Whereas both physical full lotus sitting and mental full lotus sitting involve a sense of subjective effort -- an effort to do, and an effort not to do -- body-and-mind-dropping-off full lotus sitting corresponds to what Alexander described as the right thing doing itself. The right thing doing itself describes something that seems to be happening naturally, effortlessly, spontaneously.
Flowing water or burning wood are examples of things doing themselves spontaneously -- in accordance with the 2nd law of thermodynamics. But, in the same way that a pump may need to be primed before water starts spontaneously flowing, and in the same way that persistence may be required to get a fire going, considerable effort may be required on the part of both Alexander teacher and Alexander student before the student starts to get the experience of the right thing doing itself.
Again, in the same way that a pump may need to be primed before water starts spontaneously flowing, and in the same way that persistence may be required to get a fire going, considerable physical and mental effort may be required on the part of both Zen master and disciple before the disciple starts to get the real experience of full lotus sitting as body and mind dropping off.
Sometimes people who have scant or no experience of Alexander work think that they know what it is all about just from reading about it. Similarly, people who have never met a true Zen master think that they know, on the basis of their reading, without having made the requisite physical and mental effort, what a Zen master means by body and mind dropping off.
So Master Dogen wrote: "There is mental sitting, which is not the same as physical sitting. There is physical sitting, which is not the same as mental sitting. And there is body-and-mind-dropping-off sitting, which is not the same as body-and-mind-dropping-off sitting."
In the former body-and-mind-dropping-off sitting, the sitter forgets himself in the spontaneous flow of sitting.
In the latter body-and-mind-dropping-off sitting, the sitter, having read some words in a book or words on a blog, or having heard some teaching from the mouth of a fame-seeking Zen charlatan, has the idea of losing himself in the spontaneous flow of sitting, or has the idea of all things being one, or has the idea of becoming a self-realized Zen Master, or has some other such romantic idea. (Yes, you who know who you are, I am thinking particularly of you.)
If we understand the above distinction, our instinctive human tendency is to wish not to be in the latter group, that is, the group of pretentious Zen duffers. Our instinctive tendency is to aspire to be in the former group, the group of the truly authentic ones.
In that case, we have already fallen into the trap of trying to be right. Whereas if we were wiser, remembering Master Dogen's teaching that buddhas are enlightened about delusion, we might dare to tiptoe into the territory of the pretentious Zen duffer, and see how the land lies there.
When a human control freak neglects, for a long time, to care about being wrong, how then is full lotus sitting?
Om mani padme hum.
Doesn't Master Dogen make a point of telling us?, in his instructions for sitting-zen: ZEN-AKU OMAWAZU, ZE-HI KANSURU KOTO NAKARE. "Do not think good-bad. Do not care true-false/right-wrong."
Failing to hear these words always seems to be where my trouble starts -- as Marjory Barlow clearly saw, and clearly demonstrated to me. It is very difficult for me to stop worrying about whether I am The True One, or not. Part of the power of Gudo's hold over me was that he led me to believe, in my younger days, that he felt that I would indeed become The True One -- "the most excellent Buddhist master in the world."
This conclusion brings me back full circle to the sentiments I expressed on the opening post of this blog...
The quest for authenticity
And turning of the light
Turns into, all too easily,
Trying to be right,
Which, sure as 2 plus 1 makes 3,
Makes neck and shoulders tight.
Quad Erat Demonstrandum.
In introducing my best friend to the public, incidentally, I was not hoping to attract helpful advice or sympathy from amateur psycho-therapists, fellow Zen masters in their own mind, and the like. My intention has rather been to use this particular blog to help me work out, for the benefit of self and others, the practical implications of what the Alexander midwife Marjory Barlow, in delivering me, repeatedly took pains to remind me.... "Listen, love: being wrong is the best friend you have got in this work."
Om mani padme hum.