Spiritual practice can be seen as a gradual alignment with Ground.
More precisely, it is Ground temporarily misidentifying itself as exclusively a human being, and trying in various ways to mimic what it already is.
It is a gradual remembrance of what we really are, a gradual waking up from the dream of being identified as a human being.
In shikantaza, just sitting, we allow whatever arises to come and go on its own, to live its own life. Ground does this inherently, allowing any experiences and any phenomena to arise, to come and go, to live their own life.
More accurately: Ground is temporarily misidentified as a segment – as a human self or maybe pure awareness, as seeing but not seen. And through shikantaza or similar approaches to meditation, it tries to mimick what it already is: that which allows any and all phenomena to come and go on their own.
In practicing selflessness, we practice getting out of the idea of I and take a larger and more inclusive view. Ground, temporarily forming itself into any phenomena including all beings, is inherently selfless. There is no I anywhere.
More accurately: Ground, temporarily misidentified as a human self and an object in the world, tries to practice what it already is: selfless. Due to the temporary misidentificaiton, this seems very difficult, if not impossible, until Ground begins to remember what it is.
In prayer, we try to connect with God, allowing the apparenty boundary between I and God to dissolve.
Or more accurately: Ground temporarily splits itself into an individual human self or soul, and as God or Spirit, and tries to connect the two, allowing the apparent boundary between the two to dissolve.
In self-inquiry, we explore what is already true in immediate experience. There is a human self, but is there an I anywhere? There is the doing of this human self, but is there a doer? What is it that comes and goes? What is it that does not come and go? What happens when there is an attachment to a thought? What happens when there is not an attachment to a belief? If I take a statement and turns it around any way possible, is there some truth in each of these new statements? Is it possible to not attach to any one, yet be free to engage in and play with any and all of them?
More accurately: Ground, temporarily misidentified as a human self, explores what is already true in immediate awareness. In this way, it gradually starts uncovering what is already there, what always and already is there.
Preparing the ground
Through these and other practices, the ground is prepared – so to speak – for Ground to awaken to its own nature. To suddenly, in a flash, recognize what it already is, what it always is, inherently absent of any I anywhere.