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Whether it be performing a judo throwing technique, hitting a baseball, or swinging a golf club, just because we’ve been shown how to do something does not mean we can immediately perform it exactly in the manner we were taught. Only after practicing such things over and over again on a daily basis do we acquire the skill to pull off those techniques in an actual match or game.

Faith is also like this. You may understand the logic of a religious teaching by hearing it only once, but you won’t really internalize it without practicing it day in and day out.

People are prone to hold on to the illusion that they can do anything as long as they set their minds to it, but we should not forget the enormous power of habitual practice.

Once a person has acquired habits both good and bad, such habits come to dominate their will and their judgment, all the way up to and including their very lives. When one acquires good habits, things readily come to fruition seemingly without deliberate intentional effort. On the other hand, once someone has picked up bad habits, they are pulled in directions that run contrary to their will.

You can understand how important it is to develop habits that will make our daily encounters (and our attitudes toward those experiences), as well as our ways of thinking and acting, all accord with the Buddha’s teachings. The training ground where you make those habits second nature is the Sangha, and the Dharma center.

Nikkyo Niwano

From Kaisozuikan 9, Kosei Publishing Co. pp.30-31

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