Friday, December 29, 2006

Thinking with the Heart?

I was reflecting yesterday on my recent increasing dissatisfaction with what I perceive to be the one-sidedness of the approaches of teachers who have influenced me deeply: Gudo Nishijima, who I perceive to be prejudiced against the whole idea of thinking in Zazen; and Alexander teachers who do not generally recognize the value of attaching to a physical sitting posture which is rigidly fixed by tradition -- that is, the full lotus posture. (If they recognize it, then why don’t they do it?)

Following the mirror principle, I mused, my dissatisfaction (or, to be more honest, frustration/anger), doubtless means that I am becoming aware on some level of one-sidedness in my own practice.

Then this morning I recalled that a Christmas card from an old Zazen friend in Japan had contained this brief pointer: “Found interesting books by Joseph Chilton Pearce and Alice Miller... Also impacting my thinking on Zen...”

Some kind soul on this blog pointed me in the direction of Alice Miller several months ago, and I found her views very enlightening.

I vaguely remembered the name Chilton Pearce from reading about the cerebellum and reticular activating system while training years ago as a neuro-developmental therapist. Anyway, I looked him up on the internet and my attention was particularly taken by this opening sentence of an interview at

“The idea that we can think with our hearts is no longer just a metaphor, but is, in fact, a very real phenomenon.”


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