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Lions Roar : September 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2008 19 WHATEVER OUR LEVEL OF MEDITATION PRACTICE, there will always be obstacles. The Tibetan word for obstacle, parche, means “what cuts our progress.” In fact, sometimes the more we are engaged in practice, the greater the obstacles become, but if we understand that obstacles are part of the spiritual path, we can learn from them. Obstacles can be messages, signals that we need to wake up and look at what is going on. On a deeper, more profound level, we can include obstacles in our journey. There are outer, inner, and secret obstacles. An outer obstacle is anything in the external world that distracts us from our de- velopment as a practitioner. For example, being busy becomes an obstacle to practice. Being overly involved with our family can keep us from practicing. Entertainment can be an obstacle: a hobby takes over our life, and suddenly we are not practicing. On a more subtle level, if our mind is continuously looking for a quality of entertainment, that is definitely an obstacle. Obstacles on the inner level have to do with our practice. The most common inner obstacle is concept. Conceptuality might manifest as fixation on one particular idea, which begins to sway us from the path. Another way it manifests is as a heavy level of discursiveness that keeps us from focusing on the object of our meditation—our mind is constantly wandering off, and so our energy is scattered. Another inner obstacle is heavy emotion. If we become possessed by anger, vindictiveness, jealousy, ambi- tion, or desire, our progress will be hindered. Obstacles on the secret level have to do with view. We have doubts about the path, lacking trust in the dharma. Obviously, if our mind is seized by doubt it is difficult to practice, and even when we do Obstacles + Antidotes = Realization Obstacles aren’t to be avoided. When we apply the right antidotes, they are the path itself. SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE diagnoses the different types of obstacles we face and prescribes the proper remedies. MUSÉENATIONALD’ARTMODERNE,CENTREGEORGESPOMPIDOU.©SAMUELL.FRANCISFOUNDATION/SODRAC(2008).PHOTOCREDIT:CNAC/MNAM/DIST.RÉUNIONDESMUSÉESNATIONAUX/ARTRESOURCE,NY. Sam Francis, “Untitled” (1977) SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE is the spiritual leader of Shambhala, an international network of Buddhist meditation and retreat centers. He is the author of Turning the Mind into an Ally and Ruling Your World. SEPT 18-39.indd 19 SEPT 18-39.indd 19 7/3/08 1:29:55 PM 7/3/08 1:29:55 PM