Pairing practices

From: Awakening from Belief 5a
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Ken: Jamgon Kongtrul once said, When you're studying, study everything under the sun. When you are reflecting, keep a really open mind. When you practice, do one thing.

That's very good advice, because to practice we need to go deep and you can't go deep if you're doing a lot of different things. I'm trained in the Tibetan tradition. What that means is that I'm trained in anywhere from a hundred and fifty to two hundred meditation techniques. You know, you can't practice them all. And I'm not even counting individual deities as separate meditation techniques. You add those then it gets up into the thousands. Well, you can't practice them all and it's absolutely not necessary.

When I work with students and in my own work, I always say, "You study and you practice and at a certain point you hit a practice that speaks to you." You may not like it, you don't always like the one that speaks to you, but that doesn't matter. When you find one that speaks to you--that's it.

And the other thing, just since we're discussing this, is that usually I'll have people do two practices. One which the emphasis is going to be on the wisdom or awareness side, and one which is going to be on the compassion side.

Student: Why?

Ken: Well, take two practices, very simply. Say resting in attention, mahamudra or dzogchen on the one hand, and taking and sending on the other, which is a compassion practice. That would be one example of pairing, but there are so many practices you can choose different pairs. Deity meditation, which is a visualization practice which has to do with form and manifestation, and a direct awareness practice.

When people are doing things like the death meditation or the karma meditation, I'll often--people are pretty busy and often can only practice once a day--I'll have them do one day just resting with the breath and then one day a reflective practice. so that it has that kind of alternation.

It's good to have those two parts, those two components. But very definitely, when you find a practice that speaks to you, mine it, and just keep going with it.

Note:  You'll find more on going deeply into practice in this clip and quote from Four Immeasurables 6