We have about three weeks left of the Clouds in Water
Practice Period. This is an
individualized at-home practice period of our commitments in spiritual
life. It is a revision of what the
traditional practice period was like.
Traditionally, the practitioners would commit to a certain schedule that
would be done communally, all together in the zendo. It was definitely a stretch of our usual practices, usually
more sitting, and more study and a surrender to travel time to come to the
In some ways, the old style was an external structure that you
surrendered to and in exchange, you received the support of the whole group
doing it together. If you weren’t
in your assigned seat at zazen, everyone knew that you didn’t show up. This was a great incentive to keep your
commitments – peer pressure and teacher pressure.
The way we are doing practice period now is also hard in a
very different way. It is an
internal structure with the power to accomplish our commitments coming from
inside. No one knows if we don’t
do our evening zazen. No one knows
if we haven’t said the morning gatha for three days. It is entirely integrated with the rest of our lives, our
home life, our work and our families.
It is NOT compartmentalized at all. In this sense, it is quite a difficult practice and can be particularly
strengthening to our mindfulness and our inner commitment to spiritual life.
But, because there is not so much accountability, it is easy
to fail or slack off or even to quit.
So mid-practice period is a time of refining our commitments,
forgiveness of our failings and looking for a boost of energy to reapply
ourselves to go to the end, which in this case is Sunday April 26th.
It’s very important to learn to practice with failure. It is one of the 8 worldly winds
blowing through our life of appearances constantly. Success and failure.
How do we deal with a failure and in this instance, perhaps, a failure to
adhere to the disciplines you set up for yourself at the beginning of practice
May I be at peace with
success and failure.
There is a great spiritual song that expresses this: “When I fall down, I get up.” I dust
myself off, and try again. This is
the spirit of practice and Resilience! Perhaps
our commitments need to be refined. Our ideas at the beginning of
practice period did not actually fit the conditions of this time. They were too grand or too small. Now, mid-practice period you can adjust
to fit more clearly the circumstances.
Refine your commitments so that you can finish practice period with a
sense of accomplishment. After
all, we are not doing this for other people. We are doing this to strengthen our over-all surrender to
spiritual disciplines and to strength our commitment to see life through
Buddha’s eyes. Whatever amount of
practice that we can do, which continues with our goal of strengthening our
practice, is worth it. Don’t succumb to discouragement and give up. If you need to refine things to fit circumstances
better, do it! If you need some
outside encouragement, get it!
Get renewed energy from:
Coming to the center on Sundays. April 5th we are in our new
space on Farrington.
Help with volunteering to put together our new
Call a friend in the sangha; to encourage
yourself, to share your refined commitments and to encourage them
Make another practice meeting with your teacher
and share your successes and your failures.
Labels: Daily Buddhist discipline, mindfulness, Resilience in spiritual life, success and failure, the 8 worldly winds, Zen practice period