Filed in Vipassana, Theravada

Sitting on the Fence

Sharon Salzberg

Wisdom Collection

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In order to practice, we have to surrender, we have to take a risk. Otherwise what we’re doing is standing back in order to judge, in order to feel superior. Often the obstacle is fear: we don’t think we’ll ever succeed. And so we’d rather stand apart and be cynical, to feel protected in that way, not having to try.

One of the strongest experiences that I had of this happened somewhat early in my practice when I was living in India. The first teachers I sat with were all either Burmese or had been trained in Burma, so they had different approaches stylistically in terms of technique, but they were essentially the same. Then one day, somebody showed me a picture of a Tibetan lama. I was very taken with his face, and traveled all the way to the other end of India to start practicing with him. I very quickly became confused. Unable to decide between the two traditions, I would sit to meditate and mostly I would just think, “Should I do this or should I do that? Maybe this is faster, maybe that is better; well, I like these people better who do this practice, but then again, I don’t know them really well . . .

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