Why people practice

From: Sutra Session 27
Full transcript (not available)
Well, the key question possibly, is what do you want from your practice. Now, there are various possibilities.

Some people, what they want from their practice, is a way to dissipate the tension in their lives, dissipate stress Okay? If that's what a person wants from their practice, twenty minutes a day is usually enough. Once a day, maybe twice a day. But that's usually enough. And it's very very effective that way.

Other people, they want to heal old wounds with their practice. That's what they want from their practice --healing old wounds. They're probably going to need more than twenty minutes a day. But they're also probably going to need someone to talk with as well. And they are maybe able to do it just through their practice, but they're probably gonna have to learn through interaction with someone actually how to do that.

Some people what they want from their practice is to be able to function better in their lives. They want to be less distracted, more focussed, more able to face the challenges of life. For that, the benefit of practice comes because through practice you build a capacity in attention. And if that's what one wants from practice, what I found for that is you have to meditate a minimum of half an hour a day.  Twenty minutes is not enough. You don't build a capacity in attention, but with half an hour you start to.

Other people, what they want from practice is to engage some of the deep questions. Like, who am I, why are we here? Now, these kinds of things. They probably have to put more time in.

Other people, what they want from their practice is they want to change how they experience life completely. They gonna have to put quite a bit of time into that, because that's a non-trivial exercise.

So, that's the first place is what do you actually want from your practice.

Now, if you decide, let's say, you want to change fundamentally how you experience life, and this is what deep spiritual practice is about whether it's in Christianity or Judaism or Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism, then you're gonna put in a lot of time. For instance in both Christianity and in Buddhism there is the technique of recitation. In the Christianity you use the centering prayer, in Tibetan Buddhism you use a mantra, and it doesn't matter what mantra, it can be om mani padme hum or what have you. But you recite a mantra. Well, the way the mantra works or the centering prayer works, you recite it so much, you recite it all the time. You recite it while you're working, you recite it while you are having a shower, you recite it while you have conversations. You're not reciting it out loud while you having conversations, but you have it going inside. You recite it so much that it replaces all of that undercurrent of thoughts that's always going through. Okay? And what you end up with is a silent mind because it is being replaced by the prayer or by the mantra. But that only comes about by putting serious time into it.

And one of my teachers, Dezhung Rinpoche, he set as his goal to say a hundred million mantras, om mani padme hum. So, whenever we were talking with him, he would be sitting there saying "om mani," he'd be listening to us, "om mani," then when we finished our question he'd talk with us, and as soon as he finished "om mani." And that's what he is working on, getting rid of that subconscious gossip.

So, that's just one example of the kind of effort that one has to be prepared for.