Diving in – Judith Lief

2010 March 25
Dive In - Photo by Mike Baird http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/2843864615/

Dive In - Photo by Mike Baird http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/2843864615/

Buddhadharma magazine ran a great series on “Going it Alone” in their Spring 2010 issue and delved into the secret lives of solitary practitioners and their various experiences. There’s a great piece by Judith Lief titled “Get Ready to Dive In” which I wish I had in my hands back when I was a teenager scouring my local library and second hand booksellers for anything with Buddha or Buddhism in the title. I didn’t have a sangha in my community and through word of mouth, I was able to find a woman who I had coffee with a few times who had been on retreats and traveled to hear Buddhist teachings. I was overwhelmed and filled my head with a jumble of readings – some a bit too advanced for my level of experience or examination so no doubt, I became frustrated with the process.

Judith’s article speaks much to this and she gives one of the most profound, yet simple pieces of advice that I’ve seen in some time –

So before you launch into further study, study yourself.

I was fortunate to study and practice at the Halifax Shambhala Centre and then completed the Sacred Path Shambhala training program at the Montreal Shambhala Centre. This gave me a greater sense of discipline and a structured and graduated way of discovering the Buddhist path under the watchful eyes of generous teachers who challenged and supported me along the way. I then found a local Nalandabodhi group to begin Buddhist studies with and have found my study to have been enriched by their primary belief that Buddhism is a ‘science of the mind’. Geeks!!

For those who like the support of a community, many schools and centers are offering their curriculum in the digital space not to mention all many who make up the digital sangha of the buddhablogospher/ twangha.  Of the two experiences I’ve had on the path, I personally appreciate both, each for their own reasons. As a lazy meditator, I really need the support of folks around me as I can get caught up in householder tasks if I stay in my home with the good intention to press behind to cushion. It’s all about balance for me and I do feel challenged in keeping my online participation at a happy medium.


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