I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “He took to that like a fish to water.” If you haven’t, and are unsure what it means, it is basically a colloquial way of saying that someone is learning something very quickly, or perhaps is even demonstrating proficiency in a task much more quickly than would normally be expected.
I have come to realize that I can apply that phrase to my practice of the Dhamma so far. Surely there are things where I am lacking, but I feel like I am somehow picking up where I left off, like a lot of the meaningful practices are already known to me but were somehow lost and now rediscovered.
As far from perfection as I may be, I still find that my mind is easier to live with and much less unruly than it was a year ago. Many of life’s distractions are much less so today, and I posses a measure of happiness that I can’t previously recall. Sometimes the mind still wanders off and I have to reel it back in, but doing so is oh so much less distressing than it used to be.
On a practical level, I’ve managed to forgive and thank my wife for making me quit smoking, I’ve quit drinking (entirely of my own volition), I’ve lost nearly 80 pounds, I don’t usually mind going to work anymore, and I’ve learned to be at peace with most of life’s daily problems. Anger rarely appears in my mind and almost always can be dismissed easily, and even worry and doubt (such as how to pay to fix a broken vehicle) are marginal concerns compared to a year ago.
I firmly believe that the changes I’ve made in my life in less than a year are far too many and far too great to explain rationally.
And all this isn’t to say that I have less things that could bring anger, worry, or doubt to my mind… in fact, I’d claim the opposite. In spite of this, the teachings have helped me to let go of so many of these things, and to hold down the urge to panic in cases where letting go hasn’t come about easily.
Do you have experiences like this, where you feel like spiritual progress has come to you more easily than it should have? Is it possible that, under the right circumstances, the mind can simply be wired ready for it, like “plug and play” is for a computer?
Regardless of tradition, I believe there are stories all over the world that would support the idea that we’re born ready and able to accept some level of spirituality. That said, the world seems to spoil it for us by over-sensualizing, commercializing, and glorifying everything that is spirituality’s opposite and ridiculing those who practice in earnest. With a little effort, these influences can be overcome, but rarely is effort respected or appreciated enough in society for people to realize its worth.
I hope your efforts bring to your mind compassion, peace, and wisdom, friends. May you take to it like fish to the sea and realize all truths.