Sunday, July 3, 2011

inescapable determination

What an interesting and multi-faceted word, "determination."

On the one hand, it can betoken something worth exercising, something to seek out. On the other hand, it can carry with it a critical tone, almost puritanical.

The Japanese have a saying, for example: "Fall down seven times, get up eight." That's determination.

And "The Book of Five Rings" suggests approximately, "Even if a samurai were to have his head chopped off, still he should be capable of one more act." Woo-hoo ... that's determination in spades.

Most people, I imagine, have been in circumstances in which they have brought a half-baked determination to bear ... doing a distasteful chore like homework or shoveling snow or something similar. Yes, I'll do it, but you can't expect me to like it or even, perhaps, to do it very well. Grump, grump, grump ... holding back, holding back, holding back.

What interests me is the utter determination that anyone can bring to bear on a beloved exercise. No holding back. Pedal to the metal. Going for the gold. Balls out. Thought, word and deed in alignment. 100%! No one else can instill such willingness, but individuals automatically invest it when the price is right.

But I wonder if it's not true: Every second of every day of every week of every year is just an expression of perfect determination. One step. One breath. One sneeze. One kiss. Every moment is already a perfect determination because it is inescapable. There may be some imagining that "I am in control. I am determined," but the fact is, there is already a perfect determination because there is no other choice. No one can escape this moment ... though it's true they can try pretty damned hard.

Noticing this perfect determination is worth the price of admission. To pay attention and take responsibility brings a life into accord with the life no one could avoid in the first place. Guess what -- It's not a big deal, but the attempt to sidestep, avoid or camouflage the determination no one can escape makes it seem like a big deal. "Oh yes," some voice may intone, "I will have a strong, determined spiritual practice! I will bust my buns. No pussy-footing for me! No halfway measures! I will go the whole hog!"

And then you walk into the kitchen to get a glass of water, forgetting all about your determined effort because your determined effort is already expressing itself without a backward glance.



How much more perfect can determination get?

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