The Middle Way

Zen Spot #204 — Mindfulness, meditation and playing chess in the dark August 26, 2018 00:00

An echo’s circus 

Washington Square, in Greenwich Village, is never silent. It echoes whatever voice is dropped inside and absorbs a little piece of every soul that crosses from corner to corner. On brilliant afternoons, musicians, artists, parents, kids, athletes, poets and truants come together as citizens of a small nation. Were lions, tigers and bears to appear beneath a flying trapeze, few of the villagers would be surprised. At night, hours after a good rain, when the puddles are gone, the echoes are noticeably different — perhaps because there are fewer human beings to absorb the sound.

Moving pieces in the afternoon

To know, and accept, that one will never possess the talent of the worst chess player on the square, is unusually freeing. Walking between the tables while competitors consider a move, and consider a move, one can be met with smiles, scowls and instruction. Some speak in tongues. Others become black holes. Their culture is palpably intense, sublime and impenetrable.

Perhaps it’s the daylight.

Every piece is the same

On a recent March evening, welcoming the opportunity to cross from corner to corner, I found chessboards being scorched. With eyes without glasses, on unsteady feet, close to folding tables that had been set up under a streetlight, I couldn’t identify individual pieces as they flew around. The entirety of each board became abstract. Despite the light, kings became queens. Rooks became royalty. 

Purpose had been eliminated. Still, the movement of each piece was true, absorbing all the city’s ambient noise while creating an imperceptible echo — somewhere in the neighborhood of nothingness.


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?