No, the kind of inner work I have to do involves not the body but the mind. I have been confronted unpleasantly, and not for the first time, with the pain and suffering brought upon me by my apparently indomitable ego.
Let me explain. I was flying pretty high on the wings of delusion. In this case--as most frequently--the delusion was Peter the great writer. For the past few days, as readers of The Buddha Diaries know, I have been taking special pleasure in the anticipation of our 200,000th visit. I have invested a good deal of ego in my world-wide readership--mistaking it, perhaps, for the more laudable sense of "gratitude." And yesterday, to my great pleasure, we flew past that number. Oh, important me!
And then there was the appearance, finally, of "Mind Work." Having invested huge amounts of time and energy in its preparation and production, I was thrilled to hold a copy in my hands. It looked great, with that cover image generously loaned by my friend Gary Lang--a distinguished artist of established reputation. Turning the pages, and reading my own words for the hundredth time--I can't tell you how many times I read through the entire text in the editing process--I was pleased with the content. The essays, to my perhaps deluded mind, still seemed fresh, well written, meaning-ful. It was, is, I thought, a wonderful book. Impossible to think that people would not rush to buy it. Ah, ego!
Aside from the production of the book, there was the considerable time and energy that went into my dedicated efforts at pre-publication promotion. Together with Emily, my trusty assistant, I developed what I thought would be sure-fire strategies to give the sales an initial boost, through the pages of The Buddha Diaries and its "world-wide readership," through contact with my extensive flock of "friends"--that word has achieved a whole new meaning in the past few years--on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and elsewhere. I could not but imagine that our efforts would be met with at least moderate success.
Ah, delusion! On my return from the distinctly humbling experience of the colonoscopy at the hospital, I opened my email to come upon the even more humbling first sales report from Paul Gerhards, my publisher at Parami Press. To say that the results were dismal would be too kind an assessment. My ego, having flown so high, was immediately--and cruelly!--deflated. It has been nursing its wounds ever since, waking up this morning to a wave of gratifying self-pity.
It's funny, no? We work and work, and there's still work to do. You would think--well, I would think--that I might have learned something about attachment after all these years of flirtation with the teaching of the Buddha. You would think--well, I would think--I had learned a thing or two about persistence, having previously written a whole book of essays called "Persist." That I might have learned a bit about the creation and destruction of expectations. About the value of patience. All out the window!
So I have work to do. The colonoscopy is a fine and timely, if uncomfortable metaphor for the work that's needed. It's about exploring the intricacies within. I need to take a good look at the attachments and the delusions that my ego so readily creates to fortify itself against feelings of unworthiness and impotence in a world that is so much greater and more powerful than myself.
If this sounds like fun, I invite you to join me. Oh, and yes, please buy my book.