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Black Elk

The Middle Way of Relaxed Discipline

October 19th, 2007

A friend from Brittany, the multi-talented Zil, who is the harpist you can see in the photo in an earlier post on opera, has written a comment on another post which strikes at the heart of the process I am trying to work with through this blog, and which I referred to in this blog’s opening post – ‘It’s like taking off your clothes.’

In it she says  that her initial reaction on being told I had a blog, was  ‘Surely such a thing is not worthy of him?’ – a kind of dismay that I had sunk to the populist level. But she then found herself amused by the ‘That’s so 2005’ entry and read it out to her family. She then went on to say, ‘How can you avoid this being yet another reason to be glued to the computer?’ To be fair to Zil I am translating – her comments are splendidly in French and my translation is rough.

That second point is one I struggle with daily. Now for example the sun is shining, the garden is looking lovely. Why am I here at all? I have a love-hate relationship with these computers and technology. I think it is just marvellous that, as in yesterday’s post, I can quote a reader from Ohio of my father’s book, give a link to where you can buy it for one click for 70 cents, and link to his article somewhere else on the web. Or that movie clip of the ball-passing game that shows most of us how easy it is to not see the glaringly obvious. And yet, and yet…. as the Haiku poet Basho wrote! It’s like many things I suspect – love, power, sex, money, magic – neutral in itself, and capable of being destructive of our time and sanity or inspiring and capable of bringing joy, education and entertainment.

When my son Matthew suggested email to me I remember being unconvinced that it would be useful. Now, of course, it is indispensable and it is both wonderful in helping me connect with friends all over the world, and work all over the world, but also has become yet another job to be done, yet another reason to be away from the garden.

And as with money, sex, love and so on, the path leads from experimentation, indulgence, making mistakes, getting hurt, to hopefully finding some Middle Way that for me is a sort of ‘relaxed discipline’. Relaxed because then you are happy and ‘in the flow’ and are feeling good. Discipline because being relaxed isn’t enough – like Love without Will.  And the only way to deal with the lure of the computer is discipline! Like this blog. Just ten minutes a day. So Zil’s first point will have to wait till tomorrow – but it’s such an interesting point, because it comes right back to core issues of perception, identity, roles, purpose in the world, the ego and more.

It is a call to the idea of nakedness once again.