During our busy daily lives, we may not always be aware of all the different voices that are deep within us. But during the stillness of zazen, some of these voices may take us by surprise and suddenly speak up – sometimes even with a great sense of urgency. They may be exciting and exhilarating, they could be scary or depressing, or they might even be plain boring. In fact, they can contradict each other quite vehemently, and the result is often a confusing cacophony that is hard to make sense of.
After a while the question may come up, which of those voices represents the real “me”? Is it the voice that is loudest and rules the others, the one we are most used to, or the one we like to identify with? Why is it, then, that this voice doesn’t always come across as authentic, or at times even sounds fake? For sure, it quite often seems to fail to provide proper guidance as to what to say and what to do – as if we live under a highly unreliable dictatorship.
In zazen, we can turn our own light inward and reassert the spaciousness of the mind. This gives all of our voices more room to breathe, and over time they seem to get along better and better. They start to work together and, at some point, even behave like a real choir, in which each one has its own distinguished role. Our true voice turns out not to be just a single voice, but the one we need from moment to moment to respond to the ever-changing circumstances we find ourselves in.
Nevertheless, we all seem to have a certain lead singer in our choir and also a repertoire of favorite songs – and that makes for the interesting differences between us.