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Lions Roar : March 2006
spiritual path, and a sense of mind beyond relative time WHEN WE TALK ABOUT stages on the path, in relationship to our meditation practice, we have a prob- lem with the terminology. We tend to think of a staircase: we take the first step, and then we take the next step and the step after that. We think meditation practice is like being in an elevator. As things become defined or clarified on the path, we go up in the elevator, and the numbers of each floor appear as we rise from one stage to the next. The problem is that meditation is not like progressing through stage after stage after stage. Rather, meditation is more like the process of growing up and aging. Although you may celebrate your birthday on a particular day, that doesn't mean that, when you blow your candle out at your party, you suddenly go from being two years old to being three. In growing up, there is a process of evolution, a process of de- velopment. That is precisely the issue as far as meditation practice is concerned. Meditation is not based on stages, but it is a process that takes place in you. Such a process takes place in accordance with your life situation. In the Buddhist tradition, it has often been recommended that you become a monk or nun, leave your home and family, leave all your relatives, your village, your province, and then join another home, which is called a monastery. However, we have a problem here. If you leave home and become an inmate of a monastery, you are re-establishing yourself as "being at home." You left home, but you have found an- other home. Conscience, your sense of right and wrong, is very powerful here. You may feel that you are in a better home, one that is a divinely enlightened and improved home sanctioned by the buddhas. Or for Christians in a Christian monastery, they would feel it's sanctioned by God. That is another problem. SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2006 43