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Lions Roar : March 2015
I F YOU ARE INSPIRED to establish a personal medita- tion practice or explore the Buddhist teachings, what is the best way to go about it? For many of us, it’s a very different path than it used to be. Traditionally, aspiring students would often have to undergo a difficult journey to find a genuine teacher and receive teachings from that master. After they were accepted by the teacher, they could then rely on the sangha, the commu- nity of fellow practitioners, to support their practice and study. Today, some practitioners still choose the traditional path of finding a teacher and joining a sangha. But many people who are interested in Buddhist practice and philosophy are not inclined to commit to one particular teacher or organization. Or they do not have direct access to a dharma teacher or a com- munity of practitioners. Or they’re just not ready to take that step at this point on their spiritual path. Although it is challenging, the good news is that if you are going it alone, you have the resources you need. According to the dharma, we naturally bend toward awakening, just like a plant bends toward the sun. It’s who we are. In the West today, there is a greater abundance of dharma books, dharma programs, dharma magazines, and dharma teachers than ever before. There are YouTube videos of You Have Everything You Need You have a mind, body, thoughts, and a natural bent toward awakening. From that great beginning, Buddhist teacher JUDY LIEF offers helpful guidelines for the path ahead of you. renowned teachers at your fingertips. You can find an over- whelming number of articles about Buddhism online, and if you ask Google even the most obscure dharma questions, you will find a variety of answers. There is no lack of information— and no lack of misinformation either. But even with all these resources, when it gets right down to it, becoming a practitioner is a do-it-yourself project. For- tunately, though you are on your own, you can learn from the experiences of others. Here are a few simple guidelines that can help you establish a meditation practice and progress on the path of dharma. View Keep coming back to your initial inspiration Something has inspired you to be interested in actually trying out the meditative practices you have heard about. Many fac- tors have come together to bring you to this point, pushing you from behind and drawing you forward. When you face challenges, it is good to come back over and over again to that first inspiration, when something fundamen- tal opened up within you. You may feel you are just starting but your journey began long ago. SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2015 53