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Lions Roar : July 2018
ILLUSTRATIONSBYCAROLEHÉNAFF HOW DO WE BECOME ONE with the dharma, the Buddhist teachings? One way is through meditation practice, another is through study, and a third is through our behavior. This trio of meditation, study, and action is a brilliant system of checks and balances in which each component challenges and supports the other two. It’s what allows the dharma to seep into the nooks and crannies of your life. Among Western Buddhists, meditation gets more press than study or action. In JUDY LIEF is a Buddhist teacher and editor of many teachings by the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. She’s the author of Making Friends with Death. HOW TO PRACTICE Reading Dharma Studying Buddhist teachings is different from learning other subjects. JUDY LIEF shows you how to read the dharma so that it really changes you. the modern world, it can feel as if we’re drowning in a sea of concepts, words, and a continuous onslaught of data. In this context, meditation seems like a noncon- ceptual oasis, but something is lost when we divorce meditation from its comple- mentary disciplines of study and action. Studying the Buddhist teachings builds clarity and confidence. It sharpens the intellect and protects the meditator from becoming dull and complacent. Study and practice are a dynamic duo. When you get too heady, meditation practice can reground you. When you get too spacey, study can infuse clarity and brightness into your meditation experience. But how do practice and study intersect with the rest of your life? This is where action comes in. While it’s great to cultivate mindfulness and compassion through meditation and study, the real test is when you engage in the world. Do you walk the talk? The component of action is about how the mindfulness and kindness you cultivate are expressed in your everyday life—in your relationships, work, and behavior. It’s in the context of the threefold dharma components—study, practice, and action—that I’d like to introduce a way of study called “close reading” or “active reading” of the Buddhist teach- ings. This practice can be done individu- ally, in pairs, or in small groups. LION’S ROAR | JULY 2018 27 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE