Thursday 2 August 2012

Educational coaching, biofocusing, truth and language

Let's assume that education, that is, the spontaneous formation of consciousness facilitated by various agencies, doesn't happen efficienly and fruitfully in formal contexts. The big thing is, you have to want to be formed, and you have to know as precisely as possible how and why you want to be formed. If you want something as urgently as this, the when usually means right now.

I was once summoned by a guru in Taipei. I was at a conference and chatting to a colleague who, as the evening wore on, excused himself as he had a meeting with his guru. Ten o' clock at night seemed an odd time for a meeting with a guru, but that wan't my business. Next morning at the conference, the colleague rushed over to me, looking quite dishevelled and said that he had been thoroughly blasted by his guru for wasting time; the guru had been expecting me, and I should attend without delay. This seemed most interesting, so I agreed to go along with him, that afternoon, accompanied by an interpreter to find out why the guru wanted to see me. The meeting lasted for all of eight hours, so I have to condense. Was I attending the conference solely for academic puposes, asked the guru, through the interpreter. No. Was I interested in learning the truth? Yes. Had I been interested in learning the truth for a long, long time? Yes, indeed. With a gleam in his eye, the guru proceeded to attempt to teach me the truth. I was a bad student. The guru said truth is the most important thing. No, I said, love is. We argued about this for a couple of hours, assisted by many cups of tea. Yet, step by step, he led me towards  non-conceptual truth, while I spoke up for inconceivable love. At one stage we stopped for a review, and he asked, through the interpreter, what I had learned, so far, about the truth, and whether I had yet grasped that truth was more important than love. "To learn the truth," I replied, "you must love it." He heaved a big sigh, and said we would take a short break.

Fast forward to the end of the meeting. Fortunately I was fairly well read in Zen Buddhism and Taoism to have some idea of where the guru was leading me, so when we got to the crunch, I thought I would try to communicate with him at his level.
"The guru wants to know if you have now learned the truth," said the interpreter.
"Tell the guru I have learned the truth," I said.
"You have?" asked the interpreter.
The interpreter spoke to the guru. The guru leaned forward, sensing something coming.
"Tell the guru I can show him the truth," I said.
"You can?" asked the interpreter.
"I can."
He spoke to the guru once more, and now the guru sat on the edge of the chair, regarding me intently out of eyes and a face full of attention.
With as much attention as I had, or would ever have, I picked up a pencil lying on the table and looking into his eyes, passed the pencil into the guru's hands.
I have never forgotten his expression. Perhaps if I try really hard, I can word it, but I don't think I want to.
He sat back, and began to clap.
The interpreter needed to go to the toilet. My colleague was sound asleep.

Change the story: many years ago, I think it was 1982, I was browsing through UCT's library, in a place which has surely been demolished and rebuilt, when I came across a book called The Yin and Yang of Langauge. This idea of language has been immensely helpful to me. Language doesn't mean too much unless it embraces that which embraces it. When you language something, thoughts need to be felt, and emotions should be thoroughly engaged. In other words, as much attention as you can muster - not merely cogitation but also motivation, as well as the tension between fixation and fluidity in the moment - permeates the activity of utterance to make meaning tangible and fruitful.

Enough about language. If you do the tautology of attending to attention (mainly by meditation) and become increasingly aware of being alive, your consciousness changes and grows and connects. It's always amazed me that this is not wanted by everybody. Apparently it's not a comfortable feeling for some: better for them to select parts rather than be whole.

That's okay: what I like about coaching is that it's entirely voluntary. Nothing more fruitless than unwilling kids in a classroom or students who want the degree but don't care much for the subject. Another thing I like about coaching is that it's non-judgemental. Biofocusing thrives on being alive, not on having the security of being right.

When you come to your tired limits for conceptualizng, when you pass your feared boundaries of intense feeling, when the crossroad parts into far too many ways, what do you do as you take the next step?

You clear everything in yourself, it doesn't matter what you think or feel and the decision has been made by your metaphorical feet and another new wholeness you hadn't expected is upon you.

And it won't be the last time.

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