Monday, July 28, 2008

Haunted by Nothing

Blue leaf of heaven
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

What is the essence of this room? The furniture, the pictures, and so on are in the room, but they are not the room. The floor, walls, and ceiling define the boundary of the room, but they are not the room either. So what is the essence of the room? Space of course, empty space. There would be no “room” without it.
Since space is “nothing,” we can say that what is not there is more important than what is there. So become aware of the space that is all a round you… Pay attention to “nothing.”
Eckhart Tolle

Thursdays I usually join a few of my Taoists friends for an evening of meditation.
Recently events took an unexpected turn as Allan suggested we might enjoy seeing Elaine channel her higher-self.
“What?” was my initial reply.
Confused discussion followed until we just had Elaine do her thing.
What we saw was a woman go into a light trance, change her countenance, and then proceed to talk to us, dispensing a kind wisdom.
Afterwards I asked Allan to explain, for I suddenly realized we might not all be agreeing on the definition of “the higher Self.”

To me, the Self is pure consciousness, that emptiness of Awareness itself that Tolle describes as the Nothing, or pure Being.
It seemed to me that Allan was defining “higher Self” as a consciousness that still retained individuality and an awareness of X, Y, and Z.
While X, Y, Z might be wisdom that’s usually beyond me, this wisdom still falls short of what I regard as the true Self.
So, the channeling bothered me a bit.
This discrepancy in understanding of the Self is an issue I’ve continually wrestled with regarding my Taoist practice.

Now, I love my practice and am most grateful to have found it.
It has been immensely healing, beneficial, saved my bippy, and also fascinating.
But, Taoism has shamanic roots.
Because of this, there can be some pretty wild aspects to the practice.
We simply call this “moving energy.”

The old Taoists were masters of subtle energy.
They are the ones who discovered acupuncture meridians.
One way my friends and I cultivate the flow of subtle energy is through a practice we call “guided movements.”
Other traditions refer to this as “spontaneous qigong.”
And now, through the marvel of the internet, I discover that YouTube has videos in which traditions that feel Vedantic rather than Taoists display similar phenomena.
Here it’s called shaktipat, spontaneous kyrias and mudras, or more simply, kundalini.

What concerns me is when channeling and spontaneous movements are mistaken for the goal, rather than the means, of spiritual cultivation.
That concern got stirred up on Thursday.

My heart is set upon enlightenment.
My Taoists teachers down play this as a goal.
Instead, they emphasize, becoming “a good human being,” a lofty proposition in and of itself, and arguably more difficult than Awakening.
But, as I said, my heart is set elsewhere.

So, let me cut to the next scene of that Thursday night.
Mary and I are in her car and headed home, the traffic going by in a stream of lights, red and white currents in an ocean of black night..
I’ve already asked what she thought about the channeling and am fingering a box of CDs I had to move out of the way when I climbed into the car.

Mary kind of begs my question and starts in on what she likes about Deepka Chopra’s CDs.
“He’s saying that you can think about the space that fills a room as being like the Self.”
She then makes this huge, unstated comment:
The walls of the room may come and go, as did her son, Charlie.
But, the Self that was Charlie, the Self that abided in the room that we called Charlie – that Self is immortal, even while Charlie is forever gone.

And with these unstated implications something began dropping through me.
Something, indescribable moved. Down, down, down. In and through.
What was this?
I thought I ought to melt into a flood of tears in lieu of adequate speech.
But, I had no tears.
I could only say, “I am so glad you see.”
It seemed so long that a friend had understood… all the way down.
Somewhat else understood the love and longing that I feel for something beyond words.

It was if I have been haunted by the unspoken.
And it’s why some words have jumped out at me as I come across them on the internet.

Like Kate, writing of a woman in her fifties staring over in a new place:
Suddenly, I’m beginning to ‘see’ into the spaces in between things, into the interstices…it’s as if the surfaces of trees and bushes and dirt roads and stones and fences recede, or change in some way… so that the spaces they’d occupied stand out.
Everything for a moment is changed, as if reality has not fallen away but become more real.

Yes, you could put it that way.
The space within the interstices, where reality becomes more real.

Or there were these words in a poem by Pincushion:

Can you hear
The space between spaces
It calls to me…

The space between spaces
My heart cannot contain
It aches –

The space between spaces

And that was what washed through me.
The internet’s anonymity almost seems most fitting.
Can you hear the space?
Pinchusion knows you can, as the kundalini dances.

Nothingness Itself longs for it’s Self.
And the route of the returning home is through my body.
Our bodies are the channels,
Words and tears and mudras the rivulets.

I see that now as Nothing haunts me.

(I've included many links here. Please take them as illustrating my point that Qigong and Kundalini can stir energy in similar ways. I am not in any way endorsing any particular teacher or practice. I don't know any of the teachers in the YouTube videos, nor do I know the writers describing spontaneous Qigong and kriyas. However, I do agree with alot of what they say.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

When Everything Stops Working

BathTub Visions
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
Once we have seen beyond the veil, unless the illusion of me completely gives up all at once (which is very rare), the journey from that point on is very much about the complete dissolving of the remnants of personal will. Cause it’s the personal will that will go, “I want that experience back!”

And the Truth will say, “You have no power to get it back!”…

Oh you may be able to do it for awhile and some of you have. You learn what I call the spiritual chiropractic tricks of the trade. You heard a phrase and it kind of cracks your consciousness into clarity. And so you say that phrase to yourself every time you get into a state of disharmony or illusion

And it works for a while…

And then it doesn’t work and you find some other trick of the trade, a little spiritual chiropractic-like adjustment. And they work and they bring clarity back into place. But over time everybody inextricably gets to the same place. As long as they work, great! Use them.
But I guarantee you the time will come when one by one they stop working, until eventually nothing works – nothing…

And then you encounter the total futility of any vestige of personal will… and in that is the invitation for total, spontaneous surrender of the whole thing… a total abandoning of self altogether.
Adyashanti, at the Omega Institute, July, 2007.

I have been thinking of these words the past few weeks, as things seem to be working less and less. But, I couldn’t recall just where I’d heard them. Then last night, quite by accident I came across them on a CD.

Oh, gee.
I edited out Adya’s comment at the end. As we all sat there kind of with our mouths open he added, “This is good news. Right?”

Oh or Ugh is how I feel.
Perhaps I’m creeping towards this point.
My adjustment of late has been repeatedly “letting go.”
Pick up the worry, the judgment, the pain, see it in my hands and then just let it go.
The mind complains even as the previous problem plops there on the ground.
And so I drop the complaint on top of that.

I have assumed I’m practicing some variety of surrender.
Then I heard Adya explain surrender is not something that we do it is what we are.
“I am surrender.”
… well, I’ve not yet seen that.
I am Silence, I am Unbounded, I am Nothing even.
But, Surrender?
That’s a verb.

Yesterday, I also came across this poem by Roethke.
I had never read it before and it left me stunned, as “Jesus!” escaped softly from my lips there in the lab.
It kind of fits with the hard, good news of Adya’s teaching.
But the language takes you to another level.

In a Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.
Theodore Roethke

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What Was it Pogo Said?

VPI 1915
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

We have met the enemy and he is us.

Last week, I submitted the painting you see here to qarrtisluni for their issue on “Transformation.”
I explained that the painting is based upon a photograph my grandfather took in 1915.
(He was a student at Virginia Polytechnic and these are his fellow students in the snow.)
All I did was add a bit of asemic calligraphy and stamped a couple chops.
I also attempted to explain how the inking transformed the image.

The transformation simply amazed me.
Before I set my brush upon the picture,
I never knew that Virginia contained Asia within its energy.
But there before my eyes, I saw the Cadets of grandfather’s world,
Just Like That,
become “Soldiers of the Sun.”
Just Like That,
Western hero became Asian warrior.

I called the painting, “Transformation as a Just So Story”
because I didn’t believe such transformations could ultimately be True.
Really True, I meant.

The editors quickly declined with a polite, “No, thank you.”
I think perhaps they wanted transformations that were Real beyond dispute:
water into ice,
youth into old age.
In short, they were looking for the transformations that happen everyday.

I was addressing something of a different sort.
I was talking about the Other transformation that happens everyday,
but it is not of Nature, but rather, Man.
Everyday our minds take the One and break it into pieces.
Everyday we turn This into That.

I was talking about the transformation pulled off by Maya – that most skillful of Illusionists.
The unreal really happens everyday.
We take our fellow human beings and turn them into other and often enemy.

And we do it Just Like That,
just as easy as the squiggle of a paintbrush.
My calligraphy wasn’t even words. It was asemic and thus by definition without semantics.
Yet, obviously, below the words meaning got conveyed.
How else could I ever make warriors out of boys playing in the snow?

I have been dancing round here for a while now,
writing about labeling, and Dick and Jane, and taking life “simply as it is.”
Now, perhaps we’re getting to practical applications for what so often seems nothing short of the self indulgent ramblings of “Absorbed-in-Self.Com.”


A couple days went by.

Mom sent me this email.
It was a long editorial by Rabbi Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun magazine.
Tikkun translates as “to heal, repair, and transform the world.”
Rabbi Lerner was describing his experience at the World Conference on Dialogue convened by the King of Saudi Arabia, July 16-18 in Madrid, Spain.

God's will, praise be to Him, was that people should differ in their faiths.
If the Almighty had so desired, all mankind would have shared the same religion. We are meeting today to affirm that the religions that God Almighty desired for the happiness of man, should be a means to ensure that happiness.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud

Now, Rabbi Lerner is no fan of the King,
and I too am pretty skeptical of the King and his government.
Still, the conference brought together representatives of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism and Confucianism.

And some of Rabbi Lerner’s points really got me thinking:
… this didn't sound like the King I had come to expect from Western media.
This was obviously a new direction being articulated by the King of Saudi Arabia. Moreover, it was not just being articulated for a Western audience.
The King had convened a similar meeting of Islamic scholars and thinkers in Saudi Arabia six weeks before…
what the King of Saudi Arabia was doing was …of historic significance….

[I] find myself amazed at the humanity, intelligence, and shared commitment to rationality among all these leaders of the Saudi regime.
NO, I'm not giving up my skepticism, and no, I have not forgotten the barbarism…

I see the fundamental decency of some who are engaged in an effort to "reform from within," and am reminded once again of how ridiculous it is to talk about a whole society as though it represented a single perspective or shared a single worldview….

[T]his conference is a front page story in most of the world,
but is being largely ignored in the US media
who were notably absent from the hundreds of media covering this event.
This is a willed ignorance about the world…

What was also clear to me in this conversation was that these very enlightened Saudis had NEVER met or been in a conversation with Jews who held progressive values and took those values seriously.
For them, it was an exciting revelation that there were Jews who were both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, who could hold both narratives as having elements of truth and elements of goodness...
They too had fallen for the media distortions…

They too had fallen for that squiggle of the brush that can transform,
-Just Like That-
the Virginia boys of the First War into the Kamakazi of the Second War.
And Rabbi Lerner wrote of those who are now calling for a Fourth War…

With sincere apologies for my over simplifications.

To really get a feel of the intricate and insane swirlings that go on upon the surface politic:
You can find Rabbi Lerner’s complete comments here (a site organized under the auspices of Deepka Chopra).
You can find the Network of Spiritual Progressive here.
NPR’s brief comments are here. (It’s true the story was largely ignored. I had not heard a word until I got Mom’s email.)
And the press release of the Royal Saudi Embassy in Washington is here. (Well, actually back there. Ain't illusion grand?)


Sunday, July 20, 2008

With Apologies to Dick and Jane

Blue feather
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
See things for what they are… thoughts for thoughts and feelings for feelings and sensations for sensations.
Suzanne Segal, The Awakening West.

As soon as I posted my last entry regarding Dick and Jane, I regretted that someone might take it as a criticism of reading. That was not my intention.
I was simply trying to share what seemed to me a new way of approaching the whole idea of accepting Life as it is.

While perhaps that wasn’t very apparent, I hadn’t intended any further explanation or apology. But, then I came across a marvelous interview with Suzanne Segal that originally appeared in The Awakening West.

Suzanne addresses the points I was dancing around in a much more direct fashion – and you’re getting it from the Infinite's mouth, which certainly beats my twisted-sister brain.
So, I thought I’d exerpt a portion here.

JLW refers to John Lumiere-Wins, the co-author of The Awakening West. He began by asking Suzanne how she saw herself? He asked, “Who are you?”

SUZANNE: …There is only one answer that I can give you. I am the Infinite--no personal reference point--the substance of everything; I am the Vastness that is everyone and everything. And, I must add here, never for a moment does the awareness of that Infinite substance that is everything ever move out of the foreground of awareness whether there is waking, dreaming or sleeping states of consciousness occurring in the circuitry [of the mind-body].

…I have tended not to call this enlightenment and to call it only the "naturally occurring human state," because this is who everyone is. The most obvious thing to this view of the Vastness is that it is who everyone is. And so to call IT something like "enlightenment" or "awakening" - Swell, maybe.

The Infinite does become something that is forefront in the awareness, so I guess you could call it a "waking up" to That. But it is not like you become something else once you see That. It is who you are. It is always who you have been. So, it is the seeing of what you have always been.

JLW: …What can one do in order to have this experience?

SUZANNE: These "doing" questions are the ones that I have wanted to address the most, particularly in this Western culture which is so strongly based on doing in order to accomplish something.

From the point of view of the Vastness, doing something is slightly absurd. First of all, who would be doing the doing? And secondly, That which is doing has always been doing, and will spontaneously continue to do.

The only answer the Vastness has been able to come up with in terms of anything resembling an answer to this question would be to see things for what they are.
... It sees thoughts for thoughts and feelings for feelings and sensations for sensations. There is never a desire or request that anything be anything but what it is. The Vastness knows that everything is there just as it is, so the desire for something to go away, or be something different doesn't occur.

Let me get real specific in terms of what we were talking about.
A few minutes before we started taping, we spoke about the "I" construct that passes itself off as who you are, as your reference point. From the view of the Infinite, of the Vastness, that construct is seen for what it is--a construct, an idea. And an idea can only be what it is; it can only be an idea.

When an idea is seen for what it is, there is a way that it empties itself of what it appeared to be full of--some defining determinant of who you are.
And when the perception is emptied and seen as what it is--just a concept, a construct, an idea--it ceases to act as any sort of compelling screening of this Infinite Presence which you actually are...

JLW: There is a shift in identity though, or a dropping of this "I" construct. …Something happened for you.

SUZANNE: Something happens. It seems like most of this occurs within the mind. In the Western culture, which I am most familiar with, the mind is trained to adopt a personal construct as the reference point.
It just believes that there is a personal doer.
It's made to believe that you have to "make something of yourself."

The Western mind believes that you have to be a certain way and you have to figure out how your life is going to go in order for it to be successful, in order for it to happen the way you want it to. Everything that you hear in the culture, in Western psychology in particular, is all based on the assumption that there is a personal doer that has to be the best one it could possibly be. So there is all this work that is brought to bear on it...

JLW: And instead of trying to change the mind, your recommendation is to just notice, "Oh, it's the mind." Something like this?

SUZANNE: That is what the mind says, "Oh, it's the mind."

The view of the eyes of the Vastness is hard to describe as it is brought to bear on anything because it isn't perceived through the mind.

And it isn't perceived through the perceptual apparatus of the circuitry.
The view of the Vastness, the eyes of the Vastness, exist within the Vastness Itself.
It has its own sense organ that permeates it and exists at every point in it that is always seeing things for being what they are and seeing Itself for what it is.

And yet, it does seem that what happened when I was standing at that bus stop included the mind, and its circuitry became a participating portion of that sense organ of the Vastness.
It's like the mind and circuitry joined into the sphere of the Vastness.

I’ve never heard it put exactly like this. The interview is well worth reading.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More Billy Collins, Now: Regarding Dick and Jane

When you can allow this moment to be as it is without needing to label it,
wanting it to be different than what it is,
you open to the vast power that is concealed in the present moment.
Eckhart Tolle, an interview with Mary O’Malley.

Even as a six year old, I was just a bit bored by the plot of these kids’ lives.
Though I did love Spot and the redness of the ball,
and “Look! Look!” fairly spilled with possibilities…
couldn’t we get on with things?
Let the adventure begin, for god’s sake!

Perhaps I shouldn’t blame plot
so much as the pace.
I was running to the future.
I could see it coming and it would be GREAT!
The Future clearly was much better than Now
right here in my hands.

Once, I told Pop I just so wished the next two weeks would go
and then we could have Christmas.
He looked at me with great seriousness.
“Never wish your life away,” and I was appalled.
Apparently, I had made a grievous error.
But, I had simply said I wanted Christmas to be here.
I didn’t want to be Here. I wanted to be There.
How old was I? Nine?

To welcome whatever arises in this moment is the ultimate spiritual practice.
If you practice just this one thing, you won't need to read any more books
or learn any other meditation techniques…
Eckhart Tolle

Oh man. So here is my practice.
This is my life
right now.
And perhaps, has always been.

First Reader

I can see them standing politely on the wide pages
that I was still learning to turn…
the boy and girl who begin fiction…

It was always Saturday and he and she
were always pointing at something and shouting,
“Look!” pointing at the dog, the bicycle, or at their father
as he pushed a hand mower over the lawn,
waving at aproned mother framed in the kitchen doorway,
pointing toward the sky, pointing at each other.

They wanted us to look but we had looked already
and seen the shaded lawn, the wagon, the postman.
We had seen the dog, walked, watered and fed the animal,
and now it was time to discover the infinite, clicking
permutations of the alphabet’s small and capital letters.
Alphabetical ourselves in the rows of classroom desks,
we were forgetting how to look, learning how to read.
Billy Collins

“forgetting how to look, learning how to read”
The words took me by surprise.
They landed hard and tightened in my throat.
They filled my eyes with tears.

The poet sees exactly how we’re robbed,
for the poet must hold on to the goods.
He must retain the ability to truly see,
to stay with the purity of “Look”
even as the label is applied.
The poet remains in Stillness, firmly rooted in the Now,
even as the mind spins out into the future
and the infinite permutations of the clicking alphabet.

It is as if the words are secondary.
It is the energy that comes with the words - or rather the stillness beneath the words - that is the greatest teaching.
Eckhart Tolle, interview with Mary O'Malley

But, they never taught us that.
They helped us to forget what we knew all along.
They helped us to move on into the Fiction and the Noise.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Some Thoughts to Chew On

Balanced rock
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.
Epictetus (first century A.D.)

I came across this quote and it captures the exact point I have been debating of late in my mind:
How much of my happiness should I structure by my life “external” as opposed to turning within. I mean, even Eckhart Tolle speaks of the enlightened person, being a singular incarnation, still feeling the lack, the imbalance of complete Yin and Yang.
I.E. we need People in our life!
But, Tolle says the lack will be felt “only on the surface.”

Hummmm. Epictetus includes that caveat, “as little as possible.” I think that’s important and I’ve been overlooking it.

Here, is a poem by Billy Collins. Not the one I was looking for, but it will do just fine.

I Ask You

What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
white cabinets full of glass,
the telephone silent,
a pen tilted back in my hand?

It gives me time to think
about all that is going on outside—
leaves gathering in corners,
lichen greening the high grey rocks,
while over the dunes the world sails on,
huge, ocean-going, history bubbling in its wake.

But beyond this table
there is nothing that I need,
not even a job that would allow me to row to work,
or a coffee-colored Aston Martin DB4
with cracked green leather seats.

No, it's all here,
the clear ovals of a glass of water,
a small crate of oranges, a book on Stalin,
not to mention the odd snarling fish
in a frame on the wall,
and the way these three candles—
each a different height—
are singing in perfect harmony.
So forgive me
if I lower my head now and listen
to the short bass candle as he takes a solo
while my heart
thrums under my shirt—
frog at the edge of a pond—
and my thoughts fly off to a province
made of one enormous sky
and about a million empty branches.

To me, Collins seems quite able to draw upon his own internal resources for his happiness. But, he also lives with a partner and a dog.

I have been sitting on my back deck these days, thinking of a river in the wilds,
wishing that I might camp at least one more time for a week in a place where the only other human light comes from a mile or so across the water in the night,
a place where loon and moose and otter are my only companions.
But, I am not up to the solo paddle.
There seems no way to get there anymore.

Then, I look up into the tree tops of my backyard and try to notice exactly what is going on up there. Isn’t the essence of the distant river also here?

Billy Collins:
The interesting part of writing for me is finding a point in a poem that allows me to slip into another dimension. Usually, that's moving from a literal plane to a completely hypothetical one. It's the hypothetical, I think, that makes us human.

Hummm, the hypothetical? Seems to me I might call it the transcendent.
Literal to hypothetical, concrete to abstract, Relative to Absolute.
It’s all external to internal,
the Ephemeral and Eternal juxtaposed.

Poetry has been saying that for a few thousand years.
Seize the day.
Do it now.
The sense behind that imperative is that we don't have an unlimited number of days.
Television says the same thing all the time—'Everything's going to be OK.' Contemporary novels are saying, 'Things are not OK.'
What poetry is saying is 'Life is beautiful but you're going to die.'
So much of poetry asks us to look at life from the perspective that death enhances life.
Billy Collins

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Matter of Balance

momento scuro
Originally uploaded by krethiplethi
… mental labels obscure to you the depth that there is
and the aliveness
and the sacredness
that there is in every living thing.
And ‘living thing’ includes what the mind calls dead things.
Living things includes everything because everything is alive,
even the stone.
If you looked into the stone you could see that there's an intense aliveness there. …It looks to us as impenetrable, solid, and dead but its not.
So no matter whether we conventionally call it a living thing,
realize that whatever you perceive is alive.
Eckhart Tolle, transcript from Omega Retreat

And often as I have my breakfast on the back deck, and look into the tree tops as the rising sun peaks through, I remember that Tolle also described the morning light as Love the day that he awakened.
Light is Love.

It makes me smile, though I don’t really see it.
Sometimes though, I’m ready to just accept what someone else reports.
And so it goes with rocks.

I mentioned, last time, that my summer fun is expanding my flagstone patio
(A.K.A. an attempt to cut down on the mud and dust and dirt Bennie carries into the house.)
But, too, I want to stack some cairns and so have gone online to learn something about this new endeavor.

Googling so often brings delight.
And so it goes with rocks:

Everything, rocks and other solid objects or
anything else, have their inua (inner person).
Anything that is made or created has an inua.
Hubert Amarualik, Inuit elder

And then there were these photos of rather incredible balancing acts,
Like the BeBalance Gallery.
And the reports of what the “balancers” experience as they perform their feats:

There is nothing complicated about balancing a rock upon another.
It is child’s play.
Yet, just as a simple rock can change into something of grace and beauty upon being balanced, I believe the same type of transformations happens to the person doing the balancing.
Perhaps it is in the rapt attention and focus that is required to do a challenging balance.
Whatever the cause, invariably I come away from a session of balancing rock with a sense of equanimity,
a feeling of balance that does not leave, even when a rock, so delicately poised,
slips away at the slightest breeze.
It is just part of the process.
However, I speak only from my own experience.
Perhaps you would like to see for yourself. Anyone can do it.
As I said, it is child’s play.
Jim Morlock

I also came by this fellow, who probably doesn’t call himself a Taoist, but certainly might qualify:

In working with stone I have come to realize that even the most seemingly inanimate aspects of nature are very much alive with energy.
It's been an amazing realization.
One that has been validated time and again.
John Knight

Well, my rocks arrived last Thursday.
All 4,454 pounds of them are here on pallets, around the side of the house,
waiting for me to carry them into the backyard.
I moved six the first evening – and then didn’t sleep a wink all night as an electric jolt shot down my left leg about every thirty seconds.
I’m going to have to take this whole project very slowly.

Go stack rocks.
Be patient.

Look down at what is there.
Wait for the first one to call you. It will.
Look at what you've done with the first one and then look for its mate.
Go stack rocks.
Bigger rocks are easier, but work with what you can hold at head level for five minutes.
There is a vertical line.
See it. Put weight there.

Be patient.
Go stack rocks.
Buddy Smith

In Japan, Tibet, and South Korea stones are stacked as the embodiment of prayer.
In Canada and Alaska, stones were used to build free-standing totemic figures called inukshuk.
Just last week, a fellow down the block added one to his front yard.
I’m so glad he did.
It proved to me I needn’t do that. I am searching for something a bit rounder, The Cairn and Buddha Belly.

It is almost mystical… to feel a sudden realization of an
improbable equilibrium.
The most unexpected alliances can be
achieved, and as you gently move the stone on top you can somehow
sense whether the two can make a happy alliance.
You try one way,
then another,
you feel it might just be possible,
then the most tiny of adjustments and it suddenly locks into place.
You begin to set fresh challenges for yourself,
and look for bigger and more improbable
stones to try…

Rock balancers speak of this “click” when two stones suddenly align and lock.
Somehow, I know that click. It’s been replaying in my mind the whole past week.
Click. Not unlike a lock and load…

Once, I received a birthday card, or was it a Valentine, with the caption:
Two coyotes lost in the moment as love returns to the Land of the Rock Balancing Mountains.
It seemed so fitting of our lives that we framed it and hung it in the bath for years.
And again, I have to smile.
Rock balancing mountains and lifetimes…

The whole thing is so ephemeral, and yet it has an appearance of permanence.
Sometimes the equilibrium is so fine that if it has been achieved
when one of the stones has still been wet from the stream,
it can be lost as the sun dries out the stone,
and you hear one that ten minutes ago was standing quite firm
suddenly tumble into the water again.

The only thing for certain is that this unique display is transitory.
A balancer from Barga, Italy.