Practising without ego-centred motivation

~~ Lama Gendun Rinpoche

One of the main defects of a practitioner comes from thinking, “I am the one who is practising, so I am the one who will realise this and that through my practice”. As long as we think that we are the ones who practise and that any outcome will be because we made the necessary effort, we are completely in the wrong. Nothing will result from that except more ego-clinging and self-importance.

We should think quite the opposite: that everything that emerges in our practice does so thanks to the Dharma. All the qualities that appear are only because of the Dharma. It is only through the quality, the power and purity of the Dharma itself that something can change in us. This is the way all the great bodhisattvas have practised. There is nothing that comes from the individual — things emerge because of the quality of the teaching. It is through his relationship with the Dharma that an ordinary practitioner can transform himself and become a great bodhisattva. All the qualities that emerge in a great bodhisattva have nothing to do with the individual person. They are the same qualities that are to be found in all bodhisattvas, because they come from the same Dharma, they express the quality of the teaching itself.

We should be happy and think, “Now I have decided definitely to practise the Dharma, there is nothing else that interests me in this life, I want to dedicate my life totally to this. Whatever comes out of my practice is thanks to the Dharma, it has nothing to do with me. I am not going to take pride in the results as if they were mine.” When we surrender ourselves in this way and just practise the Dharma with no speculations about the outcome, we completely abandon ourselves to the practice. We are not expecting something out of it. We abandon all attachment to experiences and results of practice and engage in Dharma activity. This is when true experiences and realisations can develop.

But first we have to completely give up this feeling of “I am doing something, I am getting results”, always bringing everything back to the “I”. If we do this, we are just nourishing the ego-feeling, which shows a lack of confidence in the teaching. If we have complete confidence in the Dharma, we no longer have any feeling of “I”. We just do the practice, and then the Dharma starts to work and real transformation takes place. This is the only way that experiences and realisation can develop.

We can measure the progress of our practice like this. If we think, “I have practised and I have realised that”, then the only result of our practice is that our I-feeling is getting coarser and coarser, so our practice is completely wrong, since the very purpose of the Dharma is to reduce the influence of the ego. But if we think “I am not a good practitioner, I have no real qualities myself”, that shows that our feeling of “I” is growing smaller and more subtle and that we are becoming a genuine practitioner. A real Dharma practitioner is someone who is constantly putting aside his own benefit and concern for himself.