The Importance of Taking the “Should” out of Spiritual Practice

Nice article, although for me they always lack the point on openning the profound-profound practice, the one that leads to path and fruition (which is should be the deep motivation to practice, not to be able to deal with situations in so called ‘daily life’ which should be an outcomming from the practice itself; otherwise, as expressed clearly in one of the Ayya Khema’s talks, all achievment of tranquility achieved in retreat, not supported my sati – presence or mindfulness- in daily life activities (part of body awarness instructions – kayanupassana) will be impossible o maintain coupled with daily life even if one sits daily. Anyway the article itself says take out the shoulds, and it is true, but then investigate your motivation for practice so you direct it little by little to where, at ultimate point, is meant for: liberation. Good practice on all aspects! do not miss one!

Metta Refuge

The more one does one’s spiritual practice with a sense that it should be done, the more one creates a sense of self. And the greater the sense of a self trying to become “spiritual” or “liberated,” the more suffering we experience. We suffer both when we “fail,” and we suffer when we “succeed,” either way reinforcing our false self-identifications.

So the koan is: how do we practice, without making it “practice?” How can one have what the Buddha called atappa, or ardency in practice, without reinforcing our sense of becoming? The answer to this koan involves, perhaps not surprisingly, paying attention ― paying real attention to our motives and to our habitual ways of doing anything worthwhile.

Paradoxically, real “self-improvement” naturally arises when we let go of all sense of self-improvement and simply open ourselves up to being really being present in each moment. There is a wonderful…

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