Does That Evil Little Voice Ever Shut Up?

In two short months I will go through my jukai ceremony. I am feeling woefully unprepared. It’s been so crazy recently – with the extra load at work, first because of a co-worker’s illness, and then because of my boss’s long vacation, and then my grandmother’s hospitalization and recuperation, and now this ongoing worry about our parrot – on Saturday, just as I was about to head out the door to my Precepts class, he had another “vascular event,” as the vet put it, and we had to race him to the emergency clinic to put him in a tank with oxygen again. He is home, but still weak, and we have no idea what the prognosis is, and that is too much to even think about right now, so we are taking it one hour at a time.

There is this naggy little voice in my head that is berating me on a daily basis. You missed your Tuesday sitting group again. I can’t believe you’ve missed Precepts twice now! And you had to find a substitute last week for doan duty! You’re not blogging regularly! When was the last time you had dokusan? Are you serious about this? What kind of Buddhist are you, anyway?

It would be bad enough if the evil voice was only echoing around in my head during the day time. But it even shows up in my dreams. The other night I dreamed that Tony and Darlene were both mad at me, and took me aside to tell me how disappointed they were in me. The next night, I dreamed about my mother being disappointed in me. The next night, it was my boss. Hey, get in line! Apparently, everybody gets a turn!

In the middle of all of this mess, though, there is a tiny little voice saying, “But you’re working really hard on some big issues now, too.” The precept I chose to study for my year leading up to jukai was the one dealing with anger. For a while, it seemed that I had made a mistake, that it wasn’t the right one. But in the past two months, I have come to realize that it is exactly the right one – my anger was simply so deeply buried that it has taken a long time for me to unearth it. Lately, it is spilling out all over the place, and I am learning a lot, about anger, and about myself.

When Tony and Darlene said people were one of three types, either greed, hate or delusion types, I could never figure that out. None of them seemed to fit for me. But reading a book by Jack Kornfield recently, I finally heard an analogy that opened it up for me, and I clearly saw myself – and I knew instantly that I was a hate type, which horrified me. I’ve been burying that for my entire adult life. That’s where all that anger is.

So there’s this part of me that knows that even though I haven’t been able to keep every commitment I wanted to keep recently, I am still doing the work. I am still here, opening my heart every day, looking deeper, showing up.

I wish that other evil little voice would pipe down every now and then and give me a break. Any suggestions on how to hit the mute button?

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  1. You are perfect just the way you are. Just remember that receiving the precepts is about intention. I, too, am an anger type although mine is very accessible — more than anyone else would like. Studying the Enneagram has helped me a lot and, if you are interested, I would love to send you a small book on the subject.
    Blessings to you.

  2. my relationship to that voice has changed with practice and time. having becoming intimately familiar with the stories i tell myself, sometimes i can just notice the thoughts are there and watch them go by. kind of like a radio station i don’t like, i can’t always change the station, but i can turn the volumn down. most recently i have come to regard that voice, those stories…..like a cranky little toddler, inconsolable, unreasonable and snotty nosed. i imagine scooping her up, wiping her face and rocking her in my arms. when she calms down i barely notice that voice at all.


  3. Thank you both, Debi and Marj, for giving me sane words of compassion to temper my stormy thoughts. Cranky little toddler indeed!

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