I noticed a friend last night at our meditation group reading this book at the break. It was a book I had given him a few months ago. Another friend, who I had also given a copy to, also noticed and a short discussion began about the book. I loved the book. For me, a good kick in the ass when needed. For my friends, a little bit of a demanding read. The title itself shatters whatever grand illusions we have of a spiritual practice. Not for Happiness. Happiness seekers need not apply. But as my teacher said last night, relative happiness. Conditioned happiness. So, for awakening, for enlightenment, for the benefit of beings, should be, I believe, our motivation. Our intention. It is mine for sure. And still a work in progress. My teacher Shamar Rinpoche, a great master who we lost last year, said this to me many years ago when he noticed my urgency in wanting results from practice, “Be like the tortoise, not the rabbit.” I have cherished that teaching ever since. It continually reminds me that it is not necessarily speed, but consistent determination that will benefit us on the path. I also realized this morning that Rinpoche was advising me in the ways of a bodhisattva.
“For those who wish to go across the water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.”
Even a turtle.
Each step may seem to take forever, but no matter how uninspired you feel, continue to follow your practice schedule precisely and consistently. This is how we can use our greatest enemy, habit, against itself.
– Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, “Tortoise Steps”