Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Morning with the Waterfall

Sitting in this place, you see the water falling, and you hear the water crashing... then, quiet, you wonder deeply, and you ask, "Why can I not see the falling and hear the crashing at once?"

Now you are filled with realization, yes, but emptied of the waterfall altogether.

How can you hold them both?

A brisk breeze blows through your hair...

It is a peaceful place. Bring your problems here and sit with the waterfall. Can both your problems and the waterfall exist at once?

When the pollen is gone, both nostrils will be clear, and you will breathe freely.

The concrete is still. The water flows.  It is indeed a peaceful place.


Anonymous said...

I thought I WAS hearing and seeing them together.
Was that an illusion?

Ordinary Joe said...

It's a very interesting phenomenon that largely goes unnoticed. The waterfall is all there, completely, of course, right in front of you in all of its majesty. Point your mind toward the sound for a even just a moment, though, and what happens to the rest of the universe? Notice details about the visual; what happens to the sound?

We had skylights where we last practiced. On sunny days, little squares on the mats below them would heat up significantly (but not uncomfortably). I would have the students take a break and sit around the squares, placing one hand inside the square and one hand outside. I'd then direct them to focus all of their attention on one hand and then shift the attention to the other.

Nothing else changes---only the shift in attention.

It's something you have to play with and really experience, but it's very applicable to everyday life and to martial arts practice ;-)

As for the waterfall, even if you can figure out how to take it all in in front of you, what' happening behind you? :-)

Anonymous said...

That's an exercise I actually like to do - usually when out in the yard, where there is not only sight and sound but wind, temperature, and scent - and focusing on one thing then bringing in another and then another without losing any of the first. Since our neural systems ARE capable of it - we simply are accustomed to auto-filtering - its really not something I find that hard to do.
OTOH, when I'm "thinking" a lot its not uncommon for me to sprawl into a chair or couch and only minutes later realize that my foot or leg or shoulder is at an incredibly stupid angle or position and it is about to HURT. Doh!

Ordinary Joe said...

I like your "thinking" example!

As for the consciously adding one more thing exercise (if I can call it that), it's very interesting to me as well. There's a subtle step that can be an obstacle. Consider that the waterfall is already there in every way that you can perceive---and who knows how many ways that you cannot. Already you have full awareness of everything that is possible for you, right up until the moment that you do not. Can a conscious effort / thought exercise return you to what was unconsciously there before thought?

Naturally, this is not to say thought is good or bad; rather, as part of training, I like students to consider how thought affects their Aikido :-)