Onward, Ever Onward

Onwards And UpwardsWe all find ourselves confronted by challenges, or in situations, which take us outside our comfort zone. It may be as important as a life changing decision, or something as trivial as whether to risk your street cred by riding with a new cycling group.

My own thinking in such circumstances, is to feel the pain and do it anyway. Not that I have always made the right decision, far from it, but for me, doing nothing is not an option.

If you summon your courage to challenge something, you will never be left with regret. How sad it would be to spend your life wishing, “If only I’d had a little more courage.”

Whatever the outcome may be, the important thing is to step forward on the path that you believe is right.

One Step Closer

Stepping StonesLooking forward, not back, is a good way to get to where you are going.

Making progress, seeing that progress, and building upon it will take you from where you are today, to where you want to be tomorrow.

As Sensei says:

“It is not how you compare to others that is important, but rather how you compare to who you were yesterday. If you’ve advanced even one step, then you’ve achieved something great.”

How ever you measure that progress, and whether anyone else notices, or not, you are one step closer to where, or who, you want to be in the future.

Look And Learn

Look And LearnI love the way this poem beautifully encapsulates the stages of learning, and the long, long road to enlightenment …

  1. I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk I fall in. I am lost… I am hopeless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out. ~~~~

  2. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m in the same place. But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out. ~~~~

  3. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in…it’s a habit My eyes are open; I know where I am; It is my fault. I get out immediately. ~~~~

  4. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it. ~~~~

  5. I walk down another street.
~ Portia Nelson

Life is a series of lessons. As our wisdom increases, we learn more and more from each lesson. Be heartened by your progress, do not be down-hearted by the mistakes you make, they are a sure sign that you are living life to the full.

Time Passes So Fast

Anniversay PartyThose nice people at WordPress reminded me that today is the third anniversary of my blog, and there’s been a post each and every day.

As it says in the About it is the story of my path to enlightenment, but it also records the past thirty six months highs and lows of life.

I would like to think that you can see the progress, slow though it may be, that I have made since I began, it’s a fascinating journey as many of you know, and everyone’s is different.

I would really like to thank all the people who have left comments on here or on Facebook or Twitter, they are all greatly appreciated and very often show that we are all learning together as we go along.

When I wrote the first post, I was determined to keep it up. Whilst I cannot, hand on heart, say that there haven’t been days when I’ve thought ‘Oh bum, it’s late, I’m tired and I still haven’t written today’s post’ I have always made the effort.

As with my practice and my cycling, it’s the routine that makes all the difference. It’s the discipline needed to keep going that adds to the progress through the practice, so when you feel like giving up on something don’t do it !!!

Barring fire, pestilence or flood, I’ll still be here, blogging away this time next year, and I hope that you are all still reading the posts too.

Testing Our Progress

Beach Huts At Hengistbury HeadThose of you who have followed my blog for a while will have seen posts about my cycling exploits over the past few years.

Just the same way we test the progress of our Buddhist practice, I have been monitoring my progress in cycling terms.

In some ways, comparing my training times is an easier process. Am I completing the distance more quickly, is my heart rate lower for the same effort, so many metrics to compare. But testing the progress of my practice is more obvious to me day to day.

Almost a year ago to the day, I rode to Hengistbury Head and back, a journey that really caused me a whole world of pain. So much so, that I blogged about the experience. Today I repeated the journey with ease, I even raced, and beat, a bunch of lads who were waiting at the closed Poole bridge on the way home.

The difference? Last year, I was so much less fit. This year, I have been putting my heart and soul into my training. Today’s trip pushed my monthly training distance over the 900km mark, and that has made a huge difference.

When we put all our effort into something, be that training, or our Buddhist practice, we see the results. My cycling effort is backed up by lists and lists of figures and statistics. My effort in Buddhist practice terms shows up in my self awareness, my life-energy and life-state and I can feel the progress each and every day.

And there is an added bonus. The fitter I get, the higher my life-state, the more I chant, the higher my life-energy and the fitter I can get … the ultimate positive spiral !!!

Back On The Wheel

Back On The WheelSo the holiday is well and truly over and I’m back in the office. Although it was never going to be a typical week off, with all the DIY and general work on the cottage, it was, as is often said, the change that was as good as as rest.

Getting up at 5:00am this morning was tough. Leaving B in a lovely warm bed, to pack the car, defrost the windows and set off in the dark, is not my idea of fun. The traffic was quite light, but what there was, was slow, so the journey dragged on a bit.

Then a crimson glow appeared towards the East, getting brighter by the minute and that magical gradient of light that heralds the dawn greeted the queue of traffic as we headed south down the A36. It was a little bonus to be able to watch the golden globe of the sun rise slowly but surely, higher and higher.

As expected, my inbox was stuffed with tons of emails requiring my attention. Sorting through them, one by one, identifying those that needed an immediate response from those that could wait a little, or had already been dealt with, took pretty much the whole day.

With so many to deal with, the total never seemed to change, but like the imperceptible change towards enlightenment, it was only when I looked back at what had been achieved that I noticed the progress I had made.

Our daily Practice, like my chanting this morning as I grew ever closer to Salisbury, helps us grow and move ever nearer to enlightenment. In the same way that we are too close to our eyelashes to be able to see them, we are too enveloped by our Practice to see the changes on a day by day basis.

If you ever need proof of how you are progressing, take a metaphorical look back at how you were a week, a month or a year ago, and be comforted by the changes you can perceive from that more distant viewpoint.

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