Monday, November 30, 2009

three year anniversary

Today marks the three year anniversary of this blog.

Over the course of that period, over 580 essays have been posted. It seems impossible to believe; the effort was an experiment from the beginning, and there was no telling how long it would last, or where it would lead.

The anniversary catches me at a difficult moment, because I am very busy for the next week or so and it is unlikely I will have time to organize any decent thoughts or posts. I will, however, do my best to put something together Wednesday or Thursday night when I am in Georgia.

Tonight, I just want to thank the readership for taking the time to participate and read my material. There are many people all over the world who have followed this effort for weeks, months, and, in some cases, even years. Together, we form a loosely woven network -- a community -- of individuals interested in the ideas which Mr. Gurdjieff left us.

Almost all the people who knew him personally are now dead; it is up to us, those who remain, to carry the work as it stands on. There is no point in fearing that we are not up to the task, for we have it now. All we can do is do our best, and hope that we do not betray either the ideas, or the aim, of this great effort, which is -- as was said not so long ago by a very experienced member of the foundation -- "for all humanity."

On this site, those near the arctic circle can take heart knowing that Brazilians and Colmbians are reading with you. Americans and Frenchmen are reading with Iranians and Croatians. Australians are reading with Canadians and Dutchmen.

We continue, together, to participate in that mystery called life. We don't really know what life is -- the moment that we encounter it is always the most unexpected moment -- and it takes more than we can often muster in order to meet it.

Let us take courage and go forward together, with all of our flaws, our negativity--and the good things that are also in us--offering what we are to the world, and receiving in return.

Traditionally, every year, I change the sign off for this blog and use it for the next year. Regular readers may have noticed that. Today marks the day that I start to use a new sign off for the next year.

This year, I am choosing to sign off in a manner that is quite personal, and intimately related to my own work.

Some may feel that it is too specific for work as general as the work that Mr. Gurdjieff brought us. Others won't. But for some reason my new sign-off reminds me of something I heard a Sufi say in a film several years ago:

"There are Sufis in every religion."

May the living light of Christ discover us.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

blaming the object

In past posts, I've discussed attachment--as it's described by Buddhists--and identification, which was the word Gurdjieff used to describe the phenomenon, as analogous concepts.

Attachment is a concept common to both Buddhism and Christianity. In the Christian faith, attachment is indulgence in what would be called "sins of the flesh," the outer world. In the Philokalia, we are presented with the idea of turning away from the outer, i.e. attachments to the world, and towards the inner. And in Buddhism we also find that attachments are generally considered to be attachments to things of the world.

In pondering this over the past few days, it occurs to me that attachments, or identifications, are provoked by what we would call "things of the world," but in the end they are all exclusively inner phenomena. That is to say, every identification or attachment both arises and exists within ourselves.

This may sound so obvious as to be worthy of a "duh-" but I'm not so sure. I doubt that I truly appreciate how this sits in me.

We might examine the question from the point of view of center of gravity. Every identification represents such a device- a locus around which an inner attitude turns, a fixture which has appropriated the vitality of Being and redefined it. So when we become attached, or identified, our inner attitude has become the weight of the matter. It draws the psyche into it, and instead of "belonging to itself," Being orbits this new, and aberrant, central point. (Incidentally, let us be reminded of Gurdjieff's idea of Chief Feature here, and ponder it a bit.)

Extending the analogy of the inner solar system (one of the earliest posts in this space), it's as though all of a sudden Mars or Jupiter thinks it is the sun, and develops the mistaken perception that the rest of the planets--and, yes, even the sun-- rotate around it, not unlike the medieval view of the earth relative to our own solar system.

So we have what might be understood as planetary misconceptions. Our inner center of gravity is mislocated. Our identification or attachment may appear to have something to do with the outer event-- and it's easy to view it that way-- but this idea is a turkey (for those of you not familiar with American slang, that expression means, more or less, that it's silly and worthless.)

In the end one hundred percent of the issue is an inner issue, having little or nothing to do with what happened outside of us. Speaking for myself, I see that I have an almost obsessive need to "outsource the blame" for attachment and identification and blame the object. Doing this allows me the luxury of abjuring the responsibility for the whole mess.

I don't have to face what I am, how I am: it's the fault of this outside matter.

This creation of a subject-object duality where the object (what took place outside of me, which is now a thing rather than an event) becomes the "participant at fault" is where everything falls down. And here, indeed, may be precisely where my inner subjectivity arises--in my acceptance of the outer as the object.

Outer events thereby develop a powerful center of gravity. They, not this body and this sensation, appear to be the locus of life. This despite the fact that any careful examination within the moment verifies that the actual center of gravity is within this body--that the arising of consciousness and life resides here, and not within what is taking place relative to this place of arising and sensing.

The ego invests itself quite powerfully in forms that have developed around these aberrant centers of gravity. We take in impressions of life and develop planets that force us into orbits around conceptions of ourselves based on "I am an artist," "I am a doctor," and so on. All of these "I ams" are attached to, or identified with, outer objects-- art, medicine, or what have you--and they are so well entrenched that the illusion that they are "the sun" is nearly impossible to dispel.

Perhaps this is why my old group leader Betty Brown said to me once, "the things we love the most are the first that have to go."

In the discovery of the inner sun-- the realignment of our inner solar system so that the true center of gravity is recovered-- tremendous perturbations are necessary. Our conceptions of ourselves are utterly wrong, based on premises created by what Gurdjieff would probably have called "false personality."

And what, exactly, is false personality? Another "duh" concept: it is a false person created within us. Do we really see that our personhood is false? Can we see that?

Our attachment to this false person is terribly powerful, and almost all of it revolves around this identification with, attachment to, the outer. So these ideas about "what we are:" our upbringing, our skills, talents, abilities, and place in life--well, the whole damn ball of wax is causing us to orbit around a planet, not our inner sun.

And it all has to go for something new to appear.

So in the end, we come once again to the organic sense of self, without which it is quite impossible to begin to sense what attachment and identification consist of. We must first see what we are--where the locus of our awareness arises-- in order to begin to understand its relationship to what lies outside us.

Until this new connection takes place, all of our understanding is trapped in orbit around external centers of gravity.

May our hearts be open, and our prayers be heard.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


The Chinese have a proclivity for placing ostentatious examples of heroic sculpture in the center of their cities. Despite their overstatement, sometimes they are pretty cool. They are even more interesting when, as in this case, a snapshot juxtaposes a reflection in an accidental, but entirely appropriate, place relative to the sculpture. The whole package works.

Sometimes we forget that politics is mostly about show. That it is about ego. We begin to take it seriously, and we think that the politicking is the core of what government is about. In America, the politicking has replaced what it is meant to lead to, that is, intelligent action on the half of the greater whole. To be fair, that may well be the case in many other parts of the world.

I'm not sure that any of us see that that is also the case in most religions, and even in esoteric work.

The politics of inclusion and exclusion pollute the Gurdjieff work in the same way that they pollute all the other facets of life. The whole affair is treated as a power struggle. The next thing you know, what group you are in, who you work with, who you take movements with, and who notices you is what is important. The ego wants to be placed in a heroic position where it is visible, where people value it, appreciate its "work," and think it knows what it is doing.

In the worst cases of this disease, we begin to think we do know what we are doing. We take on airs. We pass judgment on other people -- inevitably, I suppose, it's a human condition. We become aggressive, as though we think we are more developed than the next person.

We forget that we are all on this level together, that every one of us suffers under the same set of conditions, and that death is the great equalizer.

Of course, forgetting in this way is quite normal in the ordinary world. There is, however, an absurd presumption afoot in esoteric works that somehow those who work and (supposedly) have a spiritual connection of one kind or another transcend such nonsense, but nothing could be further from the truth.

On that point, I have watched for years as supposedly "developed" individuals in positions of power invested time and energy in politicking "promising" golden younger people into privileged positions only to have them pick up their bags and leave the work (sometimes even selling out precious material, such as movements instruction, which they had been given) while much more solid and reliable--but less glossy and exciting-- individuals who never had the spotlight cast on them trudge on loyally without any chance whatsoever to advance.

Before she died, my group leader Betty Brown mused to me about this on more than one occasion, wondering what good all that power did for them.

In my view, along with all the self remembering--a drum that is beaten with great vigor but tends to make little music--there is one thing that everyone ought to do their best to forget, and that is the politics.

This disease contaminates every inner activity. The instant that one is worried about where one stands, who one knows, and whether one was or wasn't invited to some "special" event, one has forgotten oneself and one has forgotten how to work. I've been there myself many times, so I feel qualified to speak about it.

If our work really depends on these outer things, then we have no work. If our work depends on what others think of us-- if it depends on whether or not we are given access to some secret text that has been hoarded away from the general public so that only the elect can read it-- if it depends on whether so-and-so has invited us to participate in such-and-such, or whether or not we have been asked to do something "important," we are doomed.

I watch the gremlins attached to this at work at me every time someone asks me to do something or participate in something. The ego's work is quite insidious, really. It's always there, chirping contentedly about itself. It leaps at compliments as eagerly as a dog begging for scraps. Only the man or woman who actively sees this and becomes deeply suspicious of it begins to see how much of his or her life is driven by such nonsense.

The only thing that real work can depend on is an organic connection within the self, and an attempt to cultivate that connection and re-order the inner state.

As such, politics starts out far from the point of real inner work, and marches away from it briskly with as much energy as it can muster, dragging us along by the hair.

If we let it.

The choice of where our center of gravity lies in our work is up to us. There needs to be an attention to the outer conditions and an understanding that real work does not lean on them as a crutch, any more than it leans on sitting silently like a monk for four hours a day. Real work lies in the middle, between the inner and the outer. It may be driven by the ego -- in all likelihood, a weak ego will never develop much of a will to work -- but it must not be owned by it. It may participate in politics, but it does not have to be taken by them.

So, if not politics... then what?

A few days ago, my daughter and I were discussing a personal situation related to her graduate school work. I pointed out to her that generosity in any situation is rarely misplaced.

If we have to be part of any political process and make any political statement related to our inner work, let us make it a statement of generosity. Rather than trying to get importance for ourselves, to seek position, to bask in a false limelight or acquire tans from the bogus light of artificial suns, let us offer ourselves unstintingly to the conditions and the individuals around us. Let us give what we have, in the hopes that we will receive in return.

We need not give stupidly or recklessly, but give we must, because if we do not feed one another in a real and honest and generous way, we will all starve together.

May our hearts be open, and our prayers be heard.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I am more or less on the other side of jet lag. It is unseasonably warm here on the banks of the Hudson River. The mornings are dark and filled with promise.

Today I was reading the writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart, translated by E. Kadloubovsky and G. E. H. Palmer, faber & faber, 1975. On page 280 I came across this passage from Hesychius of Jerusalem to Theodulus:

"Attention is unceasing silence of the heart, free of all thoughts. At all times, constantly and without ceasing, it breathes Jesus Christ, the son of God and God, and Him alone, it calls upon Him, and with Him bravely fights against the enemies, and makes confession to Him who has the power to forgive sins. Such a soul, through continual calling on Christ, embraces Him Who alone searches the heart; and it seeks to hide its sweetness and inner attainment from all men in every way, lest the evil one should have an easy entrance for his wickedness and destroy its excellent working."

Well then. Here, encapsulated, a brief summary of esotericism, and how to hold your work close to yourself -- and, perhaps, even why.

This passage is particularly interesting in the connection it draws between the heart, breathing, and the presence of Christ. It touches on the need for a more intimate organic relationship: the relationship with the higher is received within the body, and if we do not develop an inner attention, an inner relationship to sensation, we cannot receive anything from a higher level.

Even more interesting is the stress that the writer puts on the need to hide what one is given. This, certainly, is not the way of the world today: everything is on display. Glossy magazines and slick books sell us the words we supposedly need to hear about spirituality; but what is it that remains unsaid amidst this cacophony?

What lies between the lines that are written? What delicate insight and intuition is needed to find one's way between the letters, and sense a vibration of a different kind?

It is, in fact, so often what is not said that counts. The noise that is made is not the heart of the soul; it is just the sound of a stick beating on its skin. It touches only the outside. It looms so large that it seems to fill the room; but it is only when the stick pauses, and the noise slowly fades inside the vessel from which it emanated, that we begin to get the sense that there is a vessel.

Yes, the noise is just an echo of the action, which takes place in emptiness. It takes place in the place that waits; it takes place in the darkness, at the root of things. It's true that we lie at the base of this root; it's true that we can receive light from above, that it is possible to engage in what one might call photosynthesis, a fixing of magical substances (for a brief moment at least) in positions where they can do work. But this is not work meant for the public eye, or the public ear.

And how great the temptations of the ego! Of course we must hide the best of ourselves, even from ourselves. For we are our own thieves, the enemies of our own most precious efforts. No sooner do we work for something, then we lose it again, or we destroy it in anger and reaction.

How different this idea of concealing any attainment is from our expectation, that we should attain and be recognized for it. This is truly confusing to all of us.

It's only with long effort, and a patience that comes only after our own patience is utterly exhausted, that we can begin to understand how silently and how secretly we must work. Do we know this? Do we understand it? It can only be through signs and miracles that the first taste of such an understanding arrives, and even those are things we wish to have as our own.

Well then, these are indeed somewhat private musings. And they touch lightly on the motive force of some of the poetry I have been writing lately. But in the interest of intimacy -- a subject I bring up quite often -- it seems at times to make sense to offer something a bit more intimate, rather than ongoing clinical analysis of work ideas, which there is plenty of out there.

One theme that has occurred to me recently is a question about self-observation. One of my good friends Red Hawk has recently written a book on the subject. Apparently, it's quite popular. That's good to hear; it's encouraging to think that the subject has become of greater interest to people.

For those of us, however, who have heard this phrase for most of a lifetime, there may be in need to reinvent the question under slightly different terms. For myself, it is no longer so much a question of self-observation as self-inhabitation.

How can we inhabit ourselves more fully, in a more three centered manner? How do we overcome the clinical, the intellectual, the analytical aspects of work in order to discover a more vibrant and living relationship to ourselves?

Is it possible to make this an active question that originates not just in the mind, but also in the body and feelings?

This is a subject worthy of daily study.

May our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

a greater sensitivity

It is Saturday morning, gray and rainy. There is a resistance in me to the rain, but at the same time I see it is possible to accept it as a blessing. There's a softness here that speaks of receiving life in a different way. A way that is less predisposed to criticism.

I arrived home on Wednesday to the November issue of Parabola, and the newly published material from Jeanne de Salzmann's journals.

Reading the material caused me to ponder one again what it is that can truly "help" us in our effort to understand what inner work is. There's no doubt, these readings can be helpful. But at the same time, one cannot transmit the body of the work effectively in words. Not written ones, at any rate. And that means that no matter how "superior" De Salzmann's words may be, relative to what can be brought from my own work to this page, in the end they occupy the same territory, on what is in some senses a level playing field. Both are, after all, just words, and it is only in the living experience of an organic connection that any real experience of what it is to engage in inner work can arise.

We live in a bookish (and now increasingly media-driven) culture. Our slavish devotion to acquiring knowledge through the written word, and, now, through electronic media, steadily removes us one step further from the immediate, the now. It's possible to retain a sensation of many inner and outer parts of the body as I write this, but it is seen (as the reader may, upon examination of their own immediate inner state, also see) that there is a strong tendency for the head to dominate--which is exactly where we always find ourselves in relation to this question, and to life. The abstraction of life into the "head space"--a vacuum which, it might be argued, draws our awareness in to fill itself at the expense of our (potential) three-centered being--perpetually takes us away from the question of what this life is and how we can actually live it.

This requires a greater attention within the organism, and a greater sensitivity towards the workings of that organism. A delicate balance must be struck between outwardness and attention to ordinary life, and that inwardness which includes an awareness of the inner vibration of more subtle energies, which are fed by our impressions.

It's a tricky thing; the awakening of such an awareness is there by varying degrees, and our intention will not and cannot always be even partially present in relationship to those sensations. It's up to us to remember as often as we can, and to study the partiality of the organism-- the "not-connectedness" of the parts--in relationship to the potential wholeness we all might inhabit.

To have an inner sensitivity is one of the aims of this work. To be sensitive to the inner being at once draws us towards a greater outward sensitivity--both to the impressions we receive, and the interactions we engage in. It's only with inner vigilance (another word, perhaps, for self-observation) that we can bring more attention to the moment. And that inner vigilance cannot be supported or carried by the intellect. The intellect is not strong enough to do this kind of work.

Our mistaken impression that it can do such work is the very seed of our undoing. Reading words often brings us to a belief that we know or even understand something, when it is in fact very far from the case. It's only through a desperate act of living (I call it desperate not in the sense of despair, but in the sense of great need or desire) that we come to understanding. Understanding is a living, breathing quality never conferred by mere collections of facts or clever words. Understanding derives from a new sensitivity to the immediate surroundings of our being-- a sensitivity to a new kind of energy, a tangible inner vibration that is active, that seeks relationship with these fragmented lower parts we inhabit.

There is little need, in the end, to become tangled up in the complex metaphysical and cosmological questions that fascinate us. Many of the insights we may gain into these overarching principles are available in a new (and decidedly less intellectual way) if we simply educate ourselves to a sensitivity to the conscious inhabitation of ordinary life. The life that is worth living is often revealed in the nuances and details.

May our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The mind, the brain, and Being

After two weeks of intensive work in China, I return to my home turf... which is decidedly less urban. Now that I am back here, we will see what can be done about some more practical attention in this space.

As readers know, philosophical and technical questions are discussed here, as well as actual personal observation, practice, and matters of more immediate interest to those who wish to work in a new way to connect the mind and the body.

Of course the latter type of discussion is more interesting to some, but there are times when it's necessary to grapple with intellectual questions. We cannot afford to allow our work to be nothing but "touchy--feely" material, that is, emotional/body work. The intellect must be applied, in a practical and immediate way, to elucidate questions related to Gurdjieff theory. Not in a complex, obscure manner, but in a way that is simple and practical enough for the average Joe to get the gist of it.

So here is an article of that nature.

During the trip, I had occasion to ponder some questions about the mind, its relationship to the brain, and some particular parts of the brain. In order to discuss this, we are going to have to ramble around a little bit. Hopefully you will bear with me.

One of the perceptions of modern science is that the brain is the place where the mind originates. That is, the mind, intelligence, awareness, whatever you wish to call it, arises from the brain and cannot exist without it. Red is not red without a brain; wind is not wind, the stars are not stars.

In this decidedly reductionist worldview, it's difficult for us to imagine a universe without intelligence. In fact, there cannot be one, because in such a world view there is no universe without intelligence. That is to say, if there are no brains to receive impressions, nothing actually exists. This premise has actually been argued by some leading theorists. There is an ever present and all-too-common danger with our modern, hyperintelligent scientists: they become so incredibly smart that they reach a peak, turn a corner, and plunge back downward into stupidity without even noticing it.

Building on the complex cosmologies and perspectives of the Gurdjieff work, and speaking from my own personal experience, I will offer a rather different hypothesis: the brain is not a place where the mind arises: it is a receiving mechanism for the mind.

The nervous systems of animals, and all biological life, can be compared to radios. All of them receive molecular and vibrational "waves" from their surroundings. If we consider a radio, I believe we can all agree: even if there is no radio to receive radio waves and play the music in them, the radio waves still exist, and the information in them is still real. We can, in fact, detect and measure the waves without the radio. There are probably even devices that could extract the information in the waves, though they might not play it in audio format the way radio does.

So the universe, the color red, and the wind, do exist independent of the brain and other neurological systems. One might argue that neurological systems impose arbitrary subjective interpretations of all of these phenomena on the impressions that they receive, but I don't think the interpretations are arbitrary at all. There is a remarkable consistency to them across a broad range of organisms. The organisms all exploit the properties of the environment they inhabit in similar ways, in the same way that many different radios with various receiving capabilities all function in a similar manner. There is, in other words, a commonality to the enterprise that is very strictly imposed by the constraints of chemistry and physics.

So we come once again to one of the key questions in philosophy, that is, does the existence of everything that is depend on the mind, or would it be here, even if there was no mind to perceive it?

The human brain and other neurological systems are not generators, they are receivers. They do not generate the universe. They perceive it. As such, the universe and everything in it exists a priori, and the arising of organisms, and consequent neurological complexes, to sense it is a dependent consequence. If organisms are receivers, then the mind exists before the organisms do; they are simply tools which mind adopts in order to express itself.

This idea exhibits some interesting parallels with Buddhism and other religious practices which I will leave it to the reader to ponder further.

The Gurdjieff system is unabashed in its insistence that everything is material; as such, we might suggest that Mr. Gurdjieff was perhaps the very first spiritual teacher in any century who insisted that there was an absolute scientific basis to the development of what is called, in various religious practices, "the soul," "enlightenment," and so on. The expression of what he called higher mind -- that is, a receiver with the capacity to receive far more impressions of mind than what are usually received -- is entirely dependent on the restructuring of both the chemistry and the neural anatomy of man.

Those who are familiar with with P. D Ouspensky's discussion of the chemical factory in "In Search Of The Miraculous" will be well familiar with the idea that Gurdjieff said man's inner chemistry must change if he wishes to develop his inner Being. The idea that the brain itself needs to physically change is one that we don't encounter there.

Yet, it is incontrovertibly true, and the study of one particular structure in the brain tells us a very good deal about what some of the aims of Gurdjieff's work were.

In 2004 or so, Scientific American published an article on the function of the cerebellum, a structure in the brain which has been receiving far more attention in recent years.

The cerebellum is often referred to as the "primitive" or "reptilian" part of the brain, that is, the oldest part of the brain. It's frustrating to see the oldest structures in organisms as being called "primitive" by scientists and biologists. It's not only frustrating, it's patently stupid. The oldest structures in organisms of any kind are the most advanced structures, because evolution has been acting on them for the longest period of time, optimizing their ability to perform. Any structure that has recently arisen has been less fully tested and, we can be certain, will not perform as well as more ancient structures that have been tested through millions of years of evolution. So let's not call the cerebellum a "primitive" part of the brain at all. It is, more than likely, the most advanced structure in the brain. And this is a suggestion that is being borne out by a great deal of recent research. You might say that study of the cerebellum has been... well... blowing scientist's minds.

The cerebellum has more nerve cells than all the rest of the brain combined. In other words, this rather small part of the brain has more capacity to work than any other part. Secondly, its response times are remarkably quick. Third, it is connected to the cerebral cortex -- the part that gives us our higher thinking functions -- by something like 40 million nerve fibers. So it has an incredible capacity to process and pass on information. Connections to parts of the brain that regulate emotion are also highly developed.

After I read the article on the cerebellum (a bit more on that in just a moment) I passed it on to the late Paul Reynard, who was one of the most important figures in the teaching of the Gurdjieff Movements during the late 20th century. I gave it to him because the implications that connected the development of the cerebellum to the Gurdjieff movements were unmistakable.

And, as I suspected, he was utterly fascinated by it.

The cerebellum, you see, is the center of motor development in the brain, and it contains complex perceptive and timing mechanisms that must, by default, be deeply involved in the execution of any physical exercises such as the Movements. There can be no doubt that one of the principal brain structures the Movements are designed to stimulate and affect is the cerebellum.

The first main point of the article made is that the "primitive" cerebellum has the capability of learning. That is to say, it is been recognized that the cerebellum has a rich ability to form new neural pathways, and that, in fact, it may well grow new neurons during the course of a human's lifetime, in response to novel stimuli. This discovery contradicted the idea (by now an outdated one, to be sure) that new neurons don't form after a human being is fully grown. So this brain structure is flexible, creative, and capable of growth.

A second point the article made is that the cerebellum has an extraordinarily dense set of nerve fibers connecting to the parts of the brain that are known to regulate emotion. As such, the development of a greater and more sensitive capacity in the cerebellum would almost certainly have an effect on the emotional state of man.

Gurdjieff's Movements, unlike the slow movements of tai chi and yoga, are demanding physical exercises executed at what are sometimes lightning speeds. They are ideally designed to stimulate the cerebellum by putting intense demand on it. And, although it is not at all obvious (at least most of the time) to those who engage in these exercises, it's quite clear that the formation of new pathways in this part of the brain may well enhance the emotional capacity and sensitivity of those who participate in them over long periods of time.

The Movements, of course, are also performed in accompaniment to music, another element that is nearly absent from practices such as tai chi and yoga, but which is definitely known to stimulate the emotional center.

As such, when we study the known physiological characteristics of the brain, the known role of the cerebellum, and we consider one of the core aims of the Gurdjieff work -- the incorporation of emotional center into the life in a new way -- we suddenly see how utterly sophisticated The Movements are when taken from a completely new point of view, that is, the material work that they engage in in the stimulation and development of a part which is generally neglected in life. The work of the cerebellum, one might argue, is habitual, but when it is actively and deliberately stimulated, remarkable new things can take place.

Here we have stumbled across a "secret" purpose of the Movements. It is never about "doing the Movements right;" of course, if we do "do the Movements right," we see beautiful dances, and an organic satisfaction arises, but the very act of the effort -- of simply engaging in the practice -- is quite literally capable of causing physiological changes in the brain of those who engage in it. Those who practice movements may never be consciously aware of the effect they are having, at least not in the sense that they "know" what the "results" will be. Nonetheless, the activity is setting the stage, laying the groundwork, for the development of a new capacity of sensation, of a new capacity for emotion.

Readers interested in further exploration of the place of emotion in this work are invited to read the suite of essays on the subject on my page at

May our hearts be open, and our prayers be heard.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

back again

Apologies to the readership for the long delay since my last post. I have been in China, and the Chinese government has, unfortunately, blocked access to blogger (as well as facebook and several other US social networking sites.)

I will resume posting in the next few days, allowing for jet lag.