Sometimes we decide we don’t need to do the simple things out of a subtle arrogance. And it’s only after time and reflection that we realize what we’ve lost.
A couple of years ago I decided I didn’t really need to meditate any more. Of course I didn’t decide this consciously or publicly—I just kind of stopped meditating.
But deep down, if I was really honest with myself, I was a little arrogant.
I figured since I’d lived at a Zen Monastery for two years, and since I had meditated for 1000s of hours already, I could dispense with it.
Until recently, when I realized that I needed meditation again.
It was soon after that I re-read a short passage by Dogen Zenji, the founder of Japanese Zen:
Consider the Buddha: although he was wise at birth,
the traces of his six years of upright sitting can yet be seen.
As for Bodhidharma, although he had received the mind-seal,
his nine years of facing a wall is celebrated still.
If even the ancient sages were like this,
how can we today dispense with wholehearted practice?
The sentiment of this stanza is clear. If the great sages and masters still meditated everyday, why do we think we can stop doing the simple practice that brings us back?
When I search myself, I have found again and again a subtle arrogance that lies to me. And when I coach my incredible clients I see it as well. There is a lie our brilliance and talent tells us that says we don’t have to do what others must.
But when we steal from our practice, we merely rob our own virtue and possibility. Which is why if we want to become great leaders and masters of our lives, we must be diligent in looking for and finding the subtle arrogance that takes from us the will to do what simplicity and practice ask of us.