A while ago I was talking to Rinpoche about the importance of building retreat centers and centers for study and practice in the West. He recounted to me the origins of the practice and teachings of the Buddha.
At the time of the Buddha, there were no established centers. Monks and laymen would convene at gathering places, receive teachings and depart. The monks lived simple lives devoted to study and practice. They had few possessions, wandered from place to place and were nourished by whatever alms came there way. The monks would carry a walking stick and a begging bowl, clothed in robes and with shaven head. All day, every day they were devoted to practice and integrating the profound teachings with their own life and situation.
This was the way in which the Buddha's teachings were practiced and disseminated.
We too can emulate this, bring it to its perfection.
We can live simple lives devoted to study and practice.
If our minds are not ensnared by fixation and grasping, we have few possessions.
If we don't hold to fixed positions and establish a ground where there is none, we live the life of a wandering yogin.
If we receive and work with whatever comes up in our experience without acceptance or rejection, we are nourished by alms.
If we stand firm in our practice, leaning on it when we are weary, our practice becomes an unbreakable walking stick.
Adhering to a simple discipline, we down robes.
Being free from the eight worldly concerns, we have the shaved head of a renunciate.
All day, every day, we are devoted to practice and integrating the profound teachings with our own life and situation.
This is the way in which the Buddha's teachings are practiced and disseminated.