On a practical level, meditation seems to help with cohesiveness in life. I’ve started and stopped many individual practices of strengthening mind and body, but I’ve never been as successful in any of them as when I have a good meditation practice going at the same time. In the tradition that I study most, the ultimate goal is release, freedom, to awaken, nibbana. The purpose of the training is to bring about conditions that make that possible, which means that in the meantime, we do hang on to skillful things just in case we aren’t perfect yet; conditions like virtue, mindfulness, perseverance, concentration, good will, and many more, are perfected in the individual who is ready to awaken, and smaller amounts of these are present in the ever-awakening individual. The cohesiveness which is brought about in meditation practice does not necessarily keep one doggedly fixed to a single exercise routine- or other training practice- unto expertise, but attunes the mind to ever rising and falling offerings which fit the individual at that time (this may elicit the popular suggestion of ‘being in the moment’). The simile of the raft is a good one for this idea; while it is ultimately about release of the Dhamma into awakening, in the meantime we might begin to get savvy about when to hang on and when to let go, as we cross many rivers and arrive at many new shores.

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