‘How old were you when you started meditating?
Charlotte Joko Beck: Thirty-nine, forty, somewhere in there.
Did you have any realization through meditation?
No. Of course we have realizations, but that’s not really what drives practice.
Will you say more about that?
I meet all sorts of people who’ve had all sorts of experiences and they’re still confused and not doing very well in their life. Experiences are not enough. My students learn that if they have so-called experiences, I really don’t care much about hearing about them. I just tell them, “Yeah, that’s O.K. Don’t hold onto it. And how are you getting along with your mother?” Otherwise, they get stuck there. It’s not the important thing in practice.
And may I ask you what is?
Learning how to deal with one’s personal, egotistic self. That’s the work. Very, very difficult.
There seems to be a payoff, though, because you feel alive instead of dead.
I wouldn’t say a payoff. You’re returning to the source, you might say-what you always were, but which was severely covered by your core belief and all its systems. And when those get weaker, you do feel joy. I mean, then it’s no big deal to do the dishes and clean up the house and go to work and things like that.’