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Lions Roar : November 2008
65 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2008 practice, so we always have something to go back to. We also have a kind of mutual practice that’s given us a lot of strength. When I first met her I didn’t know exactly how much she practiced, but Khandro Tseyang is a very regular practitioner. She gets up every morning and does her prac- tice. So yes, we encourage each other to maintain our practice and stabilize it. Khandro Tseyang, what differences do you see between the way we view marriage in the West and the way marriage is practiced in the society you were brought up in? Shambhala Sun: Is a relationship itself a form of spiritual practice? Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche: Relationship is the training ground for practice, and it’s also the place where your practice is tested. If you’re trying to practice compassion, a relationship will show you how well you’re dealing with your own mind. Sometimes there’s a big gap between theory and prac- tice. Outside, you can pretend you’re prac- ticing compassion, but when you’re trying to practice compassion with the people who are close to you, you see how theoreti- cal it is. Family is the heaviest karmic situ- ation; your own character and practice are at stake all the time. You have to be a really talented practitioner in order to do it well. Khandro Tseyang: As a Buddhist prac- titioner, my practice on the path helps a great deal in maintaining our relationship and also in understanding the relation- ship. Having a lot of patience and being able to compromise is another thing that I feel makes the relationship lasting and strong. Having inner practice definitely helps strengthen and stabilize the rela- tionship. Not being fickle-minded helps make the relationship steady. What specific practices would you recom- mend that help in a relationship? Khandro Tseyang: The most important practices are to be patient, of course, to have understanding, and to be able to compromise. Those are the three prac- tices that I would recommend to stabilize a relationship. I also do many other kinds of meditation practices—mostly Tara and Yeshe Tsogyal practice, but also Guru Rinpoche and a lot of others. Sakyong Mipham, what specific Buddhist practices would you recommend? Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche: What’s most helpful are simple practices that stabilize the mind—sitting practice or deity practice, for example, anything that helps you take re- sponsibility for your mind. You have to do something daily so you can reflect on what is happening, because what often happens in a relationship is that you just assume you’re right. There’s no reflection happening. There has to be some kind of space to say, “Hmmm, I was a little quick to draw that conclusion,” or, “Was I patient enough?” So if your practice is helping you see how your mind is reacting to things, that’s helpful— it’s how you learn to have gentleness and compassion. And even if you’re only prac- ticing for a short time every day, it’s good to be consistent. When your relationship becomes unstable, daily practice helps you internalize and stabilize it. Do you encourage each other to practice? Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche: Definitely. We’re both working on our individual NOV 64-67.indd 65 NOV 64-67.indd 65 9/1/08 12:22:45 PM 9/1/08 12:22:45 PM