Lojong Practice Journal: In post-meditation, be a child of illusion
The 59 slogans through a social justice lens
Too often, especially in the West, people become obsessed with whether they are meditating enough or if they are meditating in the ‘right way’ or if their meditation is getting results. I know this was true of me for the first five years of my practice. I had been practicing just as Sharon Salzberg’s teacher observed of Western students: as if I was in a boat, rowing as hard and as fast and as earnestly as I could, but without untying it from the dock. I was so focused on meditation— questioning if I was meditating regularly enough, and beating myself up when I wasn’t — that I completely missed that meditation itself is not the same as practice.
It took hearing someone say the very words “The technique is not the practice” for me to get this.
We can absolutely have perfect posture and memorized a dozen mantras and know several sutras off by heart, and still not be practicing. This slogan is a nudge for us to notice this, as it’s a guidance on how we should conduct ourselves when we are not on the cushion. The true test of whether or not there is a shift from perfecting a technique to genuinely practicing, comes in post-meditation, in the way we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day interactions.
When we are habituating ourselves to being present, resting comfortably with uncertainty, and seeing that nothing has an inherent existence, we will start experiencing a lot of wonder, like that of children delighting in the discovery of something new. When we are cultivating an understanding of how things are interconnected and the multitude of causes and conditions that contribute to anything and everything happening, the world will start to look pretty magical.
We will feel a sense of curiosity, rather than thinking we ‘know’ everything all the time. We will start to delight in ordinary things simply because we have a greater awareness of possibility and the inevitability of change. Sunsets and sunrises tend to be that much more spectacular, as are the changing of the seasons. Even things we once felt a sense of aversion to can become delightful or fascinating — the way matter breaks down in compost to create dirt, or considering that the smell of dog shit may be horrible to us but is absolutely heaven to a fly.
This is not to say we should be dismissive of the techniques we are given, but that we should view them as tools to support our practice, rather than the practice itself. The practice itself is to see things as they are, free of obscurations, whether we are sitting on a cushion or not. By training with the slogan we are training to see whether or not we are perfecting a technique, or actually learning to wake up.
Originally published on Medium
This is part of a series of posts I am doing to support my practice.
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