Thich Minh Thien, (Thay Z) Abbot of Budding Dharma
Arlington, Texas firstname.lastname@example.org
Practice Makes Perfect
As a child, I wanted to learn to play guitar. My mother thought taking accordion lessons was a better choice. I guess she thought that way because she was an accomplished player of that instrument. It didn’t take long however for my parents to recognize that the desire to learn the accordion was not anything I would aspire to. So they relented and bought me a guitar and sent me off to the local music studio for lessons. I was initially inspired however that didn’t last long and my parents began to push me to practice which is something I just never put my heart and soul into. Over and over I can still hear my mothers voice saying, “practice makes perfect”. I can play the guitar today like an amateur, but I never did master the instrument as I and my parents had hoped I would do.
So often we refer to what we do in Buddhism as part of our practice. I read an article by Barbara O’ Brien where she said that, “there are two parts to being a practicing Buddhist: First, it means that you agree with certain basic ideas or tenets that are at the core of what the historical Buddha taught. Secondly, it means that you regularly and systematically engage in one or more activities in a way that is familiar to Buddhist followers. This can range from living a devoted life in a Buddhist monastery to practicing a simple 20-minute meditation session once a day. In truth, there are many, many ways to practice Buddhism—it is a welcoming practice that allows for a great diversity of thought and belief among its followers.”
Our wonderful contemporary Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, speaks about practice in this way. “The essence of our practice can be described as transforming suffering into happiness”. The main affliction of our modern civilization is that we don’t know how to handle the suffering inside us and we try to cover it up with all kinds of consumption. Retailers peddle a plethora of devices to help us cover up the suffering inside. But unless and until we’re able to face our suffering, we can’t be present and available to life, and happiness will continue to elude us. Thay, (Thich Nhat Hanh), believes that Mindfulness is the best practice to be with our suffering without being overwhelmed by it. Mindfulness is the capacity to dwell in the present moment, to know what’s happening in the here and now.
And just like my dear, old mother used to continually tell me, practice makes perfect. In order for happiness to be extended and renewed, you have to learn how to feed your happiness. Nothing can survive without food, including happiness; your happiness can die if you don’t know how to nourish it. If you cut a flower but you don’t put it in some water, the flower will wilt in a few hours. It is the same with our practices, be it mindfulness, meditation, chanting, devotion or any number of combinations included in the different flavors of Buddhism in the world today. Whichever practice you gravitate towards, feed it and make it a consistent part of your life.
namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa