A. If people are really ‘self-seeking’, then the whole process of practice becomes extremely questionable. If they really are in this state of mind, then all that is going to change is their ego as it becomes ever more deluded and entrenched. Actually, people in this state of ‘practice’ will never really ever enter the transforming process anyway. One of the greatest traps that we westerners fall into is that in our desire for change, it is the self itself that needs to do the changing. If we understand Dharma to be like this, then it is extremely doubtful that any sort of meaningful change could ever take place.

It is crucial to be able to tell the difference between doing something in order to gain and performing ‘skillful means’; skilful means encourage and lead us to letting go, not only of the delusion of ‘me and mine’, but also of the ‘skillful means’ itself, which is helping us to let go. There is yet another form of practice that doesn’t even encourage working with any of the Buddhist ‘skillful means’ at all, but rather points straight to letting go of our attachments.

I don’t believe it is possible to engage correctly with any form of practice without a teacher, at least a teacher that has guided us for a good few years. We will inevitably get it wrong, as we are so conditioned into doing something in order to get something in return. Spiritual practice is paradoxical, with spiritual understanding even more so. We need to see that although there is an apparent ‘self-seeking’, ‘doing’ motivation, we are in fact always nurturing the spirit of letting the practice go – we are not being deceived into attaching to the practice. This apparent contradiction can only be guarded against with the skilful engagement of a teacher who sees these dangers.