“I like some of what you say,” some people seem to tell me, “but you make the whole thing too complex, too intellectual, too difficult to swallow. I want to do the work, of course, but isn’t there a lot that I can just skip over and delete? Why do I have to engage the bits that I find rather weird or confusing or tough? Isn’t the best thing in the world simplifying everything?”
Mastery is a pain in the ass. It’s often the last 20% that makes all the difference and that ends up taking 80% of the effort. Why isn’t good enough simply good enough to gain mastery?
Coming at anything from the bottom, where we are right now can seem good enough. After all, it is farther than we have ever been before, quite a stretch from where we were, an accomplishment in its own right. Isn’t it good enough?
After you have experience mastery, though, you have the vision to see where good enough almost never is. The gaps, twists and failings of the easy position become clear, revealing where more precision and discipline are required. You know why trying to take something with flaws is just going to lead to failures own the line, why the crocks will come back to haunt you.
I can’t tell you the path of your journey, the tasks you will have to perform, but I can tell you that any you choose to pass over will come up again in another round. Lessons skipped are lessons unlearned and that means the universe will be happy to give you another chance to learn them later in the sequence.
A culture that values the convenience and time saving that comes with finding shortcuts is not one that encourages the patience and focus required for mastery. While the impetus of youth is to demand innovation, throwing out the old, outdated traditional ways, the most effective change agents always find that knowing the rules is the best training for finding potent ways to break them, creating the new, breathtaking and wonderful.
The bits that you don’t understand are there for some reason. If they didn’t serve some purpose, they wouldn’t have been included in the first place. It may be true that they aren’t the best solution for the problem anymore, but until you understand the problem they were included to address you can’t effectively come up with a better way.
Enlightenment has ever been achieved using only social media bytes. No matter how many memes or tweets you consume, pithy little shots of wisdom that fits nicely into your desire to master the world, the big challenge of mastery is always in the bits between, in the shit that challenges you to your core.
The divine surprise may open you to something new, but it is the willingness to go there, to use the koans you find to question everything, to move beyond comfortable assertions and into sharp examination of what you hold onto, removing rationalization and neediness, that lets you move deeper, lets you own your own mind and heart.
Triggering introspection may be hard to engage, but it usually leaves you stronger once you have processed your fears, moving to a clearer understanding.
Virtue is not a relative thing. Just because you can point at people who complain and resist more than you do does not make you a paragon. Doing the work is the only way to claim a place of authority and wisdom, getting to a level where you can see so clearly that you have compassion for those who are still stuck rather than just disdain for those you want to put down as inferior.
Simplification comes after understanding, not before. Resisting any attempt at understanding because you claim a desire for simplification is just an excuse for lazy rationalizations, putting effort into maintaining your own comforting world view rather than into seeing connections and questioning everything.
My own journey has been extraordinarily twisty, full of intense challenges and fallow, reflective times. It’s easy to believe that if I had a more direct line, just heads down and pushing through, that my effort would have been more efficient, that I would be ahead of where I am now.
Every step, though, lead me beyond any expectations or assumptions to a new perspective, to a growing understanding of how I am connected to the universe.
If you believe you know where you are going and how to get there so clearly that you can cut corners and grab shortcuts in advance, then you are not really open to the journey, not really wanting to explore and broaden your own awareness.
For me, clarification only comes from looking backwards, from a knowledge hard won from doing the work, following the rules and then moving beyond them. It is a practical education that informs me, letting the world teach me, rather than trying to impose how I want to believe things should be onto what I do not yet deeply understand.
Sharing what I have learned in the best way I can is all I can do. While I am more than willing to consider the audience, to find their access points, to use language we share in common, to meet them where they are, letting them heal in their own time and their own way, just deleting what others don’t yet understand is not a solution for me.
I know how tight and sharp I communicate and a few people who have taken the time to engage the work understand that too, seeing the meaning unfold, the connections blossom.
Carrying lots of experience, pieces that others might dispose of as clutter, is what gives me the peace that comes from seeing clearly, seeing through and seeing with heart. If I started by deleting everything I didn’t understand at the level I first saw it, all in the name of simplification, I would have denied myself so much beauty in this world.
Or, at least, that’s how I see it.