last mile

I was playing on and entered the word “last” + the wild card *.  Along with the usual suspects of “last gasp”, “last straw” and so on, was “last mile”.  But it wasn’t the last mile of a condemned person.

last mile

The phrase used to describe one of the problems in attaining higher-speed, higher-capacity information flow to every household. It refers to the copper telephone wire that still carries information to households. The limited capacity of the wire slows data transmission even though it is possible to send data over high-capacity systems from anywhere in the world to within the “the last mile” (give or take) before the house. The use of cable technology, fiber optic technology, and wireless satellite technology are several of the solutions used to address this problem.

I wonder if our wiring to receive bodhisattva-hood is similar?

Uchiyama writes that a bodhisattva is one who lives by vow and repentance.  I had to suspend my automatic assumptions of these words to understand his meaning.  To live without being derailed by emotions and thoughts, to devote ourselves to the growth and care of others,  to set the course in that direction is vow.  It is a life direction, the zazen practitioners’ whole life directionTo repent is to know our inability to fulfill itIt is not a matter for regret or seeking forgiveness but rather a willingness to face what islife straight on.

When there is no vow, we lose sight of progress;
when there is no repentance, we lose our way.

You are a bodhisattva.  I am a bodhisattva.  Yet I also perceive things differently from you, experience things in ways that do not always transmit across that last mile. In that silence, I falter and get lost.  It makes me wonder what the attrition rate is for bodhisattvas?

But we try again, anyway:  to transmit across that last mile, to cultivate willingness to continue even when blind to any progress we may be making and lost to all but ourselves.

Thank you for practicing,


3 thoughts on “last mile

  1. I frequently feel like the low-bandwidth last mile – everything moves at whatever pace it likes and I cannot seem to respond accordingly.

    Thank you for the vast perspective on repentance – a view I had not considered. (The last mile problem, again.)

  2. This “last mile”… it made me think of “Le Mont Analogue” (, an (ironically) unfinished novel about the spiritual journey. The “last mile” for mountain climbers is more like the last 100 meters – sometimes impossibly difficult to complete.

    I’m not sure yet how that relates to “repentance” (for me). At the moment (for me) this last mile things has more to do with (complete) “surrender”.

  3. @ Barry – 😀 May be we can make a joint bow to Uchiyama?! Martine Batchlelor talks about the difference between Eastern and Western concepts of forgiveness. Her punch line was that Westerners make it too complicated and we forgive but don’t forget. Apparently in Korean Zen (of which you are the resident expert – so I may be mistranslating this!) one simply goes to the teacher, says what one did wrong, bows three times and it’s forgotten never to be raised again.

    @ Andre – the last 100 of anything is painful, I think. It’s where I have to dig really deep and sometimes a lot of crap comes up along with the strength to close the distance. For me, I am likely to then focus on having had to dig deep (wimp!) rather than the wisdom to know I had to dig deep. It seems so effortless when everyone else does it! May be if I just surrendered to my limitations? 🙂 I shall carry a white flag around from now on!

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