Monday, July 26, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Office...

Sitting around on the internet, drinking my coffee, I realized it was time to go to work.

No one coming? K-turn and head up the road. Radio this morning? Nah... Whoa! Is that guy going to stop?! Ahhh, good.  Traffic light... any response to that email? Whoops--green light. How about a koan? I was considering this one just the other night... Traffic?! Where'd that come from? There's my exit... Pothole--dodge right. Pothole--swerve left.

And suddenly there I was, in my usual spot, plus or minus a few spaces, in the parking lot, in front of the office.

How did that happen?

It's quite ordinary and yet entirely miraculous. With or without thought, a myriad of things happened: I breathed, my heart pumped, coffee digested, bacteria created gas, all of my senses functioned, thoughts came and went---and, in the aggregate, I drove a big, deadly rolling machine to work without incident.

Sometimes with Aikido beginners I hold open my open hand, turn to it, and scream directly at it, "CLOSE!!!" Somehow, in spite of my most forceful insistence, my hand does not close. And when the giggling subsides, the other hand draws their attention to the first, and as they watch, without a word, the hand closes.

How can this be?

Was it thought that closed the hand?

Was it thought that took me all of the way from the living room to the office?

This is not to say that thought cannot be involved, but was thought driving? The thought to check my email almost had me miss the traffic light... or maybe it's better to say that following my thought to my phone, and following on to my email almost had me miss the light... but, then again, perhaps it's best to say that I almost missed the light because I thought I was supposed to go through it on my way to work, since if the most important thing was to check for that email, work would never have been on my mind at all.

It was time to go to work; suddenly, I was there. In between? Stuff---none of it work-related at all, except perhaps the thought that I'd rather not go to work at all!

What would have had me change direction and end up anyplace else? A flat tire--undoubtedly because I was distracted by an email that might be there? An emergency call from home? The thought that I'd rather not go there or I'd rather go somewhere else? Even if I deliberate and announce the decision to take a different path, is that what changes my direction?

That kind of thinking was not even powerful enough to close my hand...

So, what is this, and how does it apply to our training and to our lives?
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