Dharma quote from Atisha Lamp to Path of Enlightment
Its better to Practice
Dromtönpa once saw a monk doing circumambulations and intuitively knew he was doing them for a worldly motive. He remarked, “It’s good to do circumambulations, but it would be better to practice.” Later he saw the same monk making prostrations. “Prostrations are good,” he said, “but it would be better to practice.” After some time, the monk began to do meditation and Dromtönpa again remarked that doing retreats was laudable, but it would be even better to practice. Finally the monk, who by this time was thoroughly perplexed, inquired what he meant by the word practice. Dromtönpa answered that it meant letting go of our preoccupation with this life and developing true love and compassion.
If what we do is for this life, it is a wordly endeavor, no matter how much it resembles a spiritual practice. If we don’t overcome that concern, we aren’t true practitioners. If we don’t overcome our concern for the well-being of our future lives, we don’t have a real wish for freedom.
Atisha, the eleventh-century Indian Buddhist scholar and saint, came to Tibet at the invitation of the king of Western Tibet, Lha Lama Yeshe Wo, and his nephew, Jangchub Wo. His coming initiated the period of the second transmission of Buddhism to Tibet, formative for the Sakya Kagyu and Gelug traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Atisha’s most celebrated text, Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment,sets forth the entire Buddhist path within the framework of three levels of motivation on the part of the practitioner.