With realization / understanding, there is no need to practice…it is just lived automatically.
For example, there is a Tibetan Buddhist saying that goes something like – “if a problem can be solved there is no use worrying about it. If it can’t be solved, worrying will do no good.”
Now you could try to put this saying into practice to overcome your worries…every time worry comes up you could remind yourself about it. You lose your job and worry arises, and then you can say to yourself the saying and look for things you can do about the situation. If there is nothing you can do about it, you can try to practice accepting the situation and not worry about it.
But, if you deeply understood the futility of worry (as this saying suggests)…then you would no longer worry. If you clearly saw there was no point to worrying…no benefits at all. If you clearly saw that the situation is unchanged, whether you worry or not. If you clearly saw you are only making yourself suffer. If you clearly saw…then there is no practice needed. No longer worrying would be the norm for living. Because the understanding is different, the actions and reactions change for the situation.
Practice certainly may be of benefit when the understanding isn’t there…but I hope you see my point that practicing not to worry is not the same as no longer worrying because of understanding.
Realization and understanding are equivalent to how I am using the term. I don’t use the term understanding to mean some mental grasping or accumulation of knowledge. There is a realization that gives true understanding – whether a realization about worry or the ultimate realization of who/what you are (which is called Enlightenment). Realization is not an ongoing process or practice…realization is sudden and complete. Once the bottom of the bucket falls out, all the water goes with it.
Back to the worry example earlier…if you have to practice not being worried…then you have not yet realized the futility and self-harm of worry. If you have realized this and so no longer worry, what is there to practice?
I am not saying it is not wrong to practice. I am simply pointing out that there is a deeper realization/understanding that has not yet occurred and that is why it is possible to practice (i.e. the practice to gain or overcome something). Again, if you have seen through worry and so no longer worry, what is there to practice?
There are practices I still do. I meditate. I sometimes do a day or two of silence (no talking). I go to kirtans (chanting of the holy names). These are just a few of the practices that I still do. I do these because they are fun and/or interesting. I don’t even see them as practices, but they have been called “practices” by others.
I hope you see that this is a different kind of practice. These practices are not done to become anything. These practices are not done to gain anything. These practices are expressions of joy and of who/what I am. There is no self-seeking involved. They are not done for improvement.
If some “issue” arises, I just look at it…that is all. For example, I have told the story about being in traffic waiting in line for the exit ramp. People were cutting in and irritation arose. I simply asked myself – why is this arising…what is its source? Memories and images of childhood flashed. I was taught as a child we have to wait our turn in line. It apparently was a fairly strong piece of conditioning. So I just looked at it and asked myself – is it true? Is it true that we must wait our turns in line? Now the mind will often chime in, “of course it’s true”, but then you ask – do you really know it is true? If you take time to sit with it and just look, you will see most things are not true. It is an illusion we are taught…it was a belief that not all would even agree upon. Clearly, by the fact people were cutting in.
This was enough for the conditioning to fall away from me. I was still in line and observing people cut ahead, but there was no irritation. I was content and joy arose. Since then, when the same situation arises…no irritation arises and I am content. I did not have to practice trying to overcome irritation in traffic in some way. I did not try to overcome the feeling of irritation. Actually you have to accept and embrace the feeling to do what is next…and that is simply look. I simply looked at it and then looked more deeply. In clearly seeing, it all changed.