You Can't Ever Practice Buddhism

Buddhism has a very radical teaching: there's no process, there's only this moment. You're always in the moment, but you think you aren't. That's all. Tell me the truth, does anybody ever have the past? If you can bring me even one molecule of it, you'll win the Nobel Prize in physics. You can think about the past, but you can never get it. The same is true of the future. Buddhism says that the past is dead and the future is just a dream. Maybe it's a good dream, or maybe it's a bad dream, but it's just a kind of dream. If you cut off all thinking, past and future are the same. That's very interesting; it means you can't ever practice Buddhism. It's not possible.

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We say, "practice Buddhism" or "practice Zen," but that's a mistake. Here's why: have you ever practiced the piano? Your mother said, "You have to sit down and practice the piano for twenty minutes tonight." So you sat down and started practicing: ding, ding. ding... We call that practice. But what were you really doing? You were playing the piano. Your whole life is like that. We say, "I'm going to basketball practice." When I was young, I was always going to basketball practice. But, of course, when you get there, what do you do? You play basketball. We just call it practice.

The same thing is true of Buddhist practice. It's not practice — it's your life, moment to moment to moment.

(From Buddhadharma, Winter 2016.)