“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
This week has been a struggle. I could list all the reasons I can think of to explain why, but that hardly seems important or helpful. The bottom line is this week I have lost the meaningfulness of what I’m doing…with this blog…with trying to change my life…with yoga…with running…with weight loss…with anxiety & depression. “The falcon cannot hear the falconer. Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;” Am I the “best without conviction” or the “worst full of passionate intensity?”
If you actually read this blog from the beginning, I think (hope) you’ll find a huge transformation has taken place. Without this blog it’s hard for me to see it because I’m living it every day. The small investments don’t seem that important in the big picture of life, but on the reflection of it, the devil seems to be in the details. And this week I’ve lost sight of the bigger picture; and I question whether that’s as it should be or not.
This week I read this Zen proverb:
A Zen student has a penchant for writing to his teacher monthly with an account of his development. His letters began to take a mystical turn when he wrote, “I am experiencing a oneness with the universe.” When his teacher received this letter, he merely glanced at it and threw it away. The next month the student wrote, “I have discovered that the divine is present in everything.” His teacher used this letter to start his fire. A month later, the student had become even more ecstatic and wrote, “The mystery of the one and many has revealed itself to my wonderment,” at which his teacher yawned. The following month, another letter arrived, which simply said, “There is no self, no one is born, and no one dies.” At this his teacher threw his hands up in despair. After the fourth letter, the student stopped writing to his teacher, and after a year had passed, the teacher began to feel concerned and wrote to his student, asking to be kept informed of his spiritual progress. The student wrote back with the words “Who cares?” When the teacher read this, he smiled and said, “At last! He’s finally got it!”
This story was included in the Tricycle Daily Dharma for February 19th. The entire article was entitled “Letting Go of Spiritual Experience,” and it hit me like a sack of bricks. It explained that experiences on a spiritual path, though they motivate us when they’re positive, are fickle. The article essentially explained that the mountain-top experience comes only because of all the efforts of climbing that preceded it. Somehow when we’re on top, we forget the struggle it took to get us there. But these mountain-top experiences AND the climbing experiences are all just experiences. They come and go, and there is little if any meaning in them. And I can’t seem to shake this. All these changes I’m pushing myself to live through are just meaningless experiences.
So what’s the point of losing the weight or of learning yoga or how to run a half marathon? Aside from my yoga teacher and running coach who have vested interests in my progress, I’m doing this on my own and for myself only to find that there’s nothing of substance in it. I can’t seem to find a good reason for willingly putting myself through all of this. And I don’t think the apathy of the Zen proverb is the answer. I don’t want to be the ignorant and misguided Zen student before his realization, but I certainly don’t want to become apathetic either. I’ve been there, and when you’re already prone to depression, apathy is definitely not healthy to flirt around with.
Despite the lack of motivation this week and despite how hard it has become, I’ve still done everything on my training plan. I’m not sure why I’m doing it, but I am. And this week hasn’t been a mountain top experience, but I’m still climbing. And I’m only wrapping up week 3. I have 11 more weeks of this ahead of me. I hope this experience passes soon. Until then, it’s chop wood, carry water.