using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Summer 2013
SUMMER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 51 with the experience and not buying into the story that every- thing was wrong—that I was wrong, the practice was wrong, the teacher was wrong—I pulled out of it and entered into practice much more deeply than I ever had before. So I think it’s really important for all of us to understand that dry spots are a very natural part of practice and that they don’t mean we’re a failure on the path. KAMALA MASTERS: I have experienced doubt not so much as a dry spot but as a place where things have broken apart. It feels physically, viscerally, like something whole has shattered, like a glass dropped on the ground. Through my practice and through feedback from guides, I have come to realize that this signals a new stage in my practice, a place of crossing a thresh- old into the unknown. The ability to be with the unknown is such an important part of practice. When we don’t know what’s going on, it’s so important to open to it and just be with it—be with the mind and heart and body coming together in different ways. BUDDHADHARMA: What is the experience of doubt for someone who’s new to practice compared to that of a longtime practi- tioner? Do you find the experience varies much? Are seasoned practitioners harder on themselves? JUDITH SIMMER-BROWN: I do find that my newer students deal with doubt as if it’s doubt about something in particular—they doubt whether they have found the right teacher or the right practice, or they may doubt some aspects of themselves or the teachings. The doubt that causes us to get stuck on the path is definitely an obstacle, but in Sanskrit there’s a term for a dif- ferent kind of doubt, one that is fruitful, that allows you to go deeper in your practice. I think that the kind of dry spot Ezra mentioned isn’t about anything in particular—it doesn’t seem to have an object to contemplate, which in my own experience has been very scary because in the Tibetan tradition devotion is such an important part of the path, and doubt is generally seen as the opposite of devotion. But I’ve come to understand that doubt is devotion, that the only way forward on the path is to embrace doubt, to really feel it on a subtle level and stay with it in a very immediate way. I don’t think that longtime practitioners are necessarily harder on themselves; I think we’re all hard on ourselves whether we’re new or longtime practitioners. But longtime practitioners may be harder on themselves in different ways, in more subtle or intractable ways that don’t show up as the obvious harshness we have at the beginning of the path, but instead as a kind of frozenness or stuckness. As my own OBSTACLES SHOULD MAKE YOU HAPPY Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse says we needn’t worry so much about the vicissitudes of meditation practice. Obstacles are actually a good thing. The character of our practice will change depending on whether we are in retreat or practicing in everyday life. As the human constitution is irrevocably bound to the constantly changing ele- ments that make up the universe, human beings could be said to be little more than by-products of such interactions. As a result, our physical constitution and mind are perpetually changing; one day our meditation is inspiring and encouraging because we can concentrate easily and visualize clearly, and the next a dull, frus- trating disaster. But we must not let these experiences color our expectations of practice. When practice goes well, try not to get overexcited or use that level of concentration and inspiration as a benchmark for all future practice. Tsele Natsok Rangdrol said that dharma practitioners should not be like the child who becomes so excited in a play- ground full of toys that she is unable to choose one to play with and ends up doing nothing at all. When your practice goes badly, don’t let it undermine or erode your determination. The advice Jigme Lingpa gives is, when suddenly faced with bad circum- stances and obstacles, consider them all to be the compassionate blessings of the guru and the dharma, and the result of practice. Our lives will be stirred up by practice. We might even attract obstacles, like Shakyamuni Buddha, who attracted Mara’s wrath in the hours before he achieved enlightenment. Difficulties are there- fore a sign that your practice is working and should make you happy. The key is consistency. Often what happens is that in the heat of inspiration practitioners overdose on practice, then feel deeply frustrated when they fail to experience a good dream or cannot concentrate properly or control their temper. Having gorged themselves on practice, they stop for a few months, and when they eventually return to it find they are right back at square one. At this rate, progress is very slow. A far better approach is that of the tortoise. Each step may seem to take forever, but no matter how uninspired you feel, continue to follow your practice schedule pre- cisely and consistently. This is how we can use our greatest enemy, habit, against itself. Habit clings to us like a bloodsucking leech, becoming more rigid and stubborn by the moment, and even if we manage to flick it off, we are still left with an itchy reminder of its existence. By becoming accustomed to regular dharma practice, though, we use our enemy against itself by countering our bad habits with the good habit of practice. And as Shantideva pointed out, nothing is difficult once you get used to it. From Not for Happiness, published by Shambhala Publications As we go deeper in our practice, we develop awareness that’s like a magnifying glass. Obstacles may feel even bigger than before. —Kamala Masters