I guess the best place to start is with the teaching itself:
Take on the three principle causes.As usual, UnfetteredMind.org had a different translation: "Foster three key elements." Not much help there, but the brief explanation did give me some insight:
"The three elements are: a teacher, an effective practice, and conditions conducive to practice."But what do those really mean...?
Well, Judy Lief (as is typical) resolved things for me right away:
"It is good to be aware of the convergence of circumstances that makes it possible for you to practice the dharma. By attending to the underpinnings that support you on the path, you can create and maintain a strong base for moving forward. You can develop greater appreciation for your good fortune, and not take it for granted."She then goes on to talk about how each of us who found the dharma had someone, whether it was a friend or a book or a movie or something, that brought it to our attention. We also have begun the work of mind training. Finally, we have a way to continue that mind training because our financial and social and spiritual lives are conducive to the work. We may not have all of these elements at the same time, and need to look to which of the three might be lacking. We also need to reach out to others and try to help them along the path.
All of this made me smile since I'm giving a talk next week at a librarian conference. I'm actually one of the keynote talks (gulp!), so it will be me talking to *everyone* attending the conference - all at once. And the reason I smiled? Because I'm going to talk about a basic part of Buddhism: how attachment is the source of suffering, and a lot of it is our attachment to who we think we should be and how we think things should turn out. I won't be proselytizing, per se, but I may be that first source of the dharma for someone in the audience.
Regardless, Lief's advice will inform a lot of my practice this week:
"What kinds of supports could you put in place to help strengthen your practice? Do you need more guidance (the first cause), more confidence and conviction (the second cause), or a more stable social or economic base (the third cause)?"I am confident in the guidance I've found - attending to each of the tenets in turn, one per week, helps tremendously. I'm not lacking for conviction - I see how this plays out in my life and can feel results. I do, however, need to work on my social and spiritual base.
So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.