There are as many reasons for practice as there are people, and the reasons also change over time – within a day and lifetime.
Still, there may be some broad categories.
- Reduce what we don’t want
Reduce or escape from suffering in all its various forms.
- Increase what we want
Concentration, bliss, spaciousness, joy, love, sense of intimacy, charisma, liberation, humility, gratitude, compassion with all beings, clarity, insight, and so on.
- To reduce the suffering of others, of all of us
To find clarity, insight and compassion, and develop skills to help reduce the suffering of beings – of all of us.
- To find the meditator
Who or what is practicing? Who or what am I? In the beginning, it may seem that I am this human self. Then, I may find myself as formless awareness in which the world of form – including this human self – arises. Then, I may discover that there is no “I” inherent anywhere in all this. It all just happens, with no “I” inherent in any particular segment of the field. Any sense of “I” is a belief in the thought “I”, and comes from an overlay of abstractions.
- For no reason
It’s just what Buddhas do.
Also, ultimately I don’t know why. On an ordinary human level, I can never get to the bottom of anything – I can never really know why, how, who. As formless awareness, I am distinct from the world of form and distinct from conventional knowing and not knowing. I am the not knowing beyond and including conventional knowing and not knowing.
Each of these – and many more – may be present to various degrees and in various forms. And none may really be completely abandoned as long as we are (also) human.