Saturday, March 19, 2011

Surviving Dying

I have restarted working on the journal of a 100 Day, 1 hour each day, standing meditation practice I undertook in 1996.  I offer this excerpt for free:
I am like a kid with a new toy whenever I discover new images and concepts from other fields that I can apply to T'ai Chi. They always deepen my own practice and help me teach T'ai Chi to others; but it isn’t all that often now that I come across something that moves me so profoundly to another level of awareness in my practice of the art.  Stephen Levine’s book, “Who Dies?” came into my life at the perfect time to understand it, in the middle of my 100 days.
Ostensibly about dying, the book is really about living, and more specifically it is about expanding, expanding in a sense absolutely tailor-made for application to T'ai Chi principles. Levine writes about not contracting around the pain one feels in the body; that when we contract we narrow our focus and therefore our sense of identity to that which we are focusing on (i.e. we become our pain). When we expand we consequently widen our sense of ‘Self.’ The body and what it is experiencing are still a part of that wider self, but it no longer becomes the totality of who we are.
My experience with standing meditation speaks to the truth of what Levine says; it is a joyously liberating feeling to crack the mold of body-identity and to experience being a 'bigger' You. In terms of ‘dying’ It’s kind of like not putting all your eggs in the one basket of ‘body.’ Diversify and when something screws up one of your investments, your identity doesn’t take anywhere near as big a ‘hit’ as it would have were all your money in that one stock!
That’s the meaning of the bible verse about not laying up your treasure where thieves can break in and steal. The treasure is your sense of Self, what you identify with as ‘You.’ If you are your body or your job, your car or your clothes, your bank account or your social standing, or anything else perishable, then whenever those things perish, so will ‘you.’ It’s much better to diversify identity, and even better to identify ‘you’ with something that is eternal (Seek ye first the kingdom of God).