Friday, March 25, 2011

Practice and Wisdom

If mindfulness is so good for the mind and the body - an established fact by now,  how come then, do so few of us end up with an enduring practice? Looking no further than inside myself, I can see why. Mindfulness practice is hard. More often than not, suffering comes up, and with it the temptation to distract oneself from the pain. Anything but this moment . . . 

This is where wisdom comes in handy.

In his new book, 'Awareness Alone Is Not Enough', U Tejaniya explains:
When you are new to the practice you will not have much confidence in the Dhamma because there are still a lot of defilements in the mind. In order to make your confidence in the Dhamma grow, you have to clearly understand the benefits of what you are doing. you have to see how Dhamma benefits you in your life. Understanding this is wisdom, and this wisdom will then increase your faith, your confidence . . . What benefits do you get from being aware? You need to discover this for yourself. You need to continuously learn from your experience. If you cultivate this kind of ongoing interest in your practice you will understand more and more. Awareness alone is not enough! You also need to know the quality of that awareness and you need to see whether or not there is wisdom. Once you have seen the difference in mental quality between not being aware and being fully aware with wisdom, you will never stop practicing. Your interest will grow, you will practice more, you will understand more and therefore your will practice even more - It's like a cycle that feeds itself. But this process will take time; It will take time for your awareness to become stronger and for your understanding level to grow.
Taking the long view, I keep on practicing because I know from experience the difference between life with and without practice. From regular practice, one gets to feel joy flowing beneath all moments, including the difficult ones. The joy of being reconciled with oneself, the joy from knowing that one is meeting the moment with the right attitude. 

And I forgive myself, when I take breaks, and I let the mind wander . . . 


  1. Wonderful post Marguerite. And thank you SO much for the link to Ashin Tejaniya's downloadable book!

  2. Nice post!
    I think the important part was the last sentence about forgiving yourself. If we don't do that then we are adding to the suffering we already have.

    Be well.

  3. Yes, David. You can also go to U Tejaniya's website and find all this teachings there. He is a very generous teacher, as are many others in Theravada tradition.

  4. Dya, I am with you. Practice needs to be done in a spirit of loving kindness and ease. Ruth Denison uses the term "warm determination".

  5. Yes, loving kindness and compassion is something I continually try to work into my practice. Many, many morning I will sit and my mind will be racing and it seems as if it's almost impossible to ease into the practice or find my breath.

    Breath..thought..back to breath..more thoughts..shoot, back to the breath..more thoughts...etc.

    I'll certainly find myself getting discouraged and will be very, very hard on myself at times. I'm not doing it right, am I doing it right, is this really working, etc.

    More and more I try to become aware of's almost like this poverty mindset. I seem to discount and not notice the benefits practice has had and instead sort of create these negative stories about 'how it's not working' or 'I'm not good.' I've found that just noticing that is actually a form of wisdom. It's a pattern and story that caries over into other areas of my life.

    It's from there that I've cultivated more curiosity and interest in exploring that further.

  6. Beautiful, Nate! Thank you for sharing the subtleties of your practice. You have come such a long way . . .