Unnatural Paths to Liberation

It was March and we were running from Milton, Wisconsin, and the US Army, currently driving through Detroit on our way to Toronto. When I look back at those two people I’m amazed by two things: one, how I expected Andy to drive and brave the bullets or whatever else I imagined flying at us from this city on that night in 1969 — so fearful that I hid under my big, old, $5, Salvation Army, muskrat coat in the back seat; and, two, our unspoken agreement that he was my saviour and I needed saving. I was almost 22 years old.
Even though I’d lived away from home since I was 18 and worked and rented my own place since I was 19, I was now ready to be married (cared for by a man for forever). And if this guy was dodging the draft and wanted me to go with him to Canada, so be it.
I think he liked having someone else to be responsible for — he liquidated the gift of an investment account from his father, for us; in the blizzard between Detroit and Toronto that night he wired some cable under the car to get us back on the road and keep us from freezing to death; and later, once we’d safely reached the other side, he worked in a hospital kitchen as a dishwasher to pay our bills.
He was a hero and I was safe.


A Buddha’s Birthday Poem

We Choose Bongjeongsa

Pink, blue, green, red lanterns

hang from wires running along rivers, back alleys,

sidewalks, paths, bridges all around Korea today.

Buses bulge with students, farmers, taxi

drivers, nurses, grandmothers and fathers

and head out of every town to Dongwasa,

or Heinsa or Bulgoksa or Busuksa,

Yongmunsa, Musangsa or Hwagaesa

up into the green buddhist temples

to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday.

Bring fruit and give it to a monk or

someone in the kitchen, stand in line

and you’ll be fed lunch in a bowl.

Enjoy the chanting, the clicking stick

keeping time on the wooden frog,

the oldest building in Korea,

have a seat on the balcony,

make a lotus flower with glue

and colored paper and wire. It’s

the perfect place to hear the story

of the ashram your companion

stayed at in India or discuss

philosophy, free will,

choosing to suffer — or not —

better yet, soak

in the simple and rich

as its own reward.

Keeping the temple alive

generosity floats down the hill,

along the road, between the rocks,

within the stream, swirls around

the feet of children as they

gaze at a sky full of pink, green,

blue, white,  orange

lanterns hung by the hundreds

in rows outside the main

chanting hall.

Truth vs. Knowledge

Sam on the bridge walk

It occurs to me that I’ve been trying to learn as much as possible my whole life. Not that I’m such an academic — just always believing that I need to know . . . well . . . more. It’s a survival thing. And, I do believe that there are many people in this world that have a great deal to share — they’ve worked hard and have a deep understanding of something, and that’s worth paying attention to. But is it truth? Is it my truth? Is there a difference?

Here’s a question: would a dog or a tree ever think it had to learn more? What really is the underlying purpose of learning more, having more knowledge? Is there something wrong with me as I am? Do I need to learn more to feel adequate or worthy? So I’m not circled in the night by wild men carrying torches?

Doesn’t gaining knowledge/experience because of some underlying fear keep the efforting and accomplishing thing going? (re: the feldenkrais thing in the last post). No time to relax into what actually is, what I actually DO know and what is actually true for me at this moment. No, got to keep moving forward in order to learn/gain more knowledge in order to keep the danger at bay.

When I wash the bowl as if I have no idea what washing this bowl is SUPPOSED to be or ever was, like, or what the result or outcome is SUPPOSED to be, but just for the sake of the movement, to move slowly and enjoy being connected to what my body is doing with the bowl, the sensations and the purposelessness of it all, THEN it seems there is some truth in that. It’s nothing I can save or hold. It’s not mine. It doesn’t give “me” anything. Just an experience of that time I washed the bowl that soon dissolves into typing these words . . .

Slow and Steady

Happy to see you. Do you know what’s amazing? Feldenkrais is amazing. I’ve known this for along time, but I rediscovered it this week when my back and pelvis went out and wonky on me. Here in Korea my options for chiropractic or bodywork help is very limited, so it forces me back to looking to myself, and what I already know (and have spent years learning) about my body and how to heal it. Duh. During these last few months of sitting at desks and working tightly and ignoring my body it had to show up somehow and now I can’t sit for longer than 5 minutes or getting up is torture.  But . . . the most important thing about all this is reading some of the things Moshe Feldenkrais said and seeing it myself after just 4 days of doing short (20 minute) lessons.  The gist is that movement, the habitual ways we move, based on all that we’ve learned since we were born — from breathing to speaking to playing tennis comes from and CREATES our self image. It solidifies, not just in our minds but in our bodies, we become rigid patterns of human beings using only 5% of what we are really capable of.

This can be gently undone, spread apart and opened for new learning to take place.

This tells me that even though meditation is a useful, time honored and effective tool, that combined with feldenkrais, things can change in an even more holistic way — especially for those of us (and now I think we all are, perhaps just not consciously) kinesthetically-oriented types. Those of us who don’t feel we are experiencing the world unless we can track the experience in our bodies. And, those of us who also tend to shut down this experience out of fear or ???

It’s exciting and brings my way of learning to consciousness — validating what sometimes seems like a slow, turtle-like way of being in the world. Slow and gentle. Barely moving gives me time to experience the openings — nothing to accomplish, just the pleasure of the movement. Ah, yesssssss