What we seek lies within us. The more confused we get, the more likely we will look deeper within for resolution. This process corresponds to the Taoist view, If you would have a thing shrink, You must first stretch it. In other words, we often need to make ‘arduous mountains out of mole hills’ before we can ‘make mountains into effortless mole hills’. This is the life path we follow from infancy onward. Only by stumbling do we learn to walk and run.
Thoughts on Making Mistakes
I neglected saying anything much about mistakes in “Blowing Zen” 1 or 2, so I’ll take this opportunity to do so.
I regard ‘mistakes’ as jewels of consciousness. When I fail to sense the moment to moment continuum of my ‘mistakes’, I’m on auto pilot. A continuous awareness of ‘mistakes’, has two aspect to it: (1) you are awake, and (2) ‘mistakes’ loose their ‘potencies’ and become an enriching part of your life.
Mistake and correct are two sides of the same coin ( yin and yang to put it another way). The point here is that whether a thing is ‘up’ or ‘down’, ‘left’ or ‘right’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is irrelevant; the way runs deeper than this duality. ‘Turning back’ to this root, you eventually return to that ‘shadowy’ place where mistake and correct merge into one ‘mysterious sameness’.
Of course, mistakes will feel very relevant socially, i.e., some will say, “you’re wrong”, just as you say others “wrong”. Jesus put it so well, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”, or “what goes around comes around”. That is the nature of tribal politics. And that is why if takes a while to own your own life. Your social-tribal instinct will fight you all the way on that one.
We all want to do it the ‘right’ way.
But, how far shall we take that? ‘Right’ encompasses two issues – awareness and tradition.
‘Right awareness’ (mindfulness, attentiveness, concentration) is crucial to all living things. It is about being alert – alive to the moment. If a deer loses that moment, a lion may have him for dinner. If a driver loses that moment, he may go straight… off the cliff. I have yet to overdo moment to moment awareness.
‘Right’ as defined by tradition is another story. Nevertheless, tradition plays a crucial role in guiding us where to apply awareness, at least initially. Tradition also brings with it social / political dimensions which can be taken obsessively too far. Here attention is narrowly focused on the form and away from the process. In the end, it is not about the form, but about the care you give to moment to moment, whether specific or general.
Yoga, Tai Chi or Honkyoku serve to exemplify both issues. Both pass on an age old tradition of ‘right form’ and also aim for ‘right awareness’ and a returning to the ‘eternal moment’. Even so, life flows moment to moment from birth to death, while these ‘forms’ are like islands of learned discipline. You can’t live your moment to moment life as a learned discipline, and you can’t spend you entire waking hours only doing these forms with the notion that you’ll remain in the ‘eternal moment’ – an unnatural and nonsensical notion on many levels.
Moment to moment awareness is all that really matters. To the extent that learning a discipline will open the door to that aim is useful. But, beware of the bypaths which obfuscate that aim. A good example of the social / political, i.e., tribal, tendency in all human activity is Christianity. Christ had a fairly simple straight forward message which aimed at ‘right awareness’ in one way or another. Why then are there myriad Christian sects (and Buddhist one’s as well) each believing that their form is the best, if not the true, form. Yes, we do cling desperately to the form, and in doing so loose our chance to be aware of the underlying ‘mysterious sameness’.