Friday, August 31, 2007



E turn
KO light
HEN turn around
SHO luminance, light

NO [particle] of

TAI backward
HO step

O [object particle]

GAKU SUBESHI should learn

“Learn the backward step of turning light around.”

I love this sentence. This sentence has often saved me from myself. It suggests a return to a natural state of being, a more simple, primitive, integrated condition of being, compared with what we are conditioned to accept as normal through education, work, et cetera, in modern industrialized societies. I come to France to investigate the meaning of this sentence. And then I spend too much time tap, tap, tapping away at my laptop, bloody fool that I am. But in this case, I forgive myself. This sentence is worth endeavoring to clarify, in every sense.

“Learn the backward step of turning light around.” It suggests a process of returning to our original state, a simpler state of being, a state of grace. But, and I think this is a vitally important point, it does not suggest a purely unconscious process, it does not suggest a purely autonomic process: it suggests a conscious process, a process that we can and should learn. It suggests a decision to change the direction of our consciousness, to turn our consciousness right around.

FM Alexander said:

“When an investigation comes to be made, it will be found that every single thing we are doing in the work is exactly what is being done in Nature where the conditions are right, the difference being that we are learning to do it consciously.”

These past 13 years I have not done a very good job of letting people know how totally relevant are the discoveries of FM Alexander to the sitting-zen of Zen Master Dogen. Not to put too fine a point on it, I have made a complete balls-up.

These past few weeks I have been feeling particularly discouraged. But writing the above has cheered me up no end.

Any questions?


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