Monday, January 2, 2017

Endless iterations.

You're probably not going to be doing your practice in five years.  Even less likely in ten or twenty years.  It's just not probable.  

Merit is an uncommon trait here in the West.  We don't really refer to each other as having merit or even cultivating merit.  Its not something that we place much value on, day to day.

Merit is something really important when practicing the Buddha's teachings.  Merit refers to the potential of the mind.  It can be thought of as the impetus, the reservoir, the force.  None of those really do it justice though, because really merit refers to the capacity to hold or bear, the capacity to carry, or even continue.

When you think about a person encountering the Dharma, it is highly unlikely that this person will be able to actually meet with the teachings, practice them, carry them through their life and achieve some kind of result or realization.  It is just not very likely.  We have so much of our own baggage, so many problems and worldly concerns.  And that is all within the context of what is going on right now in our lives.

Over the course of our single lifetime we go through countless iterations.  The chance that we will be able to carry your practice through that much variability and resistance is even less likely.  Our modern society and the demands on the individual are constantly changing.  For someone to have encountered the Dharma and put it into practice in their middle ages, then to go through times of struggle, changing professions, seeing loved ones come and go, making friends, losing friends, moving, falling in love, breaking up, falling sick, being healed.   We cycle through endless iterations.

The amount of merit that we need for our practice to endure amidst all of those changing circumstances, well, it is beyond measure.  It is truly amazing that we can encounter practitioners who are able to carry their practice from year to year, generation to generation.  We should rejoice in their dedication, commitment and resilience.   We should also aspire to develop such merit and determination ourselves. 

Those practitioners of virtue are said to have great merit, but if you talk to them they won't talk about their potential, or about how strong of an impetus they feel to practice.  They won't refer to themselves as being special at all.  Instead, you will see that their minds are like a vast ocean, able to accommodate and accept whatever is placed in their path.  They go through endless iterations just like us, but for them, they are just like waves or boats that come and go.  The iterations they go through in their life don't confine their practice, but rather the 'stuff' that makes their practice continue to be possible. 

Practitioners lacking merit feel trapped by circumstances,
those rich in merit take it as fuel on the path. 

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