Zen Spot #188 — Mindfulness, meditation and the path to self acceptance May 30, 2018 00:00

A single influencing factor

My essays on mindfulness are nontraditional. Focusing on everyday experiences and struggles, I embrace the inelegant. Possessing a bluntness of spiritual dexterity, I’ve found my true self over the last several years, despite having spent decades running from its comfort. 

Having read dozens of books on the topics of Buddhism, mindfulness and self actualization, peace was found by experiencing a single influencing factor.

The factor 

My path began with the belief that centeredness would be found by offering compassionate acts to all those in need. The belief was superficial. Too, time spent in meditation provided — and provides — a regular maintenance routine not unlike changing the oil in one’s car. Meditation, however, needed help boring to the core of the planet that is me.

Self acceptance required profound failure.

No guru, monk, therapist or expert

I am not special. My studies have been auto-didactic and, thus, possibly missing chunks of understanding. Millions of other human beings are more qualified to offer insight. In this context, I will describe my path — with the expectation that my experiences and beliefs might help other people.

Fail profoundly

One’s personal limits cannot be found by investing prudently. In a world where the pursuit of success is embraced with the dogmatic ferocity of a pack of hyenas tearing a zebra to the ground, the mere appearance of failure reeks like a zebra carcass rotting in blistering midday African sun. 

Few human beings are ferocious. The nectar of zebra blood is rarely imbibed, with group-think ensuring that its taste is distasteful. I am not ferocious.

To accept oneself, the self must be defined. Limits must be found. Blood must be drunk — both the zebra’s and the hyena’s. Sitting in quiet contemplation will take a practitioner only so far. Witnessing suffering in another human being, then offering help and compassion, tips the iceberg of insight but often does little to reveal the true self and the nature of nothingness. The concept of interdependence portends that nothingness cannot exist without somethingness. On the continuum of interdependence, sometimes somethingness must go to the visceral extreme —like zebras and hyenas.

Failure is the secret. Mindfulness and compassion lubricate the engine of inner peace, but they are lubricants, not engines.


How to fail 

Over the course of my life, I've spoken to a handful of world-class long distance runners. Among the answers most commonly sought during our discussions was a description of the feeling of racing at the front of a marathon or other long distance race. Each athlete described the idea of pushing themselves to the point of failure — that physical coordinate where their body would be forced to make a decision that their mind could not overcome. Courage was required. With the knowledge that their body might breakdown, each knew that the alternative was to not find the boundaries of their talent and resolve.

Over the course of their preparation, the athletes invested more than the average runner, with the knowledge that, at some point, they may be required to spend imprudently. Often, both the investment and spending are fruitless.

Defining failure

It would appear that failure is easy to identify. That said, I submit that failure is much more than the inability to achieve a goal. Instead, without leaving absolutely everything on the track, with the gut-knowledge that not a single hundredth of a second could have been shaved off one’s race time, one has not failed. Nor has one succeeded. The engine must explode at or before the finish line. Comfort must be left behind.

Profundity is self determined. Failure requires abandon. And, paradoxically, in the yin of failure, the yang of success can be found.

Twice profound

I will not offer the details of my two greatest successes or failures except to say that each was both — and the cost was substantial. I know, without question, that I left everything I had on the metaphorical track. 

How? I never look back. Profound failure offers profound clarity.

Move forward profoundly — with compassion, care and self knowledge. Choose your path. Pursue your goal with abandon, or never get to the other side of the paradox.

You will know yourself. You will accept yourself.

Or not. 


About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?