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Buddhadharma : Summer 2013
SUMMER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 47 UDDHADHARMA: What do you see as the big- gest obstacle to meditation practice? JUDITH SIMMER-BROWN: Two obstacles imme- diately come to mind: one is the obstacle of getting to the cushion regularly in the first place, and the other, faced by more mature practitioners, is becoming addicted to meditation experiences that masquer- ade as the fruition of the path but cause a dead end in one’s practice. But perhaps the most haunting obstacle to practice is the way we try to use meditation to fix ourselves rather than to connect with our fundamental humanity and goodness. EZRA BAYDA: I think the most obvious obstacle is our basic resistance. Resistance is an inevitable part of practice life. It comes in many forms, such as not wanting to sit, choosing to spin off into our thoughts rather than being present when we do sit, and not wanting to stay with our experience for more than a few moments at a time. A more subtle form of resistance is talking and thinking about practice rather than actually practicing. The root of all resistance is wanting life to be other than it is. I believe all of us (not just in the West) have a strong sense of entitlement to safety and comfort and also to control, and this sense of entitlement keeps us from going deeper into our practice. It’s something we have to be honest about. We have to see that there’s a really big part of ourselves that doesn’t want to wake up, that doesn’t want to be present, that would rather hold on to all of our habits and illusions and beliefs rather than do what’s necessary to make us happy. Until we recognize the extent of our resistance, it’s very hard to get beyond it. KAMALA MASTERS: Meditators often think that practice is all about achieving states of calm and tranquility. And if that’s B