The first thing is to be practical
From 1979: Even your enemy who tries to kill you is your best friend. by Adele Hulse, Big Love author:
On 17 July 1979 Lama Yeshe held a meeting with the Sangha. He began by explaining three steps in learning the lam-rim: First the teacher gives the outline, then the students discuss it, and third, they apply it in daily life.
From Lama Yeshe’s talk to the IMI Sangha at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa in 1979:
I advise you people not to take high commitments. It is not necessary. Our Western culture civilization can be very difficult. Last year we were incredibly fortunate to invite Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, who is absolutely Buddha. It was incredible, so fortunate, and many people took initiations. But this year many are coming crying to me, saying, “Lama, I broke my vow!” I understand. I cry too. When I come to the centers, there are so many things to do that sometimes it overwhelms my time. But I cry differently. So it is important that we not take so many commitments to do heavy sadhanas. The first thing is to be practical, not just to make a Tibetan trip. Ritual is unimportant. Even though some lamas say that ritual is important…well, yes. It’s not necessary for you to be revolutionary, saying, “I prefer spaghetti life; I want Italian Dharma, not Tibetan Buddhism anymore!” The truth is, we are Italian sentient beings practicing to become enlightened. That’s all. You didn’t become Tibetan monks and nuns.
Once you have taken a certain initiation you should check up. You should ask the lama, “What does this mean? What is this initiation? What is its purpose?” If you receive that empowerment, then you should get the benefit of its purpose. So in order to get that benefit, you should make a retreat, shouldn’t you? Each time you receive an initiation, you should make a satisfactory retreat. Then it becomes warm inside. We should be practical and then we’ll be happy. This is how we take the peaceful comfortable path to enlightenment.
Lama recommended the Sangha find a house of their own close to the center. Then the discussion moved on to the role of the gekö (disciplinarian). The Italians wanted an Italian gekö, but a vote was taken and it was agreed that American nun Thubten Chodron (Cherry Greene), who had gone there to be spiritual program coordinator in 1978, would keep the role for six months. Finally, with regard to wearing robes Lama told his monks and nuns to practice discretion and wear Western clothes when appropriate. “For example, one can dress in the common way to go and visit your family,” he told them. “Also, if you are looking for work you cannot go dressed as a monk. If someone has to visit a public office he can wear normal clothes and change after.” It was all wonderful common sense.