Today’s historical post (‘Noticeable Progress’) mentions the first time during my training when I noticed a leap in my progress. In all learning situations some progress is visible during the initial period before things level off, settling down into a more steady state, such that we sometimes think we are making no progress at all.
Then, once in a while, there are the leaps forward; times when everything slots into place, new habits are consolidated and we become a markedly improved version of ourselves. In evolution this is called punctuated equilibrium: a theory which suggests that life evolves very little over geological time but, during these long periods of stasis, there are episodes where life makes considerable evolutionary advances (the Cambrian Explosion being the most famous example of this).
When I first came across the term in the nineties, it was somewhat discredited, at least by the author I was reading. The consensus at that time was more with the view that evolution occurred gradually, steadily. These days it is more accepted, and common sense suggests the evolutionary process is governed by a combination of the two theories: progress is indeed gradual but there are also times when life and nature make great leaps forward.
This means there are no periods of stasis (equilibrium). There is always something happening, even if it is too slight for us to discern. Beyond our perceptions, momentum is building and everything we do becomes the foundation of each subsequent progression. No matter how large or small, the next step in our personal development is already happening.
So, when I read the account of that weekend 11 years ago, I smile to myself because I still remember it. I remember how delighted I was to be able to put into practice all the things I had learnt in the short time under Karaj’s guidance. It was motivating to see how effectively everything came together and to feel how powerful progress can be when it is so obvious.
But perhaps the most encouraging aspect was the connection with evolutionary theory; even though it appears that nothing is happening, there is something going on under the surface. During those times when we think we are getting nowhere, we should know that we are always making progress.