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A friend in Program says:

Why is it that -- when we meditate -- our minds drift away after a time?

It's a puzzling phenomenon, because when we meditate we're inevitably concentrating, at least to some extent. When we concentrate on other tasks, our concentration seems to come fairly easily -- easily, at least, when compared with our concentration when meditating. So why is meditative concentration so hard?

There may be several reasons. One is that our egos, once they have figured out what we're up to when we meditate, do everything in their power to stop us; for meditation ultimately diminishes the ego. Another may be that meditation is unfamiliar -- it's not something we seem to do naturally, so it's more difficult to focus.

But another reason may be that we simply forget. When we meditate, we forget what we're doing. We simply stop remembering what it is that we're doing. It's a lapse -- a most peculiar lapse -- of memory.

A recent classic treatment of Buddhism in the West suggested that the most difficult thing in our daily practice of the last three Steps is to remember to remember to remember. When we meditate, we remember that we're supposed to remember, but oddly that isn't quite enough to assure a continuous practice. We have to remember to remember to remember, and that seems so alien, at least at first.

Fortunately, there aren't any penalties for failing to remember to remember to remember -- if you see what we mean by that. Perhaps the Buddhists are onto something after all when they talk about rebirth into another life. Probably, they say, we won't reach nirvana this time around, but perhaps in the next rebirth ... or the next. Plenty of time .... For those of us who aren't Buddhists, reminding ourselves that there is plenty of time is an important part of developing meditation practice.

"The spiritual life is never one of achievement:
it is always one of letting go."

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