A Heart Released
1 - Practice is what keeps the true Dhamma pure.
The Lord Buddha taught that his Dhamma, when placed in the heart of an ordinary run-of-the-mill person, is bound to be thoroughly corrupted (saddhamma-patirupa); but if placed in the heart of a Noble One, it is bound to be genuinely pure and authentic, something that at the same time can be neither effaced nor obscured.
So as long as we are devoting ourselves merely to the theoretical study of the Dhamma, it can't serve us well. Only when we have trained our hearts to eliminate their 'chameleons' (see ¤ 10) -- their corruptions (upakkilesa) -- will it benefit us in full measure. And only then will the true Dhamma be kept pure, free from distortions and deviations from its original principles.
2. To follow the Buddha, we must train ourselves well before training others.
Our Lord Buddha first trained and tamed himself to the point where he attained unexcelled right self-awakening, becoming buddho, one who knows, before becoming bhagava, one who spreads the teaching to those who are to be taught. Only then did he become sattha, the teacher and trainer of human and divine beings whose stage of development qualifies them to be trained. And thus, His good name has spread to the four quarters of the compass even up to the present day.
The same is true of all the Noble Disciples of the past. They trained and tamed themselves well before helping the Teacher spread his teachings to people at large, and so their good name has spread just like the Buddha's.
If, however, a person spreads the teaching without first having trained himself well. His bad name will spread to the four quarters of the compass, due to his error in not having followed the example of the Lord Buddha and all the Noble Disciples of the past.
The stronghold that forms the practice area for training oneself. In which set of principles did the Lord Buddha establish our stronghold? When we consider this question, we find that he established our stronghold in the great frames of reference (satipatthana).
To make a comparison with worldly affairs: In armed battles where victory is at stake, it is necessary to find a stronghold. If one obtains a good stronghold, one can successfully ward off the weapons of the enemy; and there one can accumulate great strength to launch an attack, driving the enemy to defeat. Such a place is thus called a stronghold, i.e., a place complete with strong stockades, gates, moats and embattlements.
So it is with the affairs of the Dhamma when we take the great frames of reference as our stronghold, in that those who go into battle with the enemy -- defilement -- must start out by keeping track of the body as their frame of reference, because when such things as sensual passion arise, they arise at the body and mind. Because the sight of a body causes the mind to be aroused, we can conclude that the body is the provocation, and so we must examine the body as a means of stilling the Hindrances (nivarana) and calming the mind. This is a point that you should work at and develop as much as possible. In other words, keep investigating that point without giving way at all. When an image (uggaha nimitta) of any part of the body arises, take that part of the body as the basic theme for your investigation. You don't have to go shifting to other parts. To think that, 'I've already seen this part. Other parts I haven't seen, so I'll have to go and investigate other parts,' isn't advisable at all.
Even if you investigate the body until you have it analyzed minutely into all of its parts that are composed of the properties (dhatu) of earth, water, fire, and wind -- this is called patibhaga -- you should still keep examining the body as it first appeared in the original image until you have it mastered. To master it, you have to examine that same point over and over again, just as when you chant. If you memorize a particular discourse and then leave it, without chanting or repeating it again, you will forget it, and it won't serve any purpose, due to your complacency in not mastering it. The same holds true in your investigation of the body. Once an image of any part arises, if you don't investigate it repeatedly, and instead heedlessly let it pass, it won't serve any purpose at all.
Source : Wat Lao.org