"Practice"

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

"Practice"

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 14, 2009 1:55 am

Greetings,

Often people speak of "practice" in the Buddhist context.

As far as I can tell, there's not really an analogous expression for "practice" in the Pali Canon and in translations of suttas, you don't hear anyone mentioning their "practice" or the "practice" of others.

So, I thought it might be worth clarifying and discussing... what does "practice" mean to you?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: "Practice"

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu May 14, 2009 3:51 am

Good point; that you never see the term 'practice' and it seems to be a modern interpretation / translation.

For me practice is anytime we focus on mindfulness and concentration. Practice can be in the sitting meditation position or any other time when we notice or focus on mindfulness, concentration, or become consciously aware of our intentions toward the brahma viharas or paramitas.

And then the 'performance' is -- you guessed it -- life itself.
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Re: "Practice"

Postby kc2dpt » Thu May 14, 2009 3:58 am

Pretty much this:

"And what, monks, is right effort?

[i] "There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen.

[ii] "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen.

[iii] "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen.

[iv] "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort."

— SN 45.8
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: "Practice"

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 14, 2009 4:00 am

Greetings,

Interesting... TheDhamma seems to put a meditation/bhavana spin on it, Peter takes it to be Right Effort, and presumably others view it with different emphasis too.

When I think of "practice", I think of it wholistically in terms of the Noble Eightfold Path, with anything that contributes to Right X, being the "practice".

Thanks for the perspectives... keep 'em coming! :popcorn:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: "Practice"

Postby appicchato » Thu May 14, 2009 4:49 am

Thank you Peter...

For me, succinctly put, SN 45.8 says it all...
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Re: "Practice"

Postby Jechbi » Thu May 14, 2009 4:54 am

Howdy Retro,

Well, when I use the word "practice," I really mean the whole enchilada, everything we do to apply the Buddha's teachings in our life. Personally I don't find it useful to apply the term "practice" just to meditation practice, because all the things I do off the cushion -- talking, working, eating, etc. -- influence what occurs on the cushion. So if I don't regard all the off-cushion time as part of "practice," then I'm not being realistic.

I guess I do make a distinction between those times when I have "situational awareness," and those times when I'm more or less obliviously plodding along or even willfully ignorant. The former I regard as "practice," the latter I regard as goofing off. Like now, for example, as I type, I regard this as "practice," because I'm trying to apply the Buddha's teachings in terms of right speech, right effort, etc. But if I'm driving a car in busy traffic and get angry at a slow driver and act on it by honking the horn in a punitive manner (yeah, it happens sometimes, hate to admit), then I don't regard that as "practice." But the moment I become aware that I'm getting angry in slow traffic, for example, the moment I choose to apply the teachings in the moment, whatever is occuring, I regard that as "practice."

I regard "practice" as any time I am directly engaged in any aspect of the noble 8fold path. I like to think I'm practicing all the time, but I know better. There are times when I'm going in the opposite direction. I don't regard those times as "practice."

I have no specific scriptural support for any of this that I can cite (though Peter's citation is great). I might be completely wrong about how I apply the term "practice." But personally, that's how I use the term, now that you ask. Thanks for asking.

:thinking:
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Re: "Practice"

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 14, 2009 5:02 am

Greetings Jechbi,

Thanks for the detailed account! I can relate... that's how I use the term too, and what I meant about Right X.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: "Practice"

Postby piotr » Thu May 14, 2009 7:21 am

Hi, :smile:

retrofuturist wrote:As far as I can tell, there's not really an analogous expression for "practice" in the Pali Canon and in translations of suttas, you don't hear anyone mentioning their "practice" or the "practice" of others.


I think that word for "practice" in Pāli is "bhāvāna", and "to practice" is "bhāveti". But usually translators pick out another word, for example "to develop", "keep in being", etc.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: "Practice"

Postby kiss » Thu May 14, 2009 7:54 am

...to lead a practical buddhist way of life, one must essentially develop Moral Discipline (Sila), Concentration (Samadhi) and Wisdom (Panna). There are three other simple methods to practice Buddhism. They are: Dana, Sila and Bhavana.

above is quoted from Ven. K Sri Dhammananda's "How to Practice Buddhism".

i'm not the intellectual type. to a practical person like me, "practice" in the Buddhist context means learning to apply Buddhist teachings in one's daily life. for my case, my practice is learning the abovementioned Dana, Sila and Bhavana. :meditate:
keep it simple, stupid~ my lifehack

keeping it simply said: 'i'm learning from Buddha to be wise and kind'

Bhikkhu Tissa dispels some doubts - an invaluable piece of advice to learn from, time to time.
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Re: "Practice"

Postby vitellius » Thu May 14, 2009 9:08 am

I would like to second piotr. Practice corresponds to bhavana, development/cultivation [of skillful (kusala) qualities]:
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... :3558.pali
http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/b_f/bhaavanaa.htm

And may be also sikkhā, "training":
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... 1:110.pali

Extensive use of term "meditation" in European languages is of more interest to me. You may compare how often this word is used in translations of suttas and in modern meditation instructions...
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Re: "Practice"

Postby Cittasanto » Thu May 14, 2009 9:25 am

cease to do evil, to develop what is good, to purify the mind, this is the whole of the teaching

that says the lot I think
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Re: "Practice"

Postby Ben » Thu May 14, 2009 10:13 am

Hi Retro

What I mean when I use the word 'practice' is, dana, sila, bhavana and pariyatti. But usually whenever I am discussing issues of my own practice it ususally centres on my meditation 'practice'.
Kind regards

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Re: "Practice"

Postby kc2dpt » Thu May 14, 2009 2:55 pm

Jechbi, well said.

piotr, I was just going to post the same thing. I agree that the scriptures talk of "bhavana" or "developing the path" seems analogous to when we here say "practice". Also when people talk of their "teacher and training" or "dhamma and discipline".

dictionary wrote:practice: the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use
- Peter

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Re: "Practice"

Postby Hoo » Thu May 14, 2009 5:39 pm

Likely because I am new to the path, my practice seems best defined as Dhamma and discipline. I found I need to put some structure in my days if I want to study and meditate each day.

Since I retired, I've done things pretty much as I chose to. Forgetting that I wanted to do a particular thing was no biggie. There was always tomorrow.

But that set up some bad habits that needed correcting. I'm not inflexible, just aware that I need to err on the side of discipline :)

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Re: "Practice"

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Thu May 14, 2009 9:36 pm

This is interesting and I'm glad Retro started this discussion. When I use the word "practice" I mean the things I do when I sit down on the cushion.
But now I'm rethinking it.

:anjali:
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Re: "Practice"

Postby christopher::: » Fri May 15, 2009 4:38 pm

Hi all,

Great topic. Practice for me has meant to try and live in tune with the dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha, living the 8 fold path, coming to understand and then apply what Buddha taught. Meditation "practice" is one key, crucial component of that, as is mindfulness, right effort, right speech, etc. We have opportunities to practice with each breath we take.

Does seem that only with practice does understanding deepen, go from intellectual understanding to skillful behavior and eventually (we hope) unfolding as realization.

From practicing the dhamma to living the dhamma?

I dunno.

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: "Practice"

Postby appicchato » Fri May 15, 2009 10:02 pm

christopher::: wrote:From practicing the dhamma to living the dhamma?

Hi christopher,

I, for one, do believe that's the name of the game...in it's entirety...

A
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Re: "Practice"

Postby BlackBird » Sat May 16, 2009 1:17 am

Practise for me is Meditation and directed thought and evaluation.

Metta
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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