Dharma Talks / Motivation and Obstacles in the Practice

Br Pháp Lai

Br Phap Lai talks about examining our motivation to practice on the spiritual path and working with the obstacles that prevent us from having a deep practice.

Br Phap Lai shares how the Buddha gave up great power and privilege which would have enabled him to do much good, to become an ascetic, with the determination to find relief from the deepest kinds of suffering. Our teacher Thay also witnessed great suffering during the famine in Vietnam in 1944. To face great suffering one needs a great vow. These great vows enable us to suffer with and aspire to help all beings. We develop the capacity to relieve the suffering of others and the great vow also becomes medicine for ourselves.

The aim of the path is to realize our interbeing nature and touch the ultimate dimension of no-birth and no-death in the midst of birth and death. Br Phap Lai invites the audience to name what motivates us to have a spiritual practice and what our obstacles to practice are. Obstacles to practice are like an inner Mara which prevent us from practicing wholeheartedly. He discusses different types of motivations and seeing how motivations can also be hidden from us (such as wanting to avoid pain) or how one can try to fulfil motivations in unhealthy ways due to misguided thinking. Obstacles include our own inner judgement, boredom, laziness, avoiding our past suffering or fears of the future. Br Phap Lai then discusses how to apply the seven factors of enlightenment (mindfulness, curiosity, energy, joy, concentration and equanimity/letting go) to obstacles that block our practice.

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