“If you are really interested in finding out…” –Toni Packer
When I was sitting meditation retreats regularly at Springwater Center back in the 80s and early 90s, I used to have the same discussion, over and over again, with Toni Packer (the resident wise woman there) about how hard it was to sustain my meditation practice once I got home.
At every meeting I would whine, “But Toni, you don’t understand! I live in the WORLD, I have a little kid, a husband who’s not into this stuff, and friends who aren’t into this stuff! When I go home, it’s a battle to carve out even 15 minutes a day to sit on my cushion!
And she would always say the same thing: “If these questions are really important, if you are really interested in finding out…” and here she would become very quiet, and just look at me (lovingly).
“But I AM INTERESTED!” I would whine.
“Then just do the work,” was the implied answer.
My MO up until fairly recently has been this: I get all excited over what appears like THE path to clarity, enlightenment, self-knowledge—whatever you want to call it, and I pursue it with great vigor and intensity until it gets really, really hard.
At that hard point, I begin to have doubts. Is this really the way? Is this really the way FOR ME? Maybe I should try “X” instead. And so I switch to X.
It’s like climbing a mountain, getting to the hard part, then deciding to go back down to the trailhead and try an alternate route to the top. No. I simply cannot keep doing this anymore. Why?
I don’t have enough time left.
I think when you are young, you can spend some time going up halfway, then back down, then up again, then back down, exploring all kinds of trails, but after a while you’ve just got to pick one and stay on it. You’ve got to decide: This is who I am. This is my path.
There are thousands of routes to the top. Some are steep and treacherous. Some are long and arduous. Some are dark and scary. Some have hungry animals that will eat you if you’re not careful. There’s no easy way to the top, so the best thing is to just pick a path and stick with it. Even if it’s the wrong path (there are no wrong paths), or hard (all of them are hard).
Just pick and commit.