Even a single breath

Where we live is like coming to know our intimate partners. There are lots of things we like about them, and as we live with them longer, some things we don’t. Though when we go traveling, and see other places and ways that other people do things, it’s so refreshing to get back to the one, the place that is known.

Context. It’s all a context, in which we find ourselves. Even to the point of applying the idea of context to context. The words begin to become meaningless. Though everyone knows the familiar. Where our family is.

Where ever we go is home to someone. The real challenge is to see beyond our internal unconscious preferences for the familiar to see what is healthful in what we have accepted as family and what is not.

Many of us know how people we love and value will cling to what is unhealthful, primarily because it is familiar, and therefore somehow, comfortable. Even though it may be the most uncomfortable process to endure- an abusive partner or situation or living space. The comfort of knowing what we can expect surprisingly overrides, much of the time, our own personal standards and what we are willing to tolerate under other circumstances.

So how to break out of the familiar cocoon? It is the willingness to take risks- to push the envelope, to become comfortable and mindful (rather than foolish!) in pushing the envelope- that which envelops us. Breaking out of the chrysalis. To unfold into what we know not.

There was a man, this weekend, that I watched unfold his whiz-bang show. All the participants were dazzled, and he was so earnest. I sat with him after the show and he would not tell me his real name. I could not see him inside the illusion he created. Another soul lost in technology and ambition, full of momentum of what he thought. Rather than finding the the truth of the heart (心), and feelings, at any expense. He had no idea who the master illusionist actually was or how to deal with that archetype that had, at that moment, seemed to have inhabited him, or so it seemed to me.

I read a book (by Bill Porter and Steven R. Johnson. 1993. Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese hermits. San Francisco: Mercury House.) not so long ago that talked about conversations a man who now lives in Washington State (Bill, who is fluent in Mandarin) had with hermits he found (both male and female) in his travels through the mountains of China.

Yes, they said, the Red Guards came and destroyed many of our sacred texts. The deeds to our temples. And then they went away, twenty years ago, and our lives have remained the same. We practice the way we have always practiced. Pilgrims come to talk to us, though we would rather they did not disturb our meditations of daily life.

Life goes on. How do we choose to come to the surface and breathe the fresh air, through the rather considerable turbulence of the context in which we find ourselves? But It Can Be Done.

I walked by the sea this weekend and saw dolphins playing in the waves. Simple as that.

The Cetaceans teach us, endlessly. Those Wise Ones who chose, eons ago, to return to the fluid environment- those who have chosen water rather than air and earth as their context- what can we learn from them?

Perhaps our lesson from them is to become aware that the context that we find ourselves in is actually a flowing context- and when we abandon ourselves to it, we may find, as do the dolphins, that we are rather less stressed, and can actually afford to be playful!-

Except when we blunder into the drift-nets of cognition- where we might just drown, in being caught in thought- and not be able to come up for even a single breath.

©2011 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.

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