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Three Essential Components of Buddhist Practice
Submitted by Lawrence Grecco on Mon, 9/3/2012, 11:18am
When we sit in meditation, having a firm tripod of support enables us to be upright and practice for longer periods of time. The posture inspires us to sit firmly on our seat with our buttocks planted firmly on the chair or cushion, and our knees or feet planted solidly on the floor before us. Doing this keeps us upright and enables us to balance ourselves, and this has a balancing effect on the rest of our lives.
In much the same way, there are three essential aspects of practice that were taught rather brilliantly by Ven. Thich Thien-An in his book Zen Philosophy, Zen Practice. Ven. Thich Thien-An was a Vietnamese Zen monk and scholar and the founder of the Buddhist Studies Institute of Los Angeles, which was recently taken over by the Five Mountain Zen Order, the order in which I ordained.
The Three Essentials of Buddhist Practice are:
1. Great Faith. Given the fact that Buddhism emphasizes direct experience over lofty sounding words like “faith,” this one might sound a bit dubious. But even a small degree of faith really is necessary when we first embark upon this path. What we need to have faith in from the start is that we all possess a clear, compassionate, awakened, and essentially good nature. We all have the latent capacity to be fully awake yet we don’t see it because we are so easily fooled by outer appearances and limiting concepts about who and what we are. All beings have a true nature they can rely on to give space to anything and everything that comes their way in life.
2. Great Doubt. Unlike some other spiritual traditions, Buddhism is scientific in the sense that practitioners are asked to bring a healthy dose of skepticism to the dharma before diving in completely. If everyone has this Buddha Nature or True Nature, then where and what the hell is it... really? Any good teacher will tell you not to take her word for it, but to investigate this for yourself and over time discover whether or not it rings true. Having a great, strong questioning mind is the perfect springboard for great, strong enlightenment and peace of mind.
3. Great Determination. Once we’ve moved from having faith in our True Nature and then seeking to verify its existence, we need to commit to a path that helps ensure we get closer and closer to who we really are, and in so doing we can be better equipped to help others. This kind of determination requires that we not be stuck on instant results and that we make a practice out of our whole lives, whether we are formally meditating or not. What fuels this determination most effectively is having a deep and sincere motivation of love without regard for ourselves and what we might gain from practice. When our motivation is to be of service to others, right action comes naturally and spontaneously.
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