Why Practise?

Akash's picture

Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Spiritual practise is not means to an end, and as long as we treat it as such, we are bound to experience frustration. When the futility of this attempt becomes evident, we realize that all seeking or our meditating in order to get somewhere, is useless, and then our motive changes. We relax. Maybe even experience a glimpse into the Unknown. That is when real practise begins. Spiritual practise IS necessary as long as you think of yourself as a separate being. I know this does not sound as good as ‘just be here, now’. The ‘be here now’ school has its place, as long as you realize what being here, now, really means.

Another thing to consider is that ‘you’ cannot be here, now. If anything, when the here is now, you are not. However, here ‘you’ appear to be. No use denying this. It is easy to catch a glimpse or understanding of ‘nobody’ being there, but in most cases ‘you’ appear to be back just as quickly as you left! Asking ‘who is it that, left in the first place?’ whilst beneficial, is within the realm of mind and just does not stick, especially when the kids are screaming or your stub your toe on a door.

What is really here and now, in most cases, is a vortex of habits and reactions that we have practised since childhood. Most of us lead unconscious lives and if we were left without some form of practise, it is more than likely that our tendencies will lead us to self-defending comfort and relief, rather than using the moment to open, naked as we truly are. Be here, now, can be an excuse to ‘Be Ego Now’ and so, taking up a practise, and being in the moment are not at odds with each other.

In recent times and especially with the flowering of many Neo-Advaita* teachers, active spiritual practise seems to have gotten an ill reputation. It is not uncommon to hear or to read about teachers who proclaim that there is no need to practise and yet, unconsciously we are always engaged in some form of ‘self-practise’. What you consider ‘natural’ is generally a manifestation of a habit you have practised over time. You have practised reading for so long that now it appears ‘effortless’. You have probably even practised being angry for so long that anger just ‘spontaneously manifests’. Spiritual Practise can work against the flow of one’s habits and the reinforcement of a separate personality. When most teachers denounce practise, what they are actually encouraging us to do, is to question our motive for why it is that we want to practise.

Realisation is always in the moment, and so, taking up any form of practise in order to attain realisation is to miss the point of practising. Our attention is being dictated to, by the mass-conditioning of our consumer-consumed culture. Spiritual practise creates banks in which the river of our attention flows, without being diverted into the ocean of realisation. The path IS the way. Nothing stops you from being in the moment, so why not be in the moment whilst practising? Spiritual practise does not give you anything but the invitation to be more present. Realisation is never the result of practise, but spiritual practise is the invitation to be here and now, with vigilance, as opposed to enforcing your habits and reactions.

Spiritual life is not something to tend to, not something you dip your feet into, every now and then and not some module to keep ticking. Spiritual life is being conscious as much as you can, at being mindful of the Mystery, wherever you are and with whatever you are doing. Interestingly enough that can end up being a practise by itself, dismantling any form of separation between practise and life.


Extract from "Seeking Surrender":© Akash Maharaj [www.akashom.wordpress.com], [2010

joejo's picture

The devil is in Detail

I largely go with the spirit of the post but would like to bring out certain gloss or incompleteness which could be due to my limited perception.

What is the practice that one gets frustrated with. Practice is to become more conscious and is that not the means to an end. And what is the end? Isn't death (of the ego or self image) the end of practice and not disillusionment. There is no single practice that is panacea for all or for oneself at all times.

Our motives don't change so easily unless we want to write a book. This very change is more than half the work and comes through much toil and suffering unless one is dreaming of true change of Heart.

Realisation could be a start of a journey. When one realises that he is going south instead of going north it would make him turn around but the journey still is to be taken. I will elucidate lest I get bombarded by "truth is here & now and antithetical to effort". I realise that all methods sooner or later become mechanical, yet I have to look at means to avoid mechanical behaviour without a method or by changing them (Spiritual exercises) before they become mechanical. Then realisation is not a one time thing and should become a living fact.

Then you speak of attention rather loosely. Attention could also be from without a center or without our conditioning. All practice is to arrive at this free attention if one could call it that.

Truth is never for the weak hearted or the mass at large, though all possess the potential--- "For many are called, but few are chosen."

joejo | Sun, 04/25/2010 - 02:43
Azeemi's picture

Practice = Training

Get a guru! He will tell the difference between the animal or human in you. To become a human from animal, one surely needs hardwork, called spiritual training and practice. We, as souls, are sentenced to a physical life the moment the we enter the womb. Sure, without training and practice, we cannot re-discover our spiritual self. Otherwise, even a donkey has a soul, and it works really hard....;) Cheerz!


Azeemi | Sun, 05/09/2010 - 12:12