SHIFT: the Return to Center

In Spell of the Sensuous, David Abram writes at length about the ways in which the Horizon Circle (meaning, the world around you, bounded by the horizon, ground, and sky above) contains the present moment. By containing the ongoing reality of the living world, it also encourages the presence of the moment.

This connects to a universal indigenous practice, that of alignment to the Four Directions. Of course you won’t always hear or see it represented as “four” directions…some say 6, or 7, or (if memory serves) the Mayan’s 260 directions (in their case, to paraphrase Martin Prechtel, “they’ve just delineated all of them”).

Also, some only have two directions. Which reminds me of a story.

Beginning with Benjamin Hoff’s “Tao of Pooh”, I felt the growing realization that the Chinese folk conception of the Tao had something in common with what I had learned of indigenous paradigms, specifically relating to the teachings of Stalking Wolf, as transmitted by Tom Brown at the Tracker School.

In the Fall and Winter of 2004 I worked as a Ranger in the Adirondacks of upstate New York, for a private land trust. In the middle of a season of deep snows and 18 degrees below zero, I found on the shelf of my cabin a tiny copy of the “Tao Te Ching”, translation by Stephen Mitchell. The words of the author, Lao Tse, sounded so familiar. As I wrote, back then:

Why would a two millenia-old Chinese text be speaking almost the same things as a Native American elder? Here’s one line from it: “Good walking leaves no track behind it”.

A couple days ago, walking by our little round pond, barely big enough to swim laps in, frozen over and covered with a light dusting of snow, I saw where Coyote tracks led onto the frozen surface, turned left here, turned right there, in strange little cautious arcs, exiting on the far side. That’s when, expanding my vision, I saw that the mischievous canine had, with its track line, turned the pond into an almost perfect yin-yang symbol, by walking through its middle.

Who invented this universe anyway?

What could I do with this information? What did Coyote want me to know? I didn’t give up. I kept pursuing.

More to come…

Written by Willem