Complacency is one of the biggest obstacles to our Buddhist practice and it is a hard obstacle to recognize. It is insidious, creeping up on us while we are unaware of what is happening. Complacency is seductive. It is self-satisfaction, the lure to relax, enjoy instant gratification, and stop pushing. But there is a price. If our commitment grows lax, the protection of the positive forces of the universe will weaken. Living Buddhism, April 2016, p. 47.
How Can We Recognize Complacency?
- Are you feeling self-satisfied, taking all the improvements in your life for granted?
- Are there places in your life where you feel you have done enough, that you feel you should be able to lie back and take it easy?
- Do you find yourself succumbing to the lure of instant gratification versus working hard for a goal?
- Do you have vague or no goals while chanting
- Do you find you are not receiving benefit as you used to?
- If you don’t achieve a goal, do you just accept it or do you challenge yourself?
- Is chanting a habit or an adventure?
- Do you feel obligated to attend meetings or do you look forward to them?
- Do you feel the teachings only apply to other people, or are you actively applying the teachings in your own life?
- Are you passive in meetings or making the effort to contribute?
- Do you resist putting out the effort to encourage other people or are you making an effort to support them?
- Do you think, “It’s time for other people to do the work or think, “It’s up to me?”
- Are you being critical of others or trying to support their strengths?
- Do you find yourself complaining a lot?
Complacency is not thinking bad thoughts or doing bad things. It is the good action that’s never made because it’s easier not to put forth the effort.
Complacency is part and parcel of our own fundamental darkness. Probably everyone has become complacent from time to time. But, if we indulge it, destructive tendencies can develop. Complacency can develop into inertia and lead us to stop practicing.
How to Combat Complacency
First, recognize that life is constant change. If we are not moving forward, we are moving backwards. “We will gain benefit in direct proportion to our own determination and efforts in faith.” Living Buddhism, April 2016, p. 47.
So what can you do when you recognize you might be becoming complacent?
Chant about the issue
Self-reflect. Am I moving forward in the different areas of my life?
Set goals, which will make you stretch.
Take action and keep moving.
When you feel like resisting doing something for someone else, challenge that lure and do it anyway. You will experience that satisfaction that comes from supporting someone else.
Challenge yourself in one area or another.
Study to deepen your faith.
Apply something you have studied in your life.
To actively support other people is difficult. Resolve to do it anyway, whether you feel like it or not.
Resist Inertia: Feel Alive Again
Although the first few steps to pull yourself out of inertia may be difficult, you will find once you start moving that you’ll feel much more alive and engaged. Your chanting practice will become an adventure again and good fortune will bloom in your life.
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Have you ever successfully overcome complacency and inertia in your practice? Please share how you did it.