#437: Why Devotional Practice?
- TheDailyEnlightenment #437 ~Share your Enlightenment Here!_____________________________Why Devotional Practice?
Realization:With faith, there is focus. With focus, discipline is easy. When energy flows with ease, all good things arise! My experience with devotional practice is that it helps me to be actively engaged with the challenges of life. Not so much so that my personal prayers are answered but it did put me in a better position to cope with the pains and problems that could have overwhelmed me in the first place.Purification is after all about coming to terms with my negative emotions and taking the opportunity to be in touch with the constructive ones. Venerable Sangye Khadro often encouraged her students to manage our expectations, put our best foot forward always and accept what is beyond us as the nature of life subject to past and present causes and effects. We are not here to worry or speculate but do our best! We are unlikely to solve all our problems before this lifetime ends. The positive and negative habits we have this lifetime are but a result of countless conditioning from our previous lifetimes. To undo these negative conditioning like constantly getting angry despite the fact that we know it is wrong any way, require efforts as well as time. Every effort we make towards taking a positive action will add up to becoming habit forming. Which is why when Buddhists say it is important to get a good rebirth, it has more to do with having the chance to be a better person than to be reborn rich, famous or successful in the material sense.Venerable Tenzin Palmo once pointed out that most Singaporeans like our Western counterparts are easily intellectually convinced about Dharma so much so we practice with our heads and not our hearts. So doing meditation means bringing our head ‘down’ to our hearts. And this is where the five precepts come in. The precepts are not laws that are not to be broken or we will be punished. But by leading an ethical life, it becomes easier to sit and we will have fewer demons to fight if our faults are small and easily overcome.Sitting down to meditate can become a raw and painful test to be honest and fearless. Which is why it can be so agonizing sometimes. Not so much the physical aspect, which can be easily overcame when we are used to adopting the same posture often. But the inner battle is usually what freaks one out often. Once we sit, there is no where to run or hide, the full ‘bank’ statement of all our positive and negative actions come home! When we feel swamped by our problems and negative emotions, sitting down to meditate may prove harder than ever. But by keeping in mind the presence of a Buddha or Bodhisattva as in Tibetan meditation, making personal confessions and facing up to the pains of reality is often a time when I unload my emotional baggages. Since there is nowhere to run or hide, the presence of a Buddha or Bodhisattva is reassuring. Having faith that we are bound to them by their compassionate vows to help all mother sentient beings makes it easier to open up. Though the pains can be raw and tender especially if it involves humiliations, it is also a time to be fearless.It helps that we are honest about ourselves and acknowledge our strength and weakness. Lama Zopa Rinpoche mentioned that kindness is the ground of the path and Lama Yeshe Rinpoche encouraged us to be kind to ourselves so that we can be kind to others. There is a traditional myth that we must ‘beat’ ourselves up when we make a mistake. However if we are unable to be sympathetic to our minds and know no kindness to ourselves what do we have to offer if we are constantly besieged by negative ideas that keep us drained and lethargic always?Lastly the dedications, having been born as a human being that had been in touch with Virtuous Friends and Virtuous Teachings thanks to Shakyamuni Buddha, regardless of our social status has indeed been a life of good fortune. It helps to share the merit acquired by making a simple prayer that all mother sentient beings may one way or another have the good fortune to understand the nature of samsara like we do; and if we are of little help to others, may we hinder no one along the way. Om Ah Hum.By Santi Yeo Her Chuen: santi@...__________________
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