Spiritual practice only seems hard
when worldly habits remain diehard.
If you look only selectively at the Buddha’s teachings, for shortcuts that conveniently suit your present way of life, your life will not transform much for the better, because you will be living more or less in the same old ways you do, with defilements mostly intact, at best with minor improvements due to small adjustments. However, if you look more completely and detailedly for the essence of the Dharma, including at aspects, such as committing to observation of the precepts, which challenges your way of life, your life will have more hope of changing radically for the better. While we should not be too hard on ourselves if we are beginners, there ought to be increasingly consistent efforts to stretch our limits, to further actualise our spiritual potential.
Despite being even long-time Buddhists, many of us are not fantastic Dharma practitioners with substantial spiritual breakthroughs in terms of realisation of deeper wisdom and expression of greater compassion – because we have been procrastinating commitment to be truly excellent disciples of the Buddha, giving ourselves all kinds of excuses to not do better due to our ‘constraints’. This has been going on for countless lives already! We might have even successfully tricked ourselves into thinking we are far from ready to learn more about the Dharma systematically, much less, to practise its more profound aspects diligently. This is how many remain as nominal Buddhists, or even, sadly, backslide to be non-Buddhists eventually.
Any ‘dread’ of commitment towards study, practice, realisation and sharing of the Dharma is really unfounded because there is no one forcing us to do so. Yet, we must see clearly that we have to take upon some ‘inconveniences’ in order to step out of our overly worldly comfort zones, to inch, not so much towards a less comfortable zone, but towards a more spiritually comfortable zone! Since the Buddha already clearly discouraged extreme ascetic practices that harm the body and mind, why imagine sincere Dharma practice to be ‘too difficult’, when it is really the journey to spiritual bliss and liberation? The fruitful result of good practice is the attainment of true lasting convenience – True Happiness! What can be more worth the ‘trouble’?
When worldly habits remain diehard,
even worldly life becomes more hard.