In the past, the practice has emphasized the absolute: “awakening” or enlightenment as the raison d’etre of development.  This is a wonderful basis from which to proceed and I greatly appreciate the efforts the Ancestors made to clarify this fundamental aspect of the practice.  At the same time, as we practice in Lost Coin today, we can contribute to this tradition by addressing the integration of the absolute and the relative through the activity of endless learning.

This endless learning consists of becoming “objective” towards oneself and clearly seeing the cause and effect of our actions in our life.  It also consists of an ongoing  curiosity, openness  and learning about the relative: the world and ourselves. Much of this kind of learning is done with a teacher and is often the most difficult part for students.  Many students are very happy to sit and work through the koan system and yet be “snoring” on another level.  In my own desire to grow and learn, I have gone again and again to teachers and yes, it has been difficult, but I have always learned from my experience with them.
At present, I am lucky enough to be studying chess with International Master, world famous coach and distinguished author, Jeremy Silman.  In the process, we have also become friends.  I have learned so much when I can be open to both his criticisms and his affirmations.  An important thing I have learned is something he calls “the will to win” which I have sometimes lacked.
Looking into this aspect of my chess game, and myself, makes me dig deeply into what I really want, what I am really doing and how unconsciously and mechanically I can sometimes manifest.   Jeremy goes over my losing games and shows me my shortcomings.  On the other hand,  Jeremy has been very supportive of my endeavors, particularly my writing, and because I have a relationship with him which is not just a friendship but a teaching relationship, his affirmations are strongly empowering.
Putting oneself in this open and dangerous territory in which you empower another human being and trust them with your development is truly the hard practice, the hard way.
Creative Commons License photo credit: nestor galina