Some notes from a Dharma talk given by Dharmavidya at Amida Newcastle:
Tuesday evening I gave a Dharma talk and answered questions at the Amida Sanctuary in Newcastle. In this talk I referred to practice and training. Practice is the expression of love, compassion, joy and equanimity. It is the outward manifestation of our faith. Training is our attempt to deal with the tendencies within ourselves that block practice. When we look carefully we see that these always involves some failure of faith - perhaps based on fear, anxiety, greed, conceit, or the resurgence of some old habit pattern. Failure of faith means loss of nerve. All this raises the question of the relationship between personal effort and faith. The Buddhist way certainly makes demands upon us at the same time as advocating letting go. It tells us to "stand against the stream", but also to "accept everything". This seems contradictory to the uninitiated.
The Other Power teaching tells us that we do not have the power to realise enlightenment on our own or by simply actualising our own potency, but this does not mean that there is nothing to do in our life. It is like a relationship. one cannot have a relationship on one's own - it takes two - but the relationship when found does make demands. Practice and training are the same. It is neither something that is entirely within one's own power nor something that does all the work for one.
When we reflect upon our life we find that we have already been loved in some degree somehow. That is a basis for faith. Practice starts from gratitude. As we try to express our gratitude we run into obstacles. Love also entails disappointments. If these defeat us we fall spiritually. If we rise to them we find new possibilities of faith open up. A spiritual life can be a continual ascent or a series of setbacks. Actually these are the same thing looked at from different angles. If we become too preoccupied with training, we fall into a self-power attitude and all is spoilt - like trying to run a relationship without reference to the other partner. If we neglect training, however, we tend to just go round the same old circles again and again. Training means to learn from mistakes. The more we see how we are helped the easier it is to learn. the more we learn the more conscious we become of how we are helped.::comment here