Greetings to all,
START WHERE YOU ARE
Almost every practice session we get at least one new person, who has no experience with our way of practicing and often with little knowledge of Buddhism. Frequently they describe this as a challenge at least, a barrier at worst.
Its rather like my experience of driving to work daily. No matter how fast I might drive and regardless of the speed limit, there is always someone who wants to go faster and does. I used to compete with racers, grumble at them for passing me, grumble about the speeding tickets it cost me. Eventually I realized that it was not a race and all that mattered was me getting to the office safely and on time.
In our engagement with Buddhist teaching and practice there will always be someone who is more experienced, more knowledgeable, someone we admire or aspire to be like. There will be things we don’t understand, endless practices to learn and master. As with my work drive, it is not a race and requires no competition. The common Buddhist image of entering the stream applies well here. Each of us will step into this stream of the Dharma when and how we can. What matters is not how well we navigate the stream but that we get ourselves wet. There will continue to be growth and set-backs, questions and insights.
The crucial element, we are told so often, is shinjin, the depth of our confidence in the ever-present support and guidance of innumerable Buddhas and bodhisattvas. They have vowed to ensure the success of our efforts. We need not worry about what we don’t understand, the fine points of teaching or practice. What matters is our sincerity and our single-minded persistence.
Yours in the Dharma,
om namo amida butsu