Just now, I was practicing Sacred Harp songs for the singing I go to every Thursday, and I felt a sudden burst of annoyed impatience that I can sometimes pick up the music quickly, and then suddenly I won’t be able to. And then I saw what was really going on here:
1) When I do get a song down quickly, my ego goes, “I can read music! I’m so talented!” So then when I don’t get a song, my ego feels outraged that I’m suddenly not fitting in with this image that it has created of “who I am.”
And 2), what’s really going on is delusion. When I think I can suddenly read music, I’m deluded. That delusion leads to suffering when I am reminded I can’t read music. (Not to mention the subtler delusion here–that I’m a better, more valuable being if I can read music. Dear god.)
Also on a more basic level, I’m deluded when I think that I am slowly becoming a self that will someday satisfy my ego. My ego will never be satisfied. There’s a real danger in that idea of becoming. “I’m getting there! I’m getting there! Just keep trying!” Very easy to get attached when you think you see “progress.”
I’ve seen that in the past three weeks, both with writing and meditation practice. Both of these practices have been deepening over the past few weeks, and I’ve been feeling a deeper commitment to both, and a feeling of “Yes. This is right” when I do them. And my ego keeps popping into say “becoming a real writer! Good job!” or “becoming a pretty great meditator! On the fast track to enlightenment! Keep it up!” No, Ego. I won’t keep it up. You’re deluded.
The trick is to do what I love and not think it means anything.
I’m glad I was able to catch myself in the music example. I felt the impatience, and noticed, “Ouch! Suffering!” and then I observed, “Ah. Suffering because of deluded expectations. Just apply patience around this music-reading thing.” And I immediately felt it ease and let go.
I think for me, a lot of kindness (most of it, really), both for myself and others, is going to come in the form of patience.