When we withdraw from excessive worldly stimulation and learn to put a priority on simplicity and solitude, our concentration, clarity, and wisdom increases as does our confidence in the Dharma and thruth we’ve learned. The Sons and Daughters of Buddhas all follow this practice.
Lama Das’ Commentary: Our lives are often so completely filled with distracting situations that we can’t focus on what’s important. When we find solitude and “simplify, simplify, simplify” as Thoreau said, our priorities become apparent. This is one of the values of retreats. Buddhist masters would often go into solitary retreat for years. In this new century, of course, we feel blessed if we can find a weekend, a day, or even an hour to meditate and reflect on ways to simplify our lives. It’s wise to make certain that we find some solitary time.
Self-Examination: Am I consistently prioritizing what really matters?
Shihan Henderson’s Commentary:
Today’s world is very hectic. We are placed with many, many demands: spouses, family, work, associations and time for ourselves as well. Amongst all the pressures and distractions it is very difficult to find the time for Budo practice. Often, we find ourselves running from one place to the next and to the next only to rush off later in the day to Budo. We arrive already tired and in a hurry to complete the class in order to attend to the remaining errands and responsibilities of the day. Because of this, the special nature of the Budo lesson has been lost. We need to purposefully make time for Budo – as we would make time for a loved one – since it helps to reinforce us as our loved ones do.
Moreover, we often focus on our responsibilities to others and unwittingly miss out on the responsibility we have to ourselves. Budo is a responsibility to ourselves, it is something that we need to complete for our own benefit. We have a choice in how we look at it. In the frenzied example above, we can look at the Budo lesson as just another external responsibility or task that we are required to complete by day’s end. Or, we can look at it as a gift to ourselves. We can choose to look at our time studying Budo as a loving gift we give to ourselves several times a week where we take the time to listen and respond to our own wants and needs.
We can certainly look at it as stress management but we can go further than that and look at it as a time to water the special plant or flower that is each and every one of us. Think of the mental picture of you doing something purposefully as a third person for the benefit of your most inner person. Show yourself some love and take the time to pamper the inner self by watching yourself grow through Budo practice. This way your studies will take on a wholly more intimate and personal dimension and your self confidence and self esteem will grow as a consequence.
Practically speaking, come to Budo practice and complete a ritual that will help you break the monotonous everyday schedule. Do something that will tell yourself that you are now about to engage in something for yourself. Talk to yourself, meditate, or be fully aware each time you put on your practice uniform, gi: focusing on the class you are about to begin. Most of all, take the time to calm yourself by focusing on your breathing. When we take the time to notice, we see that we are often much more stressed-out than we think. Be conscious of that fact and practice letting the stress leave your body. Your Budo will appreciate the gift and you will enjoy your studies that much more.
Am I giving my Budo studies the personal priority it deserves. Am I giving myself the personal priority I deserve. Is Budo practice just another thing during the day or am I looking at it as a special gift that I give to myself. Is my mental state and attitude enabling me to get the very most out of my studies as I deserve and should? Or, is my mind too clogged with events of the day and my worries of other things that need to be done. How can I simplify my life so that I might be less distracted and more centred both for Budo and the others that I love.