Determination-antpushingobject-225x300My grandmother was a determined woman, although I’m not sure how many people noticed it.

Her name was Grace and I think that name cloaked her power; it made people not realize what a force she was.

Perhaps that was her magic.

One day she called me out of the blue and said she needed to speak with me.  Her exact words still ring in my ears:  “I have a bone to pick with you”.

I have no idea what the issue was, however that conversation yielded 2 gifts I have never forgotten:

First, I knew she loved me unconditionally and so this “bone” she had was my first example that unconditional love has nothing to do with complacency or sweeping things under the rug.. In fact, it doesn’t even have anything to do with gentleness—she was angry, direct and determined to clear things up; she made it clear that if she didn’t love me, she wouldn’t have bothered.  She taught me that telling the truth, saying how you really feel matters and that if you really care for someone, it’s ok to go at them, hold them accountable and demand noble actions.

In fact, she suggested it was required if you truly loved someone.

Second, she ended our conversation with a phrase that’s been with me ever since:   “if you want to enjoy the rainbow, be prepared to enjoy the storm.”

While she was living, I didn’t have the thoughtfulness to ask her what her rainbow was, but I’m almost certain it was her family, her 4 children, my Dad.  I could see the storm she enjoyed for them and I saw her determination, what she pushed thru to ensure she created kids who are deeply kind, thoughtful, bright and profoundly determined, regardless of circumstance.

Since that day, I have lived an unusually determined life ( in fact, perhaps it’s a problem, but that’s for another post).  I’ve never been swayed much by life’s storms, I’ve had a clear view of the rainbow and always understood that whatever it took to see it was something I had to embrace and enjoy because it was the price of admission.

This determination I have makes my commitment to The Ten Perfections easier— I’ve been determined to really practice them and dive into them exploring how I can use them as navigating tools in my spiritual practice and daily life.

The 8th perfection is, in fact, Determination.

(( Virtue, Renunciation, Discernment, Equanimity, Patience, Persistence, Truth, Determination, loving-kindness and Good Will.))

read about the first 7 here:

Virtue | Renunciation | Discernment | Equanimity | Patience | Persistence | Truth |

As I began my exploration of this perfection as a daily spiritual practice, I didn’t think it would be hard— I figured this was the one perfection I had actually perfected, in large part thanks to my grandma….

I talked with some folks and researched my way thru the various understandings, trying to find my truth in it all:

“Only determination can completely fulfill the other mental perfections!
Its characteristic is an unwavering decision, its function is to overcome 
hesitation, and its manifestation is unfaltering persistence in this task. 
The proximate cause of determination is strong willpower to succeed!
Only the power of resolute determination lifts any praxis to perfection.”

I dug into Buddhist stories and teachings, since these 10 perfections originated within them:

“When the Future Buddha placed his back against the trunk of The Bodhi 
Tree, he right there made this mighty decision: 
”Let just the blood and flesh of this body dry up and let the skin & sinews 
fall from the bones. I will not leave this seat before having attained that
absolutely supreme Enlightenment!” So determined did he invincibly seat 
himself, from which not even 100 earthquakes could make him waver.”

And, since I love the urban dictionary, I had to see what it had to say:

1. Determination

determination is not giving up.

determination is not letting go.

determination is not “this is not worth it” shit.

 determination is falling on your face and getting back up.

determination is losing feeling on your legs, and wanting to keep on going.

determination is going until your legs lose feeling, until your arms break, until your head feels like its about to explode, until your brain tells your that your done, and when your brain tells you that your done, you tell it, “Just one more time,” just, one, more, time…

determination2-300x215Somehow, My grandma already knew all this and she summed it up perfectly in her profoundly significant lesson to me:  “if you want to enjoy the rainbow, be prepared to enjoy the storm.”

For me, that defines determination best:  It’s when you keep going, regardless of how a moment feels.  It’s a belief that what’s noble is worth enduring for.  It’s embracing storms and learning to enjoy them for the rainbow they create.

For my life, surrender is often the greatest tool, the single principle that saves me over and over again.  The 10 perfections, specifically determination, that’s what’s made surrender possible in the first place.

For this awareness, I thank Grace.