Transforming ourselves from within ~ 17th Karmapa

To begin with, what is Dharma? Generally, when most people try to practice Dharma, or say that they practice Dharma, they sometimes understand it as a ritual, something that you do with your body, your speech, or through special actions or activities. And if that is the case, then you need to devote special time for that activity. This type of Dharma practice usually happens in your shrine room or in your meditation room. You need to reserve special time for this manner of practice.

However, if you look deeply, the Dharma is not only that. Dharma is not a ritual; it is not something you do only with your body and speech. Dharma is actually something that transforms your mind. For example, if we are aggressive or angry, then we may look inside and try to find reasons why we should not feel that way. We instruct ourselves, we try to change it, and then slowly, we become less angry. Or, if we are somebody with a lot of attachment or clinging, we may try to do something about it. We look inside, correct ourselves, transform ourselves from within, and then start to lessen that emotion. That is what we actually mean by Dharma practice.

You do not need to find special time for this kind of Dharma practice. You can do this form of practice even while you engage in your profession, your work. It can be done in concert with your daily livelihood. It involves reflecting on your aspirations, your way of thinking, and how you act and react. When you can change that, along with how you relate to other people – through your reactions and connections – you become aware of what you are doing. Examining that and then working in this way is, I think, a very important kind of Dharma practice.

17th Karmapa


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