Spiritual Discipline

Kadam Morten: As an alternative, so to speak, to religion, people these days use the word, “spirituality,” a lot.  And I guess one of the problems with that term is that it’s vague, and perhaps it’s intentionally vague.  Buddhism or at least in our presentation of Buddhism, we don’t talk about spirituality as such, rather, a spiritual path with a very specific beginning, middle and end that involves discipline.  

We have to be disciplined in how we approach nurturing our heart.  If we simply allow our normal everyday habits to sort of run the show, well, what are our normal everyday habits?  At least with regards to our mind, it’s often we just get caught up on the things that make us unhappy or the things that make us feel unfulfilled or the things that make us angry.  Our mind, basically at this point in time, is not trained, it’s out of control, it goes often to those thoughts that bring us down or make us feel stuck.  We feel like we can’t change.  

So what Buddhism shows us is that actually, you can get in touch with your heart and you can change, but it will require effort.  Any real change is, of course, going to require effort.  So it’s not just about, like, being open, something like that, it’s about very specifically connecting to the good qualities in your heart and then learning to focus on them and expand them through applying various methods like, let’s say, a meditation on love, just as an example.

We have many meditations, but when you meditate on love, what you do is you contemplate, for example – there are different ways you can do it, but one way is that you contemplate that everybody else is, at heart, just like yourself; wishing to be happy and wishing to be free from suffering.  So at heart, they’re just like you.  And when you think about that in meditation as regards to the people in your life, what happens is, you feel a connection.  It’s like, oh, you’re not different, you’re not separate  You’re just like me.  And something happens in your heart and you feel close and connected to them.  

So, when that experience comes in your mind through your contemplation, then what you want to do is you want to mix your mind with it.  You want to absorb into that experience of love.  It’s kind of like you’re going to pickle your mind, pickle your mind in the experience of love, so that it begins to saturate you, so to speak, so that your tendency to get angry with that person or to feel jealous of that person gradually dissipates.  

But, of course, once you finish the meditation, you can’t just forget it.  You then have to do your best to keep practicing it as you walk about in your daily life, when you’re at work, when you’re with your friends, when you’re shopping, when you’re vacuuming or doing whatever.  It’s a very clear, specific spiritual path that helps you get in touch with your potential and actualize it. 

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

The trouble with the term "spirituality," says Buddhist teacher Kadam Morten, is that it doesn't automatically convey the discipline involved in successful spiritual practice.

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