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The Value of Repetition

Repetition is narrow and, if undertaken mechanically, stifles us, but it can also allow us to go deep. In meditation we repeat ourselves day and day, coming back to stillness and the breath, and again and again realize that we haven't yet experienced it completely, that it is ever more subtle. Repetition, when done right, drifts almost imperceptibly into vast, new realms, but with a slowness that allows for deepening, beauty, the appreciation of the neglected moment. It stabilizes our relation to eternity.

Any good relationship-marriage, a love affair, friendship, teacher and student-depends as well on just this sort of steady, attentive repetition. Common events, like having breakfast together, accumulate significance. Repetition teaches us that the things we do are not confined to their practical value.

- John Tarrant, The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul and the Spiritual Life, (HarperCollins, 1998).

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