If you lose the spirit of repetition, your practice will become quite difficult.
For the man or woman who is interested in fortifying the inner life, there is no other enemy as violent as excitement. This emotion throws the mind sideways and creates a delusion of fuel. This energy is rogue and unreliable.
The immediate lesson after ten years of practice is humility. You discover that your inner sophomore has misguided you. You naturally want avoid this confrontation out of embarrassment. However, I’ve found that a strenuous exercise bout like a three hour lift or weather appropriate food — hearty stews in the winter and cold wraps in the summer — help you step up and analyze the scattered situation. Fast food is a risky choice. You never know what kind of outcome is on the other side after biting into that stuff.
The Zen sage Shunryu Suzuki offers some basic guidance which obviously gets ignored. His words approach us like children because we are children. When he speaks of repetition he reminds us that it is a form of prayer that is more like a pledge of thankfulness rather than a burden we must endure.
The spirit of repetition serves as a buffer to protect us from chasing excessive joy. In other words, it is wisdom to surrender to plainness.
A few words on this:
Three thousand two hundred and eighty two days on the regimen strikes a confusion that isn’t popular with crowd. Perhaps this pursuit of excessive joy we all seem to be drooling over is the actual problem. Don’t even conclude. Just consider this: We are here to be vessels and not sponges.
Deep practice — in any medium — requires repetition. When the motive is to be stimulated by the practice to pursue some fabricated idealistic outcome — rather than honoring the spirit of repetition — despair, envy and discontent have way of creeping into the corners of the mind.
The spirit of repetition is not about asking or acquiring or wanting. The heart knows this. It’s our job to get the rest of our being to understand this too.