The Pursuit of Mastery

When building a habit we sometimes get bored in a few weeks. But a pianist may practice 20,000 hours for over a decade to qualify for an orchestra.

To be a meditation master, you need 10,000 to 20,000 hours of practice. In fact, Mingyur Rinpoche had completed 62,000 hours of meditation practice at a relatively young age.

So that brings us to THE question: How do these people keep pursuing their goals for decades without getting bored? Aren’t they also humans like us?

And I think the answer, at its core, is very simple. When you do something for 10-20 years, you are not doing the same thing, though it may outwardly appear so.

Playing the violin in the 1st year is absolutely not the same as in the 10th year. In those 10 years, you develop a nuance and finesse that wouldn’t even have noticed in the first year.

People who have meditated for 20,000 hrs — their brain goes quiet in a second (vs. minutes for people like us). In fMRI machines, their brain shows patterns that are many standard deviations removed from that of a normal person.

Mastery changes the game.

The difference between a good violin player and a master is probably just 1%. In fact, Usain Bolt was just 1-2% faster than his competitors.

Mastery is about that last 1%. That is what keeps people going.

If you want to do something for the next few decades of your life, pursue mastery. You won’t have the time to get bored because every day, it will be a new game.

– Rajan

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