Ikigai – a reason for being

ikigai

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Sunwise, clockwise

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I live in a land called Aotearoa. Here we are in what has been named the south. As all people, we look to the equator for the fullness of the sun, and for us the equator is north by the compass.

Many of our ancestors came from the north, beyond the equator. There they looked to the south for the fullness of the sun. And there they invented sundials, which over time became abstracted into the faces of the clocks we are still so familiar with today. And here begins the confusion.

When our people came from the north, they brought their clocks. They overlaid clocktime on the suntime of this southern land. They didn’t alter the orientation of their clocks – there was no real need, clocks were already an abstraction, separated from the lived experience of a day governed by the hours of lightness and darkness in the world.

So if we practise any kind of natural alignment with the lived reality of the natural world, perhaps in the form of sacred circle, we might deepen our understanding of this abstraction. We might connect our bodies with the daily appearance of the sun, to the east. We might face north to the fullness of the sun, and feel the warmth of the end of the day of the left side of our bodies.

I wonder if the clock is even more of a confusion here in the south. I wonder if the people of the south are even less meant to imagine a wheel turning clockwise to guide us through our days. Of course now, our clocks are mostly just numbers on a screen, the next step of abstraction away from the bodily experience of time. Will our children even understand the relationship of clock time to the natural cycles in the sky? Only if we teach them.

And the Mountain said

We are anxious about what your kind are doing to our world…

When you place a Cartesian grid over the land, build grid-like buildings, and live with the Lego-like modernism of contemporary interiors that sense of being situated through a living thing like a forest, or a mountain or a river is lost. To live the more deeply connected life that nature demands of us means to have a consciousness that roams over the entire planet, encountering all of its situated peoples and asking of them: what are you doing to our world? The grid is at one end of a spectrum occupied at the other by war, all of which hurts and disrespects nature.

The Dark Mountain Project – The Writing of Mountain Calls, by Mike King

Teaching a Stone to Talk

In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name: the substrata, the ocean, the unified field, our complex and inexplicable caring for each other and our lives together here. This is given, it is not learned.

from Teaching a Stone to Talk, by Annie Dillard

Coming to meet

In the magic that is research & timing colluding to give you what you need, I opened up my computer this morning to where I had left off reading, and found this perfect passage, so relevant. Thanks I Ching and Maja D’Aoust.

If we are already involved in defective relationships, these become the means by which we learn the “way of the Sage”. In correcting them we learn the true power of modesty as a shield and sword. Modesty alone arouses the Creative Power. Through modesty, that is, through doing nothing at all, we achieve everything.

“Coming to Meet” (Hexagram 44) describes a correct relationship as one in which two people come to meet each other halfway. Halfway means that both are open and receptive to each other. Coming to meet halfway also must be mutually voluntary, based on the principle of spontaneous attraction described in “The Marrying Maiden” (54) as the “essential principle of relatedness.” We must maintain reserve in our relationships until the coming to meet is mutual. Maintaining reserve is the correct action (or non action). Coming to meet halfway is possible only between people who are mutually honest and sincere in their way of life. It is the great joy of such relationships that they are full of mutual trust and sensitivity.

We understand “coming to meet” better if we compare it to a contract made between two people. If one is indolent in performing his part, or has mental reservations about what he is willing to do, the contract may fail. Although such a person may have entered the contract without any immediate objections, his attitude may contain objections which arise only at the time his obligations are to be performed. Such a person may secretly feel that contracts are not to be taken seriously, or, on seeing how difficult it is to fulfill his part, he may hedge on doing it because of some idea that all contracts are subject to fitting into his concept of what is reasonable. In any case, it is impossible to come to meet such a person halfway, and the I Ching repeatedly advises us that it is better for us to go on our way alone and to wait until the fundamentals of unity are firmly established before we commit ourselves to other people. When we cater to another person’s ego because it is uncomfortable to go on our way alone, we choose the high road of comfort rather than the low road of modesty and loneliness. Withdrawal from the high road is the action often counseled by the I Ching.

If a person is treating us presumptuously, and if we remind him of this, he may correct his habits for a few days, but gradually revert to the same pattern of neglect. This he does from egotistical indolence-some- thing in his point of view makes him feel he has the right to be indifferent. Likewise, we must withdraw from the indolent person, “cutting our inner strings” of attachment to him, and no longer look at his wrongdoings with our inner eye. This enables the person to see what he is doing in the mirror created by the void. By dispersing any alienation we may feel, we also lend strength to his superior self. Momentarily, his ego is overcome. We need to realize that this change is short-lived, but it is an essential beginning. The change does not last because it is only founded on his response to feeling the void. It becomes a permanent change when he sees clearly that unity with others depends upon his devoting himself to correcting his mistakes. Only then can we abandon a more formal way of relating to him.

The strength of a person’s ego corresponds to the amount of attention it can attract. On the most simple level this recognition is by eye-to-eye contact; on the more basic inner level we strengthen other people’s egos by watching them with our inner eye. If we are annoyed with someone, we are watching him with our inner eye. Only when we withdraw both our eye-to-eye contact and our inner gaze do we deprive his ego of its power. An I Ching line says, “We cannot lead those whom we follow.” By following others with our inner eye we do not walk our own path but attend to theirs. This gratifies their ego. It is as if we are attached to them by hidden underground cables, which must be cut. It is as if we are acting as a lifeguard who is watching to save them from themselves. As long as they recognize that someone is going to save them, they carelessly begin to swim with the sharks. They do this not only because they feel a false sense of security, but because it guarantees that we pay attention to them. As long as we play the role of lifeguard, the others we care about will not save themselves; for their own good it is necessary to withdraw, cut our inner strings and leave matters up to them; this is also to cease doubting them.

Inner withdrawal is an action of perseverance that has its own reward, but only when it is modest perseverance, not an attempt to impress others by getting them to notice our withdrawal. In many situations the problem is resolved, not through any external action that arises spontaneously on our part, but by simply “letting it happen,” through letting go of the problem. Our “action” is to “let go”.

Coming to Meet: Advice from the I–Ching
Carol Anthony
From “The Challenge of the Heart”- Love, Sex and Intimacy in Changing Times, edited by John Wellwood (Shambhala 1985)

The Weekly Service

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