Posted in Week in Review

Keeping Score

There is a story of the Buddha telling his disciples about the proper use of a raft.  Use it to cross the river, then let it go.  The very raft that saved your life while crossing the river will now be a burden if you try to carry it across dry land.

It can be difficult sometimes to distinguish between skillful means and unskillful means.  My meditation practice is a case in point.  For a while, I was writing down my daily practice: what type of meditation I did and for how long.  Then at the end of each week, I published it here.  Initially, the record keeping was helpful.  But somewhere along the line, I started worrying about what I would enter on this blog.  Would I have meditated enough?  Would I have done things that were interesting?  Would my readership be impressed?

Eventually I decided to stop keeping score, because my ego had become too invested.  “Spiritual Materialism,” Chogyam Trungpa called it.  My focus had become having an impressive meditation record, rather than the meditation itself.  The next time my Zen Center does a Repentance Ritual, I will be “repenting of my non-existent spiritual attainments.”

In that spirit, I let go of my record keeping.  I may return to it in the future if would be a skillful activity. After all – when you come to another river, you can always build another raft.

Author:

Ven. Dr. Myodo Jabo (Sandy Gougis) is a Zen Master and Priest in the Five Mountain Zen Order. She began studying Theravâdin Buddhism in 1998, adding Zen in 2003, and Vajrayana Buddhism in 2008. She currently practices in both the Zen and Tibetan traditions. Her Zen teacher is Most Ven. Wonji Dharma of the Five Mountain Zen Order, and her Tibetan guru is Lama Tsultrim Allione of Tara Mandala. In her free time, Myodo enjoys painting, jewelry making, and other creative endeavors.

2 thoughts on “Keeping Score

  1. Important post, thank you.

    Sometimes it’s good to just write whatever you feel it’s important. Who gives a rat’s ass what others might think about your writings? If you support your own texts, then they’re perfect, no matter what others might think.

    I wish you all the best and I hope you’ll come back to write your blog.

    Gassho,
    Markus

  2. Thank you for the encouragement! I will certainly keep posting to my blog; but for now, I have abandoned keeping track of “____ minutes of ____ type meditation.”

Leave a Reply to Sandy Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.