Question: “I have been praying daily and practicing the Dharma as much as possibly can, but nothing seems to be working out for me. I still don’t have a good job, my finances are are a mess and my house is in shambles. What could I possibly be doing wrong? Am I meditating the wrong way?”
Answer: From the wording of your question it seems perhaps you believe practicing the Dharma and praying is a means to obtain wealth or to make your financial problems go away. Practicing the Dharma for material gain is not the answer to your issues. This is never why we would ever pray, mediate and study.
When we approach Dharma or anything sacred in our practice, if our motivation is wrong, there will be no real benefit to our spiritual advancement. Reciting mantras and reading sutras is not some kind of potion that you mix together in hopes of getting some kind of magical result. Thinking that we are only praying or meditating or doing other Dharma practices so that we gain some kind of financial reward for it is opposed to Buddha’s teaching. By doing this you could actually be causing more problems than solutions. In this I mean that instead of cultivating right motivation you could be developing mental stress and suffering which can lead to all sorts of problems for yourself and others.
This does not mean that it is not rewarding to study and meditate, but again, our motivation must be right. We must also extinguish desire and doubt. Desire will only cause us to want more. For some people, a single golden apple is never enough. Some want more and will go to great lengths, even committing unskillful acts so they can get more. Doubt will cause your advancement in the Dharma to diminish.
Having the right motivation in your Dharma practice, coupled with a proper attitude toward material gain will help us go a long way and we will eventually see success.
“Ask Bhikkhu” is a series based on questions received through email, usually answered by Tenzin Bhikkhu.
To ask a question, feel free to send email.