Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Daily Dharma: The Art of Dharma Practice

Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle presents what I consider the "correct" view of Dharma practive, that the real work is in our daily lives, not only in the time we spend on the cushion. Western Buddhists place a lot of emphasis on meditation as the Buddhist practice, but here Batchelor points out that our practice should be more expansive than that.

The Art of Dharma Practice

The art of dharma practice requires commitment, technical accomplishment, and imagination. As with all arts, we will fail to realize its full potential if any of these three are lacking. The raw material of dharma practice is ourself and our world, which are to be understood and transformed according to the vision and values of the dharma itself. This is not a process of self- or world-transcendence, but one of self- and world-creation.

The denial of “self” challenges only the notion of a static self independent of body and mind -- not the ordinary sense of ourself as a person distinct from everyone else. The notion of a static self is the primary obstruction to the realization of our unique potential as an individual being. By dissolving this fiction through a centered vision of the transiency, ambiguity, and contingency of experience, we are freed to create ourself anew.

~ Stephen Batchelor, Buddhism Without Beliefs; from Everyday Mind, a Tricycle book edited by Jean Smith.


Unknown said...


I agree with what you write, but have a problem with the limitedness of Batchelor's dichotomy.

Is the choice only between a false transcendence and a phoenix of our own choosing arising out of the ashes?

If our practice finds us joyously bound to the fortunes of all sentience, then bodhicitta limits our options. We emerge proscribed by the dictate of what aids All.

PeterAtLarge said...

Bill, have you come across the new collaborative site I just launched, "Accidental Dharma: The Gift Wrapped in Shit." It asks for stories about those teachings that reach us unasked for, often unwelcome--and yet rich. Best to you for the holidays.

william harryman said...

Hi Peter --

Yeah I have -- and I added the feed to my reader. Looks interesting.

Happy holidays to you as well.


william harryman said...


Yeah Batchelor's position is a bit limited. You make a good point.

I tend to like him, and in this case I was resonating with the idea of practice as art, and that our lives are the material of that art.