Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dharma Dieting

It is said that if you want to be healthier, you shouldn't think in terms of diets. Dieting has come to be associated with a short term change in eating behavior. The same is true of exercise. To be really effective it should seen as something you are incorporating or integrating into your life, not as an "add-on" and certainly not as a dreaded inconvenience. Yes, short term diet and exercises routines can help you lose a few pounds and have a fitter appearance, but unless you were already in a near ideal state of physical shape and already had a very healthy lifestyle to begin with, the benefits of such changes will be ephemeral. This is true of any real change someone may want to make to improve their condition. It requires a serious commitment. And yet I have often treated Buddhism as a kind of diet. A Dharma diet.

I suspect that many of the same problems that plague would-be weight dieters also plague would-be suffering dieters such as myself. Old habits. Doubts about where you can really do it. Lethargy and lack of energy/enthusiasm. The prospect of giving up things you enjoy and trading them for things that appear less pleasant or interesting. And in the middle of it all, lack of commitment.

I have tried before, and believe that I failed. I tried again, and failed. Repeatedly. I started to wonder if the effort is worth it. After all, I tend to have such enthusiasm each time I start, then it runs down, my confidence deflates, and my efforts become erratic and eventually fizzle out. I tried again, and failed.

But does that mean that the method or the goal is flawed or just not suitable for me? It could. It is also possible I simply didn't give the program a chance to work. I asked a very wise and patient person about this, and he suggested the same thing. The power of bad habits, the lack of confidence, and the lack of enthusiasm may simply be interfering with the successful application of the Buddha's insights and recommendations that keep them from being effective in producing good results.

Do I approach your practice with an open mind and a willingness to give it the benefit of the doubt? Yes. Then do I apply yourself to the practice sincerely and diligently, or do I approach it sporadically or with trepidation? I have to say it is more often than not the latter. Assuming that to really know if the practice works one has to give it a fair try, in this case a fair try means really embracing it as if I absolutely believe it is really worth the effort and sticking with it for a respectable amount of time.

So where's the problem? I think perhaps I never really developed a good foundation for my practice. I was intrigued and figured it was worth a try, and when I found a sangha whose monastics were so enthusiastic and had such great confidence, I never worked on cultivating such qualities on my own. Since I had to stop going and then to move, these defects in my attitude and fortitude have become apparent.

I have decided to "put my money where my blog is" and take the good advice I have received to practice the Dharma wholeheartedly. Additional suggestions, support, and encouragement is welcome. And I offer the same to you.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello! Thanks for leaving a comment.

Everything but spam and abusive comments are welcome. Logging in isn't necessary but if you don't then please "sign" at the end of your comment. You can choose to receive email notifications of new replies to this post for your convenience, and if you find it interesting don't forget to share it. Thanks!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...