Mount Doom All The Time

I heard recently that sometimes even saints come to the end thinking they haven’t done enough.

So what chance do I have? Who am I kidding… If even saints can’t get it right… Might as well pick up my marbles and go home.

That flashing neon You’re Not Trying Hard Enough never goes away. Solidifying inadequacy no matter what I try. Well that blows my theory that the gods don’t give us tasks that can’t be done.

In my case though it’s true. I really don’t try hard enough. In so many ways. I know this. Look at where I could have been.

And try hard enough for what?

Maybe I’m not looking at this the right way. I have a tendency to want things to be perfect before I begin. I know this. Can’t start down the trail without the correct boots on.

Try hard enough for what? Hard enough to not be a disappointment? But maybe there’s no feedback loop to the flashing Not Hard Enough message. Maybe it’s running off something else. Maybe it’s the message that’s the problem.

Try harder than anyone else? Then what? Don Juan told Castaneda that we don’t know until our last breath whether we’ve succeeded. Until then it can go either way. I can’t lock it in no matter what.

Maybe I’m not looking at this the right way. Krishna told Arjuna to stop getting hung up on how things turn out. Pay attention. A friend told me that she can’t meditate because she gets distracted by thinking these thoughts: Okay, I’m meditating. What comes next?

I told her nothing comes next.  Sheepscot, Late September

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8 responses to “Mount Doom All The Time

  1. Well, there is that…..nothing matters, there is no point. Or everything matters whether there’s a point or not.

    The other day I had a student who kept doing a posture in a way that hurt her. She were moving slowly doing simple moves with conscious, counted breaths. My cue was ‘pay attention’ and she didn’t even notice that she couldn’t, that she kept going back to a pattern that caused her to feel the familiar nerve pain she expects.

    I pointed out to her that asana means comfortable seat but how interesting that we are expected for the seat to be comfortable when it is also supposed to be a new seat. Nothing new is comfortable at first, even if it’s marvelous, even seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time is not comfortable. Comfortable is what we are familiar with. So we are expected to be comfortable, we are expected to change patterns and change is not comfortable. What do we do?

    We pay attention. We direct prana consciously. Prana is that which moves us. It is wind and water, it is breath and blood, lungs and heart. We have a goal but we don’t know that we will arrive there. We do not aggravate prana by forcing the goal, we use our breath, we focus the mind, we, like Arjuna do not do it for the fruit but for the practice because it is what we can do, what we were born to do. In some ways we cannot be expected to do more.

    When we seek out a practice that is a challenge, it is because we are Americans, raised to do ‘better’ believing that we are meant to be conquerors, not quitters, etc. So by habit we think we want a challenge but life is already a challenge. We should not seek challenge but to be in the comfortable seat. Asana means ‘to be’ and also ‘comfortable seat’.

    That is what I know of yoga but I am far from peaceful and not sure I have any authority to comment here. Still, I was compelled to offer what I can.

    I love the idea of needing the perfect shoes before the climb. So well said!

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    • You have full authority to comment here, Hilary. I, too, am far from peaceful. Citta vrtti all over the place. But I must say, I’m better than I was. So, progress!

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  2. Actually, I just realized, David, that you are Canadian. But I think it’s the same Western mind set. And… I apologize for the typos and grammar! That’s me, in a rush and off I go.

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  3. In my humble opinion, if we’re forever chasing the elusive “have I done enough” idea then we will forever fall short. If we stop and think that waking up in the morning, opening our eyes and taking that first sweet breath is “enough” already, then everything else is like icing on the universal cake. The rest simply comes and falls into place. If we play a part in that process then woohooo, how cool is it that we could help out. If we simply watch the rest play out in front of us then woohooo, we got to witness an impromptu parade. In either case, we’re a piece of the universal puzzle. Either way, we’ve “done enough”.

    If we can bring a smile to someone’s face; if we can hug someone in their time of sorrow or happiness; if we can pay the toll for the stranger behind us; if we can put out birdseed for the hungry birds; if we can simply be and let our radiance shine forth, isn’t that “enough”?

    When we close our eyes at night, isn’t it “enough” to know that we are who we are, that we do what we do; that we embrace all that is uniquely us? When we then let that go, it flows forth from us out onto the whispering wind, where in time, it will help to heal the world. In my humble opinion, I’m thinking that’s enough…

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    • I think you and commenter rococonnor are right that we are enough. We are radiant.

      That radiance can go unrealized.

      Many are afflicted with the sense that they are not enough, or that they are not doing everything they can. We employ standards to measure ourselves by. The rich man thinks he would be more successful if only he had more money. The college student is working very hard but is frustrated with herself because she feels she should be working harder. Someone loses their lover and is despondent because they didn’t try hard enough to make the relationship work. A yoga teacher feels that he must practice harder because his own self-image is less than what his students seem to think of him. The powerful think they haven’t enough power. The beautiful think they haven’t enough beauty. The compassionate weep and are unhappy because they might have done more to relieve the world’s suffering. It is a human affliction that we can sometimes desire a state of being that is forever receding just out of reach. Blessed are the unafflicted. For many, our seeming failures and traumas and cravings have gotten to us a bit and are messing with our heads. Causing some doubt and dissatisfaction. A human condition. Our practice can unwind some of that and set us on a path to the realization of our radiant, unblemished nature. It can be a long and winding road.

      Thank you, pixie girl, for your – as always – thoughtful comments.

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