William James, in 1894, said:
“A thing may be presented to a man a hundred times, but if he persistently fails to notice it, it cannot be said to enter his experience”
Which may explain The Varieties of Religious Experience, isn’t it?
William James, in 1894, said:
“A thing may be presented to a man a hundred times, but if he persistently fails to notice it, it cannot be said to enter his experience”
Which may explain The Varieties of Religious Experience, isn’t it?
Table of Contents (目次 Eyes-Next )
Chapter 1: The Inscription Sitting-to-our-Right 座右の銘 (Our Motto)
Chapter 3: The Ki-Merging Path 氣に合するの道 (Aikido 合氣道)
Chapter 4: Mind-Body Integrated-as-One 心身統一
Chapter 5: The One-Point Below-the-Navel 臍下の一点
Chapter 6: Relax リラックス
Chapter 7: Falling-quiet Reaching-stability 落ち着き (Calming-Down)
Chapter 8: Positive Human-Life プラスの人生
Chapter 9: Sunk-in-a-Place Meaning-Knowing 潜在意識 (Subconscious Awareness)
Chapter 10: The Principle of non-Conflict 争わざるの理 (The Principle of non-Competition)
Chapter 11: The Root-Quality of Ki 氣の本質
Chapter 12: The Ki Method of Body-Manipulation 氣の体操法 (Ki Gymnastics)
Chapter 13: Quiet-Movement One-Match 静動一致 (Dynamic-Static Consistency)
Chapter 14: The Un-Moving Mind-heart 不動心 (NOT unmoved!)
Chapter 15: The Ki Method of Calling-out-Taking-in 氣の呼吸法 (=The Ki Method of Breathing)
Chapter 16: The Ki Method of Pressure 氣圧法
Chapter 17: The Spirit-Like Mind-heart 霊性心 (the Spirit (霊) is aligned (並) with the Rain (雨))
Chapter 18: The Path-Seeking Mind-heart 求道心 (Centri-Petal Force = Center-Seeking Force 求心力)
Chapter 19: The Power of Thought 念の力 (Thought refers to Attention made up of Now (今) Mind-heart (心))
Chapter 20: Virtue-in-the-Shadows 陰徳
Chapter 21: The Path of Explaining 説道
Chapter 22: The Ki Test 氣のテスト
Post scriptum: This will be continuously updated as I climb up and down in dialogue with each step.
At this point, you may feel that it’s already too late to stop. You may be thinking right now:
“After giving so much of yourself to these dialogues, which seem to converge on a notion of truth and religion, this is becoming rather dangerous”.
Hitting upon the truth could be dangerous because there are several comfortable lies (or comfortable memes), false notions which a lot of people would rather still entertain, unfortunately.
I feel that I’ve gone far enough to earn myself the ire of many other people.
I do this with the knowledge that the dialogue will be very short, between me and these people.
I still hope that you can acknowledge that what I call “your comfortable lie” is a dialogue you have with yourself and not with me; the dialogue with me would be slightly different. I know that
the dialogue with me involves me throwing down (nageru 投げる) some ideas from your comfortable life.
Telling people something that is true always involves a certain risk and you get a bit worried:
Can everybody take it?
Or perhaps I’m crazy… That’s another possibility. If I’m crazy then you don’t need to worry about what I say:
This guy talks to himself so much, he’s obviously not normal.
Here you go, that’s your get-out-of-jail-pass (the jail of my dialogues): I’m insane.
It’s interesting that we think ourselves quite knowledgeable about insane people.
Let me tell you (as someone who thinks he’s insane in some respects) that your sanity and
the definition that you attach to sanity are cropped up from the dialogues you’ve had with many other people.
Is it sane to jump from a bridge? It depends, of course, but, in general, people would agree that it’s not a good idea. You might be bungee-jumping, then calling this sane or insane depends on how much risk you can take.
Am I offering the same kind of bet? That by hearing about some true meanings, you’d be jumping off a bridge?
I’m building this from scratch and I am insane in some ways.
Insanely preoccupied with finding the meaning, not only of my life, but also of any human being.
Why do I do this? Because I like to think of myself as a rational being: Reasoned insanity.
Incidentally, in case you’re wondering about my username, it means “the nutty guy” al zarghit.
Gone. The lights are on, but nobody’s home.
I think everyone is crazy in their own way.
I’m telling you that the truth pursued by an insane person could be accessed by everybody through a short dialogue with themselves, where they’re true to themselves and honest with themselves about certain comfortable lies which we have about ourselves and which should be discarded.
Comfortable lies such as
We are good people, we are not responsible for the bad stuff which happens around us; we are not responsible to do anything in this world except to move along and entertain ourselves from time to time.
Entertainment is good, laughter is good, but entertainment alone (as the norm is now) puts us in a quandary.
What kind of a quandary do we find ourselves in when so much entertainment is available just around the corner of the next click?
The danger is that
But we know our truth, we know why we’re alive, and we know the meaning of our lives.
Well, what is it?
Who’s asking this question? Only an insane person, of course. Al zarghit.
Why do I talk about this? Why do I feel that the silences and the dialogues which I had in my head should/need be shared?
Because I think that we need a new religion,
a new way of thinking about how to live in this world and to remember the meaning of our being in this world.
I feel that I can be a teacher, and that anybody can be a teacher.
What kind of teacher? A teacher who explains the way.
Quoting from memory, if you’ll allow me (Tohei Koichi (藤平光一) No. 21 The Way of Explaining (説道)):
He who thinks only of his own Self-Interest cannot Become-Settled in the Great Way.
If you have Met-Acquired the Great Way of Sky-Earth,
If you have become Aware of the Principle of Sky and Earth,
This you must Always make-Known to the People of the World,
That is the Meaningful-Task that has been Given to you by the Sky and the Earth.
Begone the thought that We don’t have the Power to Help People.
One-Day Learning means One-Day Teaching.
This World is Full of People who have Lost their Way and who Suffer in their Minds.
Let us Use up All Our Power in Explaining what is Right to the People and for the People.
So I like to think of myself as a teacher, up to a point of course.
Why only up to a point? Because I’m also insane and also lost sometimes. However, I belong to the minority of people
We can all walk this way.
We want to be sure. We want to feel like
I know what I’m doing; I control every gesture, every word, the tone of my voice.
I’m hitting the right notes.
We want to think that we’re doing everything right. Only children are allowed to say “I don’t know how to brush my teeth” or “I don’t know how to wash my face”.
Most of what we do in our everyday life consists of automatic motions which do not normally enter our awareness. Imagine how overwhelmed you’d be if you were aware of every little process you’re running.
Consider a computer analogy: When the processor is overwhelmed, you press Control-Alt-Delete to display the task manager to see what processes you have to stop running.
It’s the same with the mind: Whose voice, whose subprogram or process are you running?
Is it the Internet browser? Is it the music player? Is it a movie? Is it a memory?
Are you going to run a new program and start talking with yourself?
You finally get to hear yourself (again), when you’re truly alone…
It’s amazing how strong is this need to use a smart phone even in the toilet nowadays. It’s an amazing new way of tuning in with other people. Or it feels that way.
On the other hand, why are you trying to reach these [let’s say] 200 people that might see/hear what you write/say? Of course you can decide the size of your audience. It depends on how well you’ve edited your “Friends”.
The next question in this social-network dialogue is “Whose voice am I going to listen to?”
If you listen to yourself, you can almost hear the questions (you imagine) others are asking you:
Who am I? What am I doing? What’s important in my life? What is the purpose?
What will I do if (and this is something that you have to take into consideration in Japan and increasingly across the warming planet) a disaster is going to wipe me out tomorrow?
How would I have lived? Also, how would I deal with that disaster?
How do you ride out a major geological event, which affects the physical structure of the universe around you?
It was while trying to answer these questions that I discovered aikido (合氣道 ki-merging path):
You simply go into the ki (氣) and the way (道).
I explain aikido in English, but this is aimed at a wider audience also. I am talking to an English-speaking audience that wants to make the effort to understand a philosophy which provides a method for living one’s life.
|Morihei Ueshiba||盛平植芝||Founder of Aikido|
|Tohei Koichi||藤平光一||Founder of Mind-Body-Into-One (shinshin-toitsu) Aikido|
Mostly I will be talking about shinshin-toitsu (心身統一 Mind-Body Into-One) aikido (Ki-Merging Path).
Aikido itself is only about 100 years old, yet the Ki-Merging Path has been developed from ancient martial arts (budo or bujutsu 武道 or 武術), wherein we have bu for “warrior” (bu-shi 武士; samurai is another reading of the second character). Hence, “the Way of the Warrior” (bushido 武士道) and “the Art of the Warrior” (bujutsu 武術).
Now, if you’re a warrior, who are you going to battle when you happen to live in the 21st-century and you have a smart phone?
The government? Yes, the government; if you live in a country like Egypt or Romania [where inequality and corruption are rampant].
What about Japan? Nobody thinks about fighting the government in Japan:
The government is there to provide basic services. Don’t worry about them.
Except when they’re building nuclear power plants using old generation reactors next to your house. We need to accept our small place in Nature. Where are we? We’re in Japan, where people check both weather and earthquake information daily.
Back to bujutsu (武術 the art of the warrior) and aikido (合氣道 ki-merging path). Both draw heavily from Buddhism (Zen-Buddhism especially).
Zen-Buddhist monks were those spending a long time traveling, learning everything with a passion that we in the West have reserved for whipping the body into submission (in imitation of Christ-on-the-cross).
What is Zen-Buddhism (禅宗 Meditation-Religion)? It’s a belief in this system of energy all around us which can be perceived by your consciousness, but whose details tend to escape us.
People will argue about tradition and the importance of maintaining that tradition (disclaimer: I was baptized as a Christian Orthodox). We frown upon new religions (“sects” or “cults”) and we look down on apostasy and converts.
That being said, “withstanding the test of time” can be interpreted in two ways:
Take away the parts that didn’t work, by accepting that it is not God-given. Whatever it is that Zen-Buddhist masters or Jesus did, it can be improved; hence, kaizen (Change-into-Good 改善).
That’s why Japan can improve. One thing to improve is our acceptance that
man is within Nature, man is with the Way, man is with the Sky and the Earth (天地 tenchi), which meet in this One-Point we have Under our Navel (臍下の一点).
We are part of the world and we are never alone; we are talking with the spirit of the universe all the time, and we just don’t notice it because we think we are the only centre of the universe.
We forget as we’re running so many automatic processes (with our friends, with the TV we watch, with the car we drive, and the teeth we brush):
We forget that there is a right way for all these motions, when your whole mind and body are one (shinshin-toitsu 心身統一).
It’s only then, when mind and body are brought together, that we can move around comfortably.
The way of the warrior is too aggressive; this is why it was changed into aikido. If you learn aikido, you learn ukemi (Receiving-Body 受け身):
You learn that you are not going to attack a person, except to be thrown by that person.
The attacker always loses, this is one of the first lessons in aikido.
The attacker always loses in terms of power because the attacker forces the ki.
Accordingly, when we ask the question
How then do we defend ourselves against evil?
we answer with a question
In aikido we say “from now let us eliminate that which is bad (the opposite of good), eliminate it for good” and then maybe we’re going to have something worth keeping, maybe we’ll have improved a little bit (kaizen) the world.
This is about Reality and Simulations.
This dichotomy (Reality vs. Simulation) is a good tool to understand the world that we live in because the number of Simulations has increased exponentially in the last couple of years, while Reality (Nature) is something significantly less experienced.
Urbanisation (everybody moving into the cities leaving only minorities to live in rural areas) is characteristic of industrialised societies which come very near to losing all contact with Reality (Nature).
More people become isolated in their little apartments (like I am, for example) fitted out to live comfortably in Simulations: Air-conditioned rooms, convenient washing machine, “natural sunlight” lamps…
Things to wear, things to sleep in, things to keep you warm at night, things to cook from and things to eat from.
All of these things are now (or we think that they should be) within everybody’s reach.
This way we can simulate Reality in a lot of places. You can simulate fire by pressing a button on the oven: You’re only pressing a button, you don’t need to do much.
The Simulations are now so deeply embedded in our lives that we don’t notice them; we think that they’re part of Reality.
They’re not. Well, they haven’t been until about 50 years ago.
Let’s set the clock to the time when the TV set begins to appear in living rooms, along with every other electrical appliance: 1950s America / Western Europe.
Electricity allows us to speed things up; steam is a bit slower.
We started to use electricity on a mass scale about 50 years ago, even though it feels very natural to us.
That’s how much we’ve accelerated and electricity feels so basic that we forgot it’s a Simulation of Reality.
A really difficult Simulation to achieve in Reality: We’re imitating a spark, right?
We observed fire in nature and started to use fire to make steam, then perhaps somebody thought “Well, if the lightning (electricity discharge) lit the fire, then maybe electricity can be used [as a source of energy] as well”. Remember lucky Benjamin Franklin and his lightning rod.
We’ve used fire to make steam to get our energy and even now we’re still burning things to get our energy, but we forget what is the original source since it comes to us through a wire:
Everyone is now connected with lines of electricity.
Our place right now (the Reality in which we are right now) is full of helpful Simulations.
A lot of the things that we learn, we learn them from a computer screen.
I think you can even learn a foreign language sitting down in front of the computer screen, whereas 100 years ago you had to go around and try to talk with the people who spoke the language: You had to be physically present in those areas where the language was spoken.
Information access: It’s at our fingertips.
Nonetheless, this knowledge is not available to most users because there are too many Simulations perceived as Reality, because there is:
1. too much to fully grasp &
2. too much to be comfortable with.
Let us consider how Reality and Simulations differ.
No grand designer in nature.
There have been certain laws of nature, which have produced us, and we’ve created some other rules, giving us the feeling that these rules are also part of Reality, but they’re only part of a Simulated Reality.
All the rules and laws are based on knowledge (information) about how one can simulate (and deal with) Reality.
In a Simulation you could be so absorbed that you wouldn’t notice it until Reality kicks back in the form of an accident.
Let’s say that you’re vacuum cleaning your house in a perfect Simulation (i.e., a computer game):
You click on all the places you want cleaned and there’s always a clear set of movements to be followed and everything goes nice and smoothly. Done. Never a glitch.
Now, let’s say that you’re vacuum cleaning your house in Reality; bear in mind that you’re still not fully anchored in Reality because the vacuum cleaner is also based on a Simulation:
You press a button, the electrons arrange themselves and (presto) you have the power to suck with air all the stuff that’s disturbing you in the space that you have, also designed by somebody else.
How can you tell the difference? You can identify Reality when it bursts your Simulation bubble with a plastic bag which clogs your vacuum cleaner and makes you realise:
“Oh no, this is Reality, this is not programmed”.
How do you deal with this problem?
Notice that, if it’s a perfect Simulation, the Simulation designers would give you several options:
The crucial element in a perfect Simulation is that, if the designers have bothered to introduce a problem in the Simulation, then it has some significance and there must be a solution:
Just click around some more!
So you do something about it, perhaps clean the filter, try to remove it by yourself, it depends on what options the Simulation offers you.
On the other hand, if this happens in Reality, this is only an accident.
You don’t think it has meaning (i.e., significance): It’s an accident!
You start feeling like “Oh, bummer!” It’s a mistake that you’ve made when you vacuum-cleaned the plastic bag.
Reality appears as a mistake because it breaks your illusion of a Simulation running smoothly. It shatters your feelings of power and control over Reality.
Of course you don’t control this power! You just happen to think that you can control it. Don’t forget to say thank you to Edison and everybody else who made it possible to power that piece of electrical equipment in your house.
This doesn’t mean we have to go back to the Stone Age.
It just means we have to realise that we are running some risks when we live too much with Simulations.
What are the risks? If we insist on controlling Nature and seeing it as an occasional accident spoiling our carefully-laid plans, we are in fact running away from Reality when we don’t face our simulations as Simulations. When we refuse to see what they do in our lives and how they affect our psychology.
How different it is to think
“Oh, God, I have to waste more time fixing this and I don’t know how; who should I call?”
as opposed to
a short moment of insight, an epiphany that you live in a world full of wonder, full of magic, full of things that have been crafted for you by innumerable hands…
So we need to give something back and we need to make sure that in making these things we aren’t destroying something infinitely more important and more valuable.
Is the electricity coming into your house obtained by burning the planet?
If the answer is “yes”
How much can we keep burning?
If the answer is “not a lot”
What are we doing to stop burning?
If we need to switch soon
What technologies do we have at our disposal that don’t burn the planet?
Those are the questions, but the first “technology” is us because we don’t normally know much about energy generating technologies.
How many people know how to operate a power plant that involves burning gas or I don’t know what? So we need to start at home:
Go easy on consumption. Stop treating yourself like a King or a Queen, no matter where you are.
Remember to be grateful for what you have.
Don’t search for perfect stability, perfect safety and perfect security because it doesn’t exist and it shouldn’t exist (in Reality).
If you feel that perfect stability/safety/security exists, that’s just because of your wilful ignorance of others.
This is my message to everybody out there who wants to live comfortably in Simulations:
Come back to Reality! Come back from all that for a moment, for a couple of hours.
You don’t have to leave the Simulations forever, you can soon go back to a comfortable Simulation.
I am also living in comfortable Simulations since I’m probably using too much water every day.
However, I am trying to become aware of the consequences of my actions in Reality.
I’m trying and I hope you’re trying too.
The more people try, the more chances we have to make it better.
Not perfect, remember, just better: kaizen (Change-into-Good 改善).
WARNING: I am now turning to religion(s). If you are not open to discussing religion and calling into question certain tenets, you should probably stop reading/listening here.
This is a comment on Romanian jokes (bancuri), which are probably shared across Eastern Europe and may have something to do with Yiddish culture.
Every Romanian feels (for some reason) a compulsion to tell jokes; I haven’t met a Romanian who didn’t know a joke.
It is virtually impossible not to know a joke. Even if you don’t tell jokes, you would have overheard one. Toata lumea stie un banc, toata lumea a auzit un banc. Everybody heard somebody else telling a joke to another person (or a group).
Why? Why do we think like this? We think politics is a big joke.We have all these jokes that are political in nature, which seem to have an underground sort of meaning, which should escape surface censorship. Consider the following:
What’s the difference between Communism and Capitalism?
In Capitalism, we have the exploitation of man by man.
What about in Communism?
In Communism it’s the other way around.
That would be a joke and your reaction is: “What does it mean? That there is no difference? Why don’t you just say so?”
We don’t just spit it out because it doesn’t take you very far. When you tell this joke, a connection is made between two arguments, but it doesn’t stop at this point: “Communism and Capitalism are the same (as far as the average person is concerned)”.
It pulls at us to question the validity of the explanation “the exploitation of man by man”; it makes us ask:
What does “exploitation of man by man” mean? Is it slavery? Yes, it is slavery.
What kind of slavery? Maybe it’s different. Is it the same thing?
Romanian humour has a certain political-thought-philosophy undercurrent: What is “freedom”?
So it’s a short joke, a couple of lines, and it’s in question-and-answer format. We think that jokes are essential to understand what goes on in the world, to explain how the world works. We have all these characters who behave in certain predictable ways, specific for each of the various nationalities.
Jokes (for Romanians) are all about revealing deeper meanings of how things work. However, Romanians nowadays have become superficial because we don’t pursue a thread of thought (firul gandirii) further; we just stop at laughing (“Oh, I got it!”), we stop to enjoy a short fleeting moment of pleasure.
Why do we like to laugh so much? Because life (in Eastern Europe) is pretty sad.
An Eastern European touched (or clubbed over the head) by Russian culture (from Dostoevsky to Stalin) knows that life is sad, that the condition of being alive is full of opportunities to be, become, or remain sad.
You have to laugh while you can still laugh. How do you laugh? You laugh by showing some understanding of Reality, by showing that you grasp some part of this Reality. But it’s never everything!
You always grasp some part, but then you have to burst out laughing when you recall how silly it is to presume to grasp it all.
The person who laughs doesn’t really say anything anymore.
If you ask somebody a question and they just laugh, it could mean that there is no answer, that the question is wrong. It could mean that your question itself is ridiculous, that it doesn’t have any meaning.
It could mean that the ultimate answer is just Nothing-Coming-back (mu-henji 無返事) that could be interpreted in any way you’d want. The smile of Buddha, right?
It’s strange that many divine figures go silent but smile at some crucial point when they’re asked a difficult question by the disciples.
Consider the koan (Public-Proposal 公案) practice, the famous Zen one-sentence zipping you out of this reality by making you realise the truth (what reality?).
Are Romanian jokes and koan somehow related? Not really. They’re of a very different kind, but they both serve to help people deal with their reality in their respective societies.
Communism appeared in Romania, in a society which believes that sadness is an essential part of being alive. Making fun and laughing helps you as a Romanian deal with this sad world.
On the other hand, koan are questions or short stories meant to make you Think about the Proposal.
*If you listen to the voice recording, you know that I’ve erred believing it’s koan (考案 Think-Proposal) instead of the correct koan (公案 Public-Proposal).
In a koan, the zen master knows the answer to the student’s question, but the master is not divine. Remember that Buddha was an Indian prince before becoming Buddha: Human originally, one of us and not divine. He became divine.
Mind the direction:
Not divinity descending down on Earth into a human like us, but rather divinity reached upwards, from a human in our condition, exactly like us (living in another time).
The direction is different in the Mediterranean cultures (Greek, Roman, Judeo-Christian & Islamic) since the divine is projected downwards into one point on Earth. Divinity could mean one God coming down on Earth, although it depends on how you count:
Do we count Christ, God and the Holy Ghost as one? Or not? There are some differences on this point. What about Moses and Mohammed and the other guys? Do we count them as divine?
The apostles and the prophets were human and reached up to apostle-hood or prophet-status, but keep in mind that God is not human: He (She?) becomes human.
In the Orient, we start with the human who later becomes divine; now everybody else could reach divinity, by following.
That’s the difference between Buddhism and Christianity (and, by extension, monotheistic religions in general) as far as I can grasp it. I’ve read some of our holy texts and there are aspects I cannot understand, aspects which don’t make sense in light of what we now know.
Now, if you read sutras (御経 in Japanese; o-kyo Respected-Songs) and you compare them with what we have (i.e., the Bible), it strikes you immediately that our books (the Old Testament and New Testament) are called the Old-Contract and the New-Contract.
The Bible sounds like a business transaction as opposed to “somebody who experienced the same things and made songs about them” (経 means “Passing through something”, as seen in the combination keiken (経験 Passing-Tests), usually translated as “experience”).
Do we start with a human from among other humans like him?
Or do we start from a God in the sky projected as a beam on earth, a God temporarily housed into a human being? Doesn’t it sound as unnatural as you can think of? Still a virgin, right? How strange is that?
This incomprehensible aspects are those that prove His divinity. We start with the proof in Christianity.
What’s the proof of divinity in Buddhism?
The fact that this person has done something during his life and has come to know something.
Do we call this “divinity”? Is it the same kind of divinity that we are talking about? No, it’s different.
Both are called religions, both are called sacred, but they are different because the direction is different.
You could say that Buddhism started from a more familiar experience to any of us, that of being an ordinary human.
However, if you feel that you’re part of the divine, that a divine spark has been blown into you, then you start from the other side.
That being said, in our day and age (following the scientific revolution), we feel that the divine spark hypothesis is pretty shaky.
We had something called evolution and that is a different explanation. Personally, I don’t think that the snake was punished to have to crawl on the ground and be hunted (Genesis 3:14). I think the snake just evolved that way, into the kind of animal it currently is.
Do you agree with me? Do you think that the body of the snake evolved to be what it is? Or was it punished by God?
What does Buddhism say about the snake? There’s probably some ridiculous explanation about this in Buddhism as well, their books were written thousands of years ago.
Buddha lived some 600 years before Christ, but the songs were (of course) compiled much later.
The Pāli Canon (Pali: Tipitaka) is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the most complete extant early Buddhist canon. It was composed in North India, and preserved orally until it was committed to writing during the Fourth Buddhist Council in Sri Lanka in 29 BCE, approximately 454 years after the death of Gautama Buddha.
That would be another story and it’s older. Would these Buddhist texts have influenced Jesus, if he had known about them?
Mohammed knew about Jesus, and he was influenced by that, obviously, 600 years later.
Is there a certain time at which religious figures appear (at 600 years intervals) to change our perception of what divinity is?
Jesus changed it for some people; Mohammed changed it for some other people.
Is it better or is it worse? I don’t know, to tell you the truth; it’s not for me to decide, it’s for you to decide.
I am here to tell you that there are other ways in which people have interacted with what we call Divinity in English (Western culture), with what we call the Sacred Awakened One in Buddhism, with the one that was believed to strike down with lightning in Greek culture.
How was the world formed? Was it by dipping a halberd (naginata 長刀) into the primordial waters and watching the drops fall to form the Japanese archipelago (chain of islands), like pearls dropped into the sea, from Izanagi and Izanami’s fight?
(Actually, no fight, just churning the waters with the naginata Long-Sword.)
Do you know Japanese religious dogma?
The elder gods delegated the youngest couple Izanagi and Izanami to carry out their venerable mandate: to reach down from heaven and give solid form to the earth. This they did with the use of a precious stone-covered spear named Ame-no-nuboko (天沼矛, “heavenly jewelled spear”), given to them by the elders. Standing over the Ame-no-ukihashi (天浮橋, “floating bridge of heaven”), they churned the chaotic mass with the spear. When drops of salty water fell from the tip, they formed into the first island, Onogoroshima. In forming this island, both gods came down from heaven, and spontaneously built a central support column called the Ame-no-mihashira (天御柱, “heavenly pillar”) which upheld the “hall measuring eight fathoms” that the gods caused to appear afterwards
Then they initiated conversation inquiring of each other’s bodily anatomy, leading to a mutual decision to mate and procreate:
Izanagi: How has your body been made?
Izanami: My body is fully formed, except for a part which has not quite grown.
Izanagi: My body is fully formed, except I have a part that has grown too much. If I place the part of my body that has grown too much, and plug the part of your body not yet grown, we will procreate lands and dominions. What say you to this?
Izanami accepted the offer and Izanagi proposed that both should circle around the column Ame-no-mihashira in opposite directions, Izanami going right and Izanagi left and on meeting each other would perform sexual intercourse (maguwai (麻具波比))
That may sound slightly different from our normal dialogues and that’s why I am talking here to let you know that in Romania we have been using jokes to connect with this divine reality which we call Laughter.
Laughter has become a god among Romanians, since it is the ultimate winner in every debate. But there are different kinds of laughter:
There is the laughter of disapproval, the dismissive laughter, the sarcastic laughter, the crude-barbaric laughter, the hearty laughter, laughing from the stomach. Laughter which emerges from joy, laughter which emerges from discovering the answer to a riddle, or something that tickles our imagination in a certain way.
The true laughter: The laughter from a beam of understanding, passing between humans.
Yes, I tend to stand on the Zen Buddhist side.
There is a problem with this concept of “Dialogue” that comes up when we consider Automatic Subconscious Procedures (ASPs), which used to be dialogues and which are now transformed into smooth interactions that are only brought back into consciousness when something goes wrong.
Imagine yourself walking and then tripping over a loose block in the pavement. The dialogue that you have with the rest of your body (giving commands to your feet to move in certain ways) goes on as an ASP, until you trip:
and then you have a dialogue with the rock that you tripped over or the chair that obstructed your way.
For each dialogue we assign a certain interval of time, which we think of as the proper time defined as a period of time sufficient to carry out a certain action.
Accordingly, when you run an ASP, you have something like a time label attached which says:
Okay, I’m going to press this button and it’s going to open the Internet browser in 1.2 seconds (the label says).
What if it’s two minutes? That would be too long, right? That would be the wrong time label.
These time labels which we have had in our pockets for whatever we do when we run an ASP, these time labels are now measured in seconds, sometimes even milliseconds.
Our own reaction time is probably in the hundreds of milliseconds range and, nowadays, we have come to expect the world to respond to our actions with equal alacrity.
Action and reaction, a Dialogue.
When you press the remote control button, you don’t think it’s going to be two minutes until something responds. You expect it’s going to happen right away. If not, then you’re out of batteries or the TV is broken.
We are now used to everything happening at the speed of light, but these interactions with the world used to be measured in seasons (planting something).
Can you imagine how different the thinking of a farmer is compared with modern man in terms of when he expects to get what he wants?
Nowadays, if you want to warm yourself or if you want to take a bath, you press the heater button, or the AC button, or you turn on the boiler.
In the past, this used to take (at least) as long as it would take you to gather the wood, start the fire, burn the wood, put the water in a container to heat it up. (Did you even own a pot to use for boiling?).
The time intervals used to be much longer: minutes, hours and even years…
Most of us, modern people, feel that in our everyday life, in getting what we need (our resources), this is supposed to happen as soon as the electrons travel through the switch into the device.
What does this involve in terms of our psychology, in terms of our wants, in terms of what we expect that will / should happen in the next moment?
It means that if you live in an industrialised country, you’re somebody who’s always rushing, like those electrons just whizzing through circuits: That’s how we expect things to happen.
Once we had this idea that the sun, the god Sun is in a boat, rowing across the Sky:
How slow is the rowing motion as opposed to the speed of light: thousands-of-kilometres-per-second?
This impacts our psychology, frames our desires, and delineates our standard operating procedures whenever we interact with the world.
Nonetheless, if we go back to the essential dialogues, the dialogues we used to have with ourselves, we realise that the time label is an entirely subjective and selfish (meaning self-centred) label because you forget about all the work that a lot of people put into allowing the connections to be made as fast as they are.
We forget about all the work that went into building all these switches, all these memory chips, all the cables, all the programming language that make it possible for you to press a button and connect to the Internet.
We forget about all these when we expect it to happen in 1.3 seconds, because we don’t have time:
We rush to press another button, and the maximum delay we can tolerate is another 1.3 seconds, tops.
When the delay is longer, we don’t pause to think:
“Wow, what an amazing feat humanity has achieved in producing this device or artefact”.
It’s only by going back to the dialogue format that we become aware of what’s around us, truly around us.
Why is this awareness necessary? It is necessary in order to be able to calm down occasionally, to slow down.
Why is this slowing down necessary, why can’t we just keep on going faster? Because we are not equipped physiologically speaking, biologically speaking, to accelerate at the rate we are right now.
We are still animals, living according to biological rhythms, and these rhythms are measured in days (the circadian rhythm, right?), months and years.
We need to remember our place in the world, we need to remember our physical bodies with which we’re having a constant dialogue, even when we are surrounded by clever artefacts that make our life so much easier, so much more comfortable.
Comfort leads ultimately into oblivion, into complete forgetfulness of what is actually happening:
We only know what we expect, we don’t know anymore what we are actually doing.
Remember the waves of the ocean, the wind through the trees; this is the world we live in, not that of electrons and particles and neutrinos, although some of us have harnessed their power for our own ends.
There are too many of us who are just users, just trying to get more comfortable, while the great majority of us (humans and animals) are suffering as a result of our wilful ignorance, while the great majority are being punished for our search for more comfort and convenience.
The more comfortable a minority becomes, the less resources are left for those for whom we have little regard, those who still want to (or have no choice but to) live according to the natural rhythm, those who have not caught up with this technology-driven society most of us live in.
Press a button, relax… press the stop button and relax.