How can we know we are genuinely relating to direct experience rather than just fooling ourselves? The only way to tell is by feeling the general direction of your practice. If egocentricity and attachment seem to be increasing as you practice, you’re probably following the wrong path. On the other hand if your mind is becoming more naked, clear, and open—all of which are relative—you are probably on the right path.
It’s your mind, and only you can know whether it’s genuine openness or mere confusion. You can get advice from your teachers about this. That is indispensable, as is the companionship of those who tread the path with you. Teachers and fellow practitioners can genuinely help you sharpen your awareness and connection with Dharma. But in the end it always comes down to you. That is the meaning of direct experience.
People sometimes ask how they can tell if their meditation practice is working. There are three answers to that, and they all have some truth to them. The first answer is that we’ll never know if our meditation is successful, except in the very long term. So why bother asking?
The second, more common answer, tells us that with confidence, all meditation is successful. Whether we feel good or bad about it, we are training in the Dharma, and that is good in itself. The most important thing in meditation, generally speaking, is an attitude of openness. With that attitude, there is no need to worry about whether our meditation is good or bad.
The third and more subtle answer is to say that we have a natural faculty that will eventually lead us to the truth. Sometimes we can feel an inherent rightness—or wrongness—about our meditation. How accurate is this feeling? While it could be mistaken, it’s a basic Buddhist principle that a faculty of genuineness, a feeling for truth, exists with us. We can’t prove it, but all the evidence over centuries of Buddhist practice suggests this is the case. As time goes by, our practice deepens and we get more of a feel for what is right and wrong.Rigdzin Shikpo from Never Turn Away
This month’s Dharma quotation comes from Rigdzin Shikpo’s book Never Turn Away which can be purchased in our bookstore. The Longchen Foundation is currently planning our events and programmes for next year and we will send an update to our mailing list when the schedule has been finalized. We wish you a festive holiday season and a very auspicious new year!