Buddhist Philosophy

Overcoming Laziness: How to Improve on the Spiritual Path

Overcoming Laziness

Phakchok Rinpoche teaches us how to overcome laziness and lack of progress on the spiritual path. When he explains laziness, as an attachment, that may at first sound surprising. But if we examine closely, we can come to see how holding on to a feeling of having problems or being lazy is a form of attachment that can cause trouble.

Overcoming Laziness–Don’t Feed the Habit!

What is the best way to improve?  How do we stop being lazy, or overcome difficulties?  When we make a big deal out of being lazy or if we dwell on obstacles that tend to feed the habit of having problems. We are giving things more weight than they deserve.  That means we are really holding on to our problems, doesn’t it?  Think about it–when we say we need to improve X or Y, we often are actually holding on to that as something solid.  We are identifying with a problem. And that itself, that holding, means you won’t improve.

In an amusing example, Rinpoche reminds us that complaining about things doesn’t solve the problem. If we gain weight but don’t exercise, we can recognize that the two factors interconnect. Similarly, if we don’t practice, but say our minds are too busy–there just might be a connection!

Accepting Our Own Laziness–But Moving Past that Point

Instead of complaining, the best way to improve and to heal is to accept things more calmly. Beating ourselves up over being lazy doesn’t really change much, does it? And, easy ways or short cuts don’t really bring many benefits–we actually have to put in some effort.

The spiritual path is just like exercising our physical body.  We need to stop complaining–and just do some practice.  Think carefully about how we solve our problems.  And, we can avoid carrying our habitual tendencies from our mundane life to our spiritual path.  Reflect, accept your problems, and just go ahead and gently begin your practice!

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.