Last night a number of the monks had an opportunity to go up to Ajahn Dtun’s kuṭi for a discussion on Dhamma. One of the themes brought up was the tendency for personal standards to decline in one’s practice. This is an important trend to examine.
We can look at the direction our practice has taken over time— how we started, how we’ve been practicing, and where our practice seems to be headed. That’s something for us monastics to explore because we can sometimes think of our practice as merely the form of being in robes. But actually, it’s the heart that’s practicing; the practice is not about taking on a role or simply putting on a robe.
So we should ask ourselves, “Where is this leading, in the long run? What is the destination of the practice I’m doing now?”
There are two extremes for monastics that come to mind. One is moving toward the sense world, which strikes me as a nihilistic place with an emptiness to it. The other is moving toward some state of being—becoming a certain type of person, identifying with a role or believing that our goal is to become something different, improved, efficient, or whatever. These are the two extremes.
So we can reflect on this and ask ourselves, “Is my practice moving in the direction of cessation and peace? Or is it moving toward the world of the senses or becoming?”
We can bring mindfulness and attention to this inquiry so as to see the direction of our practice. Once we see this direction clearly, we can reflect on what we need to adjust or correct.
We do this so that our practice is moving in a more direct, straight, and less wavering direction toward a state of peace, understanding, and calm.
This reflection by Ajahn Yatiko is from the book, Beginning Our Day, Volume One, (pdf) pp. 220-221.