A Few Practice Essentials: Curiosity, Patience, Intimacy and Care

In the last post I focused on Simplicity in practice. I thought it might be useful to follow up and say a bit more about the bare essentials of practice. As I sat and reflected on what was most basic and clear for my practice, two word-pairs arose and these were the foundation for our Inquiry.

The first pair were Curiosity and Patience. With simple curiosity we engage beginner's mind. Whether we are sitting, walking, standing, or lying down (the Buddha's four noble actions) we commit to turning toward unfolding experience without being caught in belief or expectation. Of course these things do inevitably arise and with them come hope and fear, so our practice commitment includes remaining curious about their arising. This requires a good deal of patience, the willingness to make space for not knowing, and to acknowledge that things take time. Sustaining patience, we remain curious. Engaging curiosity opens a greater capacity for patience. This seems like a good place to start — curious and patient.

The second pair of basic practice pointers that arose were Intimacy and Care. Our practice is to engage intimately with our experience, both inside and out, and in doing so we meet life as it is. Neither leaning in too strongly nor away too reactively we aim for the Middle Way, intimate with everything. Remaining intimate with each moment is also a way to invite the immediacy of care. Caring for our body, for our thoughts and feelings, and for our relationships is a deeply intimate act. This intimacy flows back as care. This seems like a generous cycle for practice.

In the Tibetan tradition it is said that practice is "good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end." I would say that practice is characterized by gratitude in the beginning, gratitude in the middle and gratitude at the end. Gratitude is the ground from which practice grows and is the ultimate fruit of wholesome practice. And in the middle, gratitude is a complete practice in itself.

So here are the simple pointers: Opening to gratitude, we ask ourselves to remain curios accompanied by an attitude of spacious patience. Practicing intimacy with each thing and each moment we offer ourselves as a lively expression of care. Care is both intimate and patient. Intimacy is an expression of patient care and gratitude is the realization of patient curiosity and intimate care.

Inquiry recording: