As Ngondro sweeps along, one of its effects has been to reveal many of my worldly defects -- weaknesses I knew I had but had never thought of in Dharma terms -- as spiritual defects. How many days of work have I lost, anxiously clicking the "Check Mail" button, waiting for some kind of validation from some woman, a "yes" to a lunch invitation or a response to an enthusiastic email?. Or fretting about a date to come? Two this week, certainly: with my mind full of anxious hopes about j, I have gotten next to nothing done.
Somehow -- the mechanism is opaque to me -- practicing Ngondro is what has pushed me to making the extremely simple and obvious connection: this is what all those old Buddhist texts are talking about, when they talk about overvaluing one's reputation and the good opinion of others. In my dull-wittedness I took that to be wanting to be a football star or to be a dazzling ace programmer or to be terribly good-looking -- took them to be talking about faults I didn't have, in other words. But this is the form it takes in me: continually lusting after the approval of women.
What's wrong with it? Well, in a way, nothing. It causes very little damage, ordinarily. What's really wrong with it is just that it absorbs my attention, keeps me riveted to worldly concerns -- so much of my time is spent in these lunges after approval -- planning them, making them, or fretting about them. It's time when I thoroughly subjugate myself to Samsara, and confine my mind to running a hamster-wheel of old, old, habitual thoughts -- thoughts so old and habitual that even to call them "thoughts" seems absurd, they have so little of newness or perception or understanding about them. And away trickles "this precious human existence" -- narrowed to the click of the "Check Mail" button and the rereading of old email.