Don’t be a great pretender, be a real practitioner

9 December 2010 - 6:38pm Comments Off

If even a dog can sit in meditative posture, what's so special about a human doing the same?


If there is no result, no change in our attitudes towards others, no improvement in our abilities or knowledge to benefit others; if we are still bitchy, angry, unhappy after many years of practice, we need to question ourselves whether we are on a spiritual journey or merely pretending to be spiritual.

‘If we do not have results, are we proving Buddha is wrong?’

H.E. Tsem Rinpoche

In the Theravadan school of Buddhism, a main emphasis is the eradication of suffering. Therefore, knowing the causes of suffering is important.

For Mahayanists, results are important. Since the principal motivation of a Mahayanist is to attain Bodhisattva-hood to benefit others, if there are no results in one’s practice, then the person’s capacity to help others will be limited. This means we will be prolonging the suffering of others, which is inconsistent with the altruistic wish.

Why is it that despite many years of practice, one’s spiritual progress is slow and they are no wiser?

Two factors have a detrimental effect on our practice. One is that our motivation is not pure and the other is that we are not practising with sincerity.

What constitutes pure motivation? Pure motivation is a mind free from the eight worldly concerns. We should not say prayers with self-interest in mind, or engage in Dharma work hoping to fulfil a personal agenda. To achieve such a high level of pure motivation, we need to get rid of the three poisons from our mind – these are ignorance of self-grasping, desirous attachment and hatred.

When we are in a temple or religious ceremony, we often see people appearing to be very holy or sitting in serious meditation. External appearances are deceptive. How do we know whether someone is sincere in their practice? One indication is whether that person is living in accord with the Dharma or showing good examples which benefit others.

Holding vows mean we are committed to improving ourselves and to discard harmful, negative habits

Another very good indicator of a person’s sincerity to want transformation is whether they are holding vows. The more vows a person is able to hold, the more powerful a person’s actions will be, whether it is to accumulate merit or for purification. Holding vows means we are committed to improving ourselves and to discard harmful, negative habits. It is like sealing our intention so that we do not not return to old ways.

Holding vows frees us to love and serve everyone. If we fear holding vows, it can only mean one thing – we are not sincere in wanting to become a better person, to give up harmful habits or to realise our fullest potential.

If we are the same person as before we engaged in practice, the only thing we are proving is that we have not been practising correctly. Worlds may disappear, but a Buddha never lies and karma is infallible. If we practise sincerely with total commitment and with pure motivation, positive results are guaranteed by Buddha.

Don’t pretend, be real.

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