The Elusive Deepening of Dharma Practice

Practising Dharma can be difficult because there is a certain sense in which there isn’t a resolution of anything; you don’t suddenly solve a problem as you might in mathematics or whatever. You are moving towards something, and now and again there does seem to be inspiration of a kind. The important thing is to try and develop an inspiration that has some kind of robustness, which isn’t dependent upon having cranked up some suitable conditions so that you experience something significant and then your mind just flops again. You can expect a certain amount of that, but the only way to make your insight experience really robust is to practise in a continuous way. bubbles cryoutSometimes it seems like a lot of grind and sometimes it seems as if you have little to show for it, but after a while certain pennies do begin to drop even though you don’t know what they are. When somebody asks you a question like, “What have you learnt over the last ten years, practising as a Buddhist?”, you feel sort of embarrassed because you can’t actually formulate anything. All you can say is, “I wouldn’t have been without it”.

You feel a sense of a deepening of something or other, but you are not quite sure what that is. The reason this is so subtle and so elusive is because it is dealing with your being, which in itself is elusive. You can’t tell whether you are getting better, moving backwards or whatever; you just don’t know. It feels as though there is a sense of change, it seems like something is happening within your being, but you don’t know what that is. You might read stories of the great Siddhas and wonder if you’ve made some real progress along the path. But would you know that? Or would the change seem so natural that you wouldn’t really be sure if you were? If you were to actually find yourself in the pure land, rather than thinking, “Wow, this is the pure land, I knew I would get here in the end” or “My God, I didn’t think I would ever get here”, you might just be slightly confused by the experience and not be quite sure where you are or even if you are. The continuance and deepening of the practice of Dharma is as evasive and elusive and as indefinite as that.

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