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Buddhadharma : Summer 2006
buddhadharma| 23 |summer 2006 self.” At that time, I still had children at home and needed to work full-time, so I was only able to visit the monastery during vacations. The rest of the time I threw myself into daily practice at the local Zen center, where I could practice with a teacher and a sangha. My husband and I took turns with sesshin and childcare. I don’t know if there is a teacher or sangha available to you, but if your karmic circumstances don’t allow you to go off to a monastery, you need to find a way to invite that kind of mirror- ing from dharma friends so that you have no place to hide from yourself. Keep asking, What idea of self have I dreamed up today? It doesn’t have to be heavy-handed; in fact it can be quite light- hearted. But over time, it becomes very intimate and direct. Our practice matures by bringing it into all aspects of our dai- ly life. If your ultimate goal is to cultivate a constant awareness of the present moment so that all the actions of body, speech, and mind are in accord with buddha mind, be aware that this is the work of a whole lifetime (or many lifetimes). So we should not be too impatient with ourselves. The practice of kindness and compassion begins right here. However, we do want to keep allowing our kleshas into our awareness so we have the possibil- ity of letting them go, rather than acting them out. An intimate relationship with a teacher you respect, one who comes to know you well, is especially important. You don’t have to live in a monastery with your teacher, but you do need to have some kind of ongoing relationship, perhaps through letters and phone calls, in between face-to-face visits. I assume that you have a daily practice. If there is a way for you to practice with others at least some of the time, then do. If there is no nearby group, could you help provide a practice opportunity for others? Perhaps you could invite your teacher to visit and teach from time to time. gEshE tEnZin wangyal rinpoChE: It is important not to regard your spiritual path as a collection of ideas, information, or experi- ences. Dharma is like medicine or nutritional food: it must be taken into your system, digested, and absorbed before it will truly benefit. This means that whatever you read or hear, you should reflect upon the meaning and bring it to your meditation practice until you experience the results directly in your life. Enlightenment requires consistent, joyful effort in learn- ing and reflecting, practicing and experiencing. You read until you achieve enlightenment. You reflect until you achieve enlightenment. You practice meditation until you achieve enlightenment. Instead of thinking that you have read enough dharma books or been to enough retreats, it is better to examine your own life and say, “I have experienced enough anger!” or, “I have been sad long enough in my life – I’m tired of it!” It is important to clarify what dharma actually means to you. Have you brought the dharma teachings into the life that you are actually living? You need to ask, who is experiencing this anger or this sad- ness or this impatience or this restlessness? Make sure that when you ask this question, you look directly and thoroughly into your mind at this precise moment. Dharma practice is intimate practice, which begins and continues right where you are in this very moment. the cambridge zen center is a focused, residential practicing community based on the teaching and guidance of zen master seung sahn. We offer daily practice, weekly kong-an interviews, monthly retreats, buddhism study programs, community work and living, and opportunities for education and growth at the heart of cambridge. For residency, short/long term stay, contact Cambridge Zen Center 199 Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA 02139 tel: 617 576-3229 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.cambridgezen.com CZCRockGarden Parallax Press • (800) 863-5290 • www.parallax.org The Energy of Prayer Thich Nhat Hanh The Energy of Prayer re- envisions prayer as an inclu- sive, accessible practice that transcends any particular religious or spiritual tradi- tion. It can help anyone create a healthy life through the power of awareness and intention and is a way to sat- isfy the basic human need to connection with something larger than our everyday self. Includes visualization and breathing exercises and a rich sampling of prayers, chants, and invocations from the Buddhist tradition. ISBN: 1-888375-55-8 • $8.95 125 pp • Mini-paperback “Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen master and author of more than 60 books . . . hasawinning style, nimbly mixing deep philosophy with personal anecdotes and helpful illustrations.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review