Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Ever Increasing Effort

The effort is endless and permanent. Don’t hope for the time when the effort will end.
It never will.
I play guitar. I first started playing guitar consistently when I was 16. When I first started to play, it seemed to be a straight curve up, a simple straightforward walk up a learning ladder. I would learn one thing, then the next, then the next and so on. Until I could "play guitar" (something which seemed like a permanent "steady" state). But the actual process was not quite so straight and never reached an end.
I am back with my guitar teacher for our first lesson ever. I learn something… let’s call it lick 1. (A "lick" is something like a simple little melody.) My teacher plays lick 1, I attempt to repeat it. I fail. I try again. I fail again. I try once more and it starts to sound right. Several more times, and it sounds sort of right. My teacher leaves. I spend the week repeating it over and over. I get it! Now I can play lick 1.
From there I can go on to something else… My teacher comes over and shows me lick 2. Again I have a lot of trouble with it. It’s not working right. I try it over and over. It’s not happening. It seems impossible. I simply can’t do this! After several attempts… it starts to sound sort of right. My teacher leaves and I practice the same lick for hours. Hours and hours. (Neighbors going insane.) I can finally play it. My teacher comes again and we go on to lick 3… but wait! He asks me to play lick 1. I just spent the last week playing lick 2. I can’t play lick 1 anymore! I realize I have to practice it again. Now I have 2 licks that I have to practice and I’m about to get a new one.
So I don’t have just one new lick to practice. I have three… and there’s another one around the corner!
I notice something else as well. At night I will practice lick 1 over and over. By the end of the night, I can play it very well. I go to sleep. The next morning I wake up and grab the guitar (the very first thing I do as soon as I wake up) and … I can sort of play lick 1. It sort of sounds right. I have to practice it some more. After a bit of practice I get it back. I have to remember that… tomorrow.
After many years of work and designing and redesigning my daily practice schedule, something else began to seep through into me. A basic truth that was embedded in the process itself. Even though you gain in momentum, and you can build on the learning you did before, you can’t stop to rest.
You are either moving forward or you are moving backwards.
There are no other options.

The moment that you stop and base your work on what came before ("Yesterday I reached such heights in my meditation. I am now a very awakened person.") you have already started to fall. And the higher up you have been able to climb, the more drastic and shocking the fall will be.
Many years after I had started to play guitar, my Shaman teacher said: "You have to pedal twice as hard just to stay in the same place!" No matter how much work you did yesterday to reach the awakened state… and maybe even a Work space… you will have to do even more today just to get there.
But how much "more" can there be? There’s only so much you can do in a day!
Your attention, as it increases in power, will become more and more solid and it will be able to focus on smaller segments of time. What before flowed by without being noticed will now be noticed. And now that you can notice it, you can use it. The more attention you have, the more time you have. And all that time is there for you to use in your work. As soon as you take it for granted, as soon as you start to ride the wave of "spiritual pleasure" that comes with being in a more subtle space… you will start to slide down… fast.

Make an effort to focus your attention and reach an awakened state.
Right now.
Feel the space changing.
Redouble the effort.
And again.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home