I smile at my delusion, but there it is. What exactly is my Practice?
Where does it reside, and when does it happen (or not)? Who is involved? And why does one thing, lets say sitting meditation, feel like practice, when another, lets say throwing wet clothes into the dryer, doesn't.
And should it always?
What is this "always" anyway?
I don't practice in a monastic setting.
I don't belong to a Sangha that reminds me daily as I rise and meet the day's tasks that I am a Buddhist priest--my Sangha is silent as I light a candle and recite the Vow of the Kesa.
Or do I just not hear my Sangha sometimes?
Our voices are not raised together in a chant, I don't feel my dharma sisters and brothers as they bend to bow, nor do I see them rocking out of the corner of my eye, ever so slightly, as I chant the Nembutsu.
Sometimes their physical absence is very strongly missed.
Where am I?
I don't read the Dharma daily, I don't have a prescribed study of sutra text, of koan study, or of copying the Heart Sutra. My mind wanders from work to family to finances to food to exercise to friends to poetry, wanders around and around like a beast in a circus ring.
I do my jobs, prescribed by that tight ring.
And yet, what do I expect?
My Buddha rises every day to realize the chink in the circle.
My Buddha is sometimes infinitely lonely, even as the whole family sleeps soundly beneath quilts I have made for them, occupying the rooms I have prepared for their brief visit.
And everyone scatters!
Buddha ends the day reading something light from the public library across the street and turns the light out, hoping for an un-interupted patch of deep sleep--no nightmares, no hot flashes, no trips to the freezing cold bathroom.
When I take away the parameters of "Practice", I am practicing. When I begin to space out the letters of the word, I start to find spaciousness.
P R A C T I C E
See what I mean?
That Practice is just a block of black squiggley things that keeps me from practice.
And sometimes, the delusion of solitary practice is blown open and away, like a milkweed seed in the wind, what a surprise! and there's nothing there at all. Just the Practice.