Keep It Simple

I had a dream the other night in which one of my Buddhist spiritual teachers came to town but I did not know it. He showed up at the Dharma Center after one of our events and we had a conversation about spiritual practice (sadhana). I suggested the elaborate forms of practice in our tradition were not so suited to folks in this part of the world. My teacher smiled and said, “No matter. Not elaborate, same benefit.” He then walked away, accompanied by his entourage.

The long involved sadhanas of Vajrayana Buddhism were originally created for, and more suited to, the monastic environment. They necessarily will only appeal to a select few who are inclined to be vowed monastic practitioners. For the rest of us, we are fortunate to have access to short easy to accomplish practices from teachers like Dudjom Rinpoche who had the foresight to condense many sadhanas for the Western practitioner.

I have experienced a number of these condensed practices and find they have a kind of immediacy that is lost in some of the longer forms. I requested a collection of Dudjom Rinpoche’s short sadhanas from my teachers and Lama Rinchen bestowed some of the versions we use at our center. I have worked to adapt others. I pray there is some benefit.

Even with access to spiritual exercises that do not take a lot of time, people still have trouble establishing a consistent practice. This is just laziness. We seem to have lots of time to consistently repeat negative thinking patterns and they become so pervasive as to define our existence. They are very familiar and we cannot think of doing nothing else. Padmasambhava said, “Remember, your mind will entirely dissipate into the pattern you have grown used to.” 

If we want to wake up from the slumber of our negative habitual patterns, we need to begin by repeating something beneficial. Consistency and continuity is most important. If we are inconsistent we will experience little benefit. It does not have to be elaborate. We just keep it simple and consistent. This will yield great benefit, not only for ourselves, but for all with whom we come in contact.