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Lions Roar : September 2013
All of our desires have an impulse in them that can lead us to discover something deeper than whatever we were looking for. In a fundamental way, we are all moving toward the light and we can’t hold on to the person we thought we were, the one who made all those mistakes. The Zen approach is not about avoiding mistakes but bringing them to the path. Making a mistake opens the tenderness in us and can be more helpful than not making one. Being fat might help you; squeaky shoes and piled-up hair might, too. You don’t need to dislike something or to be anxious in order to move. The path can be through vulnerability, kind- ness, and joy. Then, the mistakes are not mistakes. We look for something small and find something large We are naturally skeptical about whether we can change. We don’t necessarily believe that we will keep our New Year’s reso- lutions, or that we will get thin, or rich, or calm from improv- ing ourselves. But we would like to believe in change. We want a girlfriend or a boyfriend and think we are too fat. So we try to lose weight. Fair enough, we have to start somewhere. Self- improvement means setting out on a journey and, in some way, forgetting who we are and why we set out. At first, change is a dream that makes life more hopeful and charming, like reading books about meditating without actu- ally meditating or reading romance novels without the inconve- niences of falling in love. A fantasy is a good place to start. In this sense, the Buddha’s life is one of self-improvement. He left his home and the important person he had been, and he tried to wake up using many absurd methods that didn’t work one little bit. But eventually he stumbled into a genuine life and found more than he expected to find. The hope is that we will set off after some little goal and, during the journey, we will forget who we are and why we set off. We’ll stumble onto a treasure that changes everything. The practice is to notice things as we stumble along. Even the stumbling, even groping for the wrong thing, is already perfect. That’s what meditation is. ♦ Underwater view of a lotus plant. and you could use a little improvement...