Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Criterion before Knowing and Seeing: Preamble

As a young man of 22, I met an old man who seemed to meet my criteria of what a Buddha might be. Later I found that it was not so; the old man was very far from perfect; there were many things he did not know. In retrospect, the clue had been there in his monk’s name: Gudo, Stupid Way. Neither knowing nor wanting to know what he did not know, the stupid old man acted in stupid ways that produced, unbeknowns to him, all kinds of imperfect side effects. The old man was, it turned out, a non-buddha.

Acting in the naive and false belief that this non-buddha might be a true Buddha I made all kinds of tremendously stupid mistakes of my own, producing my own unpleasant side effects.

Under the old non-buddha, I came confidently to misunderstand that the teaching of Gautama, the historical Buddha, was not primarily a matter of psychology or spirituality. I came to believe in the existence of a criterion that precedes even the knowing of the great scientists and even the spiritual insights of the great religious seers -- that criterion being primarily a matter of how to sit upright in the full lotus posture, thereby (or so the non-buddha said) “bringing the autonomic nervous system into balance.”

Thus, naively believing that the strange and simplistic teaching of the non-buddha might have some kernel of truth in it, I became obsessively and unhealthily interested in the matter of how to sit upright. And this obsessive and unhealthy interest led me back to England to investigate the discoveries of FM Alexander.


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