Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Taoism in action
A good example came up on Saturday. I was due to play as the lead musician for our Morris Dancing side. Without boring you with the details, this is far more demanding than just performing in public because there's lots of things that you need to concentrate on and lots of distractions. You're also responsible for the whole dance and the playing of the rest of the band. Add to this that we were in the company of other sides, so if I c*cked it up it would certainly be noticed. In the past this pressure of being lead musician for public performances has got to me a bit and despite extensive practice I've never done that well - mainly just about scraping by. I've found the whole thing unpleasant - only really happy once it's over. As you can imagine, I was dreading this event.
I started re-reading Bill Martin's "Path and a Practice". I thought to myself "This is stupid! I'm a Taoist. I know what's going on - it's the "carving" not the "block" - I just need to address it."
I was reading a bit where it's looking at the TTC Chapter 9. Martin's version reads...
This is a path of letting go
so there will be room to live
If we hold on to opinions
our minds will become dull & useless
Let go of opinions
If we hold on to possessions
we will always be at risk
Let go of possessions
If we hold on to ego
we will continue to suffer
Let go of ego
Working without thought of praise or blame
is the way of true contentment
...and I got it!
I was holding on to opinions - mine, other people's, and most of all what I imagined that other people might think.
I was holding on to possessions - my position as lead musician and status in the side.
I was holding on to ego - my sense of self, self-worth, position, status, place, sense of importance
I was playing with thought of both praise & blame - part imagining a future where everybody says "Hey! You were great!" and part imagining one where everybody says "Hey! You were sh*te" - wrapping it all into a tapestry with memories of past successes and failures.
All of this is natural enough ego-led stuff. You just need to accept and understand that it's the natural chattering of the ego and put it into perspective, understanding that it's not reality. Then you can just let it all go.
So that's what I did..... And I had a really good time - enjoying ever minute of the whole days worth of events.
Sounds easy - but it's not. Maintaining harmony for long against the hyperactive neurotic attention seeking toddler that is the ego is very hard - a lifelong project. But it's worth it because in those moments when you hit it - oh boy!