Thursday, 8 May 2008

Falling Into the Celestial Translator's Trap

Yesterday, after seeming to sail effortlessly through the translation of a large paragraph of The Matter of Buddha Ascending Beyond, I celebrated by adding a stupid comment which I later deleted, but shall own up to in this blog, where confession of my own stupidity more properly belongs.

FM Alexander wrote that what he meant by "conscious control" was primarily a plane to be reached. In the same way that unenlightened practitioners of Soto Zen are prone to think that Master Dogen's teaching is all about the process of sitting, as opposed to the goal of enlightenment, people tend to think that Alexander work is all about attending to the means, and not being interested in the end. But that is not the whole truth. FM was also interested in the end, which he called "conscious control," as primarily a plane to be reached.

Adam Nott, a very experienced Alexander teacher trained by Marjory Barlow, and a sly man in the tradition of G. Gurdjieff, once told me that he saw the Alexander process of inhibiting and directing as like a ladder leading up onto the plane of conscious control, and that we generally have a sense of when we are operating on that plane. But unfortunately, Adam continued, when we fall down off that plane we tend not to have any sensory register of having fallen down. We are prone to believe that we are still up there, happily ascending beyond, when in fact we are not.

As a piece of concrete evidence of what Adam was talking about -- having fallen off already without realizing it -- I shall copy and paste here my own stupid comment of yesterday:

People say that the Treasury of the Eye of True Sitting is baffling and impenetrable. Let me tell you something. To me, this morning, the meaning is just too obvious for words, and the translation of one large paragraph does itself in a matter of minutes without any bother at all. Probably that is because, thanks to the help of FM Alexander, Alfred Tomatis, and one or two of their descendants, I seem to have actually gouged out for myself the Eye of True Sitting.

FM Alexander said: "The right thing does itself."

Alfred Tomatis said: "The ear is the organ of balance, and also a passive receptor of sound. But you can also reach the level of listening."

Listening. Speaking. Sitting. Too simple. Very rare.

Yes, indeed. Too simple for the likes of me!

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