Rivers Of Thought or Why Did Heraclitus Cross the River?

Rough Draft 1: My friend at design matters blogged about how "generations" have different experiences depending on the technology they grew up with, and it got me thinking how those coming of age today experience the world differently than I or my parents did.

We, humanity, exist in a world where it is true that "there is nothing new under the sun" and "you never step into the same river twice". Maybe it all boils down to "the more things change, the more they stay the same". But from a design standpoint (and anthropological standpoint I guess) it is interesting consider what things are REALLY different whether it is objects or ideas and even world views.

Are we all really the same, or are there truly fundamental differences, now and in past times. One advantage of thinking we have always basically been the same it that it means we don't have to think. Are the actions of others bad because we know they are bad, or are they just different and with out a moral value? Thinking can be ( but is not necessarily) a difficult thing.

Long ago I read a few books by the cultural anthropologist Edward T Hall, if I remember it correctly (no guarantees), one of his points is that we like to think people are basically the same, but his study of different cultures found that we are all really different and saying it isn't so just papers over any problems we might come across. Can the same thing be said for our society that has grown out of our own technology?

I guess my take at this point is we may think in fundamentally different ways now than in other times and certain world ideas really do change the course of history. This is mirrored in my earlier post about the sacred circle and Cahill's book about the ancient Hebrews. But then again if you were a jerk in Ancient Rome you would probably be a jerk today. Hmmmm... can I expand on that?


apropos of nothing
1. Without reference to anything.

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.. . .
I cannot repeat how there I entered,
So full was I of slumber at the moment
In which I had abandoned the true way.

-Dante's Inferno, Canto I

"For the straightforward pathway had been lost.. . ."
Dante, you crafty ingenious old fool, how could you know me so well?


Break Fast in Honor of a Break Fall, or a Leap of Faith Takes the Cake

My lame attempt at a “diet” is to not drink beer or wine from Monday through Thursday. Admittedly I was weighing the option of breaking this very simple “fast” earlier today after on small glass of red wine offered by our Italian teacher during the very informal Italian class at noon.

BUT, tonight at Aikido we practiced techniques requiring break falls and finished with a Koshi-nage (hip throw). So...all in all it was a glorious class where you were challenged and somehow managed to get through it.

It is a strange thing to simultaneously enjoy something so much yet be so bad at it. I've hit this topic before and it may be just because I am really a klutz and may possibly be the worst possible martial arts practitioner ever. I again felt like the more I practiced my breakfalls the worse I became, BUT, it was great. When we finished with a Koshi-nage from a wrist grab it was like breath of fresh air.

Tonight Mark was teaching and he mentioned doing a breakfall from a shiho-nage technique but said it was pretty tough and that was why we switched to koshi nage. After the demonstration I asked about it and he inocently asked if I wanted to do it and I also innocently said yes. ...I am fine now but with that throw you have to really commit to the leap, a physical and painful leap of faith,

You have to really throw yourself over or your wrist will break, but you can't get your head as low as you want for a normal breakfall and consequently the whole thing is potentially dangerous but usually not, as long as uke and nage are careful.

ANYWAY, for a minute of so it hurt like heck because I am a lumbering ox and getting an ox to suddenly flip it's legs over its head requires serious motivation, also known as “Pain”. But again, I took the fall and was glad I did.

From such a workout you feel great and given my intolerance for the intolerance of a diet, I celebrated with some wine and ate some mozzarella and tomatoes. That too was great.

And to top it off I came home and stayed up late watching too many episodes of The Wire. All in all a great evening of my own brand of paradoxical moderate excess.

The video shows a breakfall from shionage but on my try Nage (the thrower) did not go down to his knees, so I was a bit higher up.


Trying to Square a Circle

Everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of the world always works in circles and everything tries to be round. In the old days when we were a strong and happy people all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation....Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood and so it is in everything where power moves.

the quote opens to book The Gift of the Jews by Thomas Cahill, and while I only read a bit of the book I'm am pretty sure he us using that quote to show us a world view that was once ubiquitous and accepted but now, thanks to the Hebrew tradition is a view of straight lines.

I think it is true that “western culture” teaches us to view things linearly. In school you work and study so you can graduate. You get training to get a job. Thousands of self help books have in their basis goals and plans and while they may not say there is a start and then an end, the say (I think) basically that once one goal is reached you have to set another. Which is really just another straight line

I'm sure there is much more to it, but this is how I see that the notion relates to Aikido...we are products of our culture and by default want to have things move in a straight line. But in Aikido conflicts and force is greeted and redirected by often going in circles.

I think my thesis is that we are programmed to think linearly and that is why changing to a circular response is so difficult, even if it is actually takes less force.

I'll ponder this some more and maybe re-write it and re-post later.


GOODREADS = Good Times?

"how it works, Goodreads is a free website for book lovers. Imagine it as a large library that you can wander through and see everyone's bookshelves, their reviews, and their ratings. You can also post your own reviews and catalog what you have read, are currently reading, and plan to read in the future. "

So far I listed the one book I am reading. I hope to post some past favorites and keep track of what I have read.


Sun Faced Buddha, Moon Faced Buddha

The Main Case
The great master Ma was unwell. The temple superintendent asked him, “Teacher, how has your venerable health been in recent days?” The great master said, “Sun-face buddha, moon-face buddha.”

First off, usually a commentary or teisho from a Zen Master follows a koan like this, that is supposed to provide insight. This is not That!

"The Sun-faced Buddha is supposed to live for one thousand eight hundred years. And the Moon-faced Buddha lives only one day and one night."

I've been listening to 10 to 15 year old tapes from my Zen teacher from the days when I was into that sort of thing and this is what I take from it.

A one day Buddha is just as complete as a 1,000 year Buddha. Not the same, just that both are as completely fulfulled. We are all destined to die, and dwelling on it has no relevance to the fullness or completeness of a life.

It is also a given that we are ALL already enlightened, or already Buddhas, but we just don't know it. So all of reality and experience is already here, already in us. Well or ill, sinful or virtuous, strong or weak, we are all already complete.

With each step each of us is complete, with each breath we are complete. "Striving" neither adds nor subtracts...we are all already complete.

Somehow that led me to think of the idea of non-attachment which you hear bandied about in buddhism/Zen books. An only now does it strike me that they were not talking about "non-attachment" as opposed to "attachment" to things or thoughts, but the the very idea of attachment. In one sense you work at not being attached to things and in another there are no things to be attached to.

What does it all mean?

I don't know.



A new thought of more fluid blog posts.

I get an idea of a post..post the first thought, the second thought and hope to come to a final post..

That way I post more and it confuses anybody who happens to read it. A win – win!!