Saturday, June 30, 2007

Idle Reflection

On the other side is Lavender,
In stillness showing how.
Each flower flowing upward
Loves being here and now.

On this side sits a questionner,
Often asking how,
If the hurdle is vestibular,
To clear it and allow?


Blogger Mike Cross said...

If I attempt an answer to my own question, I have not been able to grasp how to allow.

The best I seem to be able to do is to trace my hands gently around the outline of what allowing is not:

(1) Not being hot-headed.

(2) Not losing the head (not being not level-headed).

(3) Not being in two minds; not veering wildly this way and that.

(4) Not behaving like a monkey in a monkey colony.

A non-negative expression of (4) might be the living body of Gautama Buddha, being fully human, and truly upright, shaven headed and wrapped in the Buddha-robe. This is my belief.

Even though I revere the teaching of FM Alexander so highly, so far I haven't met anybody in the Alexander world who I felt truly understood the above. And in the Buddhist world, how many?

Saturday, June 30, 2007  
Blogger Pete, an ordinary bloke. said...

When it seemed to me that my first Alexander teacher, Julian Fuller, was telling me to “do” I challenged him by saying that I thought I was supposed to “allow”. Julian replied by saying that first I had to practice doing and allowing would eventually follow naturally without my even noticing it. Although this seems contrary to Marjorie Barlow’s teaching I received this teaching face to face from a teacher I respected. Several teachers later I am still not aware of allowing. Ah well, as ever, missed the target that I did not aim at.

Saturday, June 30, 2007  
Blogger docretro said...

Your poem is not Keats, but I won't complain..

I like you best when you are hot headed. All the other Zen-Blogging guys seem a bit sedated.

When you have your quarrels with Brad Warner oder Nishijima himself you embody the pubertal image, Brad claims for himself. The force, the will to disintegrate a whole philosophy, was something that fascinated me in your earlier posts.

Don't let yourself be tamed. I hope to read from you more frequently.

Sunday, July 01, 2007  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Hi Pete,

Your comment reminds me of Master Dogen’s teaching that we should sit in the full lotus posture (1) bodily, (2) mentally, and (3) dropping off body and mind.

The first thing is to physically do something -- for example, to prepare a seat and sit in lotus; for example, to sew a kesa.

The main thing in my daily life is physically to sit in lotus every morning, wearing the kesa. After that, a moment or two of allowing would be a bonus.

Semantically thinking, when we speak of allowing, it is in connection with a happening, with some event predicted by the 2nd law of thermodynamics, like body and mind spontaneously dropping off, or a healthy child running around.

I don’t allow the lavender. You don’t allow your grand-daughter. I allow the lavender to grow in our front garden. You allow your grand-daughter to run around your garden as she likes, burning off energy. In other words, allowing is not allowing some thing; and nor is allowing itself some thing. Allowing is a bit of nothing, a bit of freedom from tightness.

One way to become more aware of allowing as a bit of nothing, is to practice the Alexander game of intending to do something, and yet deciding not to do it. This is what Marjory Barlow taught me to practice. She would ask me to extend a leg while lying on my back and would encourage me to keep deciding not to do anything, until such time as I moved the leg.

Sunday, July 01, 2007  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thanks docreto,

Your comment is very perceptive -- my will does tend to work in that direction.

When I played rugby I used to enjoy the sense of making a contribution to my team, as a wing forward, primarily by reading and breaking up the other team’s play. That is what I felt I was good at.

Similarly, I saw the Shobogenzo translation effort primarily as an ongoing fight to eliminate the false.

As an Alexander teacher, again, my modus operandi tends to be to seek out and attack people’s misconceptions -- to offer them negative feedback.

I have found these ways of diverting negative (or Moro reflex) energy to constructive purposes.

The problem is that wild and unskillful efforts in these directions, like those of a bull in a china shop, are liable to result in various forms of harm to self and others.

So in the end, if and when it is possible, I would like to be completely tamed by Gautama Buddha -- like a castrated water buffalo, or like a true human being who is not a slave to instinctive impulses.

On that subject, in Isaac Newton’s biography, I was interested to read of his decision to remain celibate through his life. Also he was evidently a lifelong devotee of alchemy. It seems that Isaac Newton was much more of a philosopher and a religious man in the true sense, and much less a “scientist” in the narrow sense, than he is generally given credit for. It seems that he sublimated his sexual energy so as to devote himself totally to discovering the fundamental laws of the universe, the real truth.

Having served Gudo Nishijima intimately during my 20s, I can testify to the fact that he also was like that -- a true monk.

Still, Newton’s assumptions about the absolute nature of space and time, and his view that light was a stream of particles, left room for further clarification.

And Gudo’s wrong reductionist interpretation, in terms of the autonomic nervous system, of Master Dogen’s teaching that we should sit in lotus bodily, mentally, and dropping off body and mind, is a reductionist interpretation which is wrong.

Sunday, July 01, 2007  

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