If people knew how hard I worked to get my
Mastery it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.
Practice it is what is needed in order to achieve Mastery, and practice is work, the amount of time you work in your practice it will depend on the seriousness of your intention, and the will you exercise in to it, and that’s practice.
My Aikido, and Zen teacher, will scratch his head when a student with false expectations would abandon the Dojo after a few lessons, realizing it will be impossible for them to acquire easily the skills necessary to be like the heroes of the many Martial Arts movies that at the time where big hits, but now days are a dime a dozen, and shaking his head my Sensei would say:
“Don’t they understand? It’s only a movie!”
Media it’s so powerful today that is easy to forget most things require a great effort to be achieved, at least those things that have any value, they require long time and much practice, be these working as a chef, fishing for crab in Alaska, become a great musician, or a great artist in the diverse fields of Arts, or simply following a Spiritual path.
The results of most enterprises will depend on the amount of time , effort, and work you put on any task at hand, period. To believe otherwise is to be fooling yourself, and setting yourself for disappointment
Excellence has a price, and you got to be willing to pay the price, otherwise you are wasting your time, another great anecdote from my Sensei come to mind.
Concerning a female friend of his who decided to study ceramic making with a great Sensei living in Japan, she announced to him she was leaving for Japan in order to become an apprentice with such Master.
A couple of years later he run in to her at a bank, my Sensei was very surprised to see her since he expected her to be in Japan at the time studying as he was told by her, after a brief conversations they went for coffee so she could explain to him why she was back, and here is what she told him.
“I was very naive at the time, I loved the beautiful ceramics and thought I could learn this beautiful craft just going over there and learn it easy, but to begin with as you know my Sensei live in the mountains far from populated areas, one of the reasons is that in order to set the ceramic pieces in the kilns a lot of wood it is necessary for the fires to keep them going day, and night for up to a month of work.
As I arrived in the mountains realized how rural, and simply my Sensei lived, there was no electrical power, no modern conveniences, or appliances of any kind, even the simplest tasks like cooking with firewood, or washing clothes by the creek in the cold waters of the mountain had to be done by hand, the same way with cleaning the wood floors, or mats, on your knees and with wet rags, also we had to care for a plot of land where we grew vegetables for use in our cooking, we cleaned, cooked, mended clothes, and all kind of chores necessary to run a household, plus taking instruction from Sensei about pottery making.
You go to bed after diner basically and it’s necessary to do it early because you got to get up very early every day of the year at 3:00 AM in order to go out and collect firewood, every one is required to bring a pack load of wood more or less the equivalent of your weight, and because you can’t just go and cut a tree you are only able to pick dead branches, and for that it’s necessary to walk for miles, up and down the steep mountains with hardly any tracks for you to walk bringing the wood from miles around, in the summer months it’s not an easy task, but in the winter months with the snow well…you can imagine how hard to find the wood in the snow, and darkness, dig it out, and to carry such heavy weight through the snow back to the house. Not to talk about how cold it gets out there, your hands and feet are numb all the time, and with chilblains, it’s brutal.
During the summer the Master will put the completed ceramic pieces in the kilns and set the fires burning that required vigilance and attendance 24 x 7 for weeks to feed the fires and make sure the temperatures of the kilns will be correct, and everything would go according to Sensei’s orders, of course that mean we couldn’t go to sleep guarding the fires until the whole thing was done, this was an ongoing thing for a whole month!
Excuse to tell you we hardly slept at all for the period and we where totally exhausted by the end of it.
During that time I did a lot of thinking about my vocation to be a Master ceramist, specially when I found out it will take twenty years of my life to live along Sensei in the conditions described, with no life but the study under Sensei’s rules, but what about my own life, and being a young woman. what about finding a husband, making a family, visiting my own parents in America was troublesome, so with heartbreak, and sorrow come to the conclusion being a Master ceramist wasn’t mean for me, and here I am…
In a time when we are so removed from simple living by the use of technology we almost live in a virtual world, wherever you go you see people walking holding their new gadget that allow them to live in cyberspace for hours at a time. Our tastes are now dictated by media like movies, and TV, where actors portray fantasies that are confuse with reality by many. We choose to follow the example of fictitious characters portrait by actors in movies, in my city the joke says every waiter it’s an aspiring actor, rock musician, script writer, plastic artist or at least a poet, but in fact I had run in to many other occupations who are in pursuit of the fame dream, or rag to riches dream, I use to meet casually at the place I work before the crash of 2008 with a lot of phone stock market brokers, now a not so popular occupation, who dreamed of making scripts, or movies, and at restaurants and cafes all kinds of people are in search of a person who may connect them to the right place in order to pedal their dream wares, there is an industry now who prey on these dreamers and help them put together a script, or a small movie, shot with aspiring actors looking themselves for their big chance, and all kind, of advice, and seminars in how to achieve your dreams. If you haven’t watch Zizek’s “The pervert guide to cinema” you should.
To have a vague fantasy of something you want to do, will no turn to be what in reality it is, confused by the romantic side, or the glamour of certain activities, like acting, or being a rock idol, have a way of confusing people’s minds in to believing something unreal to be real, deluding themselves in to making things work according to their fantasies.
When concerned with life as it is, as oppose as how you imagine things to be, things take a turn for the unexpected and we learn a lesson in humbleness after hardship, and enduring trials, and tribulations when you pursue anything of value. For those who go through such experiences there is something gained, even the knowledge that such thing wasn’t for you, or having grown up, character building, a great inner knowledge, and satisfaction of learning a precious thing about yourself.
And for those that endure to the end and Master whatever they choose to do, there is even a bigger reward of Spiritual worth.