What do we do when we have less-than-perfect conditions for practice?

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I am often asked how one should practice if one shares living space or working space with others who are not persons of Dharma or who may even be opposed to the Dharma.

Most of us have been in this situation at one time or another. On the one hand, we have the right to engage our religion; but on the other hand we should respect the attitudes (even when these are less than compassionate) of those amongst whom we find ourselves. It would be decisively detrimental and would exhibit a lack of compassion to discomfit sentient beings simply to assert our ‘right’ to engage in the free exercise of our religion. However, we should not fail do so simply because the situation is not ideal.

It is important to remember that one does not need any external support to exercise our religion. As Chinul has indicated:
 

 
People do not recognize that their own minds are the true Buddhas. They do not recognize that their own natures are the true dharma.”

 

Such being the case, what excuse can there ever be for not engaging in the free exercise of our religion?

We must remember to be mindful, compassionate and adaptive in such situations. So first, clear one’s mind of any resentment (if that poison has entered your heart). Then, engage in the practice of silent nembutsu. Nothing more is needed.

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