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Q&A18: My Dharma practice does not seem to be very effective. What should I do?

Q: I often doze off during my Dharma ritual practice. Stuck in a cycle of progress and regress, sometimes I feel that I can’t achieve much in my practice and therefore lack the drive to carry on. What should I do? Acharya Zhiguang: There are many solutions in Buddhism to this problem. First, we must work harder on the basics, such as the practices of renunciation and Bodhicitta. The lack of motivation in our practice is often due to the lack of renunciation and Bodhicitta. If you have laid a very good foundation of renunciation and Bodhicitta, you will have…

2019.11.26

Q: I often doze off during my Dharma ritual practice. Stuck in a cycle of progress and regress, sometimes I feel that I can’t achieve much in my practice and therefore lack the drive to carry on. What should I do?

Acharya Zhiguang:

There are many solutions in Buddhism to this problem.

First, we must work harder on the basics, such as the practices of renunciation and Bodhicitta.

The lack of motivation in our practice is often due to the lack of renunciation and Bodhicitta. If you have laid a very good foundation of renunciation and Bodhicitta, you will have a strong motivation to practice. Therefore, if you need more drive, renunciation and Bodhicitta are exactly what you need to work on.

Second, when we are faced with problems in practice, such as lethargy, or not achieving the desirable effects, we should not get too fixated on it.

Third, there is a four-word pith instruction that can solve all the problems in our practice, that is: “Keep up the practice!”

Don’t worry about whether the effect of your practice is good or bad! If you doze off when chanting the sutras, it doesn’t matter! Continue when you wake up. If you feel exhausted, it doesn’t matter either! Go get some sleep and pick up the practice from where you left off.

In the end, it always comes down to these four words: “Keep up the practice.” So long as you keep in mind this four-word instruction and always stick to it, you will definitely become a Buddha. It is just as simple as that.

The biggest problem is not practicing at all. We always say that the biggest problem with meditation practice is that you do not meditate. Whoever keeps meditating will surely make progress. It is the same with any other Dharma practices: you will see the effects if you engage yourself in them. However, you should not expect your practice to generate immediate effects.

It is common to have setbacks, and to feel sometimes that the practice does not seem to work out. But is it possible that our practice will be totally ineffective? Absolutely not.All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and lineage Gurus have attained Buddhahood by practicing the Dharma, so how can our Dharma practices be totally ineffective? Our practices might seem ineffective sometimes, but we must know that it is due to the hindrances of the karma accumulated since beginningless time, or because we have not cultivated enough merits to achieve the desired effects. Yet it is impossible for our practice to be of no avail.

It is clearly stated in many scriptures that even chanting a mantra or prostrating only once will generate immeasurable merits. Such statements in the scriptures are the Buddha’s own words, which can be nothing but the truth. It is impossible for the Buddha to lie.

Many people say, “Why have I not seen any changes yet?” Don’t worry, and be patient. Just follow this four-word instruction and “Keep up the practice,” and one day you will see miraculous effects.

Even if you feel that the effect of your Buddhist practice is excellent today, it is not just because you studied yesterday. I have been studying Buddhism for more than 30 years. During these years, I have relied on nothing else but this four-word instruction-“keep up the practice.” There are no other secrets.

Therefore, I hope that everyone will keep on practicing the Dharma no matter what happens. Just “Keep up the practice.”

 

Q&A18: My Dharma practice does not seem to be very effective. What should I do?

Q&A18: My Dharma practice does not seem to be very effective. What should I do?

2019-11-25

Q: I often doze off during my Dharma ritual practice. Stuck in a cycle of progress and regress, sometimes I feel that I can’t achieve much in my practice and therefore lack the drive to carry on. What should I do?

Acharya Zhiguang:

There are many solutions in Buddhism to this problem.

First, we must work harder on the basics, such as the practices of renunciation and Bodhicitta.

The lack of motivation in our practice is often due to the lack of renunciation and Bodhicitta. If you have laid a very good foundation of renunciation and Bodhicitta, you will have a strong motivation to practice. Therefore, if you need more drive, renunciation and Bodhicitta are exactly what you need to work on.

Second, when we are faced with problems in practice, such as lethargy, or not achieving the desirable effects, we should not get too fixated on it.

Third, there is a four-word pith instruction that can solve all the problems in our practice, that is: “Keep up the practice!”

Don’t worry about whether the effect of your practice is good or bad! If you doze off when chanting the sutras, it doesn’t matter! Continue when you wake up. If you feel exhausted, it doesn’t matter either! Go get some sleep and pick up the practice from where you left off.

In the end, it always comes down to these four words: “Keep up the practice.” So long as you keep in mind this four-word instruction and always stick to it, you will definitely become a Buddha. It is just as simple as that.

The biggest problem is not practicing at all. We always say that the biggest problem with meditation practice is that you do not meditate. Whoever keeps meditating will surely make progress. It is the same with any other Dharma practices: you will see the effects if you engage yourself in them. However, you should not expect your practice to generate immediate effects.

It is common to have setbacks, and to feel sometimes that the practice does not seem to work out. But is it possible that our practice will be totally ineffective? Absolutely not.All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and lineage Gurus have attained Buddhahood by practicing the Dharma, so how can our Dharma practices be totally ineffective? Our practices might seem ineffective sometimes, but we must know that it is due to the hindrances of the karma accumulated since beginningless time, or because we have not cultivated enough merits to achieve the desired effects. Yet it is impossible for our practice to be of no avail.

It is clearly stated in many scriptures that even chanting a mantra or prostrating only once will generate immeasurable merits. Such statements in the scriptures are the Buddha’s own words, which can be nothing but the truth. It is impossible for the Buddha to lie.

Many people say, “Why have I not seen any changes yet?” Don’t worry, and be patient. Just follow this four-word instruction and “Keep up the practice,” and one day you will see miraculous effects.

Even if you feel that the effect of your Buddhist practice is excellent today, it is not just because you studied yesterday. I have been studying Buddhism for more than 30 years. During these years, I have relied on nothing else but this four-word instruction-“keep up the practice.” There are no other secrets.

Therefore, I hope that everyone will keep on practicing the Dharma no matter what happens. Just “Keep up the practice.”