Our retreat director--when I was in the three-year retreat--Lama Tenpa, mahamudra was his practice. He didn't do anything else. And he'd come over to the retreat sometimes, he'd say, "You know I really should offer a few tormas to Mahakala. Oh, I'm too lazy." And by lazy he meant that he sat about 20 hours a day and he slept for about four hours sitting up. So a very lazy person. And in the second retreat he didn't teach the four immeasurables at all. AndmI worked with him. When he got to taking and sending he didn't even teach taking and sending--just a very little bit--he had them doing something else.
I had a real knock-down, drag-em-out argument with him about that because it had been a really important part of my training in the first retreat. And finally after listening to me basically yelling at him for half an hour, he just looked at me and said, "Ken that worked for you. It doesn't work for me." Mahamudra really, really worked for him.
And four immeasurables was a very important part of my own practice, which is one of the reasons I teach it, because I think it's very, very important. For other people it's Avalokiteshvara. Other people, it's resting with the breath. There are many, many practices and the important thing is to find a way of practice that speaks to you.
That's really what I hope, you can move in that direction. And then it doesn't matter what anybody else is doing because you have something that speaks to you, and brings about change in you when you do it. And that's what's really, really important.
Once you get into a center...institutional thing and people are doing this practice and that practice you get into this comparison game: who's getting ahead of whom, etc., etc.
One of my students at a retreat many years ago...it was an insight retreat and I gave them a couple of options. One was to do the traditional insight practices and the other one was to work with Nasrudin stories. So, she was a pretty good practitioner and was working on her third Nasrudin story in this particular retreat, and at the end of the retreat she said, "How many other people got to three?" And I said, "You're never going to know." [Laughs] It was the comparison game again. And this stuff comes up all the time and it's worse than useless. It's counterproductive. It works in the wrong direction, and so to the extent that it's possible I'm trying to create a way of practice where none of you are in competition with anybody else.