January 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
Though there be nothing to attain our human brains are unaccustomed to doing nothing, so we often end up sitting in practice looking for something to accomplish. Ironically, it is this seeking that needs to end if our practice is to be true.
Seeking can take many forms such as trying to grasp some subtle object of contemplation or have some uplifting experience. Less obvious is imagining there is some state where we have no problems and are totally at peace. Another that often goes unnoticed is using our practice to reinforce the stories we’ve been telling our selves, rather than seeing them as just stories.
Often these stories are used to mask or cover sensitive areas in our life. They direct our attention away from those areas which then become effective holes in the psyche.
Although some holes may be newly formed as a result of some sudden trauma, the majority were usually formed early in life. For instance, someone raised in an abusive environment may come to believe that all people are violent, so the story they tell is designed to avoid people and violence. To avoid the childhood pain another may tell a story of control, while another may place themselves in the role of a lifelong victim.
Many begin practice when their stories no longer protect them from the holes in their lives. But the life-long habit of telling these stories does not stop because practice has begun. In fact, the practice may be used to continue the story. The man who chose to avoid people, for instance, may adopt a practice that leads to meditation in isolation. The one who tells a story of control may use his or her practice to try and control painful thoughts and emotions. The victim story teller may develop a martyr complex. So the question arises, “How do I know my practice is true?”
Practice may be considered true if it brings you face to face with the holes in your life. That means becoming aware of your stories, letting them go and being willing to stand in the void that’s left.
If you’ve been telling a story that says people are inherently violent, then examine it closely and question it’s validity. Is there anyone who is actually like that around you right now? Or is that just a thought in your head that you’ve been replaying all your life?
If you’ve been telling a story that says you must maintain control, then ask what motivates your fear of losing control. Is it a real danger? Or is that danger only in your imagination?
If you’ve been telling yourself a story of victimization, then ask why you’ve placed yourself in that role? Do you believe you need to be taken care of? Do you think that asserting yourself will lead to some catastrophe? Whatever the answer, face it. Question its foundation in reality.
True practice takes a willingness to jump into holes that make you uncomfortable. It requires a leap into the unknown without any safety net to catch you. It means letting go of the boundaries that give the illusion of safety but are instead chains binding you.
True practice means following your own way until you come to the point where you see that even the self is nothing more than a story and you let it go, forgetting all about yourself. Until then, make your best effort just to continue your practice with your whole mind and body, without creating any new stories, then whatever you do will be true practice.