Let me continue with the story of the woodpecker. Once our red-turbaned chap had checked out possible areas for working, he settled down at what looked like a solid, unyielding spot and started pecking away rhythmically. He didn’t just give a peck or two and then fly off in search of a worm, not to return for half an hour. He went on pecking systematically, with sustained enthusiasm, until he was done. I was amazed at his dexterity. When he had finished, he left such a large hole that if he had gone on, I have no doubt the entire tree would have fallen.
That is the kind of work required to transform personality. For a long time, all we are doing in meditation is pecking away at what we want to change in ourselves. At best it is tedious; often it is downright painful. The problem is that we identify ourselves with the accumulation of habits and opinions, likes and dislikes, which we have developed over the years. We think this is who we are, and are not prepared to let it die.