It is surprising how a question, which was a step forwards earlier in life becomes an ennoying limitation that, in good moments, can evoke a smile in me as it is really a funny and stupid question. From a catholic education with a focus on duty, on being the good, intelligent person, on following the expections of parents, on social standing etc...I learned to try to let go this all by asking myself: 'do I like and want that or not'. I looked for a point of reference in myself to find out my way of life, which was different from the way of life of my environment. I had to put away the important others, to find my way.
But once I found my way or the way found me, this question often limits me, as it holds me in liking and desire, all depending on the mood of the moment. "Do I like to practice" or do I just practice, from a deep wholehearted commitment? We can be motivated by an even wholesome desire, but it works deeper when we're motivated by a deep commitment, what can give desire to live wholehearted and wholesome.
It is liberating to let go that question of liking or not liking, but it is also hard as, in weak moments duty seems to come back. So how to hold our deep commitment to Amida warm, even in weak moments, to avoid the old split between inner and outer? Namo amida Bu
Sometime a while ago I felt the liberating awareness that I practice because it feels joyful. Practice then being chanting. But as we look to be useful and thus maybe strive to become containers that are somewhat purer, we may do practices that feel disagreeable, uncomfortable, not that I do that too much. But even underlying this temporary discomfort, are we not being taken by the joyful path of loving compassion?
Yes Rob, this is true! As soon ( or 10 minutes later) as I begin to practice, then joy comes. This is not a problem. Also no problem when more people are in the house. The problem is to begin with practice when nobody or nothing in my environment or in myself 'forces' or calls me to practice. And with practice here, I mean sitting on a cushion. It's as if I cannot decide with my mind to practice; as if I need my heart to want to practice. But often my mind speaks louder than my heart in case of practice or I cannot stop with other things. It feels as a lack of will or persistance (sounds very Selfpowery!) or is it just a way of restlessness? A fixed schedule could help, as some way of duty from a deeper commitment: just doing it, in trust and faith, without the need to like it if the joy would not come? But how to follow this schedule? I feel very weak in this.
The idea that the world needs practice and meditation is helpfull... Namo Amida Bu
But I realise while working, that the problem is not the practice but the sitting for the practice! I often chant the nembutsu while working, driving..the sitting is the duty...not the chanting nor the silence. it's good to see where things are hard and where not.
Before I came to europe last year I thought, Oh practice alone is just fine and it is also just fine to know a teacher just from her or his words. But then I see and feel more of Sangha. When the community 'sits', we dont have much 'choice' whether to sit or not. We find ourselves more likely to leave the area of comfort we sit in at home. Maybe we really need spritual friends to 'go beyond' Well I think I do.
Yes, we need spiritual friends. Then Other power is working on a natural way, just by the presence of the others. It's as if my mind gets more closed or more little when I'm alone at home, just doing daily things; vividness disappears then. But when it occurs that I can hear or feel the Silence through all mindnoice, then my chitta gets open again, remembering Amida. Silence can be a door to spirit and connection with Life. Namo Amida Bu
What a lovely conversation!
This exchange between Katrien and Rob I find beautiful. I am touched by the sharing here. In my own case, I struggle with laziness I guess. As on Wednesday evenings - shall I go to Sukhavati for the service, or shall I stay at home with my feet up watching the TV? I almost always drag myself out and to our London centre. And I am always glad that I did so! The open hearted welcome and the evening meal shared, the grace said, the warmth and the banter, the gentle teasing and the friendship. The service with nembutsu practice, the sitting quietly, our period of stone passing and speaking from the heart of ourselves and what is current in our lives. The sense of being supported by others through difficult times. Sometimes I forget why I go there, yet as soon as I walk through the front door I know why I do so. There is a sense of arriving home, the meeting others and being met, the easy hugs and affection felt.
Still I have to drag myself out of the front door, but having done so any question of whether or no, evaporates and it's just a matter of getting to the bus stop! Lots to be grateful for. Namo Amida Bu.
i am glad to find you joining this little conversation Richard. Yes an evening at Sukhavati can get us off our sofas, well some cold winter nights maybe only just.
We just had sangha here in the house; we were only with 4 of the 15 but the practice and the sharing was good, deep and intense...not at all a problem to sit and lovely to practice. Same house, same place as every day but... with 4 instead of alone....how dependent we're or I'm from others. This is not a reason for shame or guilt but it is just good to notice....and to learn something from it. Some discipline can be helpfull: meaningful self-power?
And hello to Richard and to Rob!!
I am very happy to hear of your house practice with good sangha friends Katrien. Namo Amida Bu