Taking the Self Whole


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tranced84's picture

Thanks for the great talk Barry. I just started reading 'Ending the Pursuit of Happiness' and so far it is amazing; it's amazing how simple practice really is and honestly humbling how humans always tend to complicate things to the point of what I can only call stupidity because that's how I feel when I'm reading your books or listening to these talks! Humbled, surprised and, for lack of a better word, stupid that i , or WE, didn't 'get it' before! So to answer the question I guess I practice to hopefully end the suffering of ALL beings, serve and help my fellow man and uncomplicate existence. Namaste

Morann's picture

I sit because I'm sad. And so do you. Don't lie.

phil38's picture

I practice because I'm lighter from the experience.

barnesnr's picture

because I suffer

mahakala's picture

Why do we drink water and eat food?

ljf.mailbox's picture

I am practicing to, effectively, be relieved of suffering - mental, physical, spiritual, emotional. And perhaps to get past figuring out "who I am" and "what I am here for". The age old questions of life, the universe, and everything.

bluemala27's picture

Barry--I remember so little of my life clearly. What I do remember is mostly a memory of a memory. I'm filled with fiction and images. I've done much good and much harm...as have we all. Some I know about, some I don't. I want the time I have left to be real. I do realize I won't remember it either. Eventually, my brain will be gone and who knows what, if any, remains of our experience. But--while I'm here--I want to be fully here. That...is very very hard to do. But that is what I practice and why I practice.

--Barry (my name too ;) )

boiester's picture

I scare myself. Thanks Barry.

Judiek914's picture

Thank you for the dharma lesson. I am practicing to be in the moment and live a life of mindfulness. I'm not there yet but enjoying the journey.

Reinand Ortiz Feliciano's picture

I still haven't figure it out operationally, but I keep coming back to the cushion hoping I will either discover or find something.

donna10707's picture

The short answer to this is, because I didn't know what else to do. The longer answer is I was trying to find a way to relieve the anxiety that comes with dealing with events that I was unable to control, or just trying to deal with strong emotions. Meditation has helped in ways that I didn't foresee, unexpectedly away from my cushion. Thank you for this teaching!

Danbaba's picture

seems when I am sitting I drift to not sitting and when I am not sitting I drift to sitting .
... yet after years of this ... I can't imagine one without the other. It does seem somewhat pointless.
Practicing is to me a safe place ... a place and time everyday that I feel
" I am exactly where I am supposed to be .... not doing something I am supposed to be doing "

cfosser's picture

Thank you for this talk. I don't know why I practice, or even if what I do is practice, it is more just being now. It wasn't always this way. I started practicing because it releaved the suffering that was so pervasive in my life - opening a window to peace within. As a driven perfectionist, I was innately drawn to the freedom from that 'achievement' pressure that practice offers - or at least it did for me. It started out as a means of escape and then began to be a way back to all the mess that I was escaping. By just being with the moment with all its imperfections both within and without, it started to be a more familiar place and much less scary. To embrace it all without judgement has slowly quieted that internal critic and surprisingly brought about less suffering. Instead of transforming, I just stopped all 'improvement' goals and to my surprise found my life improving. Over the years I have made friends with my dark drivers a bit, and pracitce took me there, but more as a side effect than an intention. Without practice, I would maybe have never found my way to this space where I have opened up and accepted whatever is there as just me, just you, just life. Oh, but what a very, very incredible life this is!

myers_lloyd's picture

Thank you.

sliben's picture

Practice is a means for me to live out (i.e. embody) the most important question of my life, that is - "how to live?"

lschaden's picture

I came to practice to try to deal with anger. In practice I have begun to learn how my mind works and that is the primary reason I continue to practice. But practice has also opened up my heart to the people around me and I continue practice to keep opening more because I find the world a better place when I approach it with an open heart.

Thank you for this talk.

Barry Magid's picture

Thank you all for your responses to my question of why you are practicing. Looking through them, I see most walk the fine line between wanting to face life more honestly or fully and on the other hand to escape some aspect of life or of our own minds we feel we cannot bear. Buddha did promise "an end to suffering" in the Four Noble Truths, but the Heart Sutra seems to negate that promise declaring that there is "no suffering, no cause of suffering, no extinguishing, no path, no wisdom and no gain." To reconcile these two positions we have to see that we "end" suffering by entering fully into life as it is, not ascending to some transcendent realm beyond suffering. We have to make our practice something other than a kind of spiritual escapism (hiding in the clouds of samadhi) or an endless (and ultimately fruitless) technology of mind control. How to ground our practice in goalless presence, how to experience the vistas that paradoxically open up when practice ceases to be a means to an end, will be the subject of the next talks...

noradhussey's picture

I practice to quiet the mind and experience what is happening at that moment, to know it, feel it . It brings peace in my life.

Jjbird4575's picture

I practice to experience the oneness of life. This feeling is so often ignored or even discouraged in society and this separation causes pain. Thank you for your teaching.

flyrcairplanes's picture

I was practicing because I wanted things to be different than they are. With a recent family loss I am hit with the ugly looking reality that all the practice in the world isn't going to accomplish this.

rhafe's picture

Thank you for this. One reason I'm practicing, perhaps the only one, is to prepare for my death. I think maybe when I can accept dying, I can fully live.

cab88's picture

thank you barry for this talk.
it is significant to me to bring practice, the understanding of practice, on this down-to-earth and human level. when i started with my first teacher ( and was with him for a long time ) my idea of meditation was somehow: to get it, to experience this great moment, to have this once-and-for-all-breakthrough ....and then everything will be light, happy, easy, full of humor, my heart will constantly overflow, a feeling of deep connection with everything, everyone and all in me.
slowly, i have to admit to myself, that this has not happened. yes, it has happend again and again for a short period of time, often during and after sesshin. and the frustration returned: not being able to hold it, to preserve it.
having come in touch with jokos books and your talks, slowly i start seeing these ideas and my idealization of practice. and realizing that really being with whatever is, really touching the full experience of a moment ( whatever the content ), really allowing friendship with the texture of the moment is different, needs courage and is quite challenging - and so deeply satisfying...when it happens.

why am i practicing?
i want to achieve a state of independence and happiness, not being too much touched and thrown around by life, having a state from where i can act consciously, cool and warm together...island-feelings.
mmmhh, the question is with me, thank you for that, barry

Hanny2's picture

why am I really practicing? because i don't want to be unhappy.

Barry Magid's picture

The paradox of practice is that we do indeed practice to realize perfection --- but to realize it as already present, regardless of our efforts, irrespective of the content of this moment. This is perfection as "suchness" -or life as it is - which is never what we had in mind when we started out. Furthermore, the challenge is not simply to have (as a result of our efforts, of course) a moment in which we realize "this is IT" but to recognize all those OTHER moments when we say to ourselves, "This isn't it" as also IT....

kcwd50's picture

Very grateful for this discussion; it's great to have a retreat by the guy who wrote Ending the Pursuit of Happiness, which I found very helpful. Am enjoying this a lot.
Why do I practice? Why, to become perfect, of course--haha! Finally, after a few decades, I am starting to get past some of that. I do want to be less selfish and less angry, and, like Alanbell 1969 above, my life definitely goes better when I practice. (I might not have survived the last few years before retirement without it!) I'm finally starting to see "practice" as something that goes on all the time, not just while sitting in meditation.

bmw's picture

Thanks for your insight and some great questions! Always looking for perspective......I enjoyed and appreciate yours on this subject.

skiathos3g's picture

I am practicing to enter the moments, and to understand or prefigure how those moments will go. In other words searching for openness to experience yet ticking off the ways things at work will go, or how I expect, want, hope they will go. Maybe, I am practicing to let go. But can't.

Sarah11.11's picture

Such a great point and great question! I gave it much thought and realized that my fantasy is "winning" in wisdom to make up for other areas in life I feel I have lost, or disappointed myself. Very enlightening :)

alanbell_1969's picture

Thank You. Really enjoyed the first talk.

In answer to the questions you posed at the end of the talk.

I am practicing because when I 'don't' practice my life runs with less ease. Ultimately, I am 'really' practicing to be free from suffering and to live with even more ease / equanimity.

Thanks, Alan

zenja's picture

thanks for this great piece of teaching

Barry Magid's picture

We all begin practice with goals, some conscious, some unconscious. Practice itself offers the opportunity to make explicit, make conscious to ourselves, what I call our "secret practice" --- the self-centered goals we all bring to the cushion one way or another. So our practice is to be present & to be honest - and our honesty about the frustrations and fantasies that arise through sitting will begin to make clear to us what we are "really" sitting for. Practice in this sense works by way of a process of deconstructing what brought us to it in the first place. An endless process of acknowledgement & subtraction as one goal after another falls away.

Marc4a's picture

Barry, Thank you for this, I truly appreciate the question of why we practice. I started to answer this question for myself and realized I was creating a purpose or goal for practicing which confused me. I was stating "expected outcomes" of my practice. Help me understand the relationship between the practice itself and having a goal or purpose for my practice. Is answering the question as to why we practice setting expectations, for which we should not have. Is this not the cause of our suffering desire for a perceived outcome?

bizen's picture

A great relief to hear someone so clearly explore "forgetting the self"