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Questions: So What Should I be DOING?

Q&A #2

Please keep those questions coming in. I have gotten several good responses to yesterday’s question about vegetarianism. They’re very well thought out and worth discussion. Check the ‚Äúcomments‚Äù under yesterday’s posting: http://www.dailybuddhism.com/archives/59#comments

Add your thoughts to the ones posted if you have anything to add.

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A Reader recently wrote:

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Hi, and thanks for the podcast. I have found it to be very helpful to me. Please keep up the good work. Given that you are soliciting questions, I thought that I would offer one.

What do you believe is that best advice that an experienced practitioner would give to a westerner who is just beginning to make the true effort to turn philosophy into practice? It is so easy to either have overinflated ambitions or feel overwhelmed by the perceived difficulty in this transition.

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My response:

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This would be a good one for others to chime in on and give your opinions. In my own case, I would offer two thoughts that are easy to say, but not always so easy in practice.

The Buddha told us about his “path,” and we all know how the journey of a thousand miles begins, right? With a single step. Start small and build from there.

1. Pick one of the five precepts that you are weak on and aim to improve it. Sure, you’re supposed to be perfect in all five, but you have to start somewhere.

2. Start meditating. Coming from a Zen background, I would recommend doing zazen as described last week; those two links I provided will help you get started. If you need more help, I would recommend “Meditation for Dummies” which can be found at Amazon: http://astore.amazon.com/askdrarca-20/detail/0471777749/105-3033970-1707669

Meditate daily, and start emptying your mind of clutter. Start working on the precepts. Try to go through your daily life clearly and consciously, with your mind on the here and now.

I’m sure others will have much to add.

2 comments to Questions: So What Should I be DOING?

  • Michael Layne

    Again, thanks for the reply and posting the question. I am taking your advice. Rather than just sticking with a Thursday night meditation group, I am working it into my daily routine. I don’t want to bite of too much, and I am increasingly seeking to just focus on my breath. This morning it was amazing to me just how much noise rattles about in one’s mind. I’ve been subject to some anxiety issues for some time due, I believe, to stress and the pace and pressure of my life. Meditation has done wonders in only a short time.

    I think that I seek to focus on cause and effect for the moment. Often, my reactions are not immediately ideal. I’m currently trying to be mindful of the implication of negative reactions and observant of the more desirable results when a arrest the cycle.

    It’s funny. I quit smoking once, and it was the hardest thing I ever did. Last night, sitting around as I wasn’t even particularly focused on moving my philosophy to practice, I had this rush of feeling that was EXACTLY the tortuous clinging that I felt to smoking as I struggled to quit. This awakened me in a very tangible understanding (rather than a philosophical acknowledgement) that I am deeply attached. Part of me feels like that sick part that wanted to keep killing myself with cigarettes and other items. It was an ugly yearning feeling, but I can’t help but feel like its manifestation on the surface was a good thing.