Sunday, May 24, 2015

We Are Worthy: On Paying Heed that the Three Never Wane

When I picked up the card for the next tenet and read it, I had an immediate association. 
Pay heed that the three never wane.
Because of the way I'm wired, the popular culture association was powerful and immediate:

And it made me laugh. I set the thought aside and consulted the commentaries I use every week., as usual, gave me a different translation: "Take care to prevent three kinds of damage." Not the same thing as what I found on the card, but not enough different to make me think I'd gotten the wrong page. The explanation gave me something to consider, but didn't quite seem to go with what I'd read on the card:
"Lack of appreciation damages your relationship with your teacher. Lack of enthusiasm damages your practice. Lack of mindfulness in your behavior damages conditions conducive to practice."
I've learned that I can't skip, since Tricycle sometimes leaves me confused. I really do need both, and today was a good example. Lief's piece on this teaching put things into perspective. The three that need attention are the flip side of the three kinds of damage: devotion to those that teach us the dharma; appreciation for the practice and process of mind training; and a disciplined approach to the practice.

One warning she gives rang true for me:
"Our initial inspiration to study with a teacher or to practice the dharma has a tendency to fizzle away over time. It is one thing to enjoy a burst of enthusiasm, but it is quite another to keep going after the initial excitement wears off. But that is exactly the point when you begin to practice for real."
That fizzling is the reason I started this blog. Writing for a real (if small) audience gave me an external reason to be more disciplined. Sure, it's a bit of a crutch, but forming new habits can be hard and a bit of support helps.

Also, it turns out that my mind turning immediately to Wayne's World wasn't completely off-base. Lief warns against the kind of hero worship that can result from blind devotion to our teachers, devotion without the balancing factors of appreciation and discipline. The whole point behind the practice of loving kindness is knowing we are worthy.

Lief's advice for applying this teaching might not be something I can do this week, but I can think about how I've handled it in the past:
"Reflect on the balance of the three qualities of devotion, appreciation, and discipline in your practice. Notice the waxing and waning of inspiration on the path, and how easy it is to let your initial inspiration just fade away. When that happens, what brings you back?"
So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

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