Visual Thinking

There are parallels to “visual thinking”, attending to information coming to awareness before any discrimination of intent, in disciplines other than psychic healing. Dogen the Japanese Soto teacher emphasized “non-thinking” as the pivot of zazen, for instance (in Fukanzazengi).

I myself am coming to the conclusion that the ability to sit zazen depends on the hypnogogic state (between waking and sleeping, as it were). My effort in “waking up and falling asleep”, as I’m referring to the induction of the hypnogogic state, is simply to be where I am as I am where I am. In effect, there may be a reciprocity between the state of mind and the ability to feel, that opens the necessary ability to feel and the necessary state of mind to channel the future into a sense of location in three dimensions in the present, a sense of location from which action appropriate to the future can take place. Might be a sense of location in mind, or in the head anyway, some of the time.

“Wu Wei” and impeccability, from Tao Bums

I remember Blanche Hartman from S.F. Zen Center talking about one day when she was on her way to a day of mindfulness and she buttoned her shirt backwards or something. I do revere some of the teachers I met from Japan, whom I thought had a certain grace and poise, and sometimes I think I should be concerned to practice hard and be more like them; in the end, though, I think Blanche has the right approach, to laugh at herself and be what she is.

I would say that I have a compass, and that compass comes out when I feel like I’m starting to walk in circles, and I use that compass to sight the next landmark in the direction I want to go before I put it away. The compass is the cessation of volition, in speech, in inhalation and exhalation, and in perception and sensation, and the landmark is the combination of disparate elements at the instant of cessation. The landmark is always right where I am, every contact of sense including the sixth sense enters into where I am even before I know it, and the ability to feel that arises with each contact informs where I am. When I am waking up and falling asleep, I can witness the action that arises out of where I am as I am where I am. That action is wu wei. read more

Wu Wei

It is possible to act without intent, and to do so in the course of daily life; this is wu wei to me. As soon as there’s intent, there’s discrimination of good and bad, and there’s nothing natural about that.

I think the best is to accept falling asleep with waking up, and waking up with falling asleep; too much emphasis on waking up, and we can’t sleep. Too much emphasis on falling asleep, and we can’t wake up. read more

A bowl with a dusting of soap powder- comment on Brad Warner’s “Hardcore Zen”

I continue to work with the description in “The Mudra of Zen”, and in “Translations of Motion in the Lotus”. This morning I was able to correlate a feeling for the ilio-lumbars with relaxation in the extensors, and a certain uprightness in the area of the low back. Interesting, for me, as I have never followed the advice to “keep your back straight”, in part because I don’t seem to have the feeling to make that possible (yet). My take is that activity in the sartorius and gluts (caused by stretch in the ilio-tibial tract and sacro-spinous/sacro-tuberous ligaments) and similar involuntary activity in the psoas and extensors acts up the spine as the ilio-lumbars engage in inhalation and exhalation. Sitting today I recalled the Gautamid’s description of the feeling of the first meditative state, like a bowl with a dusting of soap powder that is gathered, rolled and kneaded until it no longer oozes- !- my consciousness occurring in the area of the pelvis, letting the painful and pleasant feelings in and mindful of the sleepy wakefulness.

How do we inspire ourselves to sit?- comment on Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen

I, too, feel a deep sense of gratitude to the Zen teachers who came to this country, and to some of the teachers who became authorized to teach here and have kept the practice going for anyone who is interested. The real question is how do we inspire ourselves to sit the cross-legged pose for thirty minutes or forty, once or twice or several times a day? I guess one way that it’s been done in the past, intentionally or not, is with the promise of the respect and authority of the title of lineage holder, and unless you can communicate very clearly why anybody would want to practice, this will be your problem.

On the other hand, if you can communicate very clearly, maybe nobody would listen unless you had the title and authority. But then, if you were really trying mostly to communicate to yourself, it probably wouldn’t matter.

Storing Ch’i in the Tan-T’ien (Response to Drew Hempel, from The Tao Bums)

I guess the question for us both is how the chi comes to be “stored” in the tan-t’ien. Chunyi Lin seems to encourage you to think the long sitting will work the trick for you; his remark about looking at how long someone can sit the lotus to see if they’ve mastered energy says it all, in that regard.

I realize that there can be a feeling of absorption occasioned by impact when consciousness occurs in the vicinity of the tan-t’ien, and this is a pleasant thing, which informs my sense of location along with the feeling of near-pain occasioned by other impact of consciousness at stretches away from the tan-t’ien. I think I have a natural affinity for this feeling of absorption, and that affinity constitutes the storing of ch’i at the tan-t’ien in the parlance of Chinese martial arts. We’ll see!

Storing chi at the tan-t’ien, from Tao Bums

I notice piriformis highlighted on that last set of illustrations.

For me, accumulation of chi in the tan-t’ien is a reference to the consciousness that occurs naturally in the vicinity of the tan-t’ien, and sometimes that consciousness almost seems like it’s continuously at the tan-t’ien but I don’t believe it is just that. It’s an inclusive thing, around the tan-t’ien. Reciprocal innervation of the piriformis muscles, from the femur to the sacrum on either side, results from the “hammocking” of the hips from the pelvis described in Calais-Germain’s “Anatomy in Movement”, which in turn stretches the ligaments associated with the piriformis muscles and generates piriformis activity. I think that activity also comes out of the stretch of the ilio-tuberous ligaments from the sacrum to the front sides of the pelvis, in the motion of yaw at the sacrum. read more