This week’s slogan is about distraction – If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained. This is probably one of the most important principle of our entire practice. It presents the idea, or I should say, the reality of distraction as a natural part of practice. In addition, including it as the fourth and final slogan in the Evaluation of Mind Training section is perfect. How we see and work with distraction says a lot about our practice and whether it is pointed towards liberation or just more suffering.
There are two aspects of distraction and this slogan supports both. First, distraction carries with it a truth that you have moved away from awareness. It means you have become lost in thought; some distant situation, memory, emotional neurosis or the like. Often we think this slide away from practice is a negative thing; that we have done something wrong. This slogan reminds us that distraction is a natural and normal part of practice. The point is not to avoid being distracted but rather to bring distraction on to the path just like everything else about being human.
The second aspect of distraction that this slogan supports is that distraction can actually a gift. Norman Fisher makes an excellent point in this regard. He says we use distraction to help us return to the practice the way we use the ground to help us up when we fall to the ground. Think of it. When we fall to the ground, we don’t get upset with the ground. On the contrary, we push off the ground to get back up. What if we used distraction this same way? What would our practice look like if distraction is what reminded us to return? We would need to hold distraction the same way we hold walking, breathing, eating, sleeping and waking up. These are all things the mind does for us. We simply remember and re-remember over and over again.
What do you think?