The Middle Way

Zen Spot #215 - Mindfulness, meditation and a quiet, active, balanced silence September 22, 2018 00:00


Like most children, I was fascinated by a spinning top’s ability to balance beautiful bulk on the head of a pin. Introduced when I was three or four years of age, I would invest whatever energy and inventiveness necessary to get the toy to orbit splendidly — over and over again — for an hour or more. Sometimes twisting its handle between my thumb and fingers was enough to achieve launch. At other times, the toy had a built-in plunger that required a little butter churn’in. 

Life offers few more engaging opportunities to live in the moment than while watching a top spin. One’s mind can become almost blank — nothingly blank. The disbelief of its movement and balance almost always remains in the back of one’s mind, but recedes enough to become a rhythm section supporting the top’s harmony and melody. Too, the anticipation of the toy scrambling when it loses momentum, then watching it scramble, are sublime and abrupt transitions from one state to another.

Nothingly — fifteen seconds at a time.


Not quite a toy, but still a toy, the anticipation that comes from wrapping the string around the axle of a metal gyroscope, knowing that the top can spin quietly for minutes when the strong is pulled, is a doorway. And, while meditation is, in my opinion, best practiced in increments exceeding fifteen minutes, to close one’s eyes and listen to the subtle buzz of air and friction, after sending a gyroscope’s wheel on its way, can be transcendental.

I’m going to spin mine right now.


About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?