"No Wind, No Waves"

A proverb within my latest "fortune" cookie. 

I took the time to meditate on this one. So simple, it's meaning rather clear, yet seldom practiced. What do I mean by practiced? How often do we really "go with the flow"? Moving forwards or backwards with truly no expectations? In our everyday actions, in our everyday lives, we get stuck - we stagnate - often out of fear and often out of focus. Fear to act in order for a goal to be reached and even more often we become so fixated on a goal, on some end result, we simply can't change gears in fear of losing sight of it. Zen Master Glassman in the book "The Dude and the Zen Master" likened this stagnation to the well known rhyme:

Row, row, row your boat,
gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Glassman comments "Imagine that you're rowing down a stream and you're trying to figure out how to do it. Do I first row with the right oar and then with the left, or is it the other way around? What should my shoulder do...?...And while he's hung up with all those questions, the stream is pulling him on and on. So you want to row, row, row your boat - gently. Don't make a whole to-do about it." It's all too common in the modern day, with information overload, with little to no patience, that we want a skill mastered, a goal reached, or a service done in the hear-and-now without being conscious of our own self in the moment.

In order to move from point A to be B there must time, consideration, and patience. The same can be said in conducting business, practicing martial arts, and looking after your health. You want to go from 0 to 10 without understanding the process? Pop a pill and you're done? It's not possible. In fact, anything or anyone telling you otherwise is a facade, a mirage.

"One day, Zhuangzi lectured Huizi hour upon hour about the Dao. Huizi stood up and yelled "Trivial! Inconsequential! Everything you've said is completely useless!
Zhuangzi said "Good, now that you understand uselessness, we can talk about usefulness. For instance, you're really only using this little piece of ground you're standing on, right? But if we cut away the rest of the ground around it...how useful is it?" Zhuang continued... "Therefore: usefulness is built on a foundation of uselessness. If there is no uselessness, then there is no usefulness.""

This is the nature of what is substantial and insubstantial, real or false, yin or yang. In the end one cannot exist without the other. This is process, this is practice, this is how, as Glassman might add, we get to "the other shore". The other shore may be our goal, it may be our happiness, it can be whatever it is we want to change in our lives, our world. Without practice, patience, and consciousness, there can be no wind to create a wave. And if we expect that wind to create the right wave, the right movement and the right direction then in itself this expectation may never be met and we will begin to stagnate once again as we tried to fight what is naturally occurring. 


In Good Health,

David White Classical Acupuncture

Meditation and Reduction...

Over the New Year break I was lucky enough to once again travel to the serene highlands of Tasmania for a trek and some quiet time by a beautiful lake. Often in clinic I am asked about meditation, what methods I use, and how to overcome the initial stages of feeling like one can’t simply sit or even be still. When I first started learning meditation methods, I did so through the practice of movement and martial arts. Stillness cultivated through non-stillness. To this day I still practice this way. Walking through the central highlands of Tasmania over tough mountains with a heavy pack, for me, IS the meditation.

After such treks I insure that I have proper down time. This is stillness cultivated through stillness. Sitting and observing still water is one of the essential steps towards innate understanding of self. As I sat looking at the reflections of the water, a fly-fisherman standing statue-like in the water, and watching the subtle changes of the water’s surface I was brought back to some great observations by Laozi and Zhuangzi.

“All things are together in action,
but I look to their non-action.”

 Laozi 16.

 Similarly we must look to action to observe non-action as one is unable to exist without the other. Looking to the stillness of water and the gentle movements of the fly-fisherman, Zhuangzi 15 comes to mind. Levels of self-realistion, enlightenment, being, and understanding are discussed at length. Thompson lists them as such:

 1.     The scholar in the mountain valley who is a sullen social critic.

2.     The scholar in society who devotes himself to teaching and learning.

3.     The scholar in court and councils who serves his sovereign and state.

4.     The scholar of the rivers and seas who withdraws from the world, and idles and fishes.

5.     The scholar who devotes himself to practicing yoga and breathing exercises (neigong).

6.     The sage who transcends yet subsumes the other levels.

Interestingly it is the fisherman who comes closer to understanding Dao and self than those in study or in society due to the proximity to nature and above all water. Withdrawal from society and inward reflection is best achieved essentially where humans are unable to go. In this way one turns their gaze inwards.

By no means is this easy in today’s world. Most places are already occupied, livings need to made, things accumulated, lives need to be lead, right? Well it is true. So how are we supposed to then find such stillness amidst so much chaos? How are we meant to simply be still, meditate, when so much is needed of us? Laozi 48 says:

“Those who seek learning gain every day
those who seek the Way lose every day
they lose and they lose
until they find nothing to do
nothing to do means nothing not done
those who rule the world aren’t busy
those who are busy
can’t rule the world.”

Step by step reducing daily accumulations allows for a clearer mental state and hence stress free environment. Sure we can study, we can have professions, however, we can also do more with less. Less “things”, less foods, alcohol, sex, drugs, rock and roll and of course, through this we gain. We gain time. We gain peace. And we gain self. Above all, enjoy yourself and have fun :)

In Good Health,

David White Classical Acupuncture