22. Four practices are the best of methods.
The four practices are accumulating merit, laying down evil deeds, offering to the ghosts and offering to the protectors.
The first practice, “accumulating merit,” is a traditional one in eastern cultures where making contributions and donations is considered a worthy and virtuous activity. We can also see it as the practice of “letting be.” I can jump into my fear and refrain from desire or let go of hope and fear completely.
The second practice, “laying down evil deeds,” is a powerful resource for trying something different. It consists of four steps (the Four R’s):
- Recognizing what I have done: This is essentially a restatement of the first difficulty – I can only work with the things I see.
- Refraining from continuing to do it: This is sort of a bridge between the first and second difficulties; once I notice myself acting habitually, I can immediately stop.
- Reconnecting with my inner wisdom and practice: This is the second difficulty – trying something new through meditation, awareness or another practice.
- Resolving not to do this again: Making it a way of life through the aspiration to continue doing something other than my habitual pattern.
The third and fourth practices, “offering to the ghosts” and “offering to the protectors,” both relate to recognizing the hidden parts of myself that either sabotage what I’m consciously doing or attempt to protect it. I can welcome the things that suddenly wake me up and then remain grounded in basic awareness.