When we begin a new practice that we feel will help us in our spiritual journey or open us up to compassion, we are full of excitement and enthusiasm. Asana, lojong, meditation, Buddhism, whatever the practice is, we are completely devoted to it. But there comes a time when the ‘feel good’ vibe runs out, and we are left with what is real. We are forced to confront our own behavior and realize the way we lived mindlessly, without compassion for others or ourselves. At first we simply add our new practice and beliefs onto our current lifestyle, but eventually, if we are diligent, we are called to undergo real transformation, and here is where we may balk. We can choose to continually open, or we can decide that this is where we will shut down.
At this point we either stop practicing altogether or we pervert our practice in order to make it serve our ego-driven needs. In the words of Acharya Judy Lief “In one approach, we are trying to consume the dharma. We are trying to fit the dharma into our small-mindedness, and in the other, we are dissolving our small self into the vastness of the dharma. When we try to feed on the dharma, instead of becoming more open and gentle, we become more closed-minded and arrogant. We have succeeded in turning the dharma, a path that is designed to make us more humble, flexible, compassionate, and awake into a kind of demon, feeding our worst qualities.”