Articles

Dharma indigestion

It happened four years ago, out of the blue. A nagging thought or fear just sprout in my mind.

As it refines itself, I became aware of its form.

It was a fear that I will forget everything as I age. Or loose my knowledge if I became afflicted by a disease that cripple the mind.

As I examine and come to terms with this fear, I realised that the Dharma that I treasured is not mine yet.

It remains a knowledge in my mind. Something that is learnt but not realised. Something that can be easily forgotten. Just like some abstract maths I had learnt in my teens.

Like many Buddhist students, obtaining Buddhist knowledge can be extremely satisfying for our craving mind.

It males us feel knowledgeable, that feeling gives rise to the misperception that we have grown in wisdom

Yet, for some, this knowledge can be daunting. Somewhere deep inside of us, we know that it is not us. The virtues of patience, charity, compassion, ego less, emptiness etc doesn’t measure up to our daily challenges.

It is fortunate if we have such realisation.

To own a Dharma, we need to practice.

Before we start practicing, we need to have confidence that it is worth practicing. Question such as ‘ will the practice of compassion make me a wimp?’ Is important. To have such questions, we need to contemplate with a critical mind.

In order to have something to contemplate, we need to have dharma knowledge. That is obtained through reading and listening.

In short, the process is

1. Obtain knowledge

2. Contemplate the knowledge

3. Put into practice.

When we are successful with 3. We own the dharma.

Many of us are stuck with 1 and 2.

Thus we have dharma indigestion. Our mind become busier than before. It feels like our mind needs to puke.

The solution is not simply to abstain from learning dharma.

Instead, give ourselves a break of at least 2 weeks. Put your knowledge into practice and experience dharma in life.

Just like eating, our spiritual growth cannot sustain if we stop acquiring knowledge. On the other hand, if we keep stuffing ourselves with knowledge, we never truly own it. A balanced approach is better.

In the Buddha’s time, practitioners will acquire instruction from their teachers. Then they will practice on their own to gain results. Then request for further instruction. One step at a time, they progress towards enlightenment.

May all be well and happy.

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