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Getting back on track

By L. B.

Shaggy dog looking into the distance with fall trees in background
When we're in a hell realm, it's often because of self-centeredness.

L. B. reflects on the ways we create our own personal hell when we prioritize selfishness over compassion.

I’ve been in my personal hell realm for the last week. As always it is because of self-centeredness. During this time I stopped my practice and it really brought my mind to turmoil and turned it into a big mud puddle.

I had been feeling monotony in my meditation, and I now understand that that is a sign that I am focusing on my selfishness and not on my compassion for others. I need to remember at those times of monotony that my practice is for the well-being of others more so than for my non-existent self that always wants to be center stage.

Thankfully I was able to break through all of that madness and get back on track with my practice. I have noticed, though, that after stopping my meditation, now when I have started it back up again, there is resistance in my mind—some sort of negativity that I’m having to deal with because my mind’s focusing ability became dulled.

I’m not starting from square one, but I feel like I took a couple steps back for sure. I don’t like that fact at all, and I’m going to remember this and use it as positive reinforcement the next time I come up against this problem.

I do include purification in my practice, but have not done it daily. I had only been doing purification if I directly transgressed a precept. Until you mentioned doing it daily, I really had not thought it necessary. But after thinking about it, there are thoughts and deeds that, although minor, still need to be purified.

Incarcerated people

Many incarcerated people from all over the United States correspond with Venerable Thubten Chodron and monastics from Sravasti Abbey. They offer great insights into how they are applying the Dharma and striving to be of benefit to themselves and others in even the most difficult of situations.

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