When we are deeply involved in the practice of the Buddha dharma, the sages advise that we practice a common sense of balance by learning to structure our mundane activities and dharma practice in ways that allow us success in both areas of our life. We should not fall into extremes, either of procrastinating in our dharma practice with the excuse of mundane distractions, or of allowing our mundane world to fall apart around us due to an overemphasis on dharma practice which ignores our mundane responsibilities.
Developing this sense of balance between worldly responsibilities and our spiritual practice of detachment is extremely important—without it, we fail. For instance, deciding what to eat and what to avoid, as well as how much to eat and when to stop, and choosing what is healthy or unhealthy for us requires a sense of balance as long as we are dealing with the relative truth of the conditional world. Just as meditation requires an understanding of the practice as well as determination to carry it out, likewise it requires a sense of balance to determine when to push ourselves harder and when to step back and relax where we are, without falling into either of two extremes. It can actually become an obstacle when we lose our sense of balance, practicing dharma day and night with no recognition of relative reality, or fasting for days only to overeat the following week. It is extremely important that we use common sense to avoid extremes and find balance within the mundane world. This includes recognizing that for everyone around us, daytime is daytime and night is night. And we must acknowledge that balanced eating is what is best for our body. We must find the balance within the conditional world or relative truth in order to achieve the ultimate realization, for relative truth depends on ultimate truth.
Excerpt from Heartfelt Advice by Lama Dudjom Dorjee. Reprinted with permission from Snow Lion Publications (2009).
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.