Sunday, December 20, 2009


For a society to live or survive,
it is necessary for something to exist
alongside production and reproduction
that is unproductive.

~Michel Maffesoli, French sociologist

In certain [yoga] postures, especially when relaxing,
it seems to me that I experience the same sensation
as in the best moments of surfing.

~Yves Bessas, French surfer

What all human beings have in common, and yet strangely enough what also makes each of us a unique individual, is our relationship with ourselves---the discovery of each detail and its manifestations, at once multiple and universal, perceivable through the total experience of being.

When moving into the tube, impelled and enveloped by trance, no external thought can break in and distract the surfer without causing a fall, or at least a swerve. This is especially important if there happens to be a layer of coral reef beneath the wave.

In certain places there are no more than a few inches of water between the surfer's board and the razor-sharp ridges of the coral below. At the Pipeline, in Hawaii, Gerry Lopez's favorite surfing spot, the bottom is strewn with large growths of coral that create caves that can catch you or where you can get cut to shreds. No need to comment further on the fact that you need to clear your mind before letting yourself be seduced by a Pipeline tube, no matter how smooth and powerful it may be and no matter how beautifully it diffuses the light.

This process, this path of surfing, presents similarities with the paths of all people who have sought meaning and found their essence, whether through surfing, practicing zazen(*), or studying the Tao, those whom the best selling author Dan Millman calls "the peaceful warriors." Dominique Godréche, a journalist who works with the Paris review Psychologies, expresses this idea clearly:

For the Hawaiian champions, it is not only a physical
performance but also formidable training in self-mastery,
control of the emotions, and management of basic
energy--- ha in Hawaiian and chi/qi in Chinese philosophy.

Whether they refer to chi or ki or prana, all warriors of planet Earth---the meaning of warrior is extended here to all those who consciously accept confrontation with the tragedy that life sometimes is---cultivate experiences that make it possible to opt in favor of the joy that fills us and empties us when we take pleasure in the simple fact of being alive, free from dwelling on life's absurdities.

Fundamental to surfers trying to become one with their own nature, to unify their physical, spiritual, and mental dimensions, is that they must be capable of mastering the inner forces of being so as to tap into their source. Dig yours heels in on the curve and chase time, point your nose, strike a proud figure, and spread your wings. Don't be anybody anymore, but feel, all at once, the whole that is in fact always already there, forgotten. Be a faucet of joy.

Today we find that joy, just old-fashioned happiness,
is one of the most essential elements of life.

~Jacqueline Carol Marshall, educator

Guided by the vision of a wave, itself inspired by an undulation without significance for the average observer, surfers head off in a direction where only their senses can guide them. This is the direction of intuition, the sensation that enables us to understand the world and traces the route leading to the state of being called hopupu, in Hawaiian, or stoked in American English, the state that leaves our mouth agape and makes possible the appreciation pf life at a high level. This is the sensory reward for having surfed well.

We are speaking here of a quest for the same sensation that children are seeking who let themselves roll down a steep hill or run until they have reached a point of exhaustion, shouting out cries of joy the whole while. They do that as they follow their minds down an imaginary path that is often circular.

The intuitive search for hopupu appeared to me as a kind of off-road excursion---the road here being the progressivist and materialist vision of life today---a glide toward a region of being that is still natural but has gone missing. I read somewhere that balance is a synonym for freedom

The Secret of Balance

The Secret of Balance

In each wave, as in each moment and in each potential movement, I believe there exists an element of truth that can be expressed in myriad ways. These ways of being and acting are natural and spontaneous in people who have plunged into the present, who are attentive to the details of reality, who are masters of their own ideas and free in the actions they take. There lies genuine wisdom.

It is this same power of truth that allows some people to surf in a calm and balanced fashion, true to themselves, independent of environmental conditions. Others seem never to be able to reach this point. They even persuade themselves that balance is not part of their nature.

Of course things do fall apart -- our job comes to an end, or somebody cheats us. But what is all of that right now, when a human being is animated by, and imbued with, a phenomenal capacity to imagine, to act, to receive, and to give? Regardless of the path one chooses in the search for balance, the search itself teaches us to live in the glory of each moment. Those who experience it become more authentically themselves.

To place high value on riding a wave is to find balance in one's life and surroundings, to accept change, to recognize the reality of an ephemeral world, to be conscious of the only thing that will always exist: change.

The challenge of adapting to change is usually more psychological than biological. In order to remain a little bit constant in a universe where everything is in flux, one has to have the kind of reliable confidence that stands up to the transitory nature of life, the confidence of someone who knows he or she is alive.

The sensation of balance that a surfer feels, that a painter experiences as he or she works on a picture, or that a dancer feels giving all for the simple pleasure of being alive for a moment -- that is what makes confidence possible. When the fear of falling disappears, it becomes easier to imagine oneself riding free. At that moment, life appears as a vast and inviting wave.

{Dancing the Wave, by Jean-√Čtienne Poitier}

{Programming by DPC/DPC Blogger}

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