Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

The Myth of Progress

--by Les Kaye (Dec 08, 2008)

If we find ourselves discouraged by lack of spiritual progress, after several weeks, months, even years, we do not need to be concerned that our practice is somehow not working. Actually, when we become aware that we feel discouraged, we should allow ourselves to be encouraged by the stick-to-it effort we have made up to that moment. Our continuous effort is a reflection of our sincerity and determination. It shows that we have a deep feeling about our lives and that we have maintained our practice without turning away from uncertainty. That continuation itself is the only real measure of progress we need.

We all want to feel encouragement, a marvelous antidote for doubt and anxiety. We don’t like to feel that we are wasting our time; we want unambiguous, positive acknowledgement of ourselves and our efforts. So it is natural that we hope for greater intellectual understanding and deeper intuitive revelations in our spiritual practice, indications of progress satisfy our thinking minds, our thirst for rational certainty.

But if we sense a new understanding or insight in ourselves, we have to be careful not to become proud of what we think we have attained. Our pride will create self-satisfaction, threatening our determination. By starting to emphasize attainment, we become less patient and more susceptible to discouragement. So if we think that we have attained something, it is important for us not to think about it too much or try to hold on to the exciting feeling it gives us. The best thing we can do is just resume our attitude that is ready for anything, including the possibility of discouragement.

Modern society emphasizes progress and achievement in the day-to-day affairs of life.  But to anticipate progress in spiritual progress is a misunderstanding. It is not necessary to be concerned about a spiritual report card. […]

Discouragement results when our minds dwell on past disappointments, expectations that were not met. When we are aware of its source, we can actually use our discouragement to become awake to something we are carrying around in our minds, something that is affecting our attitude toward our work. Practice enables us to change discouragement from something negative to something positive.

--Les Kaye, in "Zen at Work"

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Previous Reflections:

On Dec 8, 2008 sini bellini wrote:

On Dec 8, 2008 william wrote:
never let others determine what needs to be done in your life. Allow your circumstances, thoughts, and what you want to achieve in the near future determine it.

On Dec 9, 2008 staki wrote:
Life wtithout hope is like a bathroom without soap.

On Dec 9, 2008 santoshi wrote:
Every hurdle gives us the courage to overcome it. In spiritual life progress means ability to handle life with double courage.As is said difficulty comes to check "how difficult we are".So I really feel that this article is aptly wrtten n is an inspirational one.

On Dec 9, 2008 Patsy wrote:
The old saw that love (a job, peace, enlightenment, whatever) comes when you least expect it is true.
Les has aptly captured why this is so. Remember, if you keep your eyes on the goal you will walk a straight path. As soon as you start looking at your feet, whoops!

On Dec 9, 2008 Mr Sajid Hussain PhD wrote:
My Humble Comments Are As Under:

"Peoples Are Often Inreasonable And Self-centerd, Forgive Them Anyway - If You Are Honest, Peoples May Cheat You, Be Honest Anyway - IF You Find Happiness, Peoples May Be Jealous, Be Happy Anyway - The Good You Do Today May Be Forgotten Tomorrow, Do Good Anyway - Give The World The Best You Have & it May Never Be Enough, Give Your Best Anyway - IN The End, its Between You And Almighty GOD, IT Was Never Between You And Them Anyway, Have A Good Day Everyday

And My Message No 2 is as under:"

( Lets Beat Terrorism & Promote Peace Together )

By ,Mr Sajid Hussain PhD.

PhD in international Journalism and media studies.

Investigative Journalist
From Pakistan,

Cell/Tele: +92 345 925 7427


On Dec 10, 2008 archana wrote:
i loved Dr sajid's aptly said.also the article reached me when i was needing such encouraging lifegiving words to be at my chosen path come what may.god bless thank u

On Dec 11, 2008 Ganoba Date wrote:
How does one measure progress?
By comparing with a pre-determined standard.

when entering the spiritual domain, we are entering a space where no one has set a foot before. how then do we compare?
Here there are no standards, no yard sticks, no reference points. you are completely on your own with the creator. Just have a ball.
At least that is what I do.

On Dec 12, 2008 George & Lily wrote:
Brings to mind an ol' zen tidbit from way back (ZenFlesh&Bones?)

"In the landscape of Spring there is neither better nor worse, The blossoming branch grows long, now short..."

On Dec 12, 2008 Conrad wrote:
Good,est. better, best: let it rest. Your good is good and may be b

On Jun 7, 2009 vipul kedia wrote:

very nice quotations.really inspiring and motivating. phrases

On Jul 21, 2010 Anurag wrote:

Good one...........