Excerpt About Spiritual Practice

Certain Requirements for Practice

How can we understand the dynamic between what we do and the action of Being itself? How do intention and grace work together? How do practice and spontaneous realization interrelate? When we understand practice, we see that practice is already realization in some way. Practice expresses the values of realization and is infused with the qualities of realization. The stage of living our realization is epitomized by a classic expression from one of the most celebrated Zen masters, Dogen Zenji. He said, “Practice is realization and realization is practice.” As we go on, we will explore different angles from which to understand this one expression. One way that we can understand how living our realization is continual practice is by recognizing how practice is realization—practice not from the usual perspective but from the perspective of realization itself. Practice is not merely doing something repeatedly and mechanically. Simply sitting and meditating is not necessarily practice. Practice requires true intention, true motivation, true devotion to the truth. Otherwise, we are not practicing or engaging the work. If you inquire into the truth in order to solve a problem or make yourself feel better, then you are not actually practicing. True practice expresses the values and the qualities of realization: the curiosity and the love, the openness and the steadfastness, the enjoyment of reality, the appreciation of authenticity, the delight and the clarity, the happiness in stillness.

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