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November 21, 2011


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I love the line in Ironweed when Tom waits asks where they're heading and Jack Nickson replies, "You ain't know where you been heading in 20 years!"

Maybe that's our goal?


Maybe there is no goal; maybe the end is just to practice. If so that would take a lot of pressure off of me.


I'd say there are two answers:

1) The pianist and tennis player practice to develop dexterity and muscle memory before thinking. We are practicing consciousness of that which we normally do unconsciously, with the intent of attaining consciousness of that which we normally do unconsciously--before thinking!

2) Many people read dharma books and get a warm feeling from the. This is Theory. "Practice" is distinct from "theory," that is, words and speech and THINKING about the Dharma. Practice is DOING the Dharma. Practice is actually helping to end the suffering of all beings. Thus we not only do sitting, chanting, walking or bowing practice, but also practice of mindful speech (a very hard practice), driving practice (which I contend will either make me a bodhisattva or a psychotic), standing-in-line-at-CVS practice...the list goes on.

And that's what Christmas is about, Charlie Brown.

Bob Erb

Practice creates and strengthens "neural pathways" in our brains. Certain experiences are mapped to certain sequences of synaptic activity. Each time a sequence is triggered, the corresponding synaptic trail is rutted a little, making future travel down that path easier and more likely.

So we practice mindfulness, awareness, compassion, and other states we desire, because doing so has enduring physical effects that we experience directly. We do what we can to place ourselves into what we consider favorable states so that we might experience the effects of being these ways while practicing, and after.

This is brain training, mind training, accumulating merit or demerit, feeding a wolf, watering a seed, cultivation, karma.

That's the mythology I currently find persuasive.

David L

Hmmm. Good question! Any answer that pops up seems trite, glib.

But practice does seem to be a subtractive process, letting up, letting go, letting be. Practicing not practicing...

I too find driving practice where my demons come out to dance...:)

Luckily theres literally no place to go so here we are...

jill i

I'm all for practicing to strengthen the neural pathways, lord do I need it! Oh yea, and then there's the stuff about saving all beings from suffering


Practice is life. Life is practice.

Both are just words we made up to put things into categories.

What is happening is what is happening.

Just this. Just that.

Where's the difference?


Knowing this, but not having completely stepped out of the self-deception that gives rise to unwise view and attachments, I practice...using Form (practice) withing the context of the Formless (awareness and Right View) to see that which clouds the Formless (including practice) and thereby come back to rest in the abiding contentment of Way...awareness...oneness...etc.


If you want to get hung up on the word -- and I know you don't want to get hung up on the word! -- I might suggest thinking more about a practicing doctor, or a practicing lawyer.

It's not rehearsal, the opposite of performance. It's practice, the opposite of theory.


Rich - Good point

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