still coolncss that soon will takc us to
ctcrnal lrccdom. Tc Maha Satipatthana Sutta statcs ‘Vhcn
you stand, know you arc standing. Vhcn you sit, know you
arc sitting. Vhcn you walk, know you arc walking. Vhcn
you arc lying down, know you arc lying down’. 8ut how do
wc managc to achicvc this: Vc achicvc this by cultivating
thc cightlold path.
Tc csscncc ol thc Path is to cultivatc thc ability to
abidc in thc middlc way, that statc ol bcing that dcvclops
ovcr ycars ol practicc giving us thc ability to cngagc in lilc
to thc lull, but not to takc hold ol it and makc it ‘minc’, nor
to go thc oppositc way and turn away and rcjcct lilc. 8oth
arc attachmcnts, whichcvcr way wc want to rcact. Tcsc arc
thc cxtrcmcs ol lilc. Vhcn wc pcrlcct lctting go ol thcsc
cxtrcmcs wc arc no longcr bcing pullcd around by thcm, but
rcst in thc cool ol thc middlc — in thc middlc way. !t is
whilst in thc cool ol thc middlc that our scllawarcncss is at
its brightcst. !t shincs lorth without thc usual disturbanccs,
and its innatc ability to shinc through thc world and know
its own rcality is thcn at its pcak.
Vc arrivc at this prolound statc by cultivating our
cthical bchaviour and giving thc hcart pcacc, bccausc it
is harmonizing with its own natural goodncss. From this
stillncss wc can thcn strcngthcn our ability to conccntratc
and stay ccntrcd within our awarcncss. From this still cool
76 77
ccntrcdncss, our natural unspoilt awarcncss, wc can usc thc
insight tools ol thc Ðharma (lor cxamplc, thc charactcristics
ol impcrmancncc, sußcring, and notscll) that wc havc bccn
skillully and consistcntly nurturing to cut dccply into thc
crcatcd world ol samsara. Libcration thcn comcs lrom that
still, cool statc ol awarcncss, and nowhcrc clsc.
Somctimcs our awarcncss sccms prcscnt lor quitc somc
timc, and at othcr timcs wc losc it altogcthcr as our thoughts
and mcntal picturcs takc ovcr. !n rcality, awarcncss docsn’t
incrcasc or dccrcasc, it is consistcnt and cvcr prcscnt, but it
is likc thc cxpcricncc ol thc sun bcing covcrcd by clouds, wc
may no longcr scc thc sun but abovc thc clouds it is still shin
ing in pcrlcction.
!t is lrom awarcncss that thc blinding world ol thoughts
and mcntal picturcs is born but thcn obscurcs that vcry samc
awarcncss. Tc powcrlul lorccs that bring this world ol oppo
sitcs into bcing, that crcatc thc stagc lor thosc thoughts and
imprcssions to play on, arc also ultimatcly born ol awarcncss.
8ut that awarcncss, which is thc rcccptaclc ol cvcrything, is
always cool and miraculously ncvcr touchcd by any ol it. !t
docsn’t nccd air to brcathc nor lood and watcr to livc. ¡vcn
at dcath, awarcncss docs not dic. At cnlightcnmcnt, whcn
thc wholc univcrsc lrom hcavcn to hcll, cvcry rcalm ol sam
sara that thcrc is, dics and disappcars, awarcncss docsn’t, it
is still thcrc and not lor a singlc momcnt is it cvcr touchcd
or disturbcd. Ðo you now bcgin to scc how wondcrlul this
awarcncss that wc all havc rcally is:
!l through ycars ol dcdicatcd practicc you managc to
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dcstroy thc world ol objccts and still thc uncnding ßow ol
thoughts, you will bc ablc to journcy cvcn dccpcr into thc
wondcrs ol awarcncss — whcrc docs it go, whcrc docs it cnd,
whcrc is its sourcc: You will bc going dccpcr and dccpcr,
going bcyond thc world, and bcyond that pathctic scll that
wantcd cvcrything. !s this awarcncss thcn thc rcal mc: !t
must bc. Arc that sound ovcr thcrc and my awarcncss ol it
rcally two, or arc thcy thc samc: !l thcy arc onc thcn ! am
that sound, ! am that bird, ! am that mountain.
Awarcncss thcn isn’t passivc at all, ultimatcly it is
anything but passivc. Awarcncss nnally discovcrs itscll, and
rcturns to itscll. Awarcncss is cvcrything, totality, all is onc.
Ònc is only awarcncss and thc grcat cmptincss (shunyata)
ol lovc and knowlcdgc, cmptincss bathcd in a warmth that
lovcs all that is, that is innnitc, lull ol bliss and ctcrnally lrcc
— and is thc rcal mc.
]ust stay with thc awarcncss that rcads thc words on
this pagc right now, just stay thcrc and bc still without lalling
back into mcntal chattcring, and you will soon discovcr thc
truth bchind thcsc words you havc just rcad. Truly, mindlul
ncss and awarcncss could ncvcr bc thought ol as thc samc.
Te ´iddle 7ay
Vhatcvcr part ol thc practicc ol thc noblc cightlold path wc
pursuc, thc goal is to onc day attain a pcrlcct balancc bc
twccn oppositcs. Òn thc onc sidc is grasping at our mcntal
and physical cxpcricnccs, and on thc othcr rcacting to thcm
78 79
with a ncgativc attitudc ol disintcrcst and rcjcction. Tc nrst
is ctcrnalism, bccausc it is an act ol trying to makc somc
thing minc to kccp, thus going against thc natural law that
cvcrything is in a pcrmancnt statc ol changc. Tc sccond is
nihilism, not acccpting thc irrcsistiblc rcality that wc arc part
ol lilc, and wc can ncvcr rcmovc oursclvcs lrom it, cvcn with
Tis balancc wc call in 8uddhism thc middlc way. As
this is an arca wc arc somctimcs lamiliar with in our livcs,
wc may lccl wc know cnough about it, and not givc it too
much attcntion. 8ccausc wc think it is casily undcrstood wc
may put it to onc sidc, bclicving thcrc arc othcr aspccts ol
Ðharma to study which arc lar morc dimcult to comprchcnd,
and thcrclorc must bc morc important than this doctrinc ol
thc middlc way. 8ut this is wrong.
! havc tricd to point to thc practicc in its various laccts
throughout this book, so ! nccd not claboratc on any aspcct
ol it just hcrc. !l thc practitioncr docs not grasp at thcir cthi
cal practicc in thcir cngagcmcnt with thcmsclvcs, and othcrs,
and lilc in gcncral, bc it in word or actions, and say ‘this is
minc’ — il thcy do not grasp at thcir dcvcloping conccntra
tion coming lrom thcir mcditation and cultivation ol mind
lulncss through thcir daily practicc and say ‘this is minc’ — il
thcy do not grasp at thc wisdom that ariscs whilst using thc
tools ol insight during practicc and say, ‘this is minc’ — thcn
a vcry prolound statc ol mind will soon manilcst. !t is a statc
ol mind that has ncvcr bccn known bclorc, that is groundcd
in thc pcrlcction ol wisdom ol thc ordinary mind. Tat ordi
80 81
nary mind, no longcr drivcn by scllintcrcst, bccomcs a crca
tion ol thc wisdom ol thc middlc way, as it no longcr grasps
at anything, but instcad lalls into cquanimity towards all
things. ¡quanimity mcans that thc mind allows cvcrything
that comcs to it to just arisc and pass away, without rcacting
by grasping or rcjccting. Tis is what you havc bccn practis
ing lor all your 8uddhist lilc. !t is thc pcrlcction ol practicc,
thc pcrlcction ol thc middlc way, and thc lulnlmcnt ol thc
lourth noblc truth. Vhcn your mind rcachcs this cxaltcd
statc and you do not slidc back, cnlightcnmcnt will vcry
quickly comc. Tat is absolutcly guarantccd. Tc doctrinc ol
thc middlc way may wcll bc thc simplcst ol doctrincs, but it
is also thc most prolound.
´o .alue (udgements
Vhcn wc havc committcd oursclvcs to a daily sitting prac
ticc, somc days wc arc conccntratcd whilc othcr days wc arc
anything but. Conccntration comcs in varying dcgrccs, and
our lack ol bcing ablc to conccntratc comcs in dcgrccs as wcll,
with our mind and lcclings ßowing nrst this way thcn that.
Vhcn conccntration is good wc may cxpcricncc hap
pincss or bliss that can pcrmcatc our wholc bcing. At thcsc
timcs wc couldn’t bc kccncr to sit. Òn othcr days wc may
go to our mcditation with lots ol ncgativc lcclings, thoughts,
and cmotions. Try as wc might wc simply can’t put two
scconds ol conccntration togcthcr, so that whcn wc nnish
our mcditation wc oltcn lccl worsc than whcn wc startcd.
80 81
Tis is bccausc wc assumc that wc havc lailcd, and that thc
wholc cxcrcisc was a wastc ol timc. ! am surc cvcryonc rcad
ing this will havc had thcsc cxpcricnccs lrom timc to timc,
as wc incvitably lall into valuc judgcmcnts, thinking cithcr
‘My mcditation was good today’ or ‘My mcditation was bad
today’. 8ut making thosc kinds ol judgcmcnts is wrong, and
rcally shows a lack ol undcrstanding ol thc Ðharma and how
it works. 8y all mcans say — il you must — ‘! was conccn
tratcd today’ or ‘! wasn’t conccntratcd today’, bccausc that is
a simplc statcmcnt ol lact, but don’t allow yourscll to lall into
thosc judgcmcnt traps.
! am pcrsonally convinccd that il thcrc is a wholchcart
cd commitmcnt, both sinccrc and dccp, to thc thrcc jcwcls
ol 8uddha, Ðharma, Sangha — bc it to thc arising ol thc
bodhicitta through thc bodhisattva vows, or a commitmcnt
to thc thrcc jcwcls in a morc traditional scnsc — somcthing
vcry prolound takcs placc on a dccp subconscious or cvcn
unconscious lcvcl. A mcssagc or signal is scnt right into thc
hcart ol samsara — into its darkcst, most unknown lcvcl
— saying that you arc no longcr going to bc thc victim ol
this cntrapmcnt and bondagc. Tis mcssagc is a statcmcnt
that lrom this day lorward you arc going to work with
wholchcartcd commitmcnt to translorm that darkncss until
you arc lrcc and libcratcd. !n this way you sct in motion an
irrcvcrsiblc proccss that docsn’t work lrom your consciousncss
down, but lrom your subconscious up. 8ccausc it is coming
lrom this unknown dcpth you arc ncvcr rcally in a position
to know what is good and what is bad practicc.
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!n your daily mcditation practicc, which is complcmcn
tary and intcgral to an ongoing daily Ðharma practicc, avoid
making thc mistakc ol valuc judging. !l you arc cultivating
thc middlc way and your practicc is truc, thcn try to rccog
nizc that it is rcally working much morc on this subconscious
lcvcl, and is bcyond your ability to scc and know dircctly. 8y
dctcrmining to commit yourscll to a consistcnt, balanccd,
daily practicc, you arc scnding that clcar and prccisc mcssagc
dccp into your psychc that thc gamc is up. !t is a mcssagc
to thosc lorccs that you don’t rcally undcrstand, bccausc at
prcscnt thcy arc largcly unknown, that you arc now dctcr
mincd to gct to know and undcrstand thcm. You arc now
prcparcd to opcn up to thosc lorccs that hithcrto you havc
not bccn conncctcd to, or havc turncd away lrom out ol lcar.
You arc committcd to looking into thcm with undcrstanding
and cmbracing lovc should thcy arisc lrom thc subconscious.
Trough this proccss, in timc, thcy will translorm out ol
thcir prcscnt darkncss.
!t is your commitmcnt to thc practicc, and to taking
yourscll to your mcditation posturc cvcry day, that is thc
kcy to changc. ¡vcn il you arc surc it is a wastc ol timc to sit
today, still go to your cushion. ¡vcn il you wcrc corrcct and
you don’t sit at all wcll, cvcn il your mind is all ovcr thc placc
with not two scconds ol conccntration put togcthcr, still do it,
undcrstanding that what is important to changc thosc dark
lorccs is your consistcnt commitmcnt to practicc.
You will havc a sct timc lor your sitting, so stick to that.
Vhcn you arc lccling good about lilc go to your mcditation
82 83
and cnjoy it, but stay with your sct timc. Ðon’t dccidc to sit
anothcr nvc or tcn minutcs bccausc you arc conccntratcd. !l
you arc lccling bad about lilc thcn go to your mcditation
and conccntratc as bcst you can. Stay with your sct timc,
don’t dccidc to sit nvc or tcn minutcs lcss bccausc you arc
struggling. 8y bcing consistcnt you arc not judging your sit
ting — and bccausc you arc not in dircct contact with your
subconscious you arc not qualincd to judgc anyway. ]ust stick
to thc lorm that you havc takcn on, and bc as dctcrmincd as
you can in maintaining that consistcncy. !t is no usc judging
good or bad, bccausc wc arc not in a position to, nor is it our
job to do so.
!t is thc dctcrmination to bc consistcnt in all situations
that scnds rcpcatcd mcssagcs to thosc unlathomablc dcpths
ol darkncss that thc gamc is up. Tat is thc practicc ol thc
middlc way, and it is thc middlc way that translorms our
bondagc to thosc lorccs ol darkncss and ctcrnal bccoming.
(hange — Jharmic and 7orldly
! havc oltcn bccn askcd about thc changc that wc all hopc
will comc out ol our practicc, and how wc can rccognizc
it. Vc comc to thc practicc hoping lor changc as wcll as lor
many othcr apparcnt rcasons, but it is not a good idca to gct
too attachcd, bccoming goaloricntcd and wanting to turn
into somconc clsc, or cvcn to havc dcsircs lor cnlightcnmcnt
that wc thcn carry around. !t is natural cnough to want to
cxpcricncc somc sort ol changc: in oursclvcs, and in our rc
84 85
lationships with othcrs and thc world. 8ut although changc
docs takc placc as wc practisc, it is invariably vcry dimcult to
idcntily and dcscribc thc changcs that happcn.
Tcrc arc lundamcntally two typcs ol changc, onc
worldly and thc othcr Ðharmic. An cxamplc ol a worldly
changc would bc somcthing similar to an cxpcricncc ! wcnt
through whilst in my tccns. ! uscd to bitc my nails habitually.
!t not only madc my nngcrs look unsightly, it also cncour
agcd my mothcr to kccp going on at mc! Ònc day ! dccidcd
that cnough was cnough, that ! rcally must makc thc cßort
to brcak this habit. So ! summoncd up thc conscious will
and dctcrmination to locus on thc habit ol a lilctimc, brcak
it, and thus undcrtakc somc sort ol changc. For wccks, cvcry
timc ! wcnt to put onc ol my nngcrs in my mouth ! brought
lorth thc will to rcsist thc habit and tcmptation, until nnally
thc dcsirc and habit dicd. Changc had comc and ! stoppcd.
My mothcr was happy! ‘Ðavid’, shc said ‘wcll donc, you havc
brokcn a habit ol a lilctimc!’
Tis was a dclibcratc, conscious act ol will on my part.
! workcd to bring about changc by locusing on a particular
part ol myscll, working to stcm thc ßow ol an ingraincd
habit, until ! could quitc clcarly scc that it had bccn brokcn.
Tat was a simplc cxamplc, and ! am surc most ol us havc
madc cßorts down thc ycars — cspccially at thc turn ol thc
ycar whcn wc traditionally makc a rcsolution to brcak an un
dcsirablc habit, so as to changc lor thc bcttcr. 8ut Ðharmic
changc docsn’t work likc this.
!l wc havc a truc and consistcnt practicc, wc don’t locus
84 85
on a particular aspcct ol our pcrsonality at all, targcting it
as somcthing to changc. !nstcad, wc cmbracc and acccpt all
ol oursclvcs lor what wc arc, without judging, in a spirit ol
opcnncss. Tus wc avoid thc trap ol locusing on particular
aspccts ol our pcrsonality and wanting to changc just thosc
parts. Tis cmbracing ol all that wc arc, opcning up to and
acccpting it, is prcciscly thc dißcrcncc bctwccn a worldly
pursuit and a Ðharmic pursuit.
Òpcning up and acccpting without rcacting, in a con
sistcnt way, mcans bcing prcparcd to cmbark on a practicc
ol giving up all thc scllccntrcd attachmcnts that givc us
troublc. Tis nccds to bc donc in a complctc and uncompro
mising way, whilst cngaging with lilc in a wholchcartcd and
positivc manncr.
Unlikc worldly changc, which is oltcn vcry obvious,
such as my nngcrnail cxamplc, changc brought about by
Ðharma practicc will not bc so casy to idcntily in a dircct
way. Tis is bccausc thc proccss ol Ðharmic changc takcs
placc right across thc pcrsonality, not targcting any particu
lar part ol it. So it is thc totality ol oursclvcs that is bcing
touchcd by that changc.
Òl coursc somctimcs in our practicc wc may havc to
locus on a part ol our pcrsonality that may risc to thc surlacc.
8ccausc it is big and important, and intcrlcrcs with thc rcst
ol thc practicc, wc may havc to work on it spccincally. 8ut
this is not thc gcncral spirit ol Ðharma practicc. Tat spirit is
onc ol bcing opcn to all ol oursclvcs with cquanimity whilst
cngaging wholchcartcdly with lilc.
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Somctimcs it is possiblc to gct an inkling ol how you
havc changcd, such as whcn you rcact dißcrcntly in a lamil
iar situation lrom how you uscd to rcact in thc past. You may,
lor cxamplc, nnd yourscll mccting a pcrson that you uscd to
havc all sorts ol ncgativc lcclings towards — to thc cxtcnt
that you lound it dimcult to lunction comlortably around
thcm. Tcn you cncountcr this pcrson again altcr many ycars
and scc much thc samc pcrson that you rcmcmbcr lrom all
that timc ago. Somc timc altcr this rcunion you may sud
dcnly rcalizc how you now lunctioncd vcry comlortably with
thcm, and scc that you must rcally havc changcd.
! think that is about as closc as you can gct to sccing
changc in an cvidcnt, dircct way. Vorldly changc is somc
thing conscious and obvious, and invariably about onc thing,
but Ðharmic changc actually takcs placc on a subconscious
or cvcn unconscious lcvcl. 8ccausc it ‘sprcads itscll ’ across
our bcing it bccomcs almost impossiblc to pinpoint and idcn
tily. 8cing vcry subtlc, it cannot bc known in thc ordinary
dircct way.
! rcmcmbcr vcry wcll that whcn ! nrst startcd to prac
tisc Zcn ! had two lists in my mind. Ònc containcd all thc
things that ! didn’t likc about myscll that ! wantcd to gct
rid ol, and thc othcr was a list ol all thc virtucs and charac
tcristics ol a good man that ! wantcd to dcvclop. ! thought
‘Right, !’ll start at thc top ol thc list and work through cach
onc ! don’t likc, thcn tick thcm oß. Tcn !’ll cultivatc all thc
dcsirablc things hcrc on thc sccond list, and tick thcm oß
onc by onc, so that ! cnd up bcing thc pcrson that !’vc always
86 87
wantcd to bc’ ! soon lcarncd to lorgct that approach, as it
bccamc clcar to mc that thc practicc and thc changc it pro
duccd didn’t work in such a clcar, obvious, (and scllccntrcd)
way. ! lcarncd to lct go ol thosc dcsircs, and to acccpt myscll
just thc way ! was. ! would suggcst that you dcvclop thc samc
attitudc towards your natural and undcrstandablc dcsirc lor
changc. Rcal changc is bcyond thc scll ’s ability to know, bc
causc it is that vcry cxpcricncc ol scll that is changcd through
Ðharma practicc.
Changc, in thc rcal Ðharmic scnsc, is actually nothing
to do with us. !t is a slow taming and translorming ol our lilc
cncrgy. Tis cncrgy is bound up and dcludcd by attachmcnts,
which arc thcmsclvcs crcatcd and drivcn by thc scnsc ol scll
and cgo that posscsscs and shapcs our pcrsonality. Vhcn
rcal Ðharmic changc takcs placc, this lilccncrgy translorms
back into its original naturc on a dccp subconscious lcvcl. !n
our original naturc, thcrc is no dcsirc lor changc.
Karma and (ebirth
Tc wholc subjcct ol karma and rcbirth is onc ol thc grcat
lascinations and sourccs ol wondcrmcnt in 8uddhism. !t
attracts attcntion possibly as much as any lacct ol thc tcach
ings, but what good is it to us in our cvcryday practicc: ! oncc
askcd my tcachcr in Sri Lanka somcthing on this subjcct.
His rcply was ‘Tcory, it’s all just thcory.’ ! don’t cxpcct lor
onc momcnt that hc doubtcd thc doctrinc. Most ¡astcrncrs
wouldn’t cvcn qucstion it. Vhat hc mcant was that thcrc was
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littlc usc lrom thc point ol vicw ol concrctc, cvcryday prac
ticc in gctting caught up in thc imagcry that has bccn crcatcd
on this subjcct largcly by thc !ndian mind.
! was oncc askcd at a book launch what ! thought about
this cndlcss cyclc ol coming and going through cndlcss livcs.
Pcrsonally ! havc always thought that thc bcst way to usc this
tcaching was as a spur to grcatcr cßorts in thc practicc, so
that onc day thc karmic propcnsitics that crcatc lorm — and
yct anothcr lilc — arc translormcd, thus brcaking this ctcr
nal cyclc ol rcbirth and sußcring.
Vhcn ! nrst camc to 8uddhism and Zcn this was not a
subjcct ! was cvcr cncouragcd to invcstigatc and study. !n lact
it was onc ol thosc taboo subjccts that no onc would bring up.
Now, looking back, ! lccl this was an crror, lor to gct somc
sort ol grasp ol thc law ol karma and its implications, includ
ing rcbirth, is vcry hclplul lor practicc. As with many othcr
aspccts ol thc tcaching and philosophy ol 8uddhism, whcn
invcstigating karma wc must bc carclul not to gct caught up
with thc imagcry it crcatcs. Rathcr wc nccd to rcßcct on thc
doctrinc and takc it on board lightly, allowing oursclvcs to
crcatc a morc objcctivc ovcrall picturc ol samsara that hclps
lorm thc background to our practicc.
Likc many pcoplc in thc Vcst ! was brought up a
Christian — a Roman Catholic actually. Ònc ol thc aspccts
ol Christianity that always gavc mc troublc was thc idca that
lilc was somchow just a oncoß cxpcricncc that you had to
gct right, or you would cnd up in hcll lor all ctcrnity. ! just
couldn’t cquatc that tcaching with thc obvious incqualitics
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ol opportunity to go to Hcavcn that arc prcscntcd to us at
birth, both physically and mcntally. Had God rcally crcatcd
us, with all thc incqualitics that ! could scc all around mc:
Contcmplating this, thc only conclusion ! could cvcr comc to
was that il hc had donc so hc must surcly bc vcry twistcd.
8ut whcn ! camc across thc law ol karma it madc in
stant scnsc to mc. Òncc ! discovcrcd that wc arc actually
thc crcators and hcirs to our actions, that wc havc to livc out
thcir conscqucnccs through an cndlcss scrics ol livcs, it im
mcdiatcly answcrcd my qucstions about thc incquality and
lopsidcdncss ol lilc. Tis rcalization was vcry important lor
mc. !t allowcd mc to cmbracc and scttlc into thc practicc,
bccausc it prcscntcd an acccptablc picturc ol thc naturc and
rcality ol lilc.
All rcligions havc a lcar clcmcnt within thcir doc
trinc — somc morc than othcrs — and thc lcar clcmcnt in
8uddhism is thc doctrinc ol thc cndlcss sußcring and lot
tcry ol rcbirth. ]ust to contcmplatc thc conscqucnccs ol this
rcality should bc all thc spur wc nccd to commit oursclvcs to
scrious practicc in ordcr to gct oursclvcs out ol that cndlcss
cyclc ol birth, dcath, and sußcring.
Vhcn ! was in robcs in Sri Lanka, during a pcriod
whcn insight was ßowing vcry dccply, ! was contcmplating
this vcry subjcct onc day whilst rclaxing in my hut. Vithout
any warning, ovcr a pcriod ol a lcw scconds cvcry lilc that
! havc livcd, and clcar sccing ol thc rcality ol all thosc livcs,
arosc within mc. As cvcry lilc camc up and passcd through
thc transccndcntal mind’s cyc, thc rcality ol thc bcginning,
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middlc, and cnd ol cvcry onc ol thosc livcs was sccn. (Tcrc
was ncvcr a sccing ol any dctails ol thc livcs, lor this is not
ol intcrcst to thc transccndcntal mind. Ðctails ol past livcs
would bc thc domain ol thc ordinary mind that has pcrlcctcd
thc dhyanas — a practicc that has ncvcr intcrcstcd mc bc
causc it has only worldly lruits and is dcvoid ol truc wisdom.)
8ut thc numbcr ol livcs sccn was quitc ungraspablc. Tcrc
was ncvcr a dcnnablc bcginning to thc start ol thc cyclc ol
bccoming, with thc numbcr ol livcs going bcyond thc capac
ity ol cvcn thc transccndcntal mind’s ability to comprchcnd.
Tis had a vcry strong impact on mc. !t madc mc sit down
and contcmplatc this wholc busincss ol birth and dcath.
! do not considcr myscll to bc a ncgativc pcrson with a
ncgativc vicw ol lilc, but lor somc hours ! allowcd myscll to
sit and contcmplatc that aspcct. ! contcmplatcd thc ncgativc,
thc sußcring, thc lcar, and lclt to onc sidc lor thc timc bcing
thc paradox ol thc wondcr and miraclc ol lilc ol which wc all
partakc. !t is a topic that wc all could turn oursclvcs towards
and musc ovcr lrom timc to timc.
! camc into this lilc cxpcricncing thc pain ol birth, and
havc spcnt most ol my lilc trying as bcst ! can to avoid any
morc ol it. ! could scc lcar as sußcring’s constant companion.
Tcrc is lcar ol lilc’s gcncral sußcring, but also spccincally
lcar ol lonclincss, loss, and dcath, which is a much dccpcr
lcar, and a dccpcr scnsc ol sußcring. ! havc always pursucd
happincss in thc hopc ol avoiding sußcring. ! havc sought
contcntmcnt in thc hopc that ! would ncvcr havc to lacc lcar
— but somchow ! havc ncvcr quitc pullcd it oß. Somctimcs
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! havc tastcd happincss and contcntmcnt, but oltcn in thosc
prccious momcnts ! havc rccognizcd that it would soon bcgin
to slip through my nngcrs, and ! would havc to start all ovcr
! havc spcnt a lilctimc pursuing this goal ol con
tcntmcnt, whcthcr consciously or unconsciously, with thc
lrustration ol knowing that ultimatcly ! am ncvcr going to
achicvc it. Tis pursuit will no doubt last throughout my
ycars. Òn top ol that, during that pursuit ! will havc to try
not to bc prcoccupicd, but rathcr to acccpt that this body at
any momcnt could givc mc pain and scrious troublc.
!t was not dimcult to scc that this body makcs mc livc
my lilc at its constant bcck and call. !t rcquircs lood and
watcr, and gcncral attcntion. Howcvcr inconvcnicnt this at
tcntion may bc at timcs, thc body still dcmands priority ovcr
cvcrything. ! can scc that, howcvcr wondcrlul a machinc it
may bc, ! am still rcstrictcd by its dcmands. Yct ironically,
dcspitc thc rcscntmcnt that somctimcs can comc towards
this compulsory cngagcmcnt, thcrc is still a curious and
vcry powcrlul attachmcnt to it, cvcn though ! am awarc that
could at any momcnt it lct mc down.
!t will not scck my pcrmission to dic and go into
changc. !t will not apologizc il ! happcn to bc in thc middlc
ol somcthing important. !t will just do it. !n that dying thcrc
will incvitably bc pain, and ! will bc thcn bc laccd with its
closcst lricnd — lcar. Tc drcadcd lcar ol dcath will nnally
havc arrivcd. All ol my lilc ! havc convcnicntly avoidcd
thinking ol this day, but now thc onc guarantcc in lilc has
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nnally comc. Along with it comc thc lcar, thc cxpcricncc ol
sußcring, and thc lcar ol thc unknown that lollows. Vhilst
in my lilc ! havc always chascd thc light, now thc darkncss
comcs, thc darkncss which is thc onc guarantcc in lilc. And
just how many timcs havc ! had this cxpcricncc ol dcath:
!l you would likc to gct to grips with thc numbcr ol
livcs you must surcly havc livcd, you can cmbark on a littlc
cxcrcisc that will bring homc to you thc cndlcss cyclc ol
rcbirth and sußcring that wc all sccm willing to partakc in.
Tink ol thc numbcr onc. Now doublc it, thcn doublc thc
rcsult ol that sum. Ðoublc it again, and so on. Òl coursc you
havc things to do in your lilc, so you can’t bc doing thcsc
sums all thc timc. Ncvcrthclcss whcncvcr you think ol it, in
timcs ol borcdom or whcncvcr it’s convcnicnt, continuc dou
bling thc total. Soon you will nccd a piccc ol papcr to kccp
track, and soon altcr that a calculator. As thc numbcr gcts
cvcr largcr you will rcquirc a computcr. Pursuc this cxcrcisc
at your lcisurc, right through your lilc, and whcn thc timc
finally arrivcs to lcavc thc body that can no longcr support you,
just chcck on thc ngurc that you arc currcntly at. Vhcn you
run your cycs along that numbcr, which will bc way bcyond
your ability to grasp, rcalizc that that numbcr just scratchcs
thc surlacc ol thc numbcr ol timcs you havc cxpcricnccd thc
phcnomcnon ol dcath that you arc now about to go through
yct again.
Maybc at that timc you will rcgrct not making thc
cßort to put an cnd to this hidcous cyclc that you havc no
control ovcr. Maybc you will think that il only you had madc
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thc cßort whilc you wcrc wcll, you might havc comc to this
point with a smilc on your lacc, in thc knowlcdgc that this
was thc last timc. Tc judgc ol dcath, Yama — whom you
havc cncountcrcd countlcss timcs in thc past — will comc to
you yct again as hc has donc cvcry timc at your dcath, with
his picrcing cycs and hidcous laugh. Hc thcn will grab you
by thc scruß ol your ncck and drag you into anothcr lilc,
whcthcr you likc it or not, to pcrpctuatc this cndlcss cyclc.
At that momcnt it may dawn on you that you could havc
brought this cyclc to an cnd. Tc pcoplc you havc had laith
in, thc 8uddha, your tcachcr, all thc wisc mcn and womcn
throughout thc history ol 8uddhism, told you that going
bcyond birth and dcath could bc achicvcd. !l only you had
pursucd thc Path to takc you out ol this cyclc.... Tcn, instcad
ol Yama coming and roaring with laughtcr and cnjoying his
powcr ovcr you, you could havc grcctcd him with a warm
and loving smilc. You could havc drawn thc sword ol wisdom
that you had crcatcd, a sword honcd to a nnc sharpncss by a
lilctimc ol dcdicatcd practicc, and cut him in two.
Vhilst contcmplating thcsc ncgativc rcalitics ol lilc, !
rcalizcd what good karma ! had. Not only had ! comc to
human birth whcrc libcration lrom thc whccl is possiblc, !
had also had thc good karma to bc born in a timc whcn thc
Ðharma still cxists, and what is morc, thc good karma to
hcar that Law. Tcsc thoughts madc mc rcsolvc that ! was
ncvcr going to givc up this practicc whilc ! had thc good
karma to continuc. ! am dctcrmincd that it will bc mc and
not Yama who will bc smiling thc ncxt timc wc mcct.
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Ònc ol thc most lascinating aspccts ol Ðharma training is
working to undcrstand thc subjcct ol thc scll. Tis rcally is
thc grcat mystcry. !l wc obscrvc oursclvcs, and thc motiva
tions, lcars, dcsircs, ctc. that sccm to takc hold ol our livcs
most ol thc timc, wc scc that just about cvcry mcntal movc
mcnt wc makc sccms to comc lrom thc conviction that thcrc
is a nxcd pcrson somcwhcrc insidc our mind and cvcn insidc
our body. Tis scnsc ol scll, cgo, or mc, sccms to pcrvadc our
wholc consciousncss, yct 8uddhism will always dcny its vcry
cxistcncc! Tcrc docsn’t appcar to bc anothcr rcligion or spir
itual path that makcs such a statcmcnt. ¡vcn il you wcrc to
study thc mctaphysics ol thc abhidharma, a study that lcavcs
no stonc unturncd in dissccting thc human condition and its
cxpcricncc, or to study thc many commcntarics and tcach
ings ol schools and mastcrs, thcy, and 8uddhism in gcncral,
will nowhcrc amrm this cxpcricncc all ol us arc apparcntly
having most ol thc timc.
¡vcn thc sccond ol thc lour noblc truths docsn’t statc
that thc causc ol sußcring is thc scll. !t says that it is dcsirc
that is thc causc ol sußcring. 8ut what is it that is dcsiring:
Vhat is this scll that docsn’t cxist:
Tc cxpcricncc ol scll always takcs placc in a statc ol
duality. Tc scnsc ol duality, ol mc hcrc and thc world out
thcrc, is thc normal statc ol bcing lor us all. Tis cxpcricncc ol
scparatcncss allows that statc ol individuality to arisc, and it is
whilst in that statc ol individuality that thc scll will manilcst.
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Toughts will comc lrom that statc ol individuality and
a scllidcntity will arisc. Tosc thoughts that wcrc ncutral in
thcir original statc thcn bccomc ‘mc and minc’, and out ol
that thc world and thc world ol scllvolition comc into bcing.
Tc strcngth ol bcing that comcs lrom a scnsc ol scll is so
grcat that it cvcn rcmains lor quitc somc timc altcr thosc
thoughts stop. Tc wholc phcnomcnon ol scll and cgo rclics
on duality in ordcr to comc into bcing. So whcn thc condi
tions arc not thcrc lor it, thc scll is not subducd, nor docs it
go into hiding, it quitc litcrally docs not cxist.
!l you dcdicatc your mcditation lor a hundrcd ycars to
thc scarch lor thc scll you will ncvcr nnd it, yct it posscsscs
us throughout our day. !t is this mystcry bcyond all mystcrics
that wc so oltcn invcstigatc with thc wondcrlul tools uscd in
insight mcditation. Vc undcrstand that it is this vcry scnsc
ol scll that gathcrs up consciousncss and bcing, and crcatcs
this dclusion ol ‘Tis is mc, this is minc’ that wc arc thcn
cnsnarcd by.
Tc ncarcst ! havc cvcr comc to dcscribing this scnsc
ol a scll to myscll is that it is as il !’vc cntcrcd a room lull ol
lurniturc and many, many things, and thc air is nllcd with
a pcrlumc. ! thcn undcrtakc thc task ol trying to nnd thc
sourcc ol this pcrlumc. ! bcgin to scarch. Vhcrcvcr ! invcs
tigatc ! only cxpcricncc thc smcll. !t is cvcrywhcrc. !t is on all
thc lurniturc and on all thc objccts ! invcstigatc. ¡vcrything
is saturatcd by thc smcll, yct ! can ncvcr nnd its sourcc or
any tangiblc ccntrc lrom which it comcs. Tis sccms to bc
similar to any scarch lor thc scll that !’vc cvcr cmbarkcd on.
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!t can ncvcr bc lound in and ol itscll, as it will always nccd
an objcct, whcthcr mcntal or physical, in ordcr to arisc. Takc
away thc objcct and you takc away thc scll. And it is bccausc
ol thc scll or cgo’s noncxistcncc that wc should not takc this
dclusion too scriously.
Tc scll is not a thing in itscll but a phcnomcnon that
ariscs duc to circumstanccs. Vhcn thc circumstanccs arc
not prcscnt thc scll is quitc litcrally noncxistcnt. Vc talk
somctimcs ol rcincarnation, but that implics a scll or pcrson
or somc scnsc ol idcntity that travcls to anothcr birth, so it
would actually bc morc accuratc to dcscribc it as rcbirth, as
this is lcss likcly to suggcst somc sort ol scllidcntity doing
thc travclling. !t is a sct ol conditions that docs not dic but
abidcs mystcriously dccp within us that docs this travclling,
and is mystcriously storcd bcyond all lorms ol knowing and
consciousncss. !t is vast amounts ol karmic sccds crcatcd by
past actions that do thc migrating — until thcy nnd suit
ablc conditions to gcrminatc and takc a ncw birth. Vhcn
thosc sccdlings ripcn, unlcss wc undcrstand thcir naturc,
thc conditions arc produccd lor a scnsc ol scll to arisc oncc
Vhcn wc comc to thc practicc ol thc 8uddhaÐharma,
wc may approach it lrom any numbcr ol pcrspcctivcs, but
ultimatcly thcsc various ways arc all dcsigncd to hclp us to
scc thc rcality ol our bcing, and thus lrcc oursclvcs lrom thc
bondagc ol nonundcrstanding. At no timc in our scarch lor
truth arc wc adviscd to gct involvcd with this scll. Òn thc
contrary, wc arc cncouragcd to turn away lrom it, and to
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cultivatc thc rcality that rcvcals itscll whcn wc arc not caught
up and blindcd by it.
Tis dclusion ol a scllidcntity and thc massivc burdcn it
crcatcs may not bc somcthing that nccds to bc highlightcd so
much lor ¡astcrncrs. !n thc ¡ast pcoplc don’t gcncrally carry
around a burdcn ol scll, and thc guilt that charactcrizcs it, to
anything likc thc dcgrcc wc Vcstcrn pcoplc do. Tis burdcn
that wc Vcstcrncrs carry, which is lrcqucntly thc sourcc ol
our dimculty in undcrtaking this practicc, is uniquc in thc
history ol 8uddhism. Vcstcrn culturc typically cmphasizcs
thc importancc ol thc individual, and thc virtuc ol striv
ing lor yourscll in lilc rathcr than ncgating yourscll lor thc
grcatcr good. !t is this tcndcncy that crcatcs this pcrccivcd
nccd lor a strong, asscrtivc, succcsslul scll or cgo.
Tis strong and ‘unhcalthy’ scnsc ol scll that wc
Vcstcrncrs havc bccomcs a sourcc ol ncgativity that makcs
us dislikc, or cvcn hatc, oursclvcs. Vc may vicw oursclvcs as
usclcss and no good, and scc oursclvcs in gcncrally unwholc
somc tcrms. Tcn this scll ol ours bccomcs thc unbcarably
hcavy burdcn that many ol us cxpcricncc. Tis burdcn can
bccomc so massivc that it prcvcnts us lrom cngaging in any
mcaninglul practicc at all. Vc gct stuck and wcighcd down
with it as it takcs us ovcr morc and morc.
! lccl strongly about this subjcct, and nccd to air it, bc
causc ! had a strong locus on thc scll in my carly training and
lound it to bc thoroughly unhclplul and indccd opprcssivc. !t
just pandcrcd to thc ncgativity ! was alrcady carrying around
with mc anyway. ! rcachcd a point whcrc guilt almost took
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ovcr, as ! bcgan to scc cvcrything ! did as a scllccntrcd act
— all ‘!’ — that by dcnnition madc mc lccl usclcss, and was
sinlul and wrong and outsidc ol practicc. Tc burdcn ol scll
sccmcd at timcs to bc actually incrcasing rathcr than dccrcas
ing. Tcrc was such an cmphasis and locus on this ‘!’ that !
almost bccamc convinccd that it was thc sixth skandha! Tis
is not thc way ol thc Ðharma.
Ðharmachari \cssantara writcs ol thc Vcstcrn prc
occupation with thc scll in his cxccllcnt book Meeting the
Buddhas (p.142) and lcavcs littlc lurthcr to add on this prc
dominantly Vcstcrn phcnomcnon:
Buddhism teaches that to gain Enlightenment .e ha.e
to go beyond, or see through, the nxed unchanging ego,
.ith its a.ersions and predilections. Unfortunately this
sometimes leads people to take cudgels to themsel.es. In
their attempts to stamp out the ego, they bring them-
sel.es to a .irtual standstill. Sometimes they become
so suspicious of themsel.es, constantly spying on them-
sel.es for signs of ego, that they become negati.ely self-
obsessed, and fail to make any real spiritual progress.
Ðharma practicc is not cxactly to turn away lrom this scll
and ignorc it, but rathcr to turn away lrom it whilc rctain
ing a watchlul cyc, as your undcrstanding ol rcality dccpcns.
Ðon’t lccl guilty whcn you makc a mistakc and scc it as all
‘!’ — thc grcat sin ol 8uddhism — and makc a problcm out
ol it. !l you do, you arc playing thc scll ’s gamc. !nstcad,
acknowlcdgc it and acccpt it as a part ol you that you nccd
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to makc lricnds with. Ðharma practicc is ultimatcly only
about making lricnds with yourscll. Òpcn to that mcntal and
physical passionatc drivc ol attachmcnt that is drivcn by thc
scnsc ol scll, and contain it. Containing it is to not givc in to
it, not to givc in to it is to acknowlcdgc its noncxistcncc.
'pirituality and Taith
! havc intcntionally lclt till last this rcßcction on spirituality
and its naturc, as ! considcr it to bc thc most important aspcct
ol our training. !l wc choosc to ignorc this aspcct, and do not
makc it ccntral to our practicc, !’m convinccd that it will not
bc possiblc to maturc our undcrstanding to any dccp dcgrcc.
To ignorc thc innatc spirituality ol practicc is to ignorc thc
hcart, and unlcss thc hcart is lully cngagcd with thc wholc ol
our practicc, it will ncvcr truly opcn. !l wc dccidc to pursuc
a ‘non spiritual’ attitudc, thc natural warmth and wisdom ol
thc hcart will not lully opcn and cxprcss itscll. !l that is thc
casc thcn thc truc wondcr and mystcry ol this miraclc that
wc all partakc ol cvcry day will ncvcr truly rcvcal itscll. 8ut
what nccds to bc known lor thcrc to bc a spiritual practicc:
! would say thcrc arc two aspccts that charactcrizc spiritual
¡thics is intcntionally nurturing wholcsomc skil
lul mcans, so this is always ongoing in our wholchcartcd
cngagcmcnt with daily lilc. ¡thics also implics bringing
lorth rcstraint, so il a habit is sccn to bc unwholcsomc and
unskillul, cvcn harmlul, cithcr to yourscll or to othcrs, thcn
100 101
cßorts should bc madc to avoid gctting caught and carricd
away by that attachmcnt. Tis, ol coursc, is nnc, but thcrc is
an inhcrcnt dangcr in making thcsc judgcmcnts, ol bccom
ing judgcmcntal and oncsidcd, so wc must bc cvcr watchlul
to guard against that tcndcncy. !l wc want to nurturc truc
spiritual practicc that lcads to complctc undcrstanding ol thc
Ðharma, wc nccd to cngagc with thc wholc ol oursclvcs. Tis
mcans cxpanding on thc common basic cthical lramcwork,
and trying to addrcss all our attachmcnts — whcthcr wc scc
thcm as unwholcsomc or not, and including attachmcnt to
our vicws — with a spirit ol inclusivity.
Tc nrst aspcct, thcrclorc, is to cultivatc thc attitudc ol
giving up attachmcnt to thc wholc ol onc’s scll, not a practicc
whcrcby wc say, ‘! will givc up attachmcnt to this bccausc it
is unwholcsomc and ncgativc’ but ‘! will kccp hold ol this bc
causc it is wholcsomc and positivc.’ !l you go down this road
thcrc is a dangcr ol dcvcloping thc cgo still lurthcr, but now
with spiritual conccit, as you attach yourscll to what you con
sidcr good and bad. ¡vcntually this may lcad you to bccomc
split, in an opinionatcd and judgcmcntal statc which brccds
intolcrancc and bigotry. !t is thc attitudc ol willingly giving
up all attachmcnt that scts Ðharma practicc apart lrom othcr
lorms ol scllhclp that arc so prcvalcnt in thc Vcst thcsc
days. !l wc dccidc to takc on somc sort ol thcrapy or psycho
analytical activity that wc think will curc our problcms, this
is a dißcrcnt approach to spirituality.
!n thcrapy wc tcnd to targct a particular aspcct ol our
makcup that wc want to changc, so wc locus on that part
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and work on it, usually with somconc clsc, and try to gct to
thc bottom ol thc problcm and thcn do somcthing about
it. Vc cxtract thc problcm lrom thc wholc, or at lcast most
ol it, in ordcr to dcal with it. Many, many pcoplc comc to
thc Ðharma bccausc thcy havc problcms thcy would likc to
rcsolvc, but thc way wc dcal with thcsc pcrccivcd problcms
within Ðharma practicc is not to scgrcgatc thcm and work
on thcm individually but to includc thcm in thc wholc prac
ticc. Ðharma practicc is not about picking and choosing, it
is about opcning up to thc wholc ol oursclvcs, saying ‘ycs’ to
cvcrything thcrc, and cultivating Ðharmic skills to trans
lorm what wc havc lound.
!t is thc willingncss to opcn to oursclvcs that lor most
ol us is a rcvolutionary, indccd lrightcning, act. Howcvcr, wc
lcarn through our dcvcloping undcrstanding ol practicc that
this is thc corrcct way ol translormation. Òur willingncss to
acccpt and contain all ol oursclvcs with a spirit ol opcnncss
is thc vcry csscncc ol spirituality. Tis involvcs rcsisting thosc
lamiliar attachmcnts: our wants and avcrsions, and our cnd
lcss vicws and opinions.
!t is thc willingncss to givc oncscll up in totality that
translorms thc cndlcss cyclc ol bccoming that wc havc all
bccn bound to sincc timc bcgan, and it is only thc willing
ncss to surrcndcr oursclvcs in totality that will put an cnd to
that cyclc. Tis must not bc misundcrstood as a ncgation ol
lilc, lar lrom it. Òur practicc is to cngagc lully and wholc
hcartcdly with lilc, in a skillul way that docs not promotc
thc ncurotic attachmcnts that wc all havc anyway. Vc nccd
102 103
to nurturc a warm hcart, as a rcplaccmcnt lor thosc long
hcld habits that causcd us thc troublcs that brought us to thc
practicc ol thc 8uddhaÐharma in thc nrst placc. 8ut what
should wc bc surrcndcring oursclvcs to:
Vhcn wc comc to 8uddhism, rcad about it, and listcn
to thosc who talk about it, wc lcarn about thc 8uddha’s lilc,
and thc strugglcs that hc wcnt through until nnally hc dis
covcrcd thc truth. Vc rcad and listcn as his tcachings and
thc philosophy ol lilc that 8uddhism oßcrs arc cxplaincd to
us, thosc prccisc tcachings that havc lcd mcn and womcn out
ol sußcring lor many hundrcds ol ycars. Trough this a spark
is struck within. Vc rccognizc that what wc arc now lcarn
ing lccls right and makcs good scnsc, and is what wc’vc bccn
scarching lor, whcthcr consciously or unconsciously, lor a long
timc. ! don’t bclicvc whcn this happcns it is at all an intcllcctual
rcaction, it is an intuitivc cxpcricncc that wc lccl compcllcd to
invcstigatc. Vc may rcad morc, or wc may straight away takc
up a Ðharma practicc, but thcrc is somcthing thcrc that lccls
right that kccps us moving lorward, and that ! would suggcst
is thc sccond aspcct ol spirituality — laith.
Faith ariscs in thc 8uddha and in his tcachings. Faith
is not intcllcctual but a lccling, it is a lccling that what you
arc now lcarning is right. You don’t yct havc any dircct cx
pcricncc to connrm that lccling, but somchow you know it
is right, and you arc prcparcd to trust it and allow it to carry
you lorward. Tis trust that comcs lrom inncr laith will
dccpcn as truc practicc dccpcns.
Focus on thc placc whcrc trust and laith is ccntrcd,
102 103
whcrc thc 8uddha and Ðharma is, and you will discovcr
that it is prcciscly whcrc your hcart is. Tcrc is no ‘logic’
hcrc. Tcrc arc no systcms or mcthods cithcr, but it is whcrc
all thc paradoxcs that arisc within your practicc arc pcacc
lully scttlcd. Tc daily practicc that you arc bccoming morc
and morc lamiliar with should havc this ccntrc as a part ol
it, and it is to this ccntrc that wc lcarn to surrcndcr. Ðharma
practicc is about gathcring up and containing all ol oursclvcs,
with a willingncss to bcar with all thosc habitual rcactions
that wc arc no longcr prcparcd to play along with. Gathcr all
ol thosc likcs and dislikcs, wants and avcrsions, that arc nrcd
by thc passionatc cmotional drivc ol ‘mc’, and oßcr thcm
back into thc laith and trust with which you arc now bccom
ing lamiliar and intimatc. Unburdcn yourscll and givc all ol
it, without rcscrvation and conditions, back into thc grcat
mystcry that lics within cach ol us.
Somcthing that has bccn at thc ccntrc ol my practicc
down thc ycars has bccn thc daily cultivation ol bowing.
Tis symbolizcs lor mc what thc wholc ol Ðharma practicc
is about. !n thosc prccious momcnts ol knccling and touch
ing my lorchcad to thc ground ! will gathcr up in my mind
thc wholc ol myscll, not just ‘Ðavid’ and all thc vicws and
opinions that hc is attachcd to, but also all thc wondcrlul
Ðharma undcrstanding that has rcvcalcd itscll down thc
ycars. ! gathcr it all up, and nnally, including thc gathcrcr,
hand it all back to thc 8uddha — not thc 8uddha that is
out thcrc in that rupa in lront ol mc, but thc 8uddha that
lics dccp within. ! always bow thrcc timcs. Òn thc nrst bow
! quictly ask thc 8uddha to lorgivc mc. Maybc to lorgivc a
rcccnt cxpcricncc that !’vc lclt ! had bccn unskillul in. ! ask
thc 8uddha to lorgivc all thc vicws and attachmcnts that !
chcrish that havc brought such sußcring, not just to myscll
but to so many in thc world, that not only causc harm, but
kccp mc lcarlul and scparatc lrom thc wondcr ol lilc. Òn thc
sccond bow ! ask lor hclp in thc task ol surrcndcring ‘Ðavid’
and his continual drivc to posscss what hc wants and control
all that comcs to thrcatcn him — lor thc strcngth ol scllwill
is indccd grcat, and too powcrlul lor mc to work with on my
own. Òn thc third bow ! ask to bc acccptcd back into thc
ctcrnal mystcry that is bcyond timc and thc sußcring ol lilc
and dcath, and this imprisonmcnt to scll.
Tc thrcc bows contain my dccpcst commitmcnt to
laith. Ðown thc ycars that laith has at timcs bccn so strong
that it has brokcn thc barricr ol scparatcncss bctwccn thc
8uddha and mc, and my rcqucsts lor support — usually
in timcs ol grcat distrcss — havc bccn hcard. Ðo not mis
undcrstand mc. ! am not saying ! havc laith in a god or somc
powcr ‘out thcrc’ and scparatc lrom mc. !n thosc timcs ol
communion it is rcvcalcd that all along it has bccn myscll
that has causcd this scparation lrom all that is. !t has just
bccn my own loolish mind at play. So in truth ! am not
scparatc at all, and indccd havc ncvcr bccn. !n thcsc timcs ol
communion thc dccpcst commitmcnt to going lor rclugc is
lulnllcd, lor truc going lor rclugc is to go bcyond sußcring,
to bc truly lrcc, to rcturn to thc warmth ol thc human hcart,
and thc homc that you ncvcr lclt.

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