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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Be not Afraid of Growing Slowly.

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.

-Chinese Proverb

James: This quote really resonated in my heart today because I often feel like my practice isn't where it should be, but how could it be anywhere except where it is? I must keep reminding myself (gently, of course) that there is no moment but this moment and that you can't get "there" without being here first. I use, "there" in quotations because in this case, "there" refers to realizing enlightenment and liberation from suffering--not an actual destination someplace in the ethereal future as we know that the future is but a hologram.

It can be easy to be discouraged and think, "I'm not meditating enough" or long-enough but even Buddha got discouraged. He studied with several mystics before his enlightenment but was eventually discouraged by their teachings, which he felt unsatisfied with. In addition, he pursued extreme aestheticism only to be discouraged by it. During his meditation under the Bodhi tree, before his enlightenment, he was tempted by desires to abandon his practice. He could have easily given up after all of these events but he pressed on not knowing what would come next until he shattered the hold of the ego and realized enlightenment.

Something else to consider is that our sense of progress is too often seen through the eyes of the mind, which demands immediate, Earth-shattering and over-whelming results. So it can be hard sometimes to see our progress; especially since progress seems to unfold in increments. Yet even the lotus seed has to burst up through seemingly unending layers of mud and inches of murky, shifting water to eventually reach the top of the water to bloom in the sun. Our journey is similar. It seems like an impossible journey yet it has to be such for if the lotus grew instantly to the surface the stem wouldn't be strong enough to hold the enlightened flower.

So, we too must build a strong base or foundation for our practice. Thus, we don't need to worry so much about how "fast" we're growing in our practice. We can only grow as fast as our karma will allow. There is a lesson in everything and just because someone might seem "advanced" on the path doesn't mean they aren't having difficulties on their way to the sun too!! The goal isn't to keep up with some Zen master or those around you whom you consider stronger meditators but rather that we keep growing--period. I realized that wanting to be further along in my practice is giving into the desire for being better than others. It's hard to accept it but that's at the root because why would we be unhappy with our practice if we weren't trying to, not only keep up with others, but outdo them? As if it's a race to see who realizes enlightenment first. No, it's better for me to stay happy with where I am because like it or not, that is the only true reality. The rest is destructive delusion.

~Peace to all beings~

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9 comments:

Tanner Christensen said...

This is exactly what was needed to be read today.

It's so easy to get into the primal mind frame of "I need this now, I need results now, I'm not progressing fast enough," but when we are reminded that we can only do so much and that true enlightenment takes time, it all seems so trivial.

Thank you for this reminder.

EranSun said...

Same for, just what I needed to read.

Thank you very much

Metta.

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deepian said...

thanks James for these wise words, and for raising the issue of spiritual competition, which is an oxymoron: competition and comparison with others is inherently unspiritual. Nevertheless we encounter "spiritual competition" all the time, whether in superiority complex of the holier than thou zealot, or the comparison of self with fellow travellers. The truth of the matter is, of course, that we are not in a spiritual consciousness at any time we are being competitive.

There is no perfect being on this planet - let us all accept our human frailties and simply focus on being the best we can be now, in this moment. To ascertain our progress we should look in the mirror, and not at others.

Shinzen said...

Thanks James. Good post. Reminds me of the story about a martial art student asking his teacher how long will it take to get his black belt. The teacher said 8 years. The student asked, 'how long if I study and practice really hard? The teacher said 20 years.

Ya can't push it...and you are right. the future is just a hologram in the mind. No place to go and nothing to get...grass grows by itself. Again, thank James.
Gotta have faith.

Bonsai Doug said...

As someone just beginning this journey, not only am I not "there," I'm not certain I'm even "here." :^)

Thank you for this comment. As someone who has been involved with bonsai for many years, I am very well acquainted with the concept of patience. It is more about the journey rather than the destination.

AliceAnderson said...

Excellent advice. Definitely something to remember... It is okay to grow slowly.

heartthrob1016 said...

Wow, amazing. Thank you for reminding me.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." -Lao-tzu

Gurdeep said...

I Also Agree With you Meditation is not contemplation. Meditation is not concentration. Meditation is a state of being. It is a state of awareness. Meditation is not about doing something; rather it is about doing nothing. So Check out more Intresting techniques and Guidene about Maditation only at [Gurumaa.com]

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