I’m going to use the words of the late Charlotte Joko Beck, Sensei; the words I need to understand to take me further down the road to . . . life?
Ms. Beck points out that we use words like “change”, “personal growth” or “transformation” to simply mean cosmetic change, “. . . like putting a new chair in the living room.” Here’s what she has to say about real transformation:
“Transformation arises from a willingness that develops very slowly over time to be what life asks of us. . . . True transformation means that maybe the next step is to be a bag lady. . . .
Transformation is allowing ourselves to participate in our life right this second. That’s scary business. There is no guarantee of comfort, of peace, or money, of anything. . . .
Most of us (myself included at times) are like children: we want something or somebody to give us what a small child wants from its parents. . . .
Transformation means that however life is — whether difficult, easy, comforting, or noncomforting — it is joy. By joy I don’t mean happiness. Joy has more to do with curiosity. . . . Through our efforts at self-protection we’ve lost most of our curiosity about life. . . .
A dire event can plunge us into a melodrama of reaction. Can you imagine being able to view that with curiosity instead? What would it mean to view such a disaster with curiosity? . . .
Practice, the way of transformation, is a slow shift over time into a new way of being in the world. . . .
Instead of seeing with curiosity and wonder, however, we approach life with a self-centered agenda, wanting everything to suit us and make us feel good. The people we like are the people who give us good sensations. . . .
Impeccable practice means we never stop. . . . Though it is meticulous, a mature practice has no struggle. . . . Gradually, over the years, the struggle becomes less. . . . Instead of trying to work with everything at once, we work on one or two items at a time, maybe for two or three months, and just keep pounding away. . . .
There has to be a struggle for a long time. There is no way out of it. Struggling develops strength. It means growing up. When we complain, when we’re bitter about what somebody did to us, about what life has done to us, then we’re being children. . . .
We must really want a life that’s transformed.”
— These excerpts are from Nothing Special, by Charlotte Joko Beck, Sensei