Monday, January 2, 2012

The Still Point - a reprise

As Yoga practitioners, we concern ourselves with the rhythm of breath; we try to slow it down and concentrate on the pauses between inhalation and exhalation. We recognize the moments of rest between asanas, those temporal pauses that give Yoga the spiritual component you don’t (always) get from running the treadmill. In Zen this moment of consciousness is called the “center,” or mindfulness; in Hinduism, a slice of Nirvana, in sculpture it is called “negative space,” and in the poetry of T. S. Eliot, it is known as the Still Point:

"At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time."
Burnt Norton – II The Four Quartets

Still more to the "point" is:

"Trace the gold sun about the whitened sky
Without evasion by a single metaphor,
Look at it in its essential barrenness
And say this, this is the centre that I seek. . .”
Credences of Summer by Wallace Stevens:

I’ve spent a good deal of time studying the Still Point in my life and I think I can now define it:  it is simply, being -- being to the nth degree. It is the quietude that heals and exalts, a moment of contemplation, the solace we get from meditation or prayer, a walk in the woods, a respite from the constant monkey talk of our minds. It is the pause , . .

". . . between two waves of the sea. . ."
Little Gidding, T. S. Eliot, Part V.

It's the unknown piece of us that's been missing;  it is the void that seeks to be filled;  it is the ultimate knowing.                                  

(Originally published April, 2010)