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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Time is Not a Factor.

Munindra-ji used to say that in spiritual practice, time is not a factor. Practice cannot be measured in time, so let go of the whole notion of when and how long. The practice is a process unfolding, and it unfolds in its own time. It is like the flowers that grow in the spring. Do you pull them up to make them grow faster? I once tried to do that with carrots in my first garden when I was eight years old. It does not work. We do not need any particular length of time for this process of letting things be. --Joseph Goldstein, Insight Meditation.

James: Don't let anyone tell you how long you're supposed to meditate and/or chant mantras, etc. There is no "one size fits all" in Buddhism. Most days I meditate for 20 minutes because that feels right for me. However, other days I go for 10-15 minutes, it just depends on how I feel and the circumstances that I can not deny in that present moment.

In many religions this life is it and if you don't get it "right" (whatever the hell that means) than you will suffer for making the littlest mistake forever and ever. To me that isn't motivation but unnecessary stress that creates more suffering. It is easy to do things for the wrong intention when one follows such a path because the intention is often out of fear whereas in Buddhism there is no one waiting to punish us. This takes the pressure off so that we can concentrate on the issues that our preventing our peace. Rather than forcing ourselves to do something without understanding it first simply because we want to please someone else. Contrary to what many will say, this is not the only path to follow. There are many combinations to unlock the puzzle of samsara.

In Buddhism, we create our own suffering and therefore have control over how deeply we suffer. There is no "Satan" out there to tempt us and mislead us down the path of spiritual destruction. We are the ones in charge of whether we experience peace and freedom or suffering and fear. We are in charge of our own destiny rather than feeling at the mercy of two "Gods" fighting over the dominion over our "souls." Such a situation can easily lead one to feel fated to the outcome of things that are beyond our control which leads to deep despair and often times bitter resentment.

The beauty of Buddhism is that we can go at our own pace and if we need some more time after this life then it is granted to us. There is no need to rush because everyone will achieve liberation at some point along this beautiful journey. In Buddhism we all have a common foundation but due to our different karma, no one path is the same as the next. I am not saying that those different paths are wrong but rather pointing out that there are many ways to find one's peace with all things. Listen to your heart and find what works best for you. So take a deep breath, smell the flowers and smile--for you are a Buddha to be.

~Peace to all beings~

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17 comments:

Qalmlea said...

Thank you for this.

Gary said...

What a great post. Truly something to remember every day.

Greenwoman said...

((hugs)) My dear wise friend...hope you are doing well...*smiles*

Marie said...

That was a very good post and its something I've been thinking about a lot lately. I have a Christian evangelical path, but have transitioned out of it in the last 4 years. The most freeing thing is exactly that, knowing I'm in charge of my life and how I experience things. Thanks for the share!

Garnet said...

Well said.

Gary said...

I agree with James that we must all find our own way. 20 - 30 minutes is my usual meditation session, with longer ones mainly occurring at my infrequent visits to forest monasteries! But, like you said about your meditation practice, it feels right.

Remembering that there's no rush is a good point too, as we often find ourselves putting unnecessary time limits and pressures on our practice, which only cause more suffering and confusion. Taking our time is an important lesson to learn: great stuff!

Gary at 'Forest Wisdom'.
http://forestwisdom.blogspot.com

They call him James Ure said...

Qalmlea:

You are quite welcome.

Gary:

Thank-you friend. Yes it is something to remember as often as we can. We can often be too hard on ourselves and our "progress" in our practice.

GW:

Thanks for the hugs. I am doing well thanks. Last week was rough but the weekend went well and today is starting off well too. I hope doing good as well. :)

Marie:

Thank-you very much. It's something that I've been thinking a lot about lately too.

The freedom of Buddhism is what attracted me to it from the beginning.

Garnet:

Thank-you so much. It helped me to write it out. I can get too focused on one aspect of my practice and feel pressure to "do better."

Falling into the trap of comparing myself to others on the path like great teachers. It helps me remember that while we are all working within the same framework, we are all in different phases. And that is just fine.

Gary:

Yes, exactly. If it doesn't feel right then I try to back off a bit and go at a different pace. And also too of course, to increase my frequency if it feels right. Force accomplishes nothing but more suffering I have found.

Mister Scott said...

i recently came across your blog and greatly appreciate it. i recently began trying to meditate after years of giving the idea too much thought... i am a littel concerned that i am "not doing it right" or not long enough, but im learning... ;)

thanks again.

Riverwolf said...

The wisdom of the Buddha is so...well, just that...wisdom. Simple and pure. Thanks.

Robin said...

Yes, own pace, own mind, own self-awareness.

Thanks for this reminder.

Autumn Moon said...

Lovely blog and excellent advice! Amitofo!

They call him James Ure said...

Mister Scott:

I'm glad that you are enjoying the blog. I'm most happy, however, that you are giving yourself plenty of time to find your space. As I said in my post, meditation time isn't set in stone. There are many ways to achieve peace and relaxation in meditating.

The most important thing that I try to keep in mind is to keep a regular practice going. No matter how long you do it.

Those who meditate for long periods of time aren't "better Buddhists" than anyone else.

I am still learning as well and anyone who says that they have it all figured out hasn't learned that we never stop learning. :)

Riverwolf:

Yes, pure light and wisdom. I like the simplicity in the Buddha's message to the world. Like a breath of fresh, cleansing air.

Robin:

You're welcome and you're right. When we accept where we are in our practice we merge with the great onenes of all.

Autumn Moon:

Thank-you. I hope you continue to find this blog helpful and a place of solace and refuge.

Wade M said...

Hi James,

I'm with you on this one. I find when I trust myself, I know how long I should be sitting for. Some days it's 15 minutes, othertimes, I feel like sitting for hours, and often do.

My sorta catch phrase on this is the timer/stopwatch is within :) Trust :)

Hope all is well.

Gassho,

Wade
http://themiddleway.net

Keva said...

With 4 kids sometimes even finding 20 minutes alone is a struggle, but I typically strive for 15-20 mins. It seems the first 5 minutes of practice are the toughest. Once I get "in the zone" the remaining 10-15 mins go by pretty quickly.

If I can't do this, then I try to do as Thich Naht Hanh said, that every moment can be meditation, i.e., washing dishes, shoveling snow, golfing(?), as long as you are mindful of what you are doing.

Carla said...

My practice has been neglected lately (as far as formal sitting at least) and I have felt very 'under conviction' about it. Thanks for this reminder of the freedom of our refuge. I don't need to be so OCD about it!

They call him James Ure said...

Wade:

Trust. That's a big and important word. It is so important to our peace and happiness.

Keva:

I find the first 5 minutes to the best toughest as well. It is that settling period where our mind is in two states--busy and peace.

I am with you on TNH comments that every moment can be a meditation. It helps find more times to meditate in our modern world of hurry and stress.

Carla:

Nope. No need to worry or feel like you aren't being present. Even in our moments of stress we are present. Awareness is a big part of staying centered. How often we don't stop to think about what we are doing.

Just knowing what we are doing is so beneficial to being at peace with whatever present moment we find ourselves in.

Marie Roshi said...

James, you're swell. Thanks for the reminder.

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