The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Movement & Stillness

I've been thinking a lot about movement & stillness.

When I am engaged in movement, I have the impression that I am the center of the universe, because I am effecting action--what I do is generated from the center of Me. Like a compass point pinned to the earth in one place, any movement I make is etched around me by the pencil that must move with me, however large or small that arch might be.
I move my legs in space to walk, energy parting energy, which gives me the impression that my effect is unconnected, unique, singular. I am doing something to something else, thus I must be the enactor, the only force at play, the very center.

What I rarely consider is this: what if my action is predicated by one that I can't see, hear, taste, touch or hear...or even think about?

What about Karma?

And what if as I move, the universe moves to accommodate me AND creates it's own movement in response or along with, because of, in addition to, or in concert with? And what is that movement, what is that action? Sure, sometimes one experiences cause and effect immediately. It makes us feel like a god; damn, look what I did! For better or for worse....

But what about when I am still?
Surely when I sit meditation I am deeply connected to the environment and my action is still present--except now it's taken a different form and the body in stillness begins to shed the deep impression of Me: alone, singular and isolated. The Me-god gets fuzzy, because I'm not attached to action.

In fact, in meditation, a common experience is one of oceanic connection, no separation, no gaps, a profound sense of oneness with everything else swirling around in/out there.
But what is it about sitting that finally allows for this experience?

It's not a goal of Zazen, this oceanic feeling. Zazen is just Zazen. And if I attach in any way to whatever experience permeates my practice, I've missed the point. I sit Zazen, I finish, I get up off the cushion, and then I would simply like to get out of the way.
Still, it makes me wonder about the Ego Self's continual construction and buttressing.

Sometimes I think of myself as a little child at the beach, building a sandcastle that is extraordinarily complex and creative, just a beautiful work of art, and damn I'm proud! And then the tide inexorably creeps closer and closer to the ramparts, disintegrating in one gentle flow all the detailed construction.
All gone, nothing but sand lumps with little distinction or memory of what was once so unique.

As a child this process used to unnerve me, and my brothers and I built complicated systems of moats, channels and levees....And at times I purposely rushed the process, throwing buckets of water at our creations because I couldn't bare to see it all happen without me! (Uh-hu, a little control freak.)

But no matter, the child comes out to play the following day (or many years later) and begins again, knowing now that the tide will turn and wash it all away. Knowing that all is impermanence, all is empty.

I need movement and stillness. I need ego self and true self.
But ultimately, it would help if I simply stopped seeing these things as 1. separate, 2. existing at all, 3. feeling I still need to carry the raft around even after I've crossed the river!

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