Sunday, August 9, 2009

156/218 - Goals and Achievemets

Thursday on the dock

Balancing was better, and I had an easier time of simply settling in on the dock instead of thinking about all the differences between doing the practice alone here, and doing it back in the studio. I cut the floor series short, but overall it was pretty satisfying.

The day 217 meditation is about goals and achievements. Goals and achievements are basically the same thing. Its just that goals lie in the future, and achievements are in the past. I was surprised, and a bit pleased, to read that Gates does not look down on these. Desire, after all, is one of the five afflictions. So it seems pretty easy to conclude that, if desire is not good, then goals must be bad as well.

But, as Gates puts it, goals help "galvanize" him. The trouble with a goal only occurs when it starts to interfere with the present. When the goal overrides the practice, its no longer doing its proper work. In a challenge this starts to happen when you start fixating on how many days you've done, how many are left, how long it will be until you are done. And, yes, that kind of thinking happens. But hopefully it doesn't happen in class.

Achievements can have an insidious effect. Completing a big challenge is a nice accomplishment, and it's very gratifying. The danger lies in thinking that those 30 or 60 or 100 days will have anything to do with class number 155 (or whatever). Every class is new, and equally capable of knocking you on your ass. And achievements aren't going to change that. But they might mislead you.

But its nice to know that its OK to be human, to strive to accomplish goals, and to take satisfaction in accomplishments. These are fine, as Gates says, so long as "each practice brings us back to the importance of now. Our achievements are simply the by-products of our ability to realize the potential of the present moment. ... That is the juice."

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