Water, Mindfulness and Thinking

Water, Mindfulness and Thinking

The issue of thought (as in thinking, analyzing, deducing, evaluating, opinionating, etc.) sometimes poses questions as to its proper place within the martial arts.

Because we are endowed with brains and the capacity for thought, we feel centered in the universe, and are apt to overlook numerous other conscious and sentient entities sharing the world about us. It was Rene Descartes who concluded, I think, therefore I am . To Oriental philosophers who characteristically strive for broader understanding of man’s relationship with nature, Descartes’ words might sound more like, I think therefore, I think that I am. So far as bodily organs go, the brain, which is capable of thinking and evaluating, has placed itself in a position of supreme self-importance. Because we are endowed with a sense of awareness (self), and a capacity for thought all apparently channeling through the brain, we conclude that from the brain center, and through the brain organ, we have authority over the world about us, and are compelled to enforce our identity by taking conscious control.

All that would be well and good, if the model were accurate in its portrayal of reality, and our relationship thereto. In recent decades, great thinkers have come to deeper views of our kinship with creation. Historically, we had a jungle view of our interface with reality. In effect, we were at war with the universe, and life was characterized by ongoing struggle to survive, control, and dominate the infinite array of variables and uncertainties surrounding us. To the extent we succeeded in gaining control, we attained prestige and influence, achieved our desires, satisfied our appetites, and were richly rewarded with social affiliation and admiration. Of course, it’s impossible to hold on to all these things, particularly as we age and deteriorate. Hoping to avoid the inevitable loss, we impress upon society the importance of retaining the dividends of material existence. We support political candidates who entice our votes with promises that our accrued wealth can be protected, and passed on to those of our choosing. In the midst of this maelstrom, we, as cosmic entities, become conceptually bound to material issues that were once targets of our energetic pursuits. Just as we achieved our wishes, we find ourselves unable to enjoy them for very long, but also unable to let them go. Sometimes it s due to our advancing years, sometimes we’ve changed as persons. Life that was once simple and enjoyable has become so infinitely complex and demanding, all that remains is continuous stress and anxiety, compounded by fear of loss, and a compulsion to protect. Needless to say, at the end of the tunnel we each have our own personal grim reaper, ensuring no end of fear and anxiety, as we complete the ordained journey.

Modern thinkers have viewed our relationship to the world in a new light. We are no longer viewed as being born onto the world, and having to conquer it, staking our own identity as a counterpoint to the cosmos surrounding. Their  view of the world that has us emerging (some even say like apples emerging onto a tree, or air filling a ballon, or even a knot moving down a strand of rope) into the world as sentiment entities, who are inexorably tied to the world around us. Rather than us appearing from out there , we are now seen to emerge directly from a connected environment, not unlike flowers on a bush, from nothingness at inception, to a mature blossom at maturity. It is almost as though a sublime breath filled an empty shell, in this case our person, providing impetus for birth, growth, and evolved existence.

Within this context, our self-importance becomes not only silly, but counterproductive. Many modern thinkers have aligned themselves with the great Orient Oriental religious teachers and philosophers in concluding we are born into and of this world, and are integrally related to its entirety. We manifest the breath of creation, and are one with all other manifestations of creation’s generosity. They reason it is because we are conscious, and have the capacity for thought, and are prey to its dominant influence over our lives, we fail to see the entire cosmos of consciousness surrounding us. Everything is awake, but we fail to see as we focus on ourselves, our needs, and how to achieve them in a hostile, ever threatening environment. So because we think, we think that we are, then become our agenda, and once we step into the trap, we re stuck!

We introduced the water principle elsewhere. Part of getting unstuck is finding ways to root into the cosmic flow. What is clear from the teachings of Tai Chi, Hinduism, and even esoteric Christian arts, is that rooting into the cosmic flow requires diminishing your self. Diminishing your self starts when you recognize the universe of consciousness in all phases of reality in which you are immersed. Even within your physical body, the brain exercises only a small control over what all is taking place. Think of your internal organs, and how they process and detoxify your system in an ongoing uninterrupted basis, rarely erring, as the process unfolds. With all of your thought, and self-identity, and ego, and acquisitiveness, are you able to do a better job? That is the message of teachers like Alan Watts, and Krishnamurti. What you think is not so important as you make it out to be. Might you be better served abandoning yourself to the experience of life, and striving to become awake?

So, we come again to water . Understanding the water principle calls for reflection on several levels. Water represents "gentle" energy, always yielding, soft and comforting. Yet, its very gentleness makes it the great shaper of nature! Just as water shapes mountains and canyons with its patient embrace, our first level of understanding invokes the concept, almost contradiction, that even while yielding to our environment, we embrace it and it's directed energy. in the end, accepting it completely. When it thrusts, we recede, when it retreats, we fill the void -- that is the water principle. Though our egos might feel apart and threatened by embracing the water principle , our movement and ultimately our sense of selves becomes one with all. We, and the cosmos, are one. Each apart, but each meshing into the movement and fullness of the other. In the end, there is only one movement, one flow. Life and Death become mere distinctions imposed by our ego selves.

Consider for a moment the matter of flow. Water in its course is free to flow in any direction.  There are unlimited choices and possibilities, but always the most efficient path is found regardless of the obstacles confronted. Water cannot make the wrong choice about flow. It does this without thinking about it! As with water, issues of success or failure, correctness or incorrectness become meaningless. If the heart is true and the spirit is impeccable, the course will be appropriate. All else loses significance. All else is distraction.

You might think of it as the empty mirror. When you are like an empty mirror, you become exactly as water. totally fluid and perfectly integrated with your surroundings. Thoughts about success and failure, victory and defeat are questions pertinent to "ego" and "self" which dissolve when you arrive at the "experience" of full awareness (as in waking up!).

Of course, this is not an easy path. We’re bound to the habit of thinking, in fact, we are addicted to it. When not thinking, we feel something is terribly wrong.

Remember this! Thinking is not all it s cracked up to be. The infinite part of existence is outside the realm of our thought, and so long as we reside on the tracks inhabited by our thought, we are stuck in a linear dimensional perspective, surrounded by a universe of infinite diversity. That is what is meant by Oriental scholars, who teach we are directly connected to the infinite and the divine, and have the potential to awaken awareness of that gift through direct human experience.

Again, this is not an easy path. Once you attempt to tap into the flow, you will evolve different awarenesses,  Relationships with those about you will change, as will your perception of the creation. By developing an instinct for identifying the untrue, and recognizing the infinite array of distractions, you will nourish a sense of personal awareness and confidence in what emerges to take its place. That awareness and confidence will draw others to you, and those others will attempt to draw you back into their never ending stream of insecurity, challenge, and debate. Again, think of the water principle. Water finding its path to the sea, trusting its innate awareness of the clearest and most efficient course, and not being distracted by the non essential. Picture a sentiment being, another human, asking you to explain your process. As you attempt to explain, nothing of substance emerges, causing your friend to question further, even becoming distrustful, possibly disrespectful of your efforts to respond. They want you to re-create your experience into their realm of thought using words to convey intimacies where they can no longer exist. You try to communicate it to them through your ego, using the channel of your brain organ, in the form of thoughtfully constructed words. What once was infinite, has now become limited, and incommunicable.

That is the battle line! Good luck!

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