Buddhism is like the Flavor-of-the-Month Club when it comes to accounting for all the various schools, traditions, and geo-ethnic variations.
You can think of Practical Buddhism as Zen Buddhism only with the trappings of tradition, ceremony, and ritual removed.
In my experience, Buddhist practice is actively engaging with life in the present moment. Nothing else really matters…ritual, ceremony, week long retreats… they all have merit, but they are largely unnecessary.
I don’t need them to actively engage in the present moment.
The Buddha taught many lessons to his followers. He taught the four noble truths and the eight-fold path. For me, the most important aspects of what the Buddha taught have to do with human activity. The three areas that demand the most human attention and continual practice make up the three components of Practical Buddhism: meditation, mindfulness, and the practice of compassionate kindness.
Therefore, it’s very easy to remember that Practical Buddhism is the daily practice of these three activities:
Isn’t studying the Buddhadharma essential?
In my opinion, studying the collection of sutras, Dhammapada, and other Buddhist writings -collectively referred to as the Buddhadarma- can be beneficial and often times, very illuminating. But if they detract from time spent engaging in your life, then it has become a distraction and should be avoided.
Reading about meditation isn’t the same as meditating. Studying about compassion isn’t the same as showing compassion to a stranger in need. Acquiring knowledge is important, but not at the expense of what truly matters.