As many of you know I’ve been challenging serious practitioners with a yearlong “going beyond money karma (and all other karma)” retreat. This is just the latest in a long series of offerings aimed at getting people who want to wake up and end suffering to move out of ego’s comfort zone. In support of the merits of this current challenge, someone sent me an article from New Yorker Magazine about an extraordinary athlete, Kyle Korver, who understands very well the benefits of such challenges. Here’s part of the article:
But [Korver’s success at basketball] also has something to do, these past few seasons, with a Japanese ritual called misogi. According to Janine Sawada, a religious-studies professor at Brown University, the word misogi dates back to eighth-century Japan: it originally described a mythical taboo journey to the underworld, and, later, in medieval Japan, the painful but purifying deeds of ascetics. Korver practices a decidedly modern version: “Once a year, you do something that you’re really not sure you can do.”
While sitting this morning it dropped in that in awareness practice we’re always striving to be comfortable, and then moving on to the next uncomfortable. Sitting is such a perfect example. In the beginning, the physical posture can feel brutal, and we keep practicing sitting until it’s comfortable. Then the challenge is to stay awake and alert, then to drop all conversation, then to stay with the breath, then to…. Always a challenge. Always, as we like to say, “Doing more than ego says we can and less than ego says we should.”
Big challenges, little challenges, the process is the same. Find something ego-identity doesn’t want to do and/or says you can’t do, and do it. Do it to prove to yourself that with presence everything is joyful, and that you can enjoy doing anything. When you know that, you’re free!