Why do we practice?
All that appears impure is actually pure. All that appears sullied is actually clean. All that appears imperfect is actually the Great Perfection. All deities are mythic, yet all deities are manifest as well. All visions are both reality and illusion. All appearances arise as if in a dream and then disperse, diffuse and cloud-like.
You are the wind moving the clouds of your experience. You are the clouds, and the sky, and the experiencer, and the experience itself. There is nothing your eye can see that is not already connected to, and affected by, your meditation. There is no one in your landscape who is not already your beloved, intimate companion. There is no action you take that does not drop a pebble in the stream of consciousness, shifting its swirling patterns. There is no thought or emotion you have that is different from the thoughts and emotions of all beings, throughout time and space. Karma teaches us that we are truly One with All.
The mind tells us again and again that this isn't so, even though again and again we see evidence that it is so. Our choices to create pain or to create healing have a ripple effect throughout our lives. Thus, we practice to condition the mind to the path of compassion rather than to its lesser whims. We practice to create peace and healing in ourselves that we can bring into the world. We practice because there is no beginning and no end to the wheel that moves both suffering and blessing. We practice to alleviate the sufferings of ourselves and others.
Each instance of practice is a drop of sweet liquid in the vast desert of the pain we witness in the world daily.
Through stilling the mind with meditative activity, the cultivation of the all-embracing Mother's gaze via deity yoga, and devotion to the heart of wisdom via alignment with the Inner Teacher, our practice offers us a means of liberating ourselves and others from anything that impedes our ability to generate, and return again and again to, the enlightened state.
We do not merely seek the momentary bliss or temporary satisfaction linked to a single practice session or the afterglow of chanting mantra. We go farther, engaging practice as a vehicle to understanding that every breath is the cleansing breath, every word the mantra, every movement the meditation. We seek to create the conditions that will support us in enlightened action, consistently applied with awareness, mindfulness, and focus on our duty as agents for the benefit of all beings.
Practice helps us build the capacity to do good work in the world. May all beings benefit.