Surprising News: Complacency Is the Biggest Threat to Buddhist Practice

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?

Some Indicators:

  • 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.

Leave a comment

Have you ever successfully overcome complacency and inertia in your practice? Please share how you did it.

  • Morag Waghorne says:

    Really enjoy your blogs, thank you, they are most encouraging and totally appropriate for me today. I re-read a guidance just last night and in the margin I wrote ”STRONG DAIMOKU = STRONG LIFE.” I decided this year I would move forward in my life and practice. I haven’t got an experience yet but just started one: I have determined to be financially secure yet work less, buy an RS Cruiser (RV I think you say) and tour around Britain visiting different districts and chapters meeting members, chanting with them and doing my best to meet new people and talk about this wonderful practice wherever we go. I have written out the prayer/determinations. I have the tacit support of my husband (even though he calls this practice my hum-diggy-doo). A friend gave me a bumper sticker which reads ‘powered by daimoku’ ready to put on the new vehicle. This is a long term goal and in the meantime I will do my best in my district. ‘Keeping it fresh’ is a challenge in any relationship, just that this relationship is with my life. I am grateful to be in a good place to start from right now. Thank you again.

    • Margaret Blaine says:

      It’s wonderful you have decided to revitalize your life. I’m impressed with your determination.

  • sue says:

    Bingo!! I love you Margaret blaine!! Easy to read, understand, and by-golley encouraging!! I wish the publications would help the people better by simplifying concepts and addressing problems instead of promoting you know who.. you don’t have to publish this comment. It’s probably blastephemous ? I really feel sgi needs to wake up and simplify instead of go all high tech.

  • Nitin Ghuliani says:

    Thanks for this post Margaret.
    It is indeed quite useful for me in my current situation with the Practice.

  • Nalini Prakash says:

    Hi Margaret Blaine,
    its really amazing blog and the way you are encouraging its really wonderful. please post more and more about the practice, chanting, keeping goals, and why it is so important for study.

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