In many ways we can say that following the path is the fruit; this is something that I find myself talking about a lot. To make a comparison, let’s say a small child is learning to walk. You could say, “Well, where did the child walk to today? How far did she get?” but that’s not the point. The child wasn’t standing up, walking a few steps, falling down, and getting up in order to get somewhere. She didn’t fail because she didn’t get to a particular place. Similarly, if you’re learning to ride a bicycle, it’s not important where exactly you go. The question is, can you balance on a bicycle? Can you control a bicycle? Can you ride a bicycle? The goal is not to ride to a particular destination.
I suggest that we look at meditation practice in the same way. We say, “Why are we putting forth this effort?” Well, we do it in order to be someone who knows how to put forth effort consistently and in an appropriate way, whatever the surrounding conditions are or obstacles might be. This ability to put forth unremitting effort is the goal itself. That’s not to say that there’s no interest in samadhi. But samadhi will come of itself. It’s a natural consequence of this precise, devoted, consistent, and wise effort.
This is why I recommend seeing practice in terms of what the Buddha called the four right efforts. First, we practice to prevent the arising of unwholesome dhammas that have not yet arisen. Second, we make the effort to deal with unwholesome dhammas that have arisen by skillfully and constructively reducing and eliminating them. The third area of work is to seek ways of instilling and manifesting wholesome dhammas that have not yet arisen in our hearts. Lastly, we don’t take those wholesome dhammas that have arisen for granted but seek to develop them as much as possible.