~ Abiding (shamatha), resting in experience as it arises and subsides, is the stable foundation of the path. Without a growing capacity to be present and open in experience as it arises, any other practices are impossible or ineffective.
"The object of practice is not to have a smooth ride; the object is to stay in the boat." (Ken McLeod)~ Seeing clearly (vipashyana) is the result of looking deeply into everything that arises. We come to know the nature of experience, to know how everything that arises is interdependent with various causes and conditions, to discern what leads to struggle and suffering and what leads to freedom and happiness.
"Seeing is easy; to stabilize that seeing is difficult." (Milarepa)~ Kindness (metta) and compassion (karuna) undermine the illusion that our suffering and happiness are separate from the welfare of others. We begin to interact with others in ways that are not based in self-centered confusion and reactivity.
"Of all the grounds for merit, kindness surpasses them all and shines forth, bright and brilliant." (The Buddha, Itivuttaka 27)These three -- resting, looking, and kindness -- are the necessary bases for effective practice. The art and mystery of practice is to persist, flexibly and creatively in the midst of our particular internal and external challenges, gradually integrating the three and making them a way of life -- our buddha nature made manifest.