Following on from our discussion on life in modern society, we now look at how we could fit Buddhist practice into our lives.
1. Buddhist Practices
In-terms of Buddhist practice we would typically think of the following Dharma activities:
- Formal meditation practice.
- Reading, listening to teachings.
- Reflection on the teachings.
- Debate and discussion of the teachings.
- Performing ritual practices, such as prayers, pujas, and reciting mantras.
- Performing devotional practices, such as circumambulating stupas and prostrations.
All of these are valid Dharma practices if they are performed with the correct bodhicitta motivation. Practice should be enjoyable that we want to perform again and again, and that really comes down to personal preference. There is not a single “right” answer, but rather the “right” answer for you.
We try to work the formal meditation into our day. We do this by meditating in a meeting room, reading a Dharma book in the cafe, or listening to a podcast of teachings during the commute to work.
The activities listed above are the formal practices that we typically associate with Buddhism. But actually anything can become a Buddhist practice. This is a feature of Buddhism that is described by the “mind training” texts.
- Positive motivation: A positive bodhicitta motivation to benefit other beings through the activity you’re about to pursue.
- Opportunity to practice: The difficult person at work could be a cause of anger or an opportunity to practice kindness and compassion; the delayed bus or train could be a cause of frustration or an opportunity to practice patience.
If done right, every moment and every interaction become an exciting opportunity to practice the Buddhist path. The danger is that we start the morning with a positive motivation and it all falls apart before we lunch time. Or we grit our teeth and simply bear the difficulties of the day without trying to generate compassion that underpins the practice. But keep working at it and improvements will come over time.