Today, I got out of a hole. For the last few days, my body was debilitatingly tired but wouldn’t let me sleep much. That tiredness coincided with a severe depressive episode. Last night, my body finally caved and let me sleep and now I’m rested and feeling much better. In the midst of this circumstance, my only practice was the occasional nembutsu.
Many teachers recommend that one should always practice, even if they don’t want to. This is true, however, it is important to point out that, sometimes, one will have limits. In my own experience, sitting in meditation during times of severe depression and anxiety only amplifies the problem. Its not a learning experience. It’s just self flagellation. This is something the Buddha argued against based on his own experiences.
Before the Shakyamuni Buddha awakened, he took on extreme ascetic practices. He learned the hard way that those practices didn’t bring him toward any kind of liberation. Had he not stopped, rested, and reconsidered his practice, he might have died before reaching his goal. Fortunately, he considered a different path than extreme asceticism and the rest is history. One does not need to hurt themselves to be in touch with the Dharma.
In very difficult times, its enough to take refuge, say the nembutsu, bow, or light a candle. Whatever simple thing one can do to connect with the Dharma is enough. Faith is enough. While walking the Path sometimes we need to rest and there’s nothing wrong with that. The Buddhas will continue to radiate their love to us and the Dharma will remain a diamond in our minds.
Namo Amida Bu
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