When I first started meditating I figured if I gave it a solid five years I’d be a Buddha.
I pushed and pushed, taking it very seriously. Alas, it seems there’s more to it than that.
The weird thing about Buddhism is you don’t really know where you’re trying to get to.
I mean what’s a Buddha feel like on the inside? What happens in their mind? In their heart? How do they decide what to have to breakfast? What kind of car does a Buddha drive? Do they work? What kind of job do they do? How much does a Buddha get paid?
Because you don’t quite know where you’re going, it’s hard to know exactly how to get there.
Over the years I’ve mellowed out a lot. Partly I think this is because I’m in a lot less pain. When you can handle being where you’re at, you aren’t so eager to get somewhere else.
Partly, I’ve just got older. I’m not such an eager puppy as I was.
And partly, I’ve seen some benefits. I see that Buddhist practice takes its own time. It’s hard even to describe what the benefits are. But you can feel it, and when you’re tested, you may be surprised at how well you cope.
So now I see Buddhist practice about not trying to get to some goal, but about enjoying an unfolding process. Or a maturing process.
You tend your psyche like a garden. You respond to what comes up. Sometimes you do nothing, sometimes you work hard.
Sometimes it’s grunt work, like digging a ditch. Sometimes it requires gentleness and precision, like planting new shoots.
You get a feel for it after a while, and start to settle in for the long haul.
This goes against our bigger, better, faster, more culture. Why have a garden? Just pave the whole area and turn it into a car park! You can make money out of a car park!
I think in fact Buddhist practice is designed to go against such things. It regularly pulls the rug out from under you, until you stop demanding a steady rug – or even a rug at all.
As long as you’re genuinely open to it, over time the results will be significant.
When you get to a certain point, interesting things start to happen to your perspective on life, the universe, and everything. That’s when you know you’re on the right road, heading in the right direction. You may not know where it’s leading, but you know you want to keep on that path.