waltzing with the mind-body chatter

I’ve been contemplating the positive correlation between hiding one’s light under a bushel and wimpiness.  When I was a child, my father said, “Work hard.  Excel.  And you will be chosen.”  So I did.  And it has been a never-ending source of confusion to me that no one has yet anointed me the Chosen One.  I’m sure you are just as surprised.  About your own absence of anointment, I mean; because I’m quite sure you too have worked hard, excelled, and waited to be chosen.

Or perhaps, it’s not so much about being chosen but about being seen.  Perhaps it’s about being valued.  Appreciated? Or is it about being acknowledged, that briefest of nods our way that says: Well done.

Now, I’m not whining.  Truly.  I’m wondering about those moments when I’m caught between stepping out and showing my talents or stepping back and avoiding opportunity denied.  I always thought it would be terribly self-centered to do the former and yet could not bear the thought of the latter.  So I suspect over the years I’ve done this silly awkward dance, hauling that little light of mine out with one hand and having the bushel poised over it in the other.

End result: A wimpish waltz with fate.

What to do?  I’ve started reading a rather captivating book on Zen practice sent along for review* which has a few nuggets about this and that.  What caught me however, though the author himself doesn’t write of this relationship between busheled lights and the wimp factor, is the issue of self-centeredness.  He notes that zazen is the slowing down of this self-centered mind-body chattering we live out.


Yes, you read it right.  It is the chattering that is self-centered.  Not the stepping out or the appropriate proclamation of one’s expertise, goodness, rightness, capability, and power.

The mind is self-centered.  Autogenic: it creates itself in the world it creates.  And, if we lack awareness, of the mind-body link, the body follows close at its heels.

That’s quite the revelation for me.  Now the real problem: what shall I do with all these bushels?


*The review will be published sometime in June.

7 thoughts on “waltzing with the mind-body chatter

  1. Here’s to our ‘wimpish waltz’ – awkward and graceful – moments of transcendence and moments of complete body cringe. It strikes me that the self-centeredness is unavoidable – in both our pushing forward and in our holding back. Thanks for this reflection.

  2. This is a packed post for me! I know this dance too well. Your post feeds into my last post about “the cages we build for ourselves” because I would find myself looking around for that approval you talk of and basing future action on that. “Tone yourself down, you were too out there for people or that seemed to go over like a lead balloon, loose that.”

    One of my favourite lessons from my Zen teacher was “don’t evaluate the results or decide on future action based on the reception you get from others. Decide on what is appropriate in your heart, and steer your course from there.” A little different than what you are talking about but related. We are such vulnerable creatures.

    I find I catch myself more often (not always) when the delusion of self centredness sets in.

    And bushels, bushels? You will have lots of potatoes from your wonderful garden right? I expect to see you dancing there!

    • I don’t think it’s different at all. Well, different in a good way; you push it further into the self which is good. I’ve been reading your post and it is so deep that I can only take it in a bit at a time. Lately I find I’ve got little to say because you are presenting your teachings in such a profound manner that I have to let it bounce around my mind-body for a few days.

      Carole, your writing (as with Barry’s) has shifted dramatically. I think we’re all coming out from under our bushels! 😉

      (btw, what do you think of our little Zen Master Sprout who is now called Atticus Bratticus?)

  3. Pingback: did you know you’ve already been chosen? « 108zenbooks

  4. Thank you for bringing this to light. 🙂 My mind clutter could fill barrels, let alone bushels, blocking the light that is already there…Maybe filling those bushels with our mind muck would make good manure for what we really want to grow.

    I woke up this morning realizing I had too much attachment to what I “put out there” and how it is received, as a reflection of how “good” I am. You know, the Sally Field routine – “they like me, they really, really like me.” Now there’s some mind muck. Big red flag there that there’s too much me in it.

    I also read this this morning from John O’Donohoe and just had to share it. It’s under the subheading of “The Pain of Exposure” – “Vulnerability risks hurt, disappointment, and failure. Yet it remains a vital opening to change and to truth. We should not see our vulnerability as something we need to hide or get over. The slow and difficult work of living out our vulnerability holds us in the flow of life. Our vulnerability is one of the most important gates of blessing into the inner world. In giving love we are most human and most vulnerable.” Ah – vulnerability as a Dharma Gate… Bring it on!

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