Yamada Mumon Roshi said, “People of Great virtue are slow to mature.”
Maybe it seems like in your practice you are the slow one. People seem to be getting it faster than you. They seem to rush on by you. Things seem easy for them. Their sitting or standing looks good. They seem to grasp concepts quickly. Their speech is clear and quick, and you feel like you are a pitiful chaotic mess, unable to speak, unable to go forward.
It is like you are going up a mountain with a group and everyone is climbing up while you are there digging a hole, digging a well. You can’t go up, you inevitably dig, and dig, and dig. You can’t see progress, you have struggles in practice no one else seems to have. There does not seem to be any daylight. It seems impossible to go forward. And yet there is some process going on within you which can’t be denied. Some true unexplainable pace. It is as if you are gathering up the ocean, while others go forward you are gathering the whole ocean behind you. You can’t change course, you are driven by something unknowable but true somehow.
I remember in my monastic time, there were some people who were so much better at the life than me. They always looked good. Their clothes were clean, their cooking was brilliant and on time. They did not seem to have pain in zazen. They always seemed to be in a good mood. They got the special jobs and seemed to be advancing quickly in their sanzen with the Roshi. And there I was, like some hurricane of conflict, a walking ki problem, wild emotions, disheveled clothing, making mistakes all day long. I was an idiot who couldn’t get my self going in one direction. I couldn’t answer a simple question thrown at me. In sanzen I was imploding. My zazen was very painful. My body was in pain all of the time. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t do my sussukukon. I couldn’t chant very well, I was on the edge. I was full of energy but had no way to process it. It took me much longer than most to begin my first koan.
I am here to say to trust this process. Trust it and keep digging. All of your struggles, all of the challenges you face, this great purification, this investing in loss, in time this will bear fruit. In time this meager acorn will penetrate the earth, will begin to find footing, and will be unmovable. This tiny acorn will slowly grow into a great oak, and there will be no mistaking yes or no or up or down. There will be a stability of realization which will not waver.
People of great Virtue are slow to mature. Others might be rewarded for their cleverness. Others may look better, seem to breeze through life, breeze through their practice. They may have real insight.
Maybe the others seem to be crossing the finish line, seeing real progress, and you are there, like a newborn baby, discovering your arms and legs. Just learning to walk. Some seem to get it so quickly, seem to shine, easy going and free, and it feels like for you every one of your cells is being transformed. You are disappearing. Like the universe has penetrated you and there is nothing left.
Once your cellular practice gains footing, a great realization is a matter of course. At some point, with unrelenting sincerity, a great liberation will occur, and it will be a beacon for others. All of the struggles you are encountering will have given you the experience to not be moved around by the conflict of others, not moved around by the struggle of others.
You’ll be a person people can trust, a person of real worth. You’ll be unshakable, a deep well for people to be nourished by. You’ll be able to truly offer something to people. There will be a magic to what you do and who you are that can’t be manufactured through cleverness or talent or wit. How you move won’t be a subtle protective lie, but every movement will be one big sermon to this great faith. You’ll be saturated in it, and this will be transformative to others. So please keep going. Please continue to be honest and sincere in your practice. Don’t take the quick reward. Don’t figure it out, but allow the process to die in you again and again, and be reborn in that again and again. I see a few people in my classes like this, in the midst of a huge transmutation process they don’t understand. Please keep digging into this great glacially slow beautiful process. This ineluctable undertaking. You can do it. Good luck!
Also, I know a few of you are interested in healing work. Some in Craniosacral therapy or other subtle modalities. Well, all that I wrote above applies to that as well. At some point, you will have so much to offer, but it might take a while for it to come together. Please keep going.
P.S. Please join us for an online class sometime. If you’d like to apply to join the Energy Collective, an International online practice group, please contact me.