Wednesday, September 19, 2007

ancient wisdom on nerves

My limbs cannot hold me
And my mouth becomes dry
And trembling shakes my whole body
My hair all stands on end.

Gandiva falls from my hand
A fire runs under my skin
And I cannot stand still
My mind whirls as in flame

And, You of Fine Hair,
I see but omens of evil
Nor surely can good ever come
From killing my kinsmen in fight.

- from the Bhagavad Gita, 1.29-31, translated by Ann Stanford

That sounds quite a bit like some auditions I've taken. The rest of the Bhagavad Gita is largely about why Arjuna should overcome his nerves, go ahead and fight, even kill his friends and kinsmen if necessary - big philosophical arguments. But it's surprisingly relevant to anyone competing, auditioning, or just striving to do his or her best.
You have a right to the work alone
But never to its fruits.
Let not the fruits be your motive
Nor set your heart on doing nothing.

Steadfast in the Way, without attachment,
Do your work, Victorious One,
The same in success and misfortune.
This evenness -- that is discipline.

- same translation, 2.47-48

It's a great book, and a reminder that a warrior's struggles are timeless and shared by everyone, musicians included. And just a side note - the word translated as 'discipline' is actually 'yoga'. Its meaning has changed since the writing of the Gita (some time between 500-100BC), but it's still an extraordinary practice to discipline the mind.

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