Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Endless Process; Golden Rules

The Middle Way that the Buddha taught is an endless process.

This morning twice, this afternoon, this evening, I have sat and will sit in the full lotus posture, with body, with mind, and without body and mind. Tomorrow likewise. And the day after. And the day after that. An endless process. No finality. No security.

No security -- except that there are certain rules of the Universe, golden rules, that can be conclusively grasped. For example:

Rule no. 1: Human beings make mistakes.

Rule no. 2: Energy in all its forms tends to spread out, unless hindered from doing so.

Rule no. 3: [Closely related to rule no. 2] We cannot do an undoing.

Rule no. 3 might be called Alexander’s Law. To explain it further: The energy with which we hold in undue muscle tension has an inherent tendency to dissipate, if we STOP hindering it from doing so. So if we want to be liberated from being held in our own grip, we should practice STOPPING. This practice of stopping is primarily mental. Alexander described his work as “the most mental thing there is.”

It is recognized in this work that certain physical positions are more conducive than others to the release of undue muscular tension. Alexander called these “positions of mechanical advantage.” Sitting in the full lotus posture is one such physical position.

But once the practitioner is seated already in the traditional posture -- in Master Dogen’s words SHINSO SUDE NI TOTONOE (“the body-form is already regulated”) -- the essence of the practice is mental. It involves the decision NOT TO DO. It requires us intentionally to turn away from doing, and NOT TO DO but TO THINK.

Thinking does not mean intellectual thinking, not thinking about. It means, for example, when I notice that my legs are holding onto my back, and my back is pulling in my legs, I THINK my legs and my back away from each other. When I THINK like this, without doing anything about it, my breathing improves spontaneously. Quad Erat Demonstrandum.

Do you understand what I am saying here about sitting in lotus and thinking? Unless you have many years experience of both Zazen and Alexander work, I very much doubt it. If you are quick-witted, like Michael Tait, you may think you understand, and you may sound like you understand, but without many years of hard work, you won’t really understand.

When I visit my Alexander teacher, as I did yesterday, I am constantly amazed at the changes she is able to bring about when she contacts me with her hands and thinks. Without doing any kind of physical manipulation at all, she facilitates all kinds of undoing in me -- as if digging my head out from deep within my body, with a great big JCB. It is the power of THINKING alone, an endless mystery.

Above are three golden rules that can be conclusively grasped. It is probably remiss of me not to mention others, but, as human being to human being, I refer you back to Rule No. 1.


Blogger Michael Tait said...

Yes, I am more than familiar with Rule 1.

I agree with what you write. Realisation does not come from quick wits or dull ones, it opens during zazen, it is a real experience of profound opening, it is giving of everything. It is completely vulnerable and defenceless. It meets all phenomena just as it is without effect or affect. When it moves, the world moves with it. Some people choose to call this 'love.' I think that's a very good description.

Thursday, July 06, 2006  

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