A fascinating and honest account of taking up mindfulness or meditation exercises by novelist Tim Parks.
He says: Being simultaneously immobile, wakeful and wordless is an experience that runs contrary to all our habits, and for which there is no model in our culture, nothing we can visualise, no narrative we can follow.. .
I’m reminded of a couple of specific chapters from the Daodejing I have been working on for the last year or so . . .
Can you stop your mind from straying?
Can you hold to the one? Never let it slip?
Can you make your breath soft as a child’s?
Can you listen to its long-drawn out and in?
Can you renew the glass through which you gaze
so the world is sharp and vivid?
Can you feel love of others? And persuade them?
Yet resist the desire to dictate?
Can you latch and unlatch the doors of perception—
yet be content to play the female part?
Can your insight range, penetrate far and near,
then back away—not interfere?
Then raise them, every one—nourish them all.
Raise them, but make no claim.
Influence them, but do not dictate.
Govern them, but do not legislate.
Only this, says Berenice, can be called power.
The spectrum of colours
dazzles the eye.
A plethora of sounds
dulls the ear.
The palate is coarsened
by explosions of taste.
Excess of pursuit,
too much of the hunt,
leads to nothing but
the mind’s disturbance.
The much-coveted rarity,
the limited issue,
serves only to cramp
its owner’s liberty.
The teacher’s focus
is steadily within—
not on what catches
the common eye.
The truth is: she shuns
that, prefers this.