I originally had quite a low aspiration for my spiritual practice before I started coming on your retreats. I’d kind of accepted that high attainment was for gifted individuals in monasteries or those who through previous endeavours spontaneously got an awakening experience in this life. I treated my meditation as a way of getting peaceful and by getting peaceful I got to see how I’d got lost in my mind and lost that peace or sense of alrightness.
Then when I sat a number of Vipassana retreats early on, I felt for the first time that some kind of higher attainment might be possible for me as a lay person if I made the space to do it. It didn’t feel like I could do it when my life was loaded with responsibilities but it did seem like something I could prepare the ground for until such time as I could really “go for it”. And though I doubt I have the ability to achieve the cessation of suffering in this life, I feel the desire to really go as far as I can go. To really find out how far that is or whether it’s just an idea I have about being on a spiritual path. It seems like the only way to know is to go and find out? (It also seems a bit ridiculous when half the time I can’t even concentrate but I feel I just need to keep trying as intelligently as I can).
It does seem still like a personal desire though. But it’s one I doubt will be pleasing to my idea of myself if I follow it properly. So it’s not the same as a personal desire that upholds my idea of myself? Or is it? This where I get confused. I know I am ignorant so may just simply be deluded about how much I’m just following an idea of myself, getting to some more pleasing version of myself.
All I know is that I really want to put myself in the way of finding out properly. And if it turns out that I’m really still attached to my personal desires and it’s not my time to let go, then at least I’ll know and can make peace with that. At least I will have tried.
I long for simplicity and I long to let go. But as I pack up my belongings and start giving things away, I can feel my attachment to the stuff of my life. And yet I know once I’ve given it away, I won’t even think about it again. I won’t even notice it’s gone. So I feel I need to simplify and create the conditions to make my practice central and beyond that try to be useful to other people. And keep the sila. That’s it.
Even as I write this, I suspect that I’m so ignorant of how completely ego-driven it all is. But where else is there to start?