Monday, September 19, 2011
Copyright Lance Kinseth, Buddha-Ocean / Fo-hai, 2011
REPETITION AND CYCLE do not consummate as much in circles as in spirals. No event is repeated. Amazing freshness!
Perched on a coastal shoreline, incoming waves seem the same or, at least, repeating sequels of waves of different intensity. For example, the waves photographed above express a vast process. The amber color of the waves are an expression of the vast plate underlying Lake Superior tilting down on its southern side, eroding the south coasts, turning the lucid waters there amber to reddish color that is visible in the photo.
There are turquoise waves. There are waves that seem glassine, when the waves raise up and thin so that you can see right through them, and there are waves glittering from sun-struck scales of fish lifted inside the thinning curve of the incoming wave. These waves are a metaphor for waves in our intentional movements, in our cycles of respiration and digestion, and in the flow of each moment of time.
In body-mind practices where sequences of form and pose are repeated, the practice might seem to be the same. Day-by-day, physically, it is not the same. And by returns to practice, we may come to sense that these waves are spirals rather than circles. Across time, body-mind practices might be compared to a slowing trek, slowly spiraling upward on a mountain path. Rather than going around in circles, in each new turn, there are new views ahead and a different perception when glancing back from where we have come. Flexibility and strength and mobility improve, and subtlety and depth of actions, both in body-mind practice and in everyday life, increase. Paradoxically, across time, in our “repetition,” there is a strong sense of “development” and “change” and “progress”—“spiraling.”
Our breaths and our soft movement in body-mind practices have much in common with waves of water or wind. Were we to really examine who we are and that for which we are living, we might get a hold on this sense of “spiraling”—continually changing—that comprises the very heart of our living and being-ness. We might have a sense of not only touching something eternal and enduring, but also something that is not archaic, something that is “modern” and falling into the future.
In everyday life, many of our actions can seem blunt and abrupt rather than fluid and circular. Body-mind practices offer a pathway to awaken this profound sense of participation in the ongoing creation of the world.
In modern life, when metaphors such as “wave” and “flow” arise within our practice, we may dramatically elevate our practice, especially in terms of beauty and increasing calmness. In our practice, there is likely to be something akin to the flow of wind in grass and incoming waves in water, and the nuances of each swirl, are not primitive, but rather, something beautiful, and this is eloquently expressed in the longstanding Japanese term of appreciation, furyu —the “beauty of wind and water.”
In the quiescence of many body-mind practices, each of our breaths and each gesture can generate a sense of being like the curve of wind-blown snow in deep winter or wind-in-grass or the wind-singing of trees or the fractal sweep of a covey of birds or of the river around a boulder in any season. The wind-blown curve of snow or wind-in-grass or the incoming wave on Big Sur, on coastal California, mirror something that is occurring in our body-mind practices.
By returns to body-mind practices, we stand to extend this expanded awareness more consciously into our everyday lives, rather than simply be a quality that is limited to the practice session. The relatedness of body-mind practices to everyday life is, really, that which draws us like a magnet to such practices. We hunger for something deep albeit elusive in these practices that may be missing or overwhelmed at times in our everyday. We speculate that it might be possible to “thrive” rather than just survive. And in our thriving and energizing, we might become outspreading waves of energy that, humbly rather than ostentatiously, may add some small moments of grace to the everyday, and refresh and energize others, outspreading—shanti—being peace.
Each of our movements, from the beginning of practice through becoming an adept, no matter how restricted or malleable, is beautiful, graced—a wave. In the flow from one pose to another or in the flow of tai chi from rolling back to pressing, the multiplicity of wave that is the dynamic of the physical and biotic Earth flies softly forward.