One of my favorite books on performing was written by a Zen monk. It’s called “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”, by Shunryu Suzuki. He didn’t intend to write about performing, but his lessons can be perfectly applied to performance (as well as any aspect of life, for that matter).
One chapter, titled “No Trace”, begins: “When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”
Your performance is like a bonfire, isn’t it? When you give yourself completely to it, do you ever feel yourself disappear? Instead of an individual, you become a conductor of energy, connecting every soul in the club to each other and to yourself. You are burning yourself out, leaving no trace.
On the other hand, if you hold back in your performance, self-consciously watching and judging yourself, you are working with wet wood. You’re leaving a trace.
“In order not to leave any traces, when you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind; you should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire. You should not be a smoky fire. You should burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself will be left in what you do. You will have something remaining that is not completely burned out. Zen activity is activity which is completely burned out, with nothing remaining but ashes.”
What do you think?