Saturday, January 9, 2010

6 Factors For Staying On The Buddhist Path

"You know, the kids think this (my Buddhist practice) is just another fad." Made in passing, this comment from Prad, hit a sensitive chord. After all, I have been known to indulge one passion after another. Giving to each, all I had, then ending after a few years, always with a good reason. While that ability to easily let go, can help with renunciation, it also raises the question of, how can I sustain the effort required to stay on the path? Here are some of  the ways that I have in place right now:
Remembering what got me to practice in the first place: that this life is suffering, and there is no way out but in - the Four Noble Truths.
Being mindful of doubt when it arises, as in questioning worthiness of practice, or becoming lazy about practice.
Honoring my vows: of mindfulness, and practice, that I am making repeatedly on this blog, on  Twitter, with my teacher, and with myself.
Studying the teachings: listening to teachers' talks, reading Dharma books, attending Dharma neighborhood group.
Seeking support from  IMC sangha, and  online spiritual friends: sharing openly the state of my practice, including the lows, and the doubts.
Drawing inspiration from the Buddha, his life, his struggles, his liberation: carrying him with me, wherever I go.
I am curious, what are some of the ways that help you sustain your practice?


  1. My practice is a subtractive process, dear. The more I give up, the more effortless the Way becomes. Carry less, travel farther faster.

    Each day, let go of something to which you are clinging. Stop letting it drag you across jagged gravel and broken glass.

    Each day, renounce some strongly held opinion. Repeat the mantra of the Archangel of Exotic Dance: "It doesn't really matter." It doesn't, you know.

    Each second of each day, be mindful of every opportunity to be Kind (even if it's just a smile at a stranger*), and seize every one you can. "If you want happiness, help someone," said the Buddha.

    * "No kindness, however small, is ever wasted." ~ Aesop.

  2. I feel going on retreat really can inject some energy into the practice, touch on what is important to me. So setting aside time for a retreat would be an addition I would add to this lovely list.

    He's a post I did on how I hope to intensify my practice:

  3. Thanks, Barking Unicorn, for your wise and caring comment. Your support means a lot!

  4. Stephen, thanks for visiting. I read your post, and appreciate the intensity of your dedication. I agree with you that going on extended retreats can help keep the momentum of practice, and am planning on attending several this year.

    May you journey on the path, continue, unabated.

    Deep bow to you.

  5. I start to become ugly if I haven't practiced. It's really true. So then I practice and I'm always glad. I can feel myself come back to center again. So, I guess the answer is that I don't like myself without practice.

  6. Thank you Donna. You are so right . . . By the way, thanks also for your last post (on your aunt passing away). So powerful, and well written. I left a comment.