It’s been over 18 months since I’ve had any real formal instruction and by formal I mean either via class or instructor. Has my training changed? Yes. Have I trained less? Yes. Have I lost focus? Yes. Do I feel bad about my training time being less? Yes. Overall, training by yourself is HARD. Without the regular classes and wanting to “show you you’ve learned” to someone or feeling “I’ve excelled X amount over ppl”, etc etc, the motivation for self training is really quite a difficult battle.
A friend of mine once told me that when things get more internal and more mental, we face the toughest opponent of all, ourselves. This is similar to the writings on those that do zazen or seated meditation in the zen tradition. Meditation reveals the true nature of oneself and few can withstand this revelation. Maybe the revelation is telling you that you place too much emphasis on teachers or books and not enough on yourself. Maybe the revelation is telling you that you seek too much external validation to feed the ego. Maybe the revelation is telling you that you truly don’t want to do what you think you value.
To quote a blog entry, Martial Views – Solitude :
“…undergoing shugyo (austere training) alone, with no one else to motivate you… can temper your spirit like nothing else can. And there’s no warrior ritual more traditional than solitary shugyo.”
Many of us unconciously appraise ourselves and our abilities based upon how others perceive us, including and especially authority figures, such as a teacher. Without a perspective that comes from without, we must rely on self-referral. This is a potent and meaningful way to live.
I believe the true test is not what we think or dwell upon, but what we do. What do you do? In the face of the toughest opponent, o you give up, run away, or stay and fight?