How Can I Practice Zen If There Is No Benefit?

courage faith q&a sangha

Student: When people feel stuck or see no progress in their Zen practice, people usually come to lose their momentum to continue their practice. So they end up giving up practice. People are on the long and boring journey to reach the goal. How can we keep practice with no visible result or benefit for many years?

Jason: Helping other people. When we see that we already have this original clear nature, or Buddha nature, the practice isn’t about us anymore. It’s about perceiving this world clearly and realizing that it needs help. Our vow to help this world keeps us on this journey.

Student: Thank you for your answer, but I think it’s not enough for beginners.

Jason: There are hundreds of people in our school who have been practicing for a long time who were once beginners (some of us still are). If we are a beginner or not, we are still facing a simple truth. The Buddha spoke about this in the 2nd Noble Truth. If we are grasping after something, we will be dissatisfied. If we let go, we are free. There is no way out of this. Many of us came to practice because of desire. That is OK. There is nothing wrong with that. We have our Sangha as a guide to help us stay on the path. Behind our practice is a Great Question. What is this thing that is stuck? What is this thing that wants to progress? Why do you practice? Why do you eat every day? What are you? If we look at these questions with sincerity, then it all becomes very clear. Another important aspect of practice is having Great Courage. The courage to show up and really see our own mind. It is very difficult to do this by ourselves. Again, that is why Sangha is important. And the last thing is to have Great Faith. This is Faith that we are already enlightened. We already have this original clear nature. The practice is a tool to help us realize that.


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