29.11.08

By the gracious Lama's blessings
May I see whatever adverse events and sufferings befall me
As tricks of the evil spirit of ego-clinging
And use them as the path of bodhichitta.

Tibetan prayer

28.11.08

Connectedness

The presence of mind to be grateful (for) each moment. It is from gratitude that our true power springs.

25.11.08

Central equilibrium is the mindfulness of stillness and of moving. If I am still it is because I have balanced contrary motions. If I am moving it is because I have extended or contracted an energy in a direction opposite to the motion.

24.11.08


Everything is whirling in the world, from the smallest cell up to the galaxies of the Universe. Everything is turning. Our whirling is to join to this universal prayer.

Nail Kesova, Mevlevi Sheikh

23.11.08

21.11.08

Posture & Alignment

Posture should not be adjusted – it should be resolved. Making physical adjustments to an incorrect posture is just adding more tension to an already tense situation. Instead the teacher should address the sources of the tension that are causing the posture to be misaligned: he should have at his fingertips a body of exercises that help the students release the tensions in their postures so that the natural process of realignment can slowly begin. Given that there are likely to be multiple tensions in a misaligned posture, and that these tensions will not all release equally, the students' postures may change and adjust themselves strangely – often getting worse before they improve. The teacher should have the wisdom to let this happen and not interfere. Of all instructions, the blanket phrase: Keep your bum in, is probably the one most responsible for wrongly adjusted posture. Students who take this instruction to heart invariably apply an overcompensating force to their sacrum and pelvis with the muscles of the belly and groin, giving them a stiff or collapsed posture with a semblance of slouched relaxation and rootedness but with none of the real fluid connectedness to the ground, or more importantly to their own structure, that a naturally relaxed verticality would give them. For me, whether the bum is out or in is of no real consequence; what is far more important is whether the sacrum/pelvis/groin area is relaxed and loose. If it is then I know that it's not this area that is responsible for misaligned posture.

If I sincerely want a student's posture to improve I personally have to locate the tensions responsible for misalignment in their body, and then I have to help these tensions release. This requires me to manipulate the problem areas – it is my hands that must do the job. My hands don't realign the posture, they work into the tensions in the posture until they melt away, at least momentarily – whilst I have hands on, so that the student has an experience of clarity and awareness in that area that he can try to remember and retrieve when he practises. I then need to give him exercises he can practice alone that will assist in this retrieval. Without this personal touch I don't feel that I am teaching.

19.11.08

Giving up the ghost.

18.11.08

Aggression

Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art and as such its natural scenario is the fight for one's life. This has nothing to do with self-defence – I am not defending myself when I fight – I am simply fighting for my life, and that life is always through the fight – without the fight the life is less. In such a situation there can be no room for distance because as soon as I allow or create distance the other is likely to fill it. What this means, technically, is that from the outset I must be using front-foot energy. Front-foot energy – basically spirit – is fundamentally aggressive – claims new ground, whereas back-foot energy – extending flowing energy – is fundamentally defensive – defends that ground. It is the same when the baby grasps at some object she likes the look of (desires). Firstly she attaches her spirit to the object through her eyes then her hand slowly (because inexpertly) moves towards the object, encloses it with her fingers, grasps and draws it in, generally to her mouth – she brings the world into her body. The front-foot works in the same way – it reaches out and claims territory – pulls that ground into my body (by pulling my body into that ground). This is basically an aggressive act – I must be prepared and eager to supplant whatever I find there – and it needs to be felt as such if it is to be whole-heartedly engaged. With my back-foot I create distance – space and time – by extending my root downwards and therefore my expression up and out. With my front-foot I create connexion which is the negation of space and time – of distance. And in my joyful enthusiasm I almost overreach – beyond and before. This is the danger and excitement of the front-foot – it takes me beyond myself.

Seated meditation is a fundamentally back-foot occupation. How meditators get around this I have yet to discover.

16.11.08

Distance

Mind dwells in distance and relies on distance. The body is immediate – it is and can be nothing else, but the mind can choose not to inhabit it – to take us away from it and out of it and into its comfortable domain – the head. This is it's first distance – the one all others mirror. But to be in the body is not simply a matter of awareness – of energy, but of mobilization – of spirit. Spirit bundles awareness into something eminently useful, and cuts through all the rules and restrictions the mind and the imagination care to impose. Science – the formulation of observation – tells us how things are to a passive mind but cannot predict or extrapolate for spirit. In a sense mind is always passive because it's activity is not of the world, so much so that its very activity creates distance – forces things to stand apart. And by creating distance it also creates time – the possibility for lack of immediacy.

In a sense distance is the comforting space between things – the appearance of separation. But distance is also difficulty. Any difficulty we may have is because we have chosen distance over immediacy.

5.11.08

Heart & Mind

Mind – yours or anyone elses – cannot eradicate conditioning. It can dismantle it but in the process it installs other conditions – one false idol replacing another – because the mind requires well-behaved predictable models – rules, syntax – to function comfortably. We need heart because heart always hearkens – back to a time before the conditioning appeared. Mind makes things new whereas heart makes things old – ancient – primordial. The mind differentiates – criticizes – and the heart embraces – transforms – not just space (things) but time as well. Mind is of the mind, and to convince itself of its own omnipotence it assumes all is mind. Heart is of the body – Earth – and doesn't need convincing of anything – it doesn't have such insecurities.

4.11.08

A spiritual life is one that hinges on an ever-deepening honesty – honesty becoming awareness.

Stress

Away from poetry – the mind yearning – and into the body – actuality. Not that the poetry is false, but anything experienced from another vantage point is only partial. The body must become so fully inhabited that even the Earth balks at our physical presence, and any retreat of the mind into itself and the body buckles under the stress of its own intense engagements.
Has anything been taught if nothing has been learnt?

3.11.08


Photo: Corinna

2.11.08

Lightness appears when we drop our baggage. It allows a quickness and a quickening that delights in the between.
All instruction starts in/with the body, and returns to the body.

1.11.08

Inside
and out
impossible
locations--
reaching in
from out-
side, out
from in-
side--as
middle:
one
hand.


Robert Creeley