Am I Hindering My Practice?

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Jon Messner, modified 5 Months ago.

Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 6 Join Date: 9/20/20 Recent Posts
I'm a salesman/business owner and I interact with the same clients constantly. I've grown fond of them, and (I think!) they get a value from my product. Furthermore, I enjoy building the business (humans like to build things?) My questions is this; am I hindering my practice because of my attachment to my work and my clients? All insight is appreciated! THANK YOU!! emoticon
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terry, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 1643 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Jon Messner:
I'm a salesman/business owner and I interact with the same clients constantly. I've grown fond of them, and (I think!) they get a value from my product. Furthermore, I enjoy building the business (humans like to build things?) My questions is this; am I hindering my practice because of my attachment to my work and my clients? All insight is appreciated! THANK YOU!! emoticon

aloha jon,

   Right livelihood is key in following the buddhist path. if you can build your business honestly and market your product fairly, you enhance your practice.

   If you are attached to your success to the point that you cut corners, lie and cheat, then it could be a hindrance.

terry
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Jon Messner, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 6 Join Date: 9/20/20 Recent Posts
terry:
Jon Messner:
I'm a salesman/business owner and I interact with the same clients constantly. I've grown fond of them, and (I think!) they get a value from my product. Furthermore, I enjoy building the business (humans like to build things?) My questions is this; am I hindering my practice because of my attachment to my work and my clients? All insight is appreciated! THANK YOU!! emoticon

aloha jon,

   Right livelihood is key in following the buddhist path. if you can build your business honestly and market your product fairly, you enhance your practice.

   If you are attached to your success to the point that you cut corners, lie and cheat, then it could be a hindrance.

terry

Terry,
Thank you! I think part of my struggle is measuring success, and I think - despite its pitfalls - that profit is a good (easy?) way to measure success. But that thinking can lead down a road that I don't necessarily want to go down.
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Nick O, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 317 Join Date: 11/5/17 Recent Posts
Hi Jon,

I work as a salesperson for a solar contractor. Before making the position change within the company early this year, I worked in the field as an installer / electrician. As I was feeling out making the switch, I most certainly felt uncomfortable with the possible moral issues involved in working in such a position. I decided to make the jump only because I believe in my company and what we do; We're a worker-owned cooperative and do a lot of good for the community both in business and in volunteer work. There's definitely still a "sales game" involved but it never involves having to tell a lie or be misleading. Many other companies in the solar business cannot say the same.

Do you believe in what you do and what you sell? It sounds like it! On the other hand, if you find yourself experiencing guilt or shame about your job - it may be affecting your practice. It's never going to be something that someone else will be able to judge for you. You will need to seek the answer to this question through your own practice. 

   
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Jon Messner, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 6 Join Date: 9/20/20 Recent Posts
Nick O:
Hi Jon,

I work as a salesperson for a solar contractor. Before making the position change within the company early this year, I worked in the field as an installer / electrician. As I was feeling out making the switch, I most certainly felt uncomfortable with the possible moral issues involved in working in such a position. I decided to make the jump only because I believe in my company and what we do; We're a worker-owned cooperative and do a lot of good for the community both in business and in volunteer work. There's definitely still a "sales game" involved but it never involves having to tell a lie or be misleading. Many other companies in the solar business cannot say the same.

Do you believe in what you do and what you sell? It sounds like it! On the other hand, if you find yourself experiencing guilt or shame about your job - it may be affecting your practice. It's never going to be something that someone else will be able to judge for you. You will need to seek the answer to this question through your own practice. 

   

Nick,
Thank you! I do believe in what I sell. I've seen some amazing things, both personally and with my clients. My thing is that sometimes I give people what they want, rather than what I think they need... if that makes sense. And then part of me feels like a fraud.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 163 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Jon Messner:
I'm a salesman/business owner and I interact with the same clients constantly. I've grown fond of them, and (I think!) they get a value from my product. Furthermore, I enjoy building the business (humans like to build things?) My questions is this; am I hindering my practice because of my attachment to my work and my clients? All insight is appreciated! THANK YOU!! emoticon

     Hi Jon, I think you are on the right track when you start thinking about what affects your practice. But refining the question will be more useful.  Since this forum is big on MCTB2 I'll make reference to the excellent chapter 2, where Daniel Ingram discusses "Morality, The First And Last Training".  I suspect a lot of people read this lightly and jump to the Insights, big mistake. 
     I quote, "From my perspective, training in morality has as its domain all the physical, verbal, and mental behaviors belonging to every single aspect of life that is not explicitly meditative. When we are trying to live a good life in the conventional sense, we are working on training in morality. When we are trying to work on improving our physical, emotional, and mental health, we are training in morality. When we philosophize, we are training in morality. When we exercise, we are training in morality. When we are taking care of others or ourselves, we are training in morality."  So, you can see that the question is not of attachment but of morality.
     Caring for other people is not an attachment. I could go on quoting paragraphs that explain the specifics, but I think I've made my point. Read the first four chapters, no, study them until you really understand them. Daniel has dug the foundation to real practice, build your house on it.


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Jon Messner, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 6 Join Date: 9/20/20 Recent Posts
Angel Roberto Puente:
Jon Messner:
I'm a salesman/business owner and I interact with the same clients constantly. I've grown fond of them, and (I think!) they get a value from my product. Furthermore, I enjoy building the business (humans like to build things?) My questions is this; am I hindering my practice because of my attachment to my work and my clients? All insight is appreciated! THANK YOU!! emoticon

     Hi Jon, I think you are on the right track when you start thinking about what affects your practice. But refining the question will be more useful.  Since this forum is big on MCTB2 I'll make reference to the excellent chapter 2, where Daniel Ingram discusses "Morality, The First And Last Training".  I suspect a lot of people read this lightly and jump to the Insights, big mistake. 
     I quote, "From my perspective, training in morality has as its domain all the physical, verbal, and mental behaviors belonging to every single aspect of life that is not explicitly meditative. When we are trying to live a good life in the conventional sense, we are working on training in morality. When we are trying to work on improving our physical, emotional, and mental health, we are training in morality. When we philosophize, we are training in morality. When we exercise, we are training in morality. When we are taking care of others or ourselves, we are training in morality."  So, you can see that the question is not of attachment but of morality.
     Caring for other people is not an attachment. I could go on quoting paragraphs that explain the specifics, but I think I've made my point. Read the first four chapters, no, study them until you really understand them. Daniel has dug the foundation to real practice, build your house on it.



Angel,
Thank you! I need to read this chapter again! So what you (and Daniel) are saying, is that the goal is to try to live the good life (and all that that entails - practice mindfulness, be nice to people, be nice to the environment, etc.) Whether you "get there" or not is an entirely different matter?
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terry, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 1643 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Jon Messner:
Angel Roberto Puente:
Jon Messner:
I'm a salesman/business owner and I interact with the same clients constantly. I've grown fond of them, and (I think!) they get a value from my product. Furthermore, I enjoy building the business (humans like to build things?) My questions is this; am I hindering my practice because of my attachment to my work and my clients? All insight is appreciated! THANK YOU!! emoticon

     Hi Jon, I think you are on the right track when you start thinking about what affects your practice. But refining the question will be more useful.  Since this forum is big on MCTB2 I'll make reference to the excellent chapter 2, where Daniel Ingram discusses "Morality, The First And Last Training".  I suspect a lot of people read this lightly and jump to the Insights, big mistake. 
     I quote, "From my perspective, training in morality has as its domain all the physical, verbal, and mental behaviors belonging to every single aspect of life that is not explicitly meditative. When we are trying to live a good life in the conventional sense, we are working on training in morality. When we are trying to work on improving our physical, emotional, and mental health, we are training in morality. When we philosophize, we are training in morality. When we exercise, we are training in morality. When we are taking care of others or ourselves, we are training in morality."  So, you can see that the question is not of attachment but of morality.
     Caring for other people is not an attachment. I could go on quoting paragraphs that explain the specifics, but I think I've made my point. Read the first four chapters, no, study them until you really understand them. Daniel has dug the foundation to real practice, build your house on it.



Angel,
Thank you! I need to read this chapter again! So what you (and Daniel) are saying, is that the goal is to try to live the good life (and all that that entails - practice mindfulness, be nice to people, be nice to the environment, etc.) Whether you "get there" or not is an entirely different matter?


   The goal is to accept that your attempts to live the life of authentic spirit can only fail, and abandon control of your life to the limitless tao. Being nice, being moral is not the goal, or not as such. The yi jing says: "Knowing how to become free of blame is the highest good." By this is meant participating in the necessity and inevitability of the universe, as the virtue of water is to go downhill in all circumstances, without doubt or hesitation. Water may appear placid or violent, as circumstances demand.

   As for getting there, you are right that it is the path that is important, that the path is the goal. This is because of impermanence. Everything is arising and passing away all the time, no object (dharma, end, goal) exists as such in static form. Be nice right now and before you know it you've stepped in shit and are cursing god and his creation. The goal, if one can be elucidated, is to accept our humble best and work hard at maintaining constancy in perseverance through all stumbling and obstacles. It is how you handle misfortune and shortfalls that are the real measure of your character. Being nice to a rabid dog, for example, would be a misapplication of the rules of morality. There is no "golden rule" or kantian categorical imperative here: it doesn't matter how the rabid dog would like to be treated. As well to kill him out of hand as a danger to society as let him die of his virus. (The rabid dog, of course, may be replaced by a yellow dog.)

   Lots of times one is in the position of making the best of a bad business and there is nothing nice about it; you may be in the ER red to the elbows. You may have a nasty virus. No nice way through. One may learn to recognize that coping is what we do best, and find satisfaction in freedom from blame via artful coping. The suchness of being authentically human. Sun face buddha, moon face buddha.


   (That may not be what daniel is saying.)

   (My favorite disclaimer, courtesy of charles schwab: "past success is no guarantee of future performance")


terry
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terry, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 1643 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Angel Roberto Puente:
Jon Messner:
I'm a salesman/business owner and I interact with the same clients constantly. I've grown fond of them, and (I think!) they get a value from my product. Furthermore, I enjoy building the business (humans like to build things?) My questions is this; am I hindering my practice because of my attachment to my work and my clients? All insight is appreciated! THANK YOU!! emoticon

     Hi Jon, I think you are on the right track when you start thinking about what affects your practice. But refining the question will be more useful.  Since this forum is big on MCTB2 I'll make reference to the excellent chapter 2, where Daniel Ingram discusses "Morality, The First And Last Training".  I suspect a lot of people read this lightly and jump to the Insights, big mistake. 
     I quote, "From my perspective, training in morality has as its domain all the physical, verbal, and mental behaviors belonging to every single aspect of life that is not explicitly meditative. When we are trying to live a good life in the conventional sense, we are working on training in morality. When we are trying to work on improving our physical, emotional, and mental health, we are training in morality. When we philosophize, we are training in morality. When we exercise, we are training in morality. When we are taking care of others or ourselves, we are training in morality."  So, you can see that the question is not of attachment but of morality.
     Caring for other people is not an attachment. I could go on quoting paragraphs that explain the specifics, but I think I've made my point. Read the first four chapters, no, study them until you really understand them. Daniel has dug the foundation to real practice, build your house on it.




    Being big on precision in language, I might object to the use of the word "morality" in this case. Morality implies morals, mores, conventional wisdom. Trying to be a better person physically, emotionally and spiritually is the 8fold path, the great way. Truly following the path often involves opposing conventional morality. Most bad people pretend to be good, making hypocrisy conventional. Virtues like "loyalty" may be completed corrupted. Many are simply confused by conflicting claims to what is "true" morality, and default to unconsciously selfish motivations, in the name of being moral. The classic case is jesus christ, presumably truly moral but executed as a criminal by the authorities. (Build your house on that stone that the builders rejected.) 

   Doing good is not the same as being good. Conventional morality often leads to bad consequences as rules are misapplied due to unconscious selfish motivations.

   This said, daniel's use of the word is similar to the pali sila (in buddhism: right speech, right action, right livelihood) which is more in line with true goodness than our morals generally are, so I should just let it pass.


terry




tao te ching, trans feng


Nineteen

Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom,
And it will be a hundred times better for everyone.

Give up kindness, renounce morality,
And men will rediscover filial piety and love.

Give up ingenuity, renounce profit,
And bandits and thieves will disappear.

These three are outward forms alone; they are not sufficient in themselves.
It is more important
To see the simplicity,
To realize one's true nature,
To cast off selfishness
And temper desire.
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Laurel Carrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
An additional point: are you a workaholic? Do you use work to escape yourself and other responsibilities? If so, that would be a hindrance to practice. We all have our vulnerabilities, and as you continue along the path you'll discover more about your own, so practicing with the hindrances is the key, not trying to eliminate them in advance. 
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Jon Messner, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 6 Join Date: 9/20/20 Recent Posts
Laurel Carrington:
An additional point: are you a workaholic? Do you use work to escape yourself and other responsibilities? If so, that would be a hindrance to practice. We all have our vulnerabilities, and as you continue along the path you'll discover more about your own, so practicing with the hindrances is the key, not trying to eliminate them in advance. 


Laurel,
Thank you! I think that in order to survive in this environment, you have to work a lot!? I absolutely love, "practicing with the hindrances is the key..." This is very insightful, and a common thread I have found in "the struggle" (owing a small business, relationships, meditation practice, etc.)
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terry, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 1643 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Laurel Carrington:
An additional point: are you a workaholic? Do you use work to escape yourself and other responsibilities? If so, that would be a hindrance to practice. We all have our vulnerabilities, and as you continue along the path you'll discover more about your own, so practicing with the hindrances is the key, not trying to eliminate them in advance. 


aloha laurel,

   Workahol is my drug of choice, though I'd as soon be here in the sandbox with you.

   I prefer to work with my body, but when that is feeling used up, I work with my hands. I prefer to work with my hands, but when that is used up, I work with my mind. When that too is exhausted, I end up writing. 

   Without work there is no play. If I didn't keep my nose to the grindstone most of the time, I wouldn't enjoy shooting pool so much.

   The sufis say, the worst thing in life is to approach old age without having meaningful work to do.

   I agree with you, though: what is practice without hindrance? Toward the end of his life famous zennist r h blythe told self-described "spiritual entertainer" alan watts that he was embracing every attachment that he could. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, perhaps.

   Anyhows, workahol is one of the few drugs, along with cannabis of course, that I feel I can safely share with most people, even though, unlike cannabis, workahol has been known to kill people.

   My virtue of choice, confucian that I am, is humility. I find work humbling, shooting pool humbling, life humbling (play as such, not so much). Making mistakes, scrapping a ruined piece, dropping a tiny part that can't be found, scratching - any craftsman or artist or pool player knows the satisfactions and the frustrations go hand in hand with the discipline, the training. The sufis always disguised their instruction by teaching their students a trade or skills, thus enhancing right livelihood in the spectrum of virtues.

   May you live in boring times, and have plenty of work to do; take your mind off of your troubles.


terry




from "the way of chuang tzu" trans merton



THE MASTER CARVER


Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.

The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
"What is your secret?"

Khing replied: "I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.

"By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

"Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
And begin.

"If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.

"What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits."




CUTTING UP AN OX


Prince Wen Hui's cook
Was cutting up an ox.
Out went a hand,
Down went a shoulder,
He planted a foot,
He pressed with a knee,
The ox fell apart
With a whisper,
The bright cleaver murmured
Like a gentle wind.
Rhythm! Timing!
Like a sacred dance,
Like "The Mulberry Grove,"
Like ancient harmonies!

"Good work!" the Prince exclaimed,
"Your method is faultless!"

"Method?" said the cook
Laying aside his cleaver,
"What I follow is Tao
Beyond all methods!

"When I first began
To cut up oxen
I would see before me
The whole ox
All in one mass.

"After three years
I no longer saw this mass.
I saw the distinctions.

"But now, I see nothing
With the eye. My whole being
Apprehends.
My senses are idle. The spirit
Free to work without plan
Follows its own instinct
Guided by natural line,
By the secret opening, the hidden space,
My cleaver finds its own way.
I cut through no joint, chop no bone.

"A good cook needs a new chopper
Once a year - he cuts.
A poor cook needs a new one
Every month-he hacks!

"I have used this same cleaver
Nineteen years.
It has cut up
A thousand oxen.
Its edge is as keen
As if newly sharpened.

"There are spaces in the joints;
The blade is thin and keen:
When this thinness
Finds that space 
There is all the room you need!
It goes like a breeze!
Hence I have this cleaver nineteen years
As if newly sharpened!

"True, there are sometimes
Tough joints. I feel them coming,
I slow down, I watch closely,
Hold back, barely move the blade,
And whump! the part falls away
Landing like a clod of earth.

"Then I withdraw the blade,
I stand still
And let the joy of the work
Sink in.
I clean the blade
And put it away."

Prince Wan Hui said,
"This is it!
My own cook has shown me
How I ought to live
My own life!"
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terry, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Am I Hindering My Practice?

Posts: 1643 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
terry:
Laurel Carrington:
An additional point: are you a workaholic? Do you use work to escape yourself and other responsibilities? If so, that would be a hindrance to practice. We all have our vulnerabilities, and as you continue along the path you'll discover more about your own, so practicing with the hindrances is the key, not trying to eliminate them in advance. 


aloha laurel,

   Workahol is my drug of choice, though I'd as soon be here in the sandbox with you.

   I prefer to work with my body, but when that is feeling used up, I work with my hands. I prefer to work with my hands, but when that is used up, I work with my mind. When that too is exhausted, I end up writing. 

   Without work there is no play. If I didn't keep my nose to the grindstone most of the time, I wouldn't enjoy shooting pool so much.

   The sufis say, the worst thing in life is to approach old age without having meaningful work to do.

   I agree with you, though: what is practice without hindrance? Toward the end of his life famous zennist r h blythe told self-described "spiritual entertainer" alan watts that he was embracing every attachment that he could. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, perhaps.

   Anyhows, workahol is one of the few drugs, along with cannabis of course, that I feel I can safely share with most people, even though, unlike cannabis, workahol has been known to kill people.

   My virtue of choice, confucian that I am, is humility. I find work humbling, shooting pool humbling, life humbling (play as such, not so much). Making mistakes, scrapping a ruined piece, dropping a tiny part that can't be found, scratching - any craftsman or artist or pool player knows the satisfactions and the frustrations go hand in hand with the discipline, the training. The sufis always disguised their instruction by teaching their students a trade or skills, thus enhancing right livelihood in the spectrum of virtues.

   May you live in boring times, and have plenty of work to do; take your mind off of your troubles.


terry




from "the way of chuang tzu" trans merton



THE MASTER CARVER


Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.

The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
"What is your secret?"

Khing replied: "I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.

"By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

"Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
And begin.

"If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.

"What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits."




CUTTING UP AN OX


Prince Wen Hui's cook
Was cutting up an ox.
Out went a hand,
Down went a shoulder,
He planted a foot,
He pressed with a knee,
The ox fell apart
With a whisper,
The bright cleaver murmured
Like a gentle wind.
Rhythm! Timing!
Like a sacred dance,
Like "The Mulberry Grove,"
Like ancient harmonies!

"Good work!" the Prince exclaimed,
"Your method is faultless!"

"Method?" said the cook
Laying aside his cleaver,
"What I follow is Tao
Beyond all methods!

"When I first began
To cut up oxen
I would see before me
The whole ox
All in one mass.

"After three years
I no longer saw this mass.
I saw the distinctions.

"But now, I see nothing
With the eye. My whole being
Apprehends.
My senses are idle. The spirit
Free to work without plan
Follows its own instinct
Guided by natural line,
By the secret opening, the hidden space,
My cleaver finds its own way.
I cut through no joint, chop no bone.

"A good cook needs a new chopper
Once a year - he cuts.
A poor cook needs a new one
Every month-he hacks!

"I have used this same cleaver
Nineteen years.
It has cut up
A thousand oxen.
Its edge is as keen
As if newly sharpened.

"There are spaces in the joints;
The blade is thin and keen:
When this thinness
Finds that space 
There is all the room you need!
It goes like a breeze!
Hence I have this cleaver nineteen years
As if newly sharpened!

"True, there are sometimes
Tough joints. I feel them coming,
I slow down, I watch closely,
Hold back, barely move the blade,
And whump! the part falls away
Landing like a clod of earth.

"Then I withdraw the blade,
I stand still
And let the joy of the work
Sink in.
I clean the blade
And put it away."

Prince Wan Hui said,
"This is it!
My own cook has shown me
How I ought to live
My own life!"



MOONSHADOW
(cat stevens)

Oh, I'm bein' followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow
Leapin and hoppin' on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land
Oh if I ever lose my hands, Oh if I won't have to work no more
And if I ever lose my eyes, if my colours all run dry
Yes if I ever lose my eyes, Oh if I won't have to cry no more
Oh, I'm bein' followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow
Leapin and hoppin' on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
And if I ever lose my legs, I won't moan, and I won't beg
Yes if I ever lose my legs, Oh if I won't have to walk no more
And if I ever lose my mouth, all my teeth, north and south
Yes if I ever lose my mouth, Oh if I won't have to talk
Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful light
Did it take long to find me? And are you gonna stay the night
Moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow

Songwriters: Yusuf Islam