Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durckhei

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

Postby admin » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:22 am

Chapter 7: Tension-Relaxation

For the development of the vital centre it is essential to have the right inter-action of tension and relaxation.

Modern man very rarely presents a picture of a harmonious whole held in a vital alternation between tension and relaxation. He lives in a constant alternation between hypertension and complete slackness. Even the relaxation exercises frequently practised nowadays seldom alter this. The 'autogenic'-training of J. H. Schultz, for example, is often misused, certainly against the intentions of its founder, in such a way that a person suffering from excessive tension seeks in these exercises merely a pleasant, melting sensation of complete relaxation. The actual release he finds is used and enjoyed only as compensation for his wrong tension. But inwardly it does no good at all and such practices fall into the arsenal of those methods whose fabrication and misuse are so characteristic of our welfare civilization, for they do nothing but enable people to live with impunity in their wrong attitudes and to evade the one thing that is needed: the finding of a different inner attitude (Verfassung).

When it comes to the inner way, the practice of relaxation has a completely different significance. It aims at man's liberation from the yoke of the I, leads him towards a progressively deepening awareness of the original Oneness of life and serves to strengthen that inner state which permits the Greater Life to manifest itself in our little lives. The practice of right tension and relaxation, no matter what techniques may be employed, is of value for the inner way only if the aspirant is not merely seeking physical comfort or the increase of his I-powers but wants to find that mysterious source of strength for its own sake.

Thus it becomes clear that also in regard to 'tension-relaxation' one can only see a person truly and form the right opinion about his degree of development if one regards him from two levels: the worldly and the Transcendental.

By virtue of the assured participation of man's own being in the Great Being he is, even in the midst of his worldly life, still au fond liberated; for within his being he already is what he seeks. From the Christian point of view he is God's child and liberated through Christ. From the Eastern point of view he already is the Buddha-nature, he is in his essential substance Nirvana. But because and in so far as he has an I through which he relies upon himself and which is always turned towards the world, he is, at the same time, none of these things, but is merely on the way to uncovering them in himself. The driving force of all his seeking is nothing other than what fundamentally he already is. In so far as he is not all that in his I-world-consciousness, his essential oneness with Being shows itself as divine discontent. The separation from his Being is what produces the basic tension of his life; the release of it is imperative for the integration of his I-self with his essence. The separation from Being, painfully felt by the rigid I, is the root cause of the transcendental tension throughout men's lives. Here appears the urge of Being to manifest itself in ultimate Self, and equally the necessity of the integration of the I-self with Being.

Only if, in all efforts to achieve the right inter-action of tension and relaxation, one bean in mind that man in his innermost part is already freed, can one discover the effective guiding principle for the practice of right relaxation and right tension in his quality of citizen of this world.

To the extent that life, as mirrored by the I, takes on the character of an imaginary, conceptually ordered reality, a special system of tension and relaxation arises. Not only are all the original normal life-impulses and instinctual drives converted into goals of the will, and not only does everything a man meets set up a relation of tension with his ever self-preserving I, but in addition, through the discriminating and fixing function of the I, a special system of tension is created which needs and longs for a correspondingly special kind of relaxation. But here also something quite different is involved than merely eliminating a disturbance of the reality-pattern and life-forms created by the I; for fundamentally in every Single concern of the I lies the deeper spiritual concern of the whole man -- the wish to live his life according to his Being, to complete and to fulfil himself.

Thus real success in practice consists in man's liberation from these I-conditioned, persistent wrong-tensions which keep him from contact with true Being and hinder his capacity to serve it in the world. However, only where the aspirant in right relaxation feels in himself the unfolding of Oneness and tastes the deeply moving 'quite different' with a reverent heart and accepts it as a new obligation does he show that spirit which we have described as indispensable to all real practice: the spirit of Metanoia, where the mind is permanently turned towards the Divine. That this new relation to the divine Ground of Being should permeate the the whole life is the distant goal. Its achievement is hindered by nothing so much as by those wrong-tensions belonging peculiarly to the life and suffering of the I which have become, as it were, permanently set and crystallized.

The whole life of man is shaped by psychological burdens, some fresh and urgent, others old and of long standing; by breathtaking instinctive needs and desires as well as by self-imposed, deliberate tensions belonging to his conscious life. Without these he could not live meaningfully and effectively for one moment, and they are always there entailing a mental alertness and readiness for bodily action which is constantly present, even when for the moment his attention is not directed to any particular interest or object or goal.

All three forms of tension may be habitually so overstressed and so deeply ingrained that they prevent the unfolding of life itself. Only the person who has at some time become really aware of them in himself and in others knows the extent to which modem man is distorted by psychological tensions and excessive mental activity. Only one who has struggled to make himself whole and sound knows how insidious the effects of those over-tensions are, and how difficult it is to free oneself from them once they have become ingrained.

Every tension represents a bent, an inclination of the living whole. In relaxation it can be eased and the whole then swings back into its rest position. In the harmonious whole tension and relaxation form an organic system complementing each other either simultaneously or in rhythmical alternation. Every tension bears the need for relaxation, every relaxation the need for tension. Always, therefore, behind this polarity the law of the whole is at work. It strives for accord and harmony and redresses every disturbing excess as soon as there is access to the compensating transcendental force coming from the ground of Being (Seinsgrund) -- access which is blocked when the tensions have become ingrained.

What is meant by disturbance of the right relationship of tension and relaxation? We are not concerned here with physiological conditions for they also would merely point to a disturbance affecting the whole man. It is the person who is disturbed, never his body alone. What then is the disturbance of the whole person which manifests as wrong tension? It is, as a rule, nothing but a clinging to the partial which upsets the whole. As for example, the clinging to a certain position, the obsession with a certain desire, being imprisoned by a fear, the inability to get free from certain forms of aggression, resentment or compulsion. Behind all these there usually stands, consciously or unconsciously, an I held fast by a fixation.

There are two kinds of tension arising from the ego: the immediate, fleeting ones and those which have become constitutional. The former is found in all mental processes relating to any given object, in every deliberate action and in every passing emotion. The latter is a dominating wrong tension of which the sufferer is unconscious, the result of an inveterate, egocentric relation to existence. Such a permanent compulsive tension may be the result of a trauma which has passed into the body or of an inner pressure arising from a gnawing guilt or fear, a repressed need, an inability to make contact with others. In such cases the person is always in the grip of something he cannot cope with but which yet allows him to perceive his own helplessness. Such latent tensions, kept active and alive by circumstances, are heightened to breaking point whenever a complex-laden situation arises. It is an astonishing thing to see how such tensions can be wiped out at one stroke if the sufferer simply dares to let himself drop down into his vital abdominal centre and to yield to it, especially if he can be brave enough to admit that he cannot free himself from his suffering by his own efforts. It dawns on him then that the basic reason for his rigidity and strain lies in his I.

But a man may have realized for a long time that his tensions were caused by nothing but his I and its fears for its own existence. Even so he still cannot cope with the fear nor rid himself of his I. Only by learning to relax from his deepest level will he find that in full relaxation he is free of all fear. He will realize that complete depth-relaxation is the same thing as the neutralizing of the I. But the practice of deep relaxation can be significant and efficacious only when it is carried out in full awareness of its inner meaning and not merely for the relief of bodily symptoms. Only if practised in the right frame of mind does the work even of merely muscular relaxation take on its real significance. As a by-product of such practice there will indeed be an increase of efficiency and health.

The practice of relaxation begins naturally with bodily relaxation. The aspirant fixes his mind on the letting-go of the muscles of his limbs. But this by itself does not amount to much for in this way he will not arrive at the deeper meaning of relaxation. When he is able to sink himself without resistance into his limbs, which will feel heavier and heavier, he will become aware of a qualitative change in his whole state. At this point something may occur that is inwardly meaningful. An outward sign of the change of state is a temporary inability to move. This means on the one hand, that the tension necessary for response to commands from the I has left the muscles, and further, that the I has become part of a greater whole. In this state of complete relaxation something altogether new in quality can arise. It is perceived as a special kind of warmth, a sense of boundaries removed where the aspirant exists in a hitherto unknown way, lifted into an all-embracing whole, and where at the same time in a strange way, he feels safely at home within himself. From this completely conscious yet ego-less condition he returns to ordinary consciousness with one deep breath and is once more master of his limbs. If he has been deeply aware of a peculiar condition in which he no longer belonged wholly to himself and yet esd himself in a greater sense than ever before, something of its secret power will remain alive in him. If not he will merely feel refreshed and restored physically, but nothing more -- an experience of no particular interest.

What happens in the periods when an aspirant practises relaxation can bear fruit only if during the day's activities -- walking, sitting, standing, performing all sorts of common actions -- he keeps himself in control. In the course of real practice an organ is developed which enables the aspirant to notice instantly his wrong tensions and to correct them himself. Only if constantly tested in everyday life will Hara be experienced as the right interplay of tension and relaxation.

It is characteristic of our time that people look only for ways and means of achieving right relaxation without giving much thought to what is right tension. This perfectly reflects our entanglement in a life mechanism from which the only deliverance seems to be the total dissolving of the hard, set patterns belonging to it. But this provides no way out of the vicious circle.

Relaxation serves the inner becoming only when it is confronted by something opposing it. This is not possible when relaxation culminates in soft helpless dissolution, or when -- as though it had to be that way -- the aspirant, after his relaxation exercise, immediately falls back into his wrong tensions as if nothing had happened.

Right relaxation exists only where the aspirant feels that secret root from which something strives and grows without his help, which puts him and keeps him in form. It becomes evident in the practice of diaphragm-breathing as he learns to permit full exhalation and to let inhalation come of itself. This exercise, often very difficult for the beginner, gives him a freshness which is more than a mere bodily restorative. He suddenly feels again 'in form' and what is more, in one completely different from his usual tense form. The whole secret lies in this sense of 'getting back to the right form'. Purely physical relaxation exercises aim only at a mechanical relaxation of rigidity and therefore result in most cases in more slackness, the negative compensation of which is again wrong-tension.

That ground of being (Lebensgrund) so rarely experienced by modern man, which releases him in the right way is also the well-spring of that right tension filled with vitality which allows his unique personal form to unfold. When the right personal form appears a man has achieved his essential individuality (Gestalt). And not until a man perceives his own individual form -- charged with its essence-tension and bringing a sense of obligation -- will he understand what practice really means. And just as this true form can unfold only when the aspirant has learned to abandon the ego structure causing his wrong tensions, only then can he unfold himself fully and proudly as mind and soul. But first the I, with its false rationality, and its restless heart, .must drop down into the well-spring of the Primordial Deep.

All this means that the right inter-action of relaxation and tension can come into play only when man finds his 'earth-centre' which is embodied in Hara. When he is in touch with it he will feel released and be set free for true Self-becoming. To the extent that this contact is consolidated in Hara, the waking-state-tensions necessary for normal existence in the world will be properly sustained and will become fruitful in the life sense. For one who is proficient in Hara they awaken the incentive to seek anew his contact with the healing Ground. The inter-action of wrong-tension and complete slackness will be replaced by that creative liberation from the small I which alone will allow the growth of being.
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Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

Postby admin » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:33 am

Chapter 8: The Practice of Breathing

Through breathing as through no other basic function of our life, can we realize and practise what most concerns us here. In breathing we partake unconsciously in the Greater Life. If we succeed in becoming aware of how the laws of life work out in breathing, in submitting ourselves to them consciously and in taking them in their full significance, we are already on the 'Way'. In what follows all that is said about breathing is connected with the Way.

The practice of breathing is accomplished in three stages. In the first stage it is a question of becoming conscious of the usual physical breathing, of correcting and exercising it. In the second stage the aspirant begins to recognize himself in his wrong breathing, and so to practise letting go and receiving in a new way. In the third stage he begins to recognize breathing as a sign of supernatural life and to surrender himself to it.

Right physical breathing comes from a movement of the diaphragm. If it is in order it is not the result of a doing, the breath comes and goes of itself. If the movement of the diaphragm is in any way impeded it is replaced by a movement of the auxiliary muscles located higher up. This is a sign that a person is held tightly in the circle of his I even in his breathing. Shallow breathing high up -- i.e. in the chest -- shows that a man is tense and caught in his I without knowing it.

Because the I has to do everything itself, such a person does not allow the breath simply to come and go, he must draw it in and he resists full exhalation. The first thing that has to be learned is to let breathing happen. This is possible only to the extent that a person is able to cease directing the breath from his I. Just how difficult this is becomes clear when he first observes his breathing, for then the effect of the fixing I, interrupting the natural rhythm, becomes immediately apparent. Breathing falters and the beginner frequently has the impression that he is no longer capable of breathing properly, and that he is short of breath.

It takes a long time before such a person, even one who usually breathes more or less rightly, is able to breathe consciously in the right way. To learn this is a basic exercise -- exercitium -- which is needed by both the sound and the unsound. Here, for the first time, the aspirant gets an idea of the importance of the age-old saying, 'To see as if one saw not', or 'To do without doing'. To his surprise and annoyance the beginner finds that mere knowledge of right breathing alone is of no avail. Although he already knows what is required he cannot prevent the interference of his I. Again and again he resists exhalation half-way, and half-intentionally he assists the inflowing breath. It is as if he dared not allow full exhalation and feared that he would not get enough air unless he helped. So it is a great and memorable experience when for the first time he succeeds with full consciousness, in allowing the natural, living breath to happen and discovers that it really does come and go, come and go of its own accord. Letting the breath happen without the participation of the will is therefore the first requirement. But to accomplish this the European has to learn above all to let go, to shift the point of gravity from above to below in his body, and to achieve this he usually has to learn how to let the breath flow out fully.

It might be as well here to say a word about Yoga-breathing as practised today by many people under the guidance of more or less qualified teachers. It cannot be disputed that many experience at least some temporary benefit from it. But quite often it is bad for them. If one asks why, the answer is that in rightly understood Yoga (lit: 'to yoke', i.e. 'to yoke oneself to the source of Life'), breathing is an exercise designed to assist man to find his true Self. But the self-practice leading to the ultimate Self demands something different according to the differences in the starting point of each beginner.

The Indian master in his own country deals with types of people who differ radically from people in the West. The Indian and the Oriental generally bring very different attitudes towards the practice of breathing from those brought by the Westerner. The difference is twofold: first, his whole attitude to life, and second his living conditions.

Thanks to the religious tradition of the East with its age-old roots in the practice of meditation, the practice of breathing as an exercise on the Way, is taken as a matter of course. Therefore the spiritual aspect of breathing needs hardly to be emphasized. In the same way the scripture readings, prayers and images, introducing and accompanying meditation, fall on prepared ground and are readily accepted. In the Western pupil they often cause only a vague feeling of uplift which is worthless, or at best a momentary stimulation of the mind. Only rarely do they have any permanent influence or effect on the over-all life attitude of the Western pupil. In most cases such spiritual tuning-in is soon given up altogether, and practice is then pursued only as an exercise for the body. In all this the structure of the European's total life-attitude becomes apparent.

Whereas the Indian is more in danger of sagging downwards, or of dispersing, the Westerner usually suffers from too much upward pull. Here, the danger is from too much will, there, from an inert letting-go; here too much do-it-yourself, there too much letting-it-happen; here the tendency to emphasize inhaling rather than exhaling and to hold the breath consciously; there the tendency to glide downwards and drop into a kind of unconsciousness. As certainly as the sounding-board and manifestation-field of the Absolute is the whole man, so certainly must the beginner have help in finding his own wholeness. Roughly speaking one can say that the Indian lacks the 'above'. Thus it is understandable that in Yoga-breathing emphasis is laid from the beginning on intentional inhalation and the retention of the breath at the point of completed intake. The Yoga teacher, it is true, will require the pupil at the beginning of each exercise to relax, but the teacher himself often does not realize that precisely this demands of the European what he is least able to accomplish and what he will achieve only after long practice. There are apparently only a very few Yoga teachers who watch for the self-releasing or relaxing of their Western pupils, and only then-after the pupil has really learned to let go-commence those exercises which imply tension. But in general, for the European, practice of breathing means first and foremost the step away from the intentional doing towards passive permitting. But if the European is required to begin at once with an upward-tending exercise, what happens then corresponds to his usual unconscious orientation and therefore suits and pleases him. Nonetheless it misleads him -- that is, it leads to his grafting on to his ordinary, established tension, a new one produced by the new teaching. The result is at best that the Western aspirant, immediately after beginning to practice enjoys a sense of increased vitality and perhaps feels wonderfully 'fit' for a time, but later, as a consequence of the excessive demands on an ego and a will-structure already over-developed, he becomes completely supine. The artificially induced vitality is followed by a condition of exhaustion and the aspirant discontinues his efforts, his practice.

On people whose dis-ease is due to their irresoluteness and softness, their indolence and passivity, a breathing training which makes use of the will and pulls the individual upwards has only seemingly a positive effect. They cannot in truth build an effective healthy I in this way, for the healthy ego always presupposes contact with one's own being. The breathing of such usually weak and irresolute people is often shallow, and they show an anxious obscured wrong tension which has first to be dissolved before the right, vital tension from below can flow in to them. But to have no boundaries does not necessarily imply contact with the Greater Life. One who has no boundaries and who is apparently very relaxed can discover this true personal form only when he learns how to renew himself continually from the well-spring of the deep.

Purely body-training practices have little to do with Yoga in the sense of a healing and integrating work 'yoking' the individual to the ground of Being. They are only gymnastics, falsifying Yoga to methods for the increase of health, will-power and efficiency. But for his inner development a man gains nothing by them. This, however, does not alter the fact that the practice of breathing is, in the beginning, an exercise of the body which a man perceives at first only from an objective distance. In the beginning he practises something which he has 'before' him -- not something which he already is as a man and a living creature. He treats not himself but his body like an instrument out of tune which he wants to re-tune and set right. In this way he acquires a certain routine which is only the foundation for what is to follow. With it comes a 'know-how' of breathing which can be very useful for general health but still does not guarantee any inner gain. The true meaning of practice begins only when the aspirant learns by means of his breathing to exercise himself, not just his body. Here lies the meaning of the second stage of the practice of breathing. And only with this does true practice begin.

At the second stage the aspirant no longer emphasizes his exhalation but learns to let himself fall into it. He no longer tries to loosen the stiff pushed-up shoulders and chest but to loosen himself. This betokens a fundamentally different approach. He learns that the wrong breathing of the body expresses a wrong attitude of his self. Not his body, but he breathes wrongly. Breathing is not merely an in-drawing and out-streaming of air, but a fundamental movement of a living whole, affecting the world of the body as well as the regions of soul and mind. From his breathing a man's whole attitude to life can be read. Thus the aspirant has to understand that the change concerns not only his body but his whole attitude towards himself and life. Gradually as he gains this new view of breathing he will realize the full extent of his former wrong attitude -- how his faulty body posture as well as the broken rhythm of his breath were all manifestations of wrong mental attitudes which were blocking and distorting the cosmic ebb and flow of the breath of life. Wrong breathing creates resistance to the fundamental rhythm if life and thereby makes Self-becoming impossible.

Only a teacher or therapist who has seen time and again the fear which prevents the 'letting-oneself-fall' into the exhalation realizes that what is at work here is a fundamental lack of trust in life . The difficulty of giving up the active waking-tension of the I is rooted in the deep unconscious fear that in so doing the man will lose himself. The commonness of this fear is shown by the nervous start which many people experience just as they are dropping off to sleep -- when something seems to pull the sleeper back at the very moment when he is about to surrender to the secret working of nature, in this case to the breath of sleep. What is here a strikingly obvious resistance is at other times a subtler hindrance to the blessed unconscious working of Nature, that is, being constantly on the qui vive, as if life's whole security and continuation depended on a man's keeping things consciously in his grip . It generally takes a long time before a beginner, turning his conscious attention to his breathing, grasps the truth that not he but 'it' breathes, and that he may confidently surrender even his breathing to the Great Power which keeps him alive without his assistance. This feeling that 'it breathes' not that 'I breathe', (and the beginner often imagines far too soon that he has known it) is one of the greatest, most impressive and most blissful experiences at the beginning of the Way.

Here a question suggests itself. Does not the individual who has never heard of breathing exercises normally surrender quite naturally to his breathing function? If so, why the exercise? The answer is that if a man did not normally surrender to it he would not live at all. But what matters on the Way is precisely becoming conscious of the life and the Being embodied in us, and this includes the becoming conscious of the basic movement of all life -- which is breath. The hidden formative power of Nature takes on its fullest meaning and effect for man's higher development only when he becomes conscious of its mysterious working. Man matures and completes himself only by becoming conscious of those great laws which, at the level of unconscious Nature, are simply lived. But this is a special form of becoming conscious.

This special consciousness is blocked when he first begins to work because man always fixes objectively everything that he perceives from the standpoint of the I, including even himself, as soon as he observes himself carefully. As the Zen masters express it, he turns the 'inside' into an 'outside'. And thereby he alters beyond recognition what he originally wanted to perceive. Everything he fixes is at once built into the structure of his ready-made ideas and concepts, that is, into the consciousness-pattern of the I whose life-blocking outlook he wanted to transcend. 'Becoming conscious' therefore means something completely different. It is a question not of becoming intellectually or objectively conscious of the breath life and its rhythmical order as manifested in breathing, but of becoming aware of it as a living movement in which oneself is also included, without fixing it or standing apart from it.

This awareness of life working within us is something fundamentally different from observing, fixing and comprehending from the outside. In such observing and comprehending he who comprehends stands apart from the comprehended and observed. But in becoming aware, the experience remains one with the experiencer and transforms him by taking hold of him. Whenever an experience changes a person it happens unnoticed in the greater awareness of what has been experienced. To become aware means to regain the oneness with the original reality of life. A man distorts, injures and loses it because in his ego he cuts himself off from the original reality which of itself could transform him. He contradicts it by entrenching himself anew in his old thought-patterns and by trying to orient himself only by what he can pin down. Life can never be pinned down.

Letting-go of the I is unthinkable without also letting-go one's old built-in patterns of thought and consciousness. Only the dissolution of the I and all its patterns will allow the coming into force and the potential fruitfulness of that consciousness-pattern which accords with the Great Life. This is the immanent inner consciousness.

What matters in all practice is to lift this inner consciousness which is ordinarily the bearer of all human experience, out of its submerged secondary role and to give it the leading role. Only where the inner consciousness is reawakened and its contents accepted can the process of becoming one (which is also conscious) -- with the primordial forces of Life operate in such a way as not again to destroy this union. By becoming aware of the Source -- not just 'knowing about' it -- man becomes effectively aware of the estrangement into which his outer consciousness has led him, and only then will he be ready to approach and draw again from the well-springs of life.

Finding the way back to the Source is not a simple returning. Rather is this backward movement an advance to a stage where man can of his own will, freely and consciously fulfil what his nature unconsciously urges-to live life not through his ego-concepts but according to his Being. The way to this freedom leads through the development of that inward consciousness which, as distinct from all 'consciousness of something', admits life as such. Further, this active awareness of inner life is characterized by an obligating impulse of conscience which urges a man to live and change himself in accordance with his new realizations. Thus the spiritual awareness of breathing can never be separated from the birth of true conscience, sometimes called the Holy Wisdom.

The work of conscience bears in itself not only awareness of the valid realizations which it has called forth. It bears also a promise whose fulfilment depends on our obedience. What we become aware of in the practice of breathing can be fulfilled only in obedience to the law which we have understood in our inward consciousness.

At the second stage of the practice of breathing the aspirant must learn to free himself from the hard shell of his I as a reference point, so that he can receive himself anew and be transformed. His maturing is achieved by admitting change and transformation, loosing himself and bracing himself, opening himself and closing himself in the ready surrender of the old and the acceptance of the new. At the second stage, therefore, the aspirant must learn to lose himself in order to find himself. The I has taught him only to cling to and to preserve, never to let go and to trust. The letting-go implied here, the surrender of the I-position experienced in right breathing demands more courage than is generally supposed. And only very slowly does a man come to know himself in his hybrid self-will and his distrust of the boundless. But when at last the whole man is inspired by the breath of Life he finds in trustful self-surrender a fundamentally new confidence in life and also, in a deeper sense, he finds himself. And in this deep newly-gained trust alone can he finally win through to Himself.

It is at the third stage that he will be led to the unfathomable Void whence rises the law of the Spiritual Life.

Awareness of the life manifest in breathing is present in reality only when one senses the Great Respiration and finally keeps in rhythm with it. This means yielding oneself without reservation to the cosmic movement of ebb and flow. One must understand from the core of one's being that all forms are brought forth in stillness and when they are fulfilled, taken back again. Man as a creature is also subject to this law of life. But to the extent that he has developed only his specifically human consciousness, he confronts this cycle of dying and becoming, passing away and rising again with his ordinary will to cling to life. And the result of this will is a hardening, a lack of permeability which causes the Great Life in him to suffocate. When a man experiences for the first time that his breath, hitherto so narrow and small, permeates him completely and lifts him joyously into abundance, he tastes his new living wholeness and his significant belonging to a Greater Life. It is in the progressive unfolding of this inner experience that man enters the Great Way.

On the way to re-rooting himself in the ground of Life the aspirant has already, at the second stage of practice, taken an essential step forward. It is the step towards lightening and making more penetrable the hard shell of his ego. He has already begun to rise above that level of consciousness in which he perceived his own body only as a thing. But the development which is to root him anew in the Primal Life would be arrested half-way if the experience were no more than a feeling of agreeable release from confining barriers. Ultimately what matters is not that a man should liberate himself but that he should enter the Great Life with the understanding that his Self-being is a responsible participation in the Great Life. The breathing practice leading to this stage is that of trustful and obedient yielding, deliberately, attentively listening. From such a yielding he returns not only as a more clear-sighted I-self but as a witness of that to which he has surrendered.

The meaning of the second stage is realized when man has acquired the assurance that if he loses himself he will find himself again. The meaning of the third stage is the blissful, convincing and binding experience of participation in the Whole. At the first stage breathing is practised involuntarily as something belonging to the outer world. At the second stage man practises himself, and finds himself safely within himself. But at the third stage it is neither the one nor the other, for here a new life-impulse breaks through which has transcended the opposites and which sets a man on a new path. At this stage, where a man in his practice revolves neither round an object nor round himself but around a completely new centre-of-meaning, that religious feeling develops which lives neither by ideas nor by mystical feeling, but which is the expression of the creative and liberating working of the divine being arising within the human self.

What have the three stages of breathing to do with the practice of Hara? Neither more nor less than that they all serve the attainment of the 'earth centre' which allows progress in practice, and which then leads on to still higher levels of human development. With the strengthening of Hara comes the courage necessary for the complete abandonment of the ego which enables a man progressively to anchor himself in that centre where the Primordial arises.

The advance from one stage to the next implies a growing possibility of reaching the true Self. In the beginning there is the 'I am I', possessing a body which breathes wrongly and which must learn to breathe rightly. Then comes the growth of that greater I-self that feels at one with his original soul-body (Ur-Lieb), when he experiences himself as a human being individually connected with the Great Breath of Life. And finally comes the supreme experience of the 'I am' in the sense of total participation in the Greater Life whose breath leads the aspirant homewards, born anew, In the course of this transformation, the whole centre of gravity has shifted downward and Hara is so well developed that its strength enables a man then on to live his daily life from the breath of the Great Life.

So much for the purpose and the manner of the earliest Hara-practice leading to that level of development which, by a backward movement, restores a man to the ground-root of Being. But even the little that has been said of the nature and practice of Hara can be understood only by one who has already begun to practise. To anyone without personal experience, what we have said about the results of Hara-practice must necessarily seem exaggerated and improbable, all the more so since the inexperienced, as we have said before, are always in danger of regarding it as a merely physical exercise unrelated to the needs of the mind and soul. Also the inexperienced invariably tend to underestimate the heavy demands made by genuine practice. The exercises taken separately may be easy, but to become one who practises is not.

The practice of Hara, cannot be limited to certain hours of the day for such practice helps only to acquire right posture, a feeling for the right balance of tension and relaxation, and the training in right breathing. The daily period of practice develops an inner organ which enables the aspirant to become aware immediately of every wrong posture in his daily life and to correct himself. But the full meaning of practice is reached only when it has become a constant force penetrating the whole of everyday life.

Accordingly, we should now try to point out what Hara means in the basic, recurring situations of ordinary life. We should show separately how it affects a person in physical or mental work, in creative activity, in love, in his relations with his fellow-men, in his work, in the planning of his life and in the acceptance of his destiny. But all this would require a deeper penetration into still wider spheres of thought which will be dealt with in a later book. So far we have spoken of Hara exclusively as the expression of man's basic earth-centre and shown the immediate effects of possessing it. To continue would mean to enlarge further upon the higher reaches of mental and spiritual development possible only to those firmly anchored in the regained earth-centre. But to indicate such possibilities is a task of supreme importance for our time.

We stand today in the radiance of a new burst of light from that transcendental Being which underlies our human life as conditioned by space and time, in the sign of a rediscovery of the laws of the Greater Life amidst the contingencies of our little life between birth and death. In this opening of completely new vistas the regaining of contact with the Primordial Ground is only the first part of the task. The real task lies in the shaping of life by the spirit. The indispensible condition of this is the rediscovery of the first principles of that Mind which manifests Primordial Oneness. Only in this movement of the spirit will we comprehend the full significance of the releasing, sustaining and creative earth-centre, which is Hara.
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Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

Postby admin » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:39 am

V: Retrospect and Outlook

Chapter 9: Retrospect and Outlook


When a man starts to consider his life he realizes that his standing in the world is a twofold one. He finds himself in his historical actual world and at the same time feels himself linked in his innermost being to an extra-historical Greater Life. To live in the world, and not merely to exist, but to live significantly and happily, he needs the strength to make his way and to secure his position in life, he needs to know and understand things, to build on right values and he needs the capacity to love. To the extent that he confronts the risks, the disorder and the lovelessness of life only with the strength of his will and intellect, and as long as his emotions are predominantly conditioned by the 'world', sooner or later he comes to a barrier. Then follows the foredoomed suffering of mankind which, blinded by its exclusive preoccupation with the world of time and space, has lost sight of the way inwards.

Man's 'way inwards' is the way of uniting himself with his Being wherein he partakes of Life beyond space and time. This is the way to maturity, the way that yields fruit in proportion to his success in integrating 'himself' with his Self.

There is an inherent obstacle on the way inwards which threatens even the sound healthy man, namely, that by the very structure of his consciousness, may assume complete control of the man's whole life. The door to the inner life can then re-open only when a man is able to break through the domination of the I and win contact with that Being and Life within him which evades all his 'arrangements'. But only an established inner attitude enabling him constantly, from within this world, to participate in the Great Being will bring him the fruit of this integration. For only by his capacity to live and prove the Greater Life in the lesser one, only in the manifestation of Being in the world can man fulfil his appointed destiny as the simpler creatures do.

The way inwards rests on three factors. The first is an experience wherein the light of Being illuminates the darkness of life. The second is insight into the relationship of his worldly I and his transcendental Being, as well as into the difference between the state in which he is cut off from his Being and the right state which opens him to it. The third is practice, exercitium, which corrects the wrong working of the misguided I and builds up the right attitude in a right way. That is a right attitude in which a man is permeable to the Greater Life which he embodies and by which he is enabled to perceive it in the world. He is then truly himself and the world of space and time becomes transparent for him in the Being which transcends space and time.

The way leading to this condition is by the transformation of the whole man, i.e. a unit of body, mind and soul. What keeps man estranged from Being consists not only in his being fettered by psychological complexes and by the rigidity of his thought-patterns, but also by the fact that they are fixed in his flesh and set fast in wrong bodily habits. So any renewal can be achieved only through the transformation of the whole man, and implies not only an intellectual and spiritual conversion, but also a transformation of the body and all its postures and movements. Without this bodily transformation all inner experience of Being comes to a standstill when the experience has passed, and the man inevitably falls victim again to his old, familiar fixing and classifying consciousness. Therefore practice must inevitably include practice of the body.

Just as the right inner state is clearly expressed in the symbolism of the harmoniously functioning body, so inner malformations appear as bodily malformations. These have one thing in common: lack of centre. Lack of centre implies either that a man is anchored too firmly in his upper body or that he lacks anchorage altogether. Only where a firm middle region exists is man's entire psycho-physical state properly entered.

The whole life attitude of a human being appears in his posture, in the relationship of tension and relaxation, and in breathing. Posture, tension and relaxation, and breath can never be exclusively physical factors. They are integral functions of the person manifesting himself analogously on the psychological and spiritual levels. For this reason it is possible to begin the work on the whole man with them.

One can speak of 'right' training in posture, relaxation and breathing only when it is undertaken in the service of Self-becoming. Efficiency in the world is indeed a fruit of integration with Being, but this is not the primary aim of practice understood as exercitium. Actually integration with Being becomes more difficult if posture, relaxation and breathing exercises are directed only towards a man's relation to the world, for precisely because they will strengthen him in his illusory autonomy and life-efficiency, they will serve too to support and increase his estrangement from Being.

The poverty of man's relation to Being is shown by the malformed I. There are two extreme cases of malformation -- in the one a man is encased in an impenetrably hard I-shell, in the other he has no I-covering whatever. Once the I has been injured there is no 'worldly' remedy to free a man from his fears, despairs and sorrows and to help him re-discover the support, trust and sense of protection which he needs. Only on the way which gives him back again his innate contact with Being, the loss of which is expressed in his impotence and suffering, can he become whole again.

Becoming one with Being means transcending the structure patterns of ordinary consciousness. Therefore there can be no re-anchoring in Being as long as experience, insight and practice do not break through the narrow circle of the usual rational consciousness-pattern. All the struggling to acquire knowledge, all practice which merely strengthens the will, and all efforts to put feeling under discipline are doomed to failure when the Transcendental is the goal. A man has to overcome the dichotomy of objective and subjective consciousness, to let the original Unity penetrate his awareness and to let himself be embraced by it without wanting or trying to understand and hold it. When he admits the primal Unity which was within him before and beyond all I-becoming he will find true renewal. By dropping his ego and submerging himself in the Primordial Life he will find Being within himself, become more and more. at one with it, become through never flagging practice truly new, and as a renewed being prove himself as a witness of the Great Being.

The inner movement from 'I' to the 'It' as seen in the symbolism of the body and in the ascent from unconscious Nature to the rational I consciousness, is a 'backward movement'. The powers of the I-intellect, will and emotion -- are located in the upper part of the body. Their working 'on their own' shows in a centre of gravity too high up, in being tensed upwards and in upper-body breathing. To be released from this exclusively upward pull there is but one remedy, letting oneself drop downwards and anchoring oneself in Hara. Hara, literally translated belly, means indeed the physical belly but this understanding of it in the merely bodily sense exists only in the view of the I which automatically separates body and soul. Hara implies actually the whole man in full contact with the nourishing, begetting, conceiving, carrying and re-generating root-forces of life. Hara is the region where the Primal Oneness of life is to be found. When a man can preserve his union with it under all circumstances he will remain completely at one with the Great Life within him.

To the extent that the whole man, in the course of his becoming conscious, identifies himself with the I and identifies his world with his consciousness -- to that extent he estranges himself from his Being. Helplessly exposed to the tensions of life always perceived solely through the pairs of opposites, he loses the blessedness inherent in the Original One. But if he is able to subordinate his I and to re-root himself in his earth-centre, the yoke of the I is lightened and the forces of the deep arise within him. For the I-imprisoned the finding of these forces in Hara means the ability to give up his cherished stand in the realm of the ego and the finding of a different foothold -- a longed for release. For him who lacks a firm I-base it means the discovery of a power which consolidates him and shapes him from within. Finding himself in Hara means then two things: liberation from the wrong I, the one not in contact with Being and hence from the pseudo-self, and the opening of a way to the right I, which is in contact with Being, and ultimately to the true Self.

In this finding of Hara something decisive has happened. Gone is the dependence on the world, which has been regarded as the sole reality but where the I-will finally founders, where the I-spirit never finds a satisfying world-order and where the I-heart remains forever enmeshed in suffering. In its place is the All-in-All where every contradiction is resolved and all space-time reality loses its significance. But this represents an advanced applying stage only to one who regards the I-reality as a mere delusion and the lifting of this delusion as an ultimate goal.

For the Westerner, also, if he progresses on the inner way, the world anchored in the I becomes a delusion. But it remains delusion for him only as long as his 'I-reality' preserves its absolute character as the only reality. It ceases to be a delusion as soon as he is able to recognize it as the medium through which true Reality shows itself. Then the I-reality becomes transparent to Being and also the sphere of manifestation for him who bears within himself the One. The new man then constantly perceives the One in all colours, images and patterns through which Being is refracted in the prism of the I. To realize Being in all and everything then becomes the sole function of his life. Time is no longer opposed to eternity but is the medium which reflects it. 'Everything in space and time means ultimately only Eternity.'

In this European or, more specifically, Christian view, a personal experiencing of the One is in fact only the beginning of the way of ultimate transformation. It is true that already in the never-ending discovery and re-discovery of that centre of the primal Unity in man, new horizons open for the mind and new depths for the heart. But, when man lifts himself from the earth-centre of his human nature to the heaven-centre of his spirit and when, in his heart-centre he joyously accepts the obligation to actualize the Original Unity and its inherent order within his existence in this world, then will his insight and practice flow out in one stream of true creative activity on earth. For the Kingdom of Heaven on earth is our true heritage and only within it will the real 'circulation of light' be established.
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Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

Postby admin » Sat Aug 10, 2019 3:33 am

Appendix: Japanese Texts

Chapter 1: Okada Torajiro

Introduction


Master Okada Torajiro worked during the first two decades of this century. Many of his pupils, then students, have attained high official positions. One of them, Count F. told me the following story from his youth. 'When I was studying at the Tedai (the Imperial University) about 1910 it was the time when intellectualism in academic education was at its peak. We were overfed with rationalism. The lectures frequently consisted of nothing but recited translations from Western books. We found nothing that moved us, that touched our nature, so to speak. But there was Master Okada who, we were told, had said "If you come and practice with me you will not, it is true, accumulate knowledge, but you will learn to understand the speech of birds."

'Many of us went to him very early in the morning. We would get up at five o'clock to "sit" with Master Okada before our lectures began. In the bitter winter weather this was often hard but we were keen and we went. Little was said. Mostly the Master just "sat" with us, corrected our postures, scarcely speaking. But we gained much and today I still know that I am infinitely indebted to him for this work.' It is an interesting fact that everyone considers Count F. to be about fifteen years younger than he actually is.

Another, a man of great physical and mental Vitality, Ambassador K. told me (he was then over sixty) that as a young man he had been weak and sickly and that he owed it exclusively to Seiza [1] that he was now fresh, vigorous and in excellent health. These are but two examples out of many.

After Master Okada's early death his work was carried on by a woman, Dr Kobayashi, with whom I had the opportunity of practising Seiza. She also gave me the little book 'Words of the Master' to keep with me always on my way.

Quite uncomplicated directions are typical of the methods of the Japanese. masters. The master rarely speaks, he demonstrates. The pupil adapts himself to an atmosphere and imitates the master as best he can -- over 'and over again. From time to time a quick correction drops into the silence. Madame Kobayashi's method -- as far as I could see -- was for the most part simply to sit or kneel opposite her pupil at a distance of some thirty inches, while she herself simply 'practised' for half an hour. I remember how, at my second session with her I had tried during the half hour or my practice to keep my eyes open. She realized this only at the end of the period and then, seeing that my eyes had watered, told me that I might just keep them closed for the time being. This wordless teaching coming out of the silence and the silent action makes a very strange impression. Only now and then during the following lessons came a light word, a silent gesture, a light touch on my shoulders or head, a quick pressure at the small of my back.

In what follows I give a translation of some of the sayings of Master Okada. The sequence is not that of the original but is here arranged according to subject-matter.

Sayings of Master Okada

Tanden [2] is the shrine of the Divine. If its stronghold is finely built so that the Divine in us can grow then a real human being is achieved. If one divides people into ranks the lowest is he who values his head. Those who endeavour only to amass as much knowledge as possible grow heads that become bigger and so they topple over easily, like a pyramid standing upside down. They excel in imitating others but neither originality nor inventiveness nor any great work is theirs.

Next come those of middle rank. For them the chest is most important. People with self-control, given to abstinence and asceticism belong to this type. These are the men with outward courage but without real strength. Many of the so-called great men are in this category. Yet all this is not enough.

But those who regard the belly as the most important part and so have built the stronghold where the Divine can grow -- these are the people of the highest rank. They have developed their minds as well as their bodies in the right way. Strength flows out from them and produces a spiritual condition of ease and equanimity. They do what seems good to them without violating any law. Those in the first category think that Science can rule Nature. Those in the second have apparent courage and discipline and they know how to fight. Those in the third know what reality is.

Seiza makes use of the posture most certain to produce people of the third category. The sorrows of humanity are caused by loss of balance. To preserve it one has to have a healthy body and an upright heart. These can be achieved only 'on the way'. To reach the way means 'sitting'! If you 'sit' for two or three years you will understand.

From getting-up time until bedtime you must be awake (on the jump). Keep your posture in Hara, come what may, and you will be alert in the right way.

You sit for one year, two years, three years, and you think -- and so do others -- that you are like one born anew. In truth however you are just a little shoot on the way to the development of your being. It takes fifty to sixty years to become like the heaven-striving cedars and cypresses.

Even if the body is changed in Seiza the deepest inner state does not change so quickly.

Keep a carp in a pond with a stone in the centre and another of equal size with nothing in the centre. In the pond where the stone is the carp swims round the stone all the time and thus has its exercise without meeting resistance. He grows more quickly than the carp in the other pond. This is the result of endless repetition.

What is Seiza?

Before I am, thou art, he is -- is that .... ! To know that is Seiza.

Christ said, 'Unless ye become as little children ye cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven.' That is true. The same applies to Seiza.

Seiza aims at the perfection of human being. The achievement of health and the acquisition of healing powers are secondary factors.

People did not know before that there was a method of developing intelligence, physical health and morality all at the same time. Therefore they laughed at my teaching.

There were people who thought that Seiza was a kind of hypnotism. But Seiza is not that. On the contrary, Seiza implies such a development that one will never fall under the power of hypnotism no matter how strong it may be.

On Breathing

Seiza is the master and breath the serving-man. Breathing is a means of achieving Seiza. Therefore Seiza is the more important. But both, Seiza and breath, are means of developing mind and body. Their operation is fulfilled in faith.

Some say that it is a kind of health-breathing, others that it is a new religion. And there are many other views. But none is correct, and all that merely makes me laugh. But one day it will probably become a great question for learned circles and then my aim will become clear. Until then I'll leave it at that.

Sit quite still, breathe gently, giving out long breaths, the strength in the lower belly.

Only because there is no strength in the belly does one get out of breath when running.

He who swims with Hara will make good speed.

Nowadays a soldier is allowed to sleep with his mouth open. In olden times he would soon have been done for.

Breathing through the mouth is a sign of decline.

When a fish is dying he puts his big mouth above the surface of the water and gasps for air.

Many of our people breathe through their mouths. But the whole people should breathe through the nose and press the breath down into the tanden.

Tanden breathing is the beginning of tanden practice and the foundation of Seiza. With each breath one should gather one's whole strength in the tanden.

When exhaling one should not give out the breath entirely. One should keep enough back to enable one to speak a few words.

One breath after the other with the whole body strength of tanden -- this is like a chisel which gradually shapes up all the muscles fully, organically.

Always, even when climbing a precipice, one should exhale very slowly at the same time pressing strength into the tanden. Let us repeat -- to strengthen Hara, long, slow out-breathing. As if emptying a pump one must press his breath down into the belly. Most people lack this training in every day life. So they know nothing about gathering strength in the belly. Nor can they keep their mouths firmly shut.

Make the exhalation long. In olden time a knight crossed the Ryohgoku bridge during the time of one breath. I have seen fisherwomen who when diving could hold their breath for many minutes. In a Chinese book it is said that one should cool oneself by staying half a day under water. And there is also a story of a shipwrecked man who was under water for days before he was brought up in a net. Then only did he draw breath.

For inhaling a moment is enough.

The study of breath is of the greatest significance. Even ninjutsu, the art of making oneself invisible and other ancient arts come from the mastery of breathing.

Ordinary people breathe eighteen times a minute. Less than ten are sufficient for those who practise Seiza. But if one can manage with three a minute it is really good.

Someone asked whether he would make progress if he stayed in the country for a year and worked with Dr Kobayashi. 'Yes, if you have got beyond the boundaries of happiness and ambition then you will be able to develop yourself.'

A difference of a hair's breadth (with his hand on a pupil's body) and already there is a split between heaven and earth. But the unity that is -- before 'heaven and earth' were -- is what matters.

Let the heart of the whole body be completely empty and only here (pointing with his finger to the pupil's tanden) let there be strength.

The Seiza posture is in accord with nature. Why does a five-storey pagoda not collapse? Because it keeps its physical balance. If one sits in the Seiza posture one does not topple over no matter from which side one may be pushed.

Like a five-storey pagoda-so faultless should your posture be.

Gather your strength in one point only -- in the lower belly.

In your head is no tanden. Do not put so much strength in your head.

It is useless if you cannot keep it up for thirty minutes.

Keep the trunk erect. Hands folded and lightly pressed on the belly.

The trunk (koshi) should be taut and firm.

When the base is strong the extremities are easily controlled.

Do not try to free yourself from all thoughts. Simply be watchful and keep your strength in your belly.

Why is one unshakable in the Seiza posture? Because the foundation-stone is firm and fixed. A trunk held well erect shows that the spine is not out of line.

Letting force (tension) out of the pit of the stomach does not mean that it should be soft when the tanden is being filled. Of course it becomes somewhat firm. Only it should never be swollen and hard.

Do not keep the mouth open. Let the neck touch the back of the collar.

When the perpendicular of the body holds firm the perpendicular of the mind is also firm,. Relaxed quiet and bold force both have their source here.

There must be strength in the eyes.

Blinking is not good, it weakens the nerves.

There are people who half close their eyes when they go into the summer sunshine. They are weak people.

One should be able to keep one's eyes wide open even when looking straight into the sun.

Push your back collar stud out.

If one takes care only to pull in the chin paying no attention to the pit of the stomach and to the trunk, the chest will gradually protrude.

When the chest protrudes a person becomes obstinate and selfish -- self-centred.

Your posture is twisted because your minds are twisted.

The feet are the kindling, and the belly the stove.

You should always have your head cool and your feet warm.

When there is no force in the tanden the head gets hot and the feet get cold. The hot-headed and the cold-footed is either over sensitive or ill. Such people do not have themselves in hand.

A man of strong body and peaceful feeling will ' certainly have a cool head and warm feet. He has his strength from Hara.

Learning and Teaching

Knowledge of the ways of the world cannot be won by ordered, logical thinking. If one can 'look' into that the knowledge which arises from the body's centre one will understand the ultimate meaning of all the world's appearances.

Nowadays the way of educating as well as the way of learning is wrong. True knowledge is not in the written word. Books are always translations. The original is what is by its own nature.

It has never occurred to me to keep in my head what I have read. If I merely 'read' the Bible or Buddhist books and prayers I find there only such things as agree with my own thoughts.

To make others remember what has been given to them is not education. The creative force which invents, discovers and begins something new -- the release of this force is education. Creative force? That is the in-dwelling Divine. Creative force results from the development of the Divine in us -- including our bodies.

What a pale face! If you practice yet look pale, and you don't begin to like a dish you disliked before your work has been useless. Such practice is good for dying but not for living. Take unto yourself real learning and thenceforth you will live happily.

Look to it to be taught as little as possible. If you 'sit' you will understand quite by yourself.

Seiza as practised by teachers in ordinary schools is completely unsuccessful. This is due to the fact that they practise Seiza as though it were a course of training of which they learn a little and then straightway pass on the little they have learned.

You should never (when sitting) think about concentration of mind or even try to achieve clear purity of mind.

(Against the danger of form.) You must be able to see the face of the child that was there even before it was conceived in its mother's womb. In the past I never thought about the 'form' of sitting. And what I mean could perhaps be shown more easily through dancing than through Seiza. Therefore do not be too concerned with form.

Seiza means to teach children as yet unborn, to influence them without any pre-conceived picture (idea). How could one want to give children still unborn the Seiza form?

You must understand what the rice and the corn say. To raise rice and corn and to bring up children is, in principle, one and the same thing. Can you let rice and corn 'sit'?

The true meaning of education is to draw out the natural essence (original nature) of the individual. This leads also to the perfecting of the personality and the awakening of the soul.

Enthusiasm and ecstasy? These make the blood rush to the head. But when practising Seiza one should keep one's head quiet and cool.

A cypress increases its rings even as a very old tree. One should grow indeed until the moment of death.

Therapeutics

There are people whose eyes begin to fail. Because of the cornea? For three months they may go to an eye specialist. What nonsense! If they are made to do exercises with their eyes, not only will their eyes be spoiled their lives will be endangered. They maintain that their eyes are bad. Fundamentally, however, it is their minds which are not in order. If their minds are healed their eyes will be healed in a perfectly natural way. If they will 'sit' constantly for three months their eyes will be all right again. The good doctor is within themselves.

An old woman felt sharp pains in her hips during the Seiza posture. She thought she was suffering from a bone disease. Later, to her great surprise, she realized that she was completely healed.

'Sitting' in a room next to that of a mentally disturbed person will produce a change, a transformation in that person.

Why do your feet ache? Because there is no force in your lower belly.

(To one whose hands were too cold.) It is because you are putting no strength in your lower belly.

'I have such a headache.' No answer. 'Oh! the back of my head!' Still no answer. Then, in a deep voice, 'Try sitting, and watch.'

Kurosegawa (a sumo wrestler) fell ill though it was part of his profession always to be in training. For a long time he found no cure. After sitting for two weeks he was healed. Good eating and sport by themselves are useless.

The weaker one is the less appetite one has and the more one desires 'tasty' food. Rough food must become for us a feast.

The meaning of all things is within, in the 'mind', not something which exists 'out there'.

One who always fears that his honour is going to be offended is weaker than the person who offends him. One who is disturbed by dust is weaker than dust. And one who is frightened of germs is weaker than germs.

Strong people. cannot be disturbed by anything. They may have weak intestines, fever, consumptive lungs and yet they are healthy because they are never in the least unquiet.

Even if one lung is diseased and the other gets stronger and does three times as much work as the diseased one does that not indicate more strength?

One whose ki (mind) is in disorder is called byoki which means troubled, disturbed mind.

Be interested in the universe. Do not cling to this world. Do not want to possess anything. Never think of your pension.

Mrs X. has given away her diamond ring. But what, after all, is a ring? If she did not cling to her life she could be happy.

Seiza means to give up one's '1'.

When one sits, a good meal and a good bed are being prepared. The good cook and the good mattress are within oneself. When one sits, a lovely cool wind blows in summer and in winter a cosy fire bums on the hearth. The cool wind and the warm hearth are within oneself.

The soldier stands in absolute obedience before one who is, after all, only one rank above him. If one masters Seiza one can stand calmly before anyone.

'The way' -- it is within oneself. If one goes on sitting quietly the way will be revealed.

I have met all my misfortunes as though they were my honoured teachers. Therefore I have no place for pity towards anyone who complains, no matter how unhappy he may be.

It is a bad sign to grow thin when one meets misfortune. The deeper the sorrow the better the appetite should be and the more one should put on weight.

Never will you reach the way unless you live in the Absolute and away from relativity.

The foundation of all education is love. This love is not the one whose opposite is hate but the love that is like sunshine. Practise Seiza and you will experience it.

It is not that only after you have practised you reach ... The state of ... is even now, since you 'sit'.

Result and Effect

Until the voice and the eyes alter one cannot say that one has sat in the right way.

The voice must come from the belly.

Patience, self-discipline and perseverance -- he who does not use these words in this world, and he who feels Spring everywhere in heaven and in earth -- one who has reached this state of mind has really understood.

If there is no strength in the tanden, vices such as jealousy, envy, wrath, greed and distrust appear.

Pride, laziness, moodiness, suspiciousness -- all these come from lack of force in the belly.

Practice in such a way that nobody will ever again be able to constrain you. You should not alter when circumstances alter. In all that concerns the way you should show yourselves incapable of being led astray.

The whole of creation is mine. All books are merely translations of my mind. Seiza is the original of all books and the eternal Spring. Are books then no longer necessary? One cannot say that. By reading one can see how far one has progressed. That applies to all practice.

The fool and the clever man are equally worthy of veneration when the divine light strikes them.

Once you have entered the way, philosophy is no longer difficult. Philosophy, so-called, becomes commonplace once you have Seiza.

Seiza sets people free.

The really blissful life -- not wonderful food and beautiful women, but unlimited love for primordial Nature.

One may have second sight. But trying to preserve it destroys one's health. It is the devil's way.

I -- he -- you -- what that means you will grasp only when you grasp what ... is.

Feel yourself as rich as a king. On the way everyone can be happy even if he is a beggar.

Every man has reichi -- divine wisdom, and reinoh -- divine power -- within himself.

Before I -- you -- he -- exists, there is ... To have this inwardly -- that is Seiza.

_______________

Notes:

1. Seiza -- the practice of 'sitting' and nothing more as taught by Okada.
 
2. Tanden -- region about two inches below the navel.
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Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

Postby admin » Sat Aug 10, 2019 3:59 am

Chapter 2: Sato Tsuji: The Teaching of the Human Body

Introduction


Sato Tsuji is a contemporary Japanese philosopher with a wide knowledge of Western philosophy. But for him, in accordance with Eastern tradition, philosophy means more than a clarification of human existence by means of thought. It means a realization 'with the body' of what has been understood.

Man's body, as distinct from the bodies of inanimate objects and the animal bodies of other living creatures, is the 'embodiment of the combined functions of the active self'. He says 'Man is only in his lowest dimension a material body, a thing, an object. In his next dimension he is at the same time an animal body, a flesh body. But as a human body he is endowed with an autonomous mind, forming with it, an inseparable unity. The specifically human body is the vessel of the Way, and what it teaches us is the teaching of the Way which can be realized only with the whole body.

'The human body in its essence is a Dharma body, a Logos body. It is a concrete revelation of the Dharma. And only in so far as man lives out with his body the great law of Life inherent in him, can he fulfil his appointed destiny.

According to Sato Tsuji, 'It is the fateful error of Western philosophers that they always regard the human body intellectually, from the outside, as though It were not indissolubly a part of the active self '

We give below some excerpts from Sato Tsuji's work, The Teaching of the Human Body which refer to Hara. The achievement of a centre of gravity in Hara and everything connected with it is the cardinal point of Tsuji's philosophy. From the physical point of view it is the co-ordinating centre of the animal body. In its human significance it is indeed also a point. But in this case it is to be understood as a 'primordial source of strength', not as a position to be placed anatomically. It is the seat of life, not to be perceived 'externally but to be known from within.

Excerpts from Sato Tsuji (considerably abridged in translation) The Self that has fully attained to itself is shown by an autonomous denial or resistance to the gravitational pull of the earth. A thing is completely dominated by the force of gravity. The animal body automatically overcomes the domination of the force of gravity. The human-self-body in its denial of the gravitational pull of earth is the expression of an autonomous will. The nature of this self-body is shown by its freedom of movement and by the uprightness of the trunk.

If the true mark of the human being is the uprightness of his body, then the character of man must be expressed by an intentional actualization of this posture. To maintain it the tension of will-power is necessary. When this slackens, the loins become weak and man falls into a posture in which the region of the stomach and abdomen are compressed. Thus it is absolutely necessary to maintain the lumbar vertebrae upright by will otherwise they give way and bend under the weight of the upper body. This posture indicates that the lowest, most material mode has prevailed and the active self has become passive.

The most important, the strongest and also the most sensitive part of the body and hence of the body-soul (body-Self) unity is called the kyusho. It lies in the whole of the trunk below the level of the navel. This region is called the koshi. Hence the self-supporting principle is rooted in the koshi. If the koshi is not filled with force the body no longer contains a centre of strength in itself and it will then be drawn downwards by a force exterior to itself, i.e. by the gravitational pull of the earth. The limbs then cease to co-ordinate. The body loses its significance as an independent, self-enclosed life.

A strong upright koshi is an affirmation of the active bodily constitution of the human being. If the upper body is heavy and the lower body (weak) it shows that the lower materiality predominates over the higher. Contrariwise, a heavy lower body connected with a light upper body indicates a life of individual character which yet comprises the lower materiality. Only this corresponds to the true logic of life. And the physiological norm accords with it.

If one keeps the trunk erect and allows the koshi to be heavy the circulation of the blood in the lower body is stimulated and one is warm. Cool head, warm feet -- from olden times these were considered signs of good health, where as hot head and cold feet, cold loins and a cold bottom were always signs of poor health. Hakuin Zenshi says, 'The way to care for the living consists of keeping the upper body cool and fresh, the lower body warm.'

To achieve the right posture one must first fill the lower belly with the strength of the whole body. To fill the koshi with strength means also to tense the abdominal muscles a little. If one tenses the abdominal muscles in the right way there appears, as a result of this tension, a point of concentration below the navel. This point is the centre of man as a human-body-unity. It is called the tanden. The art of activating it is to release the strength of all the other parts of the body and to concentrate it there. This art since ancient times has been cultivated in budo, the way of the knight, in gedo, the way of the artist and in sada, the way of sitting.

The point which is the seat of the subject in the human body, must be realized inwardly. Just as the subject cannot be seen from outside this point can't be recognized as something anatomical. A subject can never be made the abject of recognition. Thus the centre of gravity of the earth, understood as a living being which is the seat of the 'One', and through which the earth becomes the One, can, insofar as this centre of gravity reflects the subject of the earth, never be made the object of recognition.

The method of looking inward which Hakuin Zenshi taught consists in the aspirant lying down, stretching his legs straight out, holding them firmly close together and in gathering the strength of the whole body into the middle. This method of Hakuin is very well calculated to put the whole body 'into one'. If one stretches the knee muscles and puts strength into the legs and into the koshi one feels with delight how the whole body is filled with strength. Then one should withdraw the strength from the legs and take it back into the koshi, and, in this way, practice feeling the strength in the koshi alone.

As soon as the man gets to his feet his centre of gravity comes into evidence. Now the art of looking inward must be practised in the upright posture. First it is necessary to place the feet firmly on the ground and let the soles be, so to speak, glued to it. At the same time one must stretch the knee-muscles and put one's strength into the legs. Then the legs become firm as a tree-trunk and the koshi of itself will fill with strength. Then the strength must be withdrawn from the legs and taken back into the koshi. Then when all the strength is gathered into the koshi one places the feet on the ground by the strength of the koshi.

Filling the koshi with strength goes naturally hand in hand with breathing out. While inhaling one must withdraw the strength from the belly but, at the same time, maintain the right condition of the koshi. Then the inhaled air enters by itself and fills the upper belly. At the end of the inhalation the lower Hara becomes strong by itself and one can then quite naturally and smoothly change over to exhaling. The change from inhaling to exhaling and vice versa must be completely smooth and one must not interrupt the breathing during the change over.

When all the muscles of the body attain their right balance the region of the stomach becomes concave during exhalation but the lower belly curves slightly outward. This does not mean that one should thrust it out purposely. The volume and contour of the lower part of the body seen from outside changes very little, but it fills out firmly. Thus the lower part of the body effects the change from emptiness to fullness although its volume alters only very slightly.

In this exercise inhalation is short, whereas exhalation is long, since the Hara is being re-inforced. But this does not mean that one should economize with the air to be exhaled. One should pull the chin in slightly, open wide the floor of Hara and expel the air fully and strongly. This exhalation must, when nearing its end, become thicker, like a club. If the floor of Hara is devoid of strength exhalation is superficial and wheezy, but if one really breathes from it the breathing becomes powerful and flowing.

The lower belly and the buttocks complement each other as the front and back of the base of the trunk, and in this way they constitute a special unity. The strength of the koshi is one which makes a firm base of the trunk. Letting the strength flow into the koshi means, therefore, either to keep the buttocks heavy or to make the lower abdomen firm. If the buttocks are pressed back and the lower abdomen is tensed forward the base of the trunk is as firm as a rock. The hip bone then stands firm between the buttocks and the lower belly forming a true body perpendicular.

Letting strength flow into the tanden does not mean thrusting the weight of the upper body on to the lower body. When one lets the strength flow into the koshi, the lower body, carrying the upper part of the body, gains as it were a 'nominative' character. It would therefore be a mistake to look for the source of strength in the koshi in the upper part of the body. If one were to press the strength actively into the tanden by 'squashing' it, the body would become bent and lose its natural form and the upper part of the body would still remain master of the body. The strength filling the koshi should in fact be a strength which acts as if the upper part of the body did not exist at all. Therefore one should gather the strength of the whole body into the base of the trunk as if the body-perpendicular grew straight up from the centre of the earth. The koshi carries the upper part of the body with a strength striving upward from below. When strength lies in the tanden the buttocks are also contracted.

In wrong postures the trunk is only apparently supported but actually the body tends to lean back and keeps upright only with difficulty. That means that the lower belly yields to (the domination of) the force of gravity while the upper part negates it. Here, man's 'positive' stand which goes against the force of gravity, is no longer effective. The act of 'straightening up', which denotes an autonomous character, has given way to passivity. This posture, which denies the autonomous character of man, is ugly. Since the human being is at the same time a divine being, his bodily form should be noble. To keep the koshi erect is indeed the most important outward expression of the soul-body.

Because through wrong posture the upper body must, as it were, sit on a crumpled lower body the muscles of the chest, shoulders, neck, face or head become cramped and it is only a makeshift remedy to loosen the cramp by kneading and massage. To obviate the source of this cramp completely one must straighten the spine and adopt the right posture.

This right posture, which permits the body to maintain its proper perpendicular position, is the only way of attaining that degree of form which demonstrates the unity of life beyond all dualism. One must escape from that imprisonment in the ego which causes cramp in various parts, and then a condition of ego-lessness will arise. But at the edge of the abyss life rushes in again.

A posture in which the lower part of the body is heavy and the upper part light necessarily develops a body structure with a strong koshi and a protruding lower belly. If one adopts a right posture the koshi becomes as firm as a rock. Then one can do nothing other than put the strength quite naturally into the lower abdomen. This strength tenses the abdominal muscles in a pleasant way and gives vitality to the whole body. The tension of the lower belly is strongest in exhalation, so strong in fact that a fist struck against it will rebound. Hakuin Zenshi, in his book Yasenkawa, has compared such a belly with a 'ball that has not yet been hit with a bamboo stick', meaning a ball with unimpaired strength and elasticity.

Tensing the chest, drawing up the muscles, flattening the lower belly -- all this shifts the centre of gravity upwards and thus produces instability. The chest should be absolutely empty. One should take care to open and soften and ease the chest, and never to tense it. The whole body-strength should lie exclusively in the koshi as the root of the trunk; the muscles of the whole body should naturally tend towards the koshi-region. When this region is filled with strength, and when the upper body and the neck are quite free, the movement of any of the limbs -- any effort whatsoever -- expresses the wholeness and unity centred in the tanden and produces no strain or distortion at any point. Thus every particular movement, which is always somewhere, becomes existentially, a wonderful entity in the nowhere.

When withdrawing the strength from the chest one should at the same time let the pit of the stomach cave in. The pit of the stomach is the concave region below the breastbone and above the navel and the part which is called upper belly in contrast to the lower belly. If one bends the koshi this region caves in. One can, however, gather the strength of the whole body in the tanden only when this goes in, even when one holds the koshi erect and tenses the lower belly while exhaling. When inhaling one should breathe in with empty relaxed chest. Then the air fills the upper belly and swells the region above the navel naturally. When exhaling, the muscle-power is concentrated in the lower belly. Then the upper belly caves in naturally as if it were being sucked into a vacuum.

If the koshi is the most important region for acquiring right posture, then one could say that the next most important part is the neck. The koshi and the neck are the most unstable parts of the body. Therefore, to achieve the right posture, one must keep these two parts in order. The head is joined to the trunk by means of a thin and flexible neck which forms its base. If one holds one's head in the wrong way the actual stem of the whole body will be divided into head and trunk, so that each possesses a separate centre of gravity. This would represent dualism. To achieve the unity of the whole body, one must take care that the centre of gravity of the head is exactly in line with the body-stem. The lower jaw of many people drops forward in a slack way. One must pull the chin in slightly and keep the ear lobes in a straight line with the shoulders. So the masters taught that one should keep the cervical vertebrae straight and put strength into the neck, in fact to pull the chin in so far that 'it hurts behind the ears'. In the right posture the strength one puts into the koshi and the strength which pulls in the chin are closely connected. If one loses the strength of the koshi the chin falls too far forward.

To put the strength into the neck and to pull in the chin does not mean that one should put the same amount of strength into the latter as into the koshi but that one should keep the neck muscles under control. 'If one tries only to pull in the chin paying no attention to the koshi and to the pit of the stomach, the chest will involuntarily spring forward' (Okada). When the chest protrudes, the belly muscles are drawn up and the whole musculature of the body is displaced. The strength in the koshi dwindles. In this bad posture it is unhealthy to put strength into the lower belly by force. Because the koshi, as the base of the trunk is also the seat of the body-whole, the strength put in the neck muscles must combined without difficulty with the strength put into the koshi, or to express it differently, one must create from the koshi the strength which keeps the neck muscles in order.

Because in the condition wherein the neck and the trunk are truly one, the cervical muscles undergo neither distortion nor cramp, the head seems almost as if it were 'exploded' from the trunk, as if it hung suspended in empty space. The head is heaven, the trunk is earth. Only where heaven and earth, which are actually one, are divided into a duality within the frame of the one, does a great well-ordered cosmos appear. When the strength of the neck enters that of the tanden and when the head is at one with the whole musculature of the body the head feels as if it were lightly floating no matter which way it moves.

The shoulders are the most mobile part of the trunk. They also distort the whole body most easily. For the practice of right posture the shoulders are the most important part of the body. It is essential to let the shoulders drop. As the head represents Heaven and the trunk Earth the true form of the human body can be represented only when the shoulders are loose and when one drops oneself into the basic centre thus actualizing the true emptiness of Heaven and the fullness of Earth. To draw in the neck and to hunch the shoulders up is to clump the two together thus making them a mere thing, and so falling into a lower dimension of life. Most weak people hold their shoulders hunched-up. When one is frightened or startled one involuntarily jerks up the shoulders. Anyone not thrusting up his shoulders when startled but gathering his strength in his lower belly must certainly have 'practised' in some way.

The cardinal point in relaxing the shoulders is to let them droop gently, as if one were letting a soutane slip off. But if one puts one's consciousness into the shoulders in order to drop them, they will be cramped rather than relaxed. Any part of the body will become tense if one deliberately puts one's consciousness into it. So nothing remains but to put consciousness into the tanden. There one's whole attention can be centred without causing any harm. Therefore, when dropping the shoulders, it is better to have the feeling that one is dropping both arms rather than intending to drop the shoulders. If one puts no strength into the arms whatsoever and feels as if the arms were separated from the shoulders, the shoulder muscles at once become calmer. The calmer the shoulder muscles the calmer the whole body. When the legs also extend calmly downwards and the shoulders are quiet, the chin is then drawn in of its own accord. One can say, therefore, that the most effective approach to correct posture lies in the right dropping of both arms.

Both shoulders must be level and form a straight line when seen from above. In most people, however, the roots of the arms tend backwards at the shoulders. Then one must not only drop the shoulders but, in so doing also arch them forward a little. This is the posture of a Noh dancer as he begins his dance, with arms hanging naturally, the fan in his right hand. The shoulders of a master of archery also form a straight line when he looses his arrow. If in archery one does not let the shoulders sink and does not drop the arms slightly forward the root of the left arm rises and one cannot make the bow-arm strong enough.

The art of a sculptor consists, it is said, in chiselling out of the wood an already existent image. Similarly, to achieve right posture, to extricate man's inherent posture, means to clear away. the confused accumulations of misdoing. Therefore one should not be caught by anxious effort to arch forward the lower belly, to drop the shoulders, etc. Rather should one turn one's mind directly to the unity of the whole body, purifying this feeling of oneness from all dross, extinguishing all forces which negate the 'one', and, in this way, actualize the tanden as the 'seat' of unity. But the two efforts, to keep the koshi erect and secondly to drop the arms are different from all the other efforts as they do not divide the mind but are good ways of achieving the overall unity of the body.

When standing upright the force of gravity of the body falls in a plumb line from the crown of the head through its centre down through the trunk emerging between the legs. If one opens the legs at a moderate angle the seat of gravity widens and the degree of stability is increased.

With the koshi not erect the weight of gravity falls on the heels and in this posture a man can easily be pushed over.

If one walks with ease, the body-stem upright, the koshi filled with strength, the leg muscles stretched naturally, the body knows no faltering, to the right or to the left. Then one walks parallel to the surface of the earth as though on a water mirror. Such is the gait of a Noh player. The Noh player learns to walk with a basin of water on his head. That is the right way of walking.

Right sitting reveals the true form of man. As it is said in the Fugen Sutra, 'Right sitting and meditating the true form' constitutes the proto-image of any 'practice' of man. Right sitting is itself the true form of man and the full accomplishment of it a primary human experience. The bodily act of right sitting in free self-consciousness is, like other good things, the practice of one among several possible good things as well as in itself a realization of the absolute Unity which transcends all the relative unities. Thus the perfection of a state ultimately possible to man can be brought about merely by the right practice of sitting.

Philosophical thinking practised by a person who has degenerated into a mere brain and whose posture resembles that of a jelly-fish -- such thinking remains ultimately in the sphere of illusion and vague phantasies however profound it may appear. Only because the wondrous teaching proclaimed from the golden mouth of the Shaka [1] was spoken from his noble physical body is its truth the expression of experience grounded in Reality.

______________

Notes:

1. Sakyamuni (the Buddha).
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Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

Postby admin » Sat Aug 10, 2019 4:10 am

Chapter 3: Kaneko Shoseki: Nature and Origin of Man

Kaneko Shoseki had acquired the power of healing after having gained partial enlightenment in March 1910 as the result of many years practice of Zen Buddhism. After years of fruitful work as a healer he lost his miraculous powers and recognized that the reason for this lay In a residuum of pride still remaining in himself. Renewed and deepened turning to inner practice led him to new realizations about the nature of man. His book Nature and Origin of Man is a compilation of his new realizations. We give here some extracts related to the theme of this book -- Hara.

In the completely degenerated conditions of modern life it has seemed to me urgently necessary to set forth fundamental Reality and so to determine the highest standards of thought, action and faith.

As for the means by which this fundamental Reality is to be grasped I could naturally base nothing on Western thought. I was convinced that it was plainly necessary in such a profound. search to begin at an absolute starting point, that is with the abolition of the usual 'relative' methods of research. Therefore I had to follow the ancient Eastern course which had already long ago recognized the necessity of a final and total inner awareness of the eternal Reality. In the conviction that in this way alone the final goal of all essential search might be reached, I set myself to follow the religious practices of the Eastern saints. But the way was long and hard, the goal all too distant from where I stood for my desire to be easily fulfilled. Only my constant striving in practice, continued for twenty-two years, allowed me to declare my firm conviction that mankind on the whole has long since forgotten the fundamental law and has been led astray into a non-essential, superficial, in short, an externalized way of living. I am afraid that with this assertion I have unfortunately to go against those many eminent thinkers and educators who are at present highly honoured in the world. But I shall speak of what I found to be certain and right, confirmed by the experiences and insights gained from treating many sufferers who have asked my help to deliver them from illness and sorrow. All men carry within them in body and soul inherited sins as well as a tendency to sins and delusions of every kind -- the life-and-soul-destroying devil which cannot be driven out except by the appropriate religious practice.

If the Absolute exists for us at all it must in some way be experienced by us as evident Reality, just as material objects are perceived by our senses. And for this there is only one way -- to make a clean sweep of 'scientific thinking' and to let the mind root itself in our innermost being. Whatever is presented to the merely outward I, not permeated by Being, is of only relative certainty.

True knowledge of the Absolute becomes possible only when its existence is experienced, not merely as a theoretical necessity, but when it is felt personally within our own innermost being. This Something so experienced is what I call the unquestionable creative rhythm of the life force, or the fundamental law of God which rules the whole world, and also that which gives us the highest standard of value by which to measure all our experiences. Only by this personal assurance can we free ourselves from the sins and delusions hidden in our bodies and minds and so become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Philosophers, theologians, artists and moralists, generally speaking, attempt to find truth but until they have grasped that Something in personal experience their efforts will never cease to be a groping in the dark and will produce results of only superficial worth.

Original truth reveals itself only when one gives up all preconceived ideas. No suppositions, no theoretical thinking, no ideal concepts are helpful. All these will only confuse the soul in pursuit of an ever elusive Being and in the end he will have to confess with a sigh that all his striving has been meaningless and vain and that he would do better to live happily in modest ignorance than to be burdened with a really useless load of much-knowing. But all this is a fore-doomed tragedy which will never end until we know how to eradicate the roots of 'Original Sin' by deep practice. In my opinion the Primordial is the essence or ground of the whole man, and the ordinary ego with its greed for so-called objective knowledge is only the superstructure.

The understanding of the law of harmony must necessarily be preceded by the discovery of its centre of gravity. As every single physical object has its centre of gravity so the human body also must have its centre of gravity. In man it is the tanden, the centre of the body where the Primordial has its seat. This is the most important fundamental fact and all anthropological research must proceed from a proved inner assurance of it.

If one concentrates all the activities of the mind which are normally directed outward, that is, ideas, judgments, feelings, volitions and even the function of breathing, in fact if all the life energy is concentrated in the centre of the body, in the tanden, a new sphere of consciousness arises within us which completely transcends the opposition of objective and subjective, of outward and inward and even our usual vague sleep-clouded consciousness. This leads to the absolute and final stage of spiritual experience in which one realizes that God himself lives and works as the highest principle and the Primordial Source of life in every single being, as well as in Nature as a whole. That which reigns in the individual as the unmediated administrator of the Divine Law within every human being is what I call the 'primordial I' or the original One. For it is not only that from which all man's activity, whether conscious or unconscious, proceeds, but also it is the one thing in man which belongs completely and directly to the highest Being. Realization of this is the deepest experience which the human mind can reach.

To every activity of body as well as of mind the function of breathing stands in the closest relationship, a relationship which is not only a physiological one but an immediate essential one. For between the original One and the external ego there are two connecting links, namely breathing and the system of the 14 keiraku.

By keiraku I mean those imperceptible fine passages in the body which connect bones, muscles, brain, intestines, the senses, etc. with each other and eventually reconnect them all with the primal Life Force. Like the blood vessels and nerve fibres connecting all the inner organs they run through the whole body, mostly alongside the blood vessels. But in relation to their function the keiraku are quite different -- their function is in the nature of supervising the circulation of blood and the movement of thought and allowing each individual organ to work harmoniously with all the others. They neither nourish the organs nor are they controlled by the brain. They are so to speak a network of passages which transmits to all parts of the body the spiritual-physical rhythm of the Life Force. Thus the keiraku together with the Life Force, which unites them in itself, are the only parts of man which belong unqualifiedly to the universal Life. Furthermore we can apprehend them by this -- that in death they disappear completely, that no trace of their existence can be found in a corpse. They can be detected only when the ordinary I is on the point of returning to its normal consciousness after the absolute state of Illumination. They are then perceived inwardly as the flow of an ethereal primal force. They cannot be discovered by an objective examination from without.

It is on the depth and fineness of the breath and on the perfect functioning of the keiraku that the closeness of their relationship depends. Only through calm deep breathing can the primal Life Force preserve its actual function in rhythm with the eternal Being, while the keiraku receives its power and transmits it to each separate part of the body. This is the essential condition not only for perfect health but also for true knowledge. From the start, certainly, man must have had the Primordial implanted in him. But because of the ever growing tendency towards an externalized and conceptual way of living and thinking and the often complete shifting of the centre of fundamental life values to objectified values, it happens that breathing, which at all times should be deep and subtle, becomes gradually shallower and coarser until it can no longer reach the lower belly. If once such a tendency has become established in our bodies the Primordial loses its power, the keiraku grow stronger in one part, weaker in others, and the whole person then stands beyond the influence of the primordial Life Force. It is self-evident that a merely idealistic approach can do little for the restoration of the individual as a whole. Modern man has degenerated essentially, that is, not only rationally and morally but substantively. There is only one way to essential salvation and that is by the appropriate inner religious practice. It is a simple understandable thing that since the cause of all degeneration such as illness, suffering, delusion and stupidity is the separation of man's mind from his being, it is only necessary to join the two together again.

Practice every day, let go all your fixed notions and feelings, indeed let go completely your present I. When through long serious practice you shed all preconceptions, become inwardly clear and empty you will gradually be able to delay exhalation for quite a long while and to retain the breath in the lower belly deeply and quietly. When this happens the strain of wrong effort will gradually ease, inner perception will grow clearer and in the tanden you will feel a source of strength never before experienced -- the Original Source.

Apart from the normal communication between men through language and action there is another quite different sort of mutual influence. It is that of the rhythm of the Original strength which permeates all human beings and all Nature. Through it every individual thing in essence and, as it were, underground, is connected with every other. If then one who is further removed from the working of the Primordial Force is close to one who lives more in accord with it, the rhythm of the Primordial Force will certainly be transmitted from the one to the other. The latter without knowing it exerts a good influence on the former.

The relation between artistic creation and the tanden, the seat of the Primordial, is immediate and essential. Neither the hand nor the head should paint the picture. It is a necessary condition for the expression of the essential in all art that the artist should empty and free his head, and then concentrate his whole energy in the tanden. His brush will then move of itself in accord with the rhythm of the Primordial Force. If, on the contrary, in drawing the lines he uses the strength of his hand, or if he works under personal tension, what he wants to express will be cut off from the source of inner synthesis, and will look hard and fixed.

The synthesis as the oneness of subject and object does not have to be 'produced', it is there underlying the reality. And only through this complete knowledge can it be brought to light. This must be a whole, an all-human knowledge which has its place neither in the head nor in the heart but in the centre of the whole person. What belongs to the head or the heart alone is really peripheral and therefore remote from Being.

The Primordial although it is in-dwelling in man's deepest being does not in any way belong to him for it is universal and only loaned to him by the highest Being. Therefore our minds and bodies and our very lives, through the primordial Life Force, are dependent on the Absolute. We owe our whole existence never to ourselves but always to the Absolute. We ourselves are nothing; as nothing we belong to the Absolute.

When the Primal Force, ever working gradually within us, finally reaches the highest peak of its activity then out of the thick heavy fog of ordinary consciousness there bursts forth from the eternal Being the clearest possible state of consciousness -- the one we have designated as the absolute and final degree of human experience. Here no fixed form is perceptible, neither an object nor an I, neither an inner nor an outer, breathing is suspended, the bodily shell completely vanished. Here no body exists, no mind, neither man nor world. The ego is completely at one with the world. What alone reigns in this experience is Universal.

The primal Force of Life, exactly like water rushing swiftly through a tube, streams from eternity to eternity whirling around in the lower part of one's body.

The living recognition of our absolute dependence on the highest Being is the perfect phenomenon of ultimate self-awareness. In the beginning man lost his Paradise through becoming conscious of himself. He can regain it only by achieving self-consciousness anew.
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