I want to read a passage from an article by a woman named Portia Nelson. It’s called Autobiography in Five Chapters.
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I’m lost. I’m helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m in the same place, but it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I fall in. It’s a habit. But my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault and I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
I try walking down a different street.
It somehow speaks very directly to our human experience which is not that one sees and immediately learns, but that in some sense our spiritual practice and our life of growing in general is a process of making mistakes and confronting our demons, and often times looking at the same patterns and difficulties.
They are the forces that the great Christian Desert Father Teacher Evagrius described attacking those people who went out to meditate in the desert in Egypt in the second century A.D. There they talked about them in terms of demons. They would be assailed by the demons of:
- Demons of desire, wanting a soft bed
- Demons of aversion and frustration because it was too hot or too cold
- Demons of sleepiness that would creep up in the middle of the day to want to take them into unconsciousness.
- Demons of pride who would come only after you were successful in routing the other demons, to say, “See how good I am? I got rid of desire, frustration and anger, and I’m really a good meditator.”
Source- The 5 Hindrances by, Jack Kornfield
Adapted by, G Ross Clark