I’ve learned practice is really difficult, and very worth the effort

Jul 15, 2019

QUESTION Dear Ven. Robina, 

I have been a student of the Dharma for about two years. The teachings of the Buddha have spoken to me on a deep level. I have been studying the teachings on my own. It has become clear to me that I am in need of a kind and skilled teacher.

I heard you speak in 2018. After your presentation, you touched my arm and spoke some kind words to me. Your compassion has meant a great deal to me.

Would you please most kindly consider accepting me as a student, or please advise me as to how I might find a skillful teacher?

With gratitude and love,
M.

VEN. ROBINA Dearest M.,

I’m happy to hear from you and glad the teachings are helpful.

I’m delighted to do what I can to help you on your path, that’s for sure. 

Tell me about any practice you do, what you study, whether you go to teachings, etc, etc. Then we can discuss more.

Love to you,
Robina

QUESTION

Dearest Ven. Robina,

Thank you so much for your kind response to my inquiry.

Currently my practice consists of the following:

I recite The Metta Prayer first thing when I wake up. (“This is what should be done by those who are skilled in goodness…”)

I sit for 20 minutes most days (five or six days a week, depending).

I have been studying Wisdom Energy by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, How to Meditate by Kathleen McDonald, The Path to Tranquility by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and The Art of Happiness.

I also read The Dhammapada frequently. I have found the first two verses: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought…,” and “Whatever a hater may do to hater … a wrongly directed mind will do us greater mischief,” to be very instructive and helpful.

Like many students of the Dharma, I suppose, I find the teachings to be logical and beautiful. I also find that trying to live them in the world is almost impossible for me. My mind races from one thought to the next like a wild animal most of the time. Only occasionally when I’m sitting in meditation (or asleep) does it ever stay still.

I do loving kindness meditation regularly. It feels great in meditation, then someone does something unkind to me and I find my mind screaming “Dammit, I’m trying to practice loving kindness!” I get angry, and then I’m unable to be compassionate toward myself for being angry.

So far, the two things I’ve learned from my practice is that this is really difficult, and very worth the effort.

I so look forward to any advise or guidance that you have to offer me.

With love and gratitude,

M.

VEN. ROBINA Well, your practice is excellent, I would say, dear M.

Yes, for sure, the teachings are hard to accomplish, but we must start somewhere. Same with learning anything. And we must rejoice in our progress. Often we keep in the mind the end result and then judge ourselves because we haven’t accomplished it yet. But that’s wrong.

When we get to grade one, we should rejoice. Then we get to grade two, and rejoice again — rather than always thinking we haven’t achieved enough.

The only thing I’d suggest you add to your daily practice would be a purification practice at the end of the day. Are you familiar with this?

Here’s a PDF that has various teachings on the path to enlightenment, including on karma and purification of karma. 

I’m also attaching here another PDF, which I send when people have taken Refuge and the Lay Vows formally. There are a few practices in there, including the purification practice. Just read it through, thinking about the meaning.

I’d also recommend that you go to retreats and courses sometimes. Do you do that? 

Just keep moving, you’re doing beautifully. And stay in touch.

Love and many prayers,
Robina

QUESTION Dearest Ven. Robina,

Thank you so much for your kind words and wise advice. I’ve found it very helpful, since receiving your most recent email, to remind myself often of just how fortunate I am to be a beginner on the path. It’s very like me to be impatient with myself and to expect great breakthroughs in a short space of time. Clearly, I’ve got some work to do when it comes to patience. I now give thanks every morning for the great fortune of being a spiritual 1st grader!

Also, thanks for recommending the purification practice. I feel every evening when I do the purification as if I’m giving myself a break, and setting myself up to do a little bit better the next day. Such a nice change from believing that I have somehow failed. I love having the opportunity to try, over and over again, despite many failed attempts.

I’ve been studying both of the PDFs that you sent, and find many, many helpful teachings in them both. The teachings on karma are especially meaningful for me a this particular time. I’d so like to reduce the amount of suffering that I cause myself and other people!

I have not been going to courses or retreats recently, but plan to change that per your advice. The center here (where I saw you speak) offers weekly courses and I will attend those whenever I’m able.

Thank you, again, Ven. Robina, for your kindness and help. It’s meant a great deal to me.
Please continue to send any suggestions that you feel might help me to move in a good direction along the path.

With love and gratitude,
M.

VEN. ROBINA Dearest M.,

Glad all is good. Stay in touch, for sure! 

Robina

 

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