Tuesday, June 28, 2011


By Deane Juhan

I recall a night, outside on the back deck of my second childhood home (situated up on the side of one of the mountains that towered over our small town’s valley, where my parents had moved us from the flatter concentrations of the grid of named and numbered streets and avenues) when I stood alone and gazed dreamily up at the densely spangled black backdrop of a high altitude Colorado night sky.  I must have been nine or ten at the time.  I  spent many solitary evenings there, engrossed by the twinkling of thousands of stars slowly shifting their fixed map across the darkness onto which they were projected.  I knew that their apparent progress right to left was illusory, caused by the rotation of the Earth beneath me that I could not feel, but I had to extrapolate this reality by imagining my own movement, unsensed and counterintuitive, in the opposite direction.

By virtue of my having seen charts of the constellations in books, certain groups of stars connected long ago with non-existent lines by the imaginations of gazers in the past, certain familiar patterns reliably stood out for me and separated themselves from the random gestalt that surrounded them.  Some had become immediately obvious--the Big Dipper and its merging with Ursa Major, Cassiopeia’s block letter double-u, Orion’s splendid belt, dagger and outstretched arms.  Other figures were harder to clearly identify, like the less obvious hints of the Zodiac’s creatures, which required more chart study to easily pick out.  Certain individual stars stood out as well, prompting one to remember their names--above all the significantly placed North Star around which all the others revolved.  But it was only by focused concentration that I could visualize the remote North Pole being directly beneath it and my own station near the globe’s 40%, latitude, 115% longitude, where I myself was wheeling around Polaris’s stable pivot point.

As an idle exercise I began to further explore my placement and movement within these heavens--on a planet, in a solar system, in a galaxy.  Abstract illustrations from school books were my only possible starting point, and I set about the task of setting these images and myself into a motion that contradicted my more immediate sense of standing still on our deck.  I was on the northern and western hemisphere of a planet whose spin was carrying me around in a faithfully repetitive circle.  That planet was itself orbiting our sun (now invisible, a hub of secondary rotation that in the night had to be summoned by my imagination on the far side of the globe).  So I was simultaneously on the rim of two circles, one much smaller than the other, and my personal trajectory on the smaller described a tight spiral created by the Earth’s spin coiling around my larger orbit around the sun.

The Milky Way was vivid in the mountain sky, and I knew that it was, from my own perspective, a line of sight edgewise across the disc of our galaxy.  And I knew that if I were somehow able to “look down” on this disc from a vantage point sufficiently “above” it I would be able to view Earth’s and the solar system’s placement within one of its arcing arms, somewhere between two thirds and three quarters of the way out from its own densely incandescent hub.  So now in order to chart my own path through space, a third rotation had to be factored in to my planetary spin and my solar orbit--the much vaster circling of my location within this galactic tentacle which was taking part in the rotation of the disc.  I could hold in my mind an image of the spiral created by the double track of Earth’s spin and orbit, but imagining the tracer implied by this third wheel proved to be far more difficult to envision--a moving point on a wheel within a wheel within a wheel.

Before I could digest this complication and deposit it in my mind as the shape of my path, I remembered from my books that our galaxy was not only spinning, it was tumbling as well.  And as it was spinning and tumbling, it was also moving in a radial trajectory away from a hypothesized center of an explosive origin common to all matter in the universe.  The cubing of my spiraling motions on Earth--spin, orbit, galactic rotation--had been difficult enough to envision, but this sudden raising to a fourth and fifth power of complication extended my spatial imagination into an exponentially further addled state.  Then more remembered and necessary calculation crashed in upon this confusion:  The velocity of each of these spiralings, in terrestrial miles-per-hour, was different--hundreds of mph for my planetary spin, thousands for my solar orbit, millions for my galactic rotation (whose circumference was always increasing and whose velocity was therefor always changing), and billions for the Milky Way’s outward trajectory from its origin.  And the arcs of all these curving vectors constantly suffered perturbations due to the shifting gravitational fields in which they were embedded, giving my own movement through space an unsteady drunken wobble.  Well before I could translate these further calculations into the shape of my path, my inner eye had utterly foundered, and the path of my own trajectory--although I knew it had to be determined by the regularity of gravity’s dynamics--was completely outside the bounds of my imagination’s capacity to visualize it.

I found that I had arrived at a threshold of understanding where it was necessary to make a huge leap toward the idea of an infinitely superior mind outside my own if I was to maintain any secure sense of a regular unfolding of a universe and my place it within these dismayingly dizzy nestings of ever-changing spirals, arcs and wobbles.  I knew with a concrete certainty where my feet were on the deck in my backyard, but any further speculation literally spiraled out of my own mind’s control, and I acutely felt the need of an embracing framework of faith in a wiser eye in order to salvage a conviction that for the moment I indeed stood somewhere, anywhere, that I occupied a location that could provide for me a basis for enduring my own incapacity to understand the complex dynamics which which had gotten me to where I was and were taking me elsewhere.

Happily, the moment I surrendered trying to visualize where I was and where I was going this crescendo of vertigo settled into a quiet equilibrium, just as though something important had been resolved, and I was again able to look up at the stars with a tranquil wonder.  This quiet revery, somehow deepened by the release from my prior mental dizziness, lasted for a while.  Then it occurred to me that each “star” I was looking at was really just a narrow shaft of light--merely the width of my pupil--that was emanating from its source.  The point of light that I called “star” was actually a tiny sliver of an enormous sphere of whose circumference was growing at the speed of light as its radiant energy expanded in all directions from its source.  Its outer boundary had long since past me by, and I was standing in the midst of its total mass and dimension.  And all of these radiantly expanding star-spheres overlapped one another in space, so I was standing in the midst of every one of them at the same time.  This seemed glorious.

As I looked at the ancient patterns of the constellations another thought struck me:  Viewed from any other vantage point in the galaxy, these patterns simply did not exist as I saw them.  If, for instance, I could swing my view widely around so that I was looking at the tight cluster of The Plaeides at a right angle to my present line of sight, these Seven Sisters would not appear as a tight cluster at all, but as a string of stars scattered horizontally, bearing no resemblance to the constellation I was seeing.  This line of stars would perhaps be millions of light years long (each of the Sisters being vastly different distances from me here on Earth); and the dimmest of their dimmer attendants might turn out to be the brightest stars of all.  This rather drastically unsettled for me any fixed spatial order of the stars, presumed for millennia to be eternal.  That apparent arrangement existed only from an anthropomorphic, terrestrial point of view.

Then things got worse.  Once cracked, the celestial dome above me began to shatter once again, now along the fault lines of time.  Since the heart of each star was a different distance from me, and since the speed of light is (so far as we know) a fixed constant, I was not seeing any of the stars at the same “time” from their point of view.  Each point of light--or rather each streaming shaft of photons circumscribed by my pupils--had left its source at a different point in my clock-calendar time than all the others.  Some photons had begun their journey toward me hundreds of thousands of years ago, some millions, some billions.  In no instance was I seeing any star “now,” but only as it existed all those years ago.  From the merely human point of view--which is the only one in which our sense of “time” is relevant--no star phenomenon that I was observing was taking place “now”;  the only “now” that was happening was the process of visual perception taking place from my retinas to my visual cortex which announced to my awareness “star.”  I saw them all simultaneously, but none of them were simultaneous in their origins.  My own place in time’s trajectory immediately became as problematic as the vector I was traveling  in space.  Even a quickly gerry-rigged idea of “relative time” proved to be of no help to me, because I soon realized that the notion of relativity presupposed a “relative to what?  And where in time was a “what” that could serve to orient the different “times” that were converging on my eyes?  In the larger view of things, my place in star-time could no more be fixed than my location in space had been just a while ago.

I found myself plunged into a full catastrophe.  And just as I had been compelled to come up with some sort of superior eye outside myself to which I could safely entrust my insistent existential requirement of a “where,” I now sought desperately for some mode of duration in which no clock ticks, an abiding eternity that could offer some sort of temporal foothold toward “when.”  There was simply nothing that I could make out in the substantial world that would hold its shape in either space or time any more securely than shadows on smoke.

Then something happened.  I have no idea how to characterize it, other than to suggest that it was like a dream in which you find yourself flying.  Even in the dream you know that what you are doing is not possible, yet as long as you do not doubt it, there you are.  

It was by then late, and I went inside, said goodnight to my parents, went to bed and fell soundly asleep.  I awoke the next morning knowing that today, somehow, somewhere, sometime would be another day and that there would be more as long as I could manage not to count them.

               Copyright June 2, 2011 by Deane Juhan

Friday, May 20, 2011


By Deane Juhan

I have been entertaining some thoughts about the "How....?" of astrological influences, and it occurred to me to send them on.  They are not to be construed to be the only possible answers to "How....?"--I am aware that much more may be afoot here, but anyway, here they are.

Gravity is the most pervasive physical force in the cosmos.  Its predictable and calculable effects are the mainstay of astrophysics.  Perturbations in the field that cannot be otherwise accounted for are the whole basis for the theory of "dark matter," among other things.  Yet in spite of this universal acknowledgement of its presence and effects, no one has any idea of what exactly it is; it is different from all other fields we know about.  It defies one of the basic tenets of physics--that is, it exhibits instantaneous effects across all cosmological distances, with no linear time-relevant chains of cause and effect.  It links all masses together into a single mutually interactive whole everywhere and at all times.  And it cannot be captured by analytical instruments apart from its visible and measurable effects--unlike light, electromagnetic fields, and the like.  It is equally operative in stars, planet surfaces and interiors, and everywhere else.

By virtue of Earth's immersion in this field, within the solar system, the galaxy, and between all other galaxies, our organisms are acted upon by the astronomically complex summations of gravitational pulls that all of these masses exert upon us.  Our cellular fluids, structures and processes are warped and woofed by it in the same way that the moon produces tides, and by extension the way that the planets of our solar system create subtle tidal cycles of their own.  Our entire evolutionary history has been developed in this energetic matrix; it is the ocean in which terrestrial as well as aquatic life is continually bathed and pulled this way and that.  It is simply inconceivable that it has not been, and continues to be, one of the dominant influences on the development of all life.

Einstein opined the theory of the three dimensional dynamic curvature of space in order to in some way visualize the spatial topography of this field.  My own imagination does better with visualizing an invisible webbing that connects all masses, large and small--much like a fantastically complicated spider web, or the connective tissue matrix of our bodies which unifies all other structures and energy fields within us and between us.  Any tug anywhere in this webbing is instantly transferred to all masses imbedded in it, simultaneously and across the entire extent of the matrix.  "Pluck" any "strand," and the whole thing registers an immediate system-wide response--a tensegrity that is both biological and cosmological.

So...as the sun, moon, planets and galactic gravitational dynamics interplay with one another, the the shifting "stretches" of gravitational connections course thru our bodies, brains, auras and all the rest of us, down to our intercellular fluids, cell membranes, intracellular fluids, cell nuclei and DNA.  All molecular arrangements, in fact.  As these dynamics interact physically and energetically, they must certainly play an underlying roles in our psyches--emotional, cognitive and behavioral.

This idea does leave a gap between physical and energetic forces (I keep repeating this duality, but aren't they really the same thing?) and the concept of the archetypes in their more personal and mythic dimensions.  But just perhaps it is the mass, distance, spin and orbital vector of Mars or Jupiter or Saturn etc. that are translated in the physiology of our cells and our psyches into our consciously registered awareness and behavior, presenting themselves in our awareness as the tendencies, personalities and dramas that our minds make of the world.

None of this seems to me to in any way demystify the connection between cosmos and psyche.  On the contrary, it seems to me to unify them in a model that makes no real distinction between "matter" and "mind," and that includes all of their dimensions in an unbroken continuum of individual, collective and cosmic consciousness of which you and I and all of life is inextricably a part.  And the fact that these connections manifest over time as well as space is attested to by my own conscious awareness of the strings within me that have been plucked by virtue of our personal connection, which continue to reverberate in the manifold ways that identify you to me as the powerful and ongoing archetype of "intimate friend," regardless of gaps in time and space that have separated us.


By Deane Juhan

Let me begin by remarking that there is no such thing.  One can hardly expect to stir the second chakra, second only to the life force itself, without significant consequence.

Sex is as old as the onanism of the amoeba, and as new as every virgin trembling with intense and unformed desire.  It is at the root of things, the ancient compulsion that quickly ignited from the primal will for survival itself.  For every living thing sex is the ritual that both ensures the future and promises the most complete gratification to be had in the helter-skelter involved in preserving life--this life, my life, now.  Even celibates ritualize the recurring tension that twitches between yearning and relief, as does the most indiscriminate roue.  We all ritualize it in one way or another, precisely because the twitch will never come to permanent rest, and because it repeatedly cries to us to give expression--even if that expression is denial--to its convulsive fits and starts.  And perhaps the deepest spiritual endeavor, the ultimate resolution of duality and the neutralizing of all desire, is the most elaborate ritual of all.

For each of us the inner intricacies of sexual desire and consummation are among our most private and guarded domains; and yet there is no means of accessing them for ourselves unless they are in some way exposed and shared.  The brutal rapist bears every bit as much of his soul as does the most gifted tantric partner, and each trembles, whether with rage or shame or expectant joy, before the same two witnesses.  In the act that inherently requires another, we all stand revealed, our riches or impoverishment open to view, our confession aways falling upon whatever ears we have chosen to utter and enact it.  In every coupling we drag our nugget or our coin across this or that touchstone, and must submit to a judgement as to its worth.  And because the stone and the assayer’s scales cannot lie, we protest, deny, bargain or exaggerate in futility.

Our second deepest fear, squatting just this side of death itself, is that of aloneness.  Not just loneliness; this ache can after all have its own romantic and stimulating qualities to be suckled and savored.  But a deeper shudder “that is the despair of every life, not the loneliness of in the lack of someone to share with, not the vulnerability when sharing is not enough, not even the fact that a shared life concludes in a solitary transition, but the deep aloneness that even sharing does not penetrate.  The feeling of utter aloneness is an intimation of the true condition--the boundless solitude--of life.”  [Jason Brown, The Self-Embodying Mind]

It is this aloneness, this all-but-impossible-to-contemplate premonition of the full catastrophe of solipsism, that we grapple with in our loins, that we symbolize in the interpenetrative swirling of yin and yang, that we slide back and forth with in negotiations between lingam and yoni, that we ribaldly try to embrace our way out of in the tumblings of the beast with two backs.

It is simply not possible in any genuine way to take these libidinous wrestlings of the soul lightly.  The very attempt to trivialize them merely tricks out in tinsel and confection the depth charges that we know are beneath them; and we conspire with ourselves to be tittilated by the tinsel and the candy for the very reason that in our wildest imaginations (so helpfully lulled by the tamed conventions of “sex appeal”) we hope to somehow stumble, somewhere between the alluring pageantry and the anonymous dark, upon the rending explosion of real passion that the seductive advertisements promise.

It is this ache for a tangible union, a penetration into and an outflowing from our self’s aloneness that is at the heart of all our seductions and surrender.  And it is the terror of exposing the vulnerability that is embodied by that very ache that so elaborately structures the dramas of our attempts to jump the gap that surrounds us, the walls and moat that both protect and isolate our inner castle keep of intact survival.  But--and here is the exasperating rub--that guarded treasure of our life can have no expansive value until we find a means of liberating it and so expose it as an open currency for the exchanges without which our private survival is a dead end.

Sexual aggression--in all its gross and subtle forms--is merely a stark admission of that terror.  As is rigid chastity.  The spectral impoverishment of nothing truly ventured and nothing truly gained haunts them both.  And every enduring couple discovers in their own way that the promise of gratification abruptly ends precisely where the fear of self-exposure draws its defensive boundary.  The circumstances that allow for union and communion instantly bridle and disperse in the face of hedging or omission.  Dishonesty is simply impotence.  The paranoias of courtship--with all their fantastically baroque justifications--serve only to defeat the very thing they would seek to protect: the   attempt to emerge from aloneness and the fragility of its ache.  Nothing short of dissolving our deceptions can turn into solution the disparate elements each of us spoons into the common pot.

And so, no matter how safe or playful or casual (or abstinent) we may contrive to make sex in order to make it risk-free, we must in the end come to speak of the dangers of love.  Love is the glowing nimbus with which we surround our most precious self and that of another (or others--family, tribe, country, humanity), the cocooning contract of attraction and commitment that is indispensable for sustaining the process of learning to tolerate our own naked needs and those of the other, and to negotiate the mutual means of meeting them.  Shells must be broken, scabs must be peeled, crevasses must be traversed, trials and errors must be made, forgiveness must be tendered, ice must be melted, wounds must be washed, conflicts resolved, ground must be broken and young golden shoots must be coaxed toward a more robust green.

The initial allure of mistiness and wonder of love obscures for us these travails in order for us to step toward them.  We are first presented with the joyful discovery of “another me!” so that we may be able to endure the further discovery that it is exactly everything that is “not me” which must be understood and accepted if “I” am not to be irrevocably alone.  First-love is the dawn’s haze that enchantingly cloaks the forest that we would never dare enter if we were to see its vastness and the extent of its perils at the outset.  Between the desire and the thing the world lies waiting.

There is no substitute for this necessary illusion, which is why we speak of “falling” in love, that fateful step beyond the boundary of our own private domain into the thin air of the unknown, that leap into life’s abyss whose bottom we can never divine beforehand.  It requires something evidently casual, something unlooked-for about it in order for it to become causal of everything we must learn about our lives.  The first joy is the not-knowing but only feeling.  The second is that of telling another everything we want them to know about us.  The later, more dubious but more enduring joy is that of allowing love to lure out of us everything about ourselves that we could not admit, letting it be seen and accepted.  And finally, if love has lasted and courage has not failed, and if the trust in one another’s motives is at last secure, we can be shown everything about ourselves that we have desperately not wanted to know.  Then we may, in moments together, own the fullness of things--within our castle keep, behind the walls and the moat, and outward into the world we equally meet and create.


By Deane Juhan

The conflicts between eros and capitalism, and the degradation of both their higher purposes, are at the heart of the central dilemmas of our time.  Eros, a love of flesh and spirit, a joyful engagement with all their sensuality and their kaleidoscope of delights and wisdom, is not faring well in our culture of scientific abstraction, religious dogma and lack of the social graces of touching one another’s bodies, hearts and minds.  Capitalism, which once offered a promise of abundance and prosperity for all, has degenerated into manipulative self-serving acquisitiveness with eros as its slave.
God as love has been rooted out by the money-changers in the temple.  Love is ultimately the stronger and more enduring force, but without a robust celebration of ecstacy, co-creation and compassion it is proving to be no match for the ruthless minions of amassed wealth and the heartbreaking demands of raw survival.  The only things naked in our world today are power and greed.  We worship the Golden Calf.
The underlying ethos of capitalism might indeed be useful to humanity, and it may well potentially hold all the virtues that economic conservatives have claimed--a creative market place that rewards innovation, a healthy Darwinism that winnows out the viable seeds of success, the challenge to produce things that genuinely serve the human values of the collective, the reliance upon our native wits, the accumulation of resources for wise investment, and so forth.  If the fruits of all this did in fact trickle down, modern economics would have a fecund power.  Material prosperity could indeed be a progressive force which Eros could welcome in a mutual delight for the common good.
But the practical machinations of capitalism can all too easily be separated from the human well-springs of eros, to become a compulsion unto itself.  “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers...”
The displacement of the heart and flesh of eros by the abstractions of capitalism is the very heart of Mammonism, and it has become our religion.  When human aspirations become smelted and cast into the cold metal of gold, the tribe has lost its way on the path to the garden and has fatally strayed into the industrial wasteland.  When wealth loses sight of its primary utility of creating abundance, it transforms itself into covetousness, envy, lust, greed, moral sloth, the dishonoring of ancestral values, the pillaging of our children’s legacy, and a selfish adulteration of the covenant.  It will justify homicide and perfect it to further its own ends.  It is in this sense that money generates the root of all other evils.  And among these evils, whether they are done by us or to us, eros loses any place in our lives.  This is a human catastrophe, the fall from grace.  If we fall far enough--and our descent is palpably picking up speed--it will not end only in our expulsion from the Garden, but in the destruction of the Garden itself.  Such a destruction cancels all hope of redemption and return.  It is the irredeemable loss of this hope that congeals mere desperation into Satan, whose primary impulse then becomes the destruction of all others, even himself, in the mad dream of a prevailing that cannot be.  There is no poison to eros deadlier than this spite that bubbles in the last fetid lees of unholy ambition.  Nature has no endgame.  The perversion of eros and humanity just might. 


By Deane Juhan

The information technology explosion is begging us to return to the body.   We need a new human technology to match the information technology. External change is happening so fast we can barely breathe or keep up.  Stress is born when the body and heart try to race after a mind gone into high gear.  Notice the posture: head stretched forward, neck extended, chest tight from holding the breath, heart constricted, general, vague fatigue, racing beneath the skin, the feeling of never having enough time, perpetual muscle tension in the head and neck.
Our brains are so overflowing with information we cannot process it all.  We need to move and we need to feel the rightness of new information becoming part of our personal systems in order for meaning and purpose to emerge from the data.  Information is only useful to me if I can act on it, if it makes me feel useful, happy, productive and loved. I get from thinking to feeling to action by engaging my body fully.
It’s time we honored our Cartesian inheritance, bowed, and let it go.  Descartes was a great thinker.  Now we need great movers and shakers:  people who can feel with the hearts of lions and move with the fleetness of deer, in new rhythms, new patterns. We need leaders who engage their bodies deeply through movement and touch. We need to align thinking with feeling and action, touching each other in refined and discriminating circles of approximation, creating personal intimacy equal to the flood of information.
This is how we will find the new social structures to create a sustainable future where we are healthy, wealthy and wise. We need to reconnect the intimacy of our bodies and deepest hearts to the social structures we are creating. Move your body and you can move the world.
Intimacy and information together will create fluid transformation. 


By Deane Juhan

While the English language has no word that adequately names an entity that fully embraces and fuses the physical and mental dimensions of our being, and while a still-pervasive Cartesian conceptual framework perpetuates the the notion of a clear distinction between body and mind, our language does have a word which--in its richly manifold meanings--embodies the multi-layered dynamics that permeate our flesh, our feelings, our thoughts and our relationships with one another and with the world.
“Touch” is the single most expansive word in our lexicon.  Its related definitions fill 23 columns in the Oxford English Dictionary, by far its largest entry.  The meanings of touch range from concrete to metaphorical, from tactual to psychological, philosophical, metaphysical and moral, from the blunt to the nuanced, from palpable to ephemeral.
Touch is both a noun and a verb, and act and an event.  And it is a sense, ”the most general of body senses.”  All of our senses, in fact, involve physical contact of one kind or another: photons with the retina, vibrations with the eardrum, molecules with taste buds and receptors in the nasal membranes.  Our skin is our largest and most extensive organ of sensation.  Any object that touches the skin announces a wide variety of qualities of that object and the nature of its impingement upon our organisms--heat, cold, texture, vibration, pressure, duration and all changes that occur in that duration.  The skin is the surface of the brain.  To touch the surface is to stir the depths.  The qualities of objects and their touch penetrates deeply into us, both by way of nerve endings that are buried in layer after layer of our tissues and by way of our entire history of associations with the things of the world.  Nothing can touch us anywhere without altering our state of attention and engaging the all of the processes of our entire being.  Our sense of touch is a major conduit into our consciousness, and its reverberations there are among the primary contents of our awareness.
In a culture that is to a large degree deprived of social touch, and which often regards its intimacy with suspicion and defensiveness, it is not surprising that many connotations associated with it are not positive ones.  A touchy person is one who is irritable, uncomfortably ticklish, volatile, bad-tempered, quick to react negatively.  Touch is often regarded as a violation--vexing, nettling, injurious, touching a sore point, touching us to the quick.  To touch can mean to rebuke, to censure, to charge with, to accuse, to arrest.  A touchy situation is one that is risky,, dangerous.  Touch-and-go refers to a precarious outcome.  Touch-powder, touch-box and touch-hole are mechanisms involved in firing a musket.  Touch-wood is highly flammable tinder.  One who is touched in the head is deranged.  Even those who employ touch therapeutically are often derided as merely touchy-feely, superficial, hedonistic and worthy of contempt.
But despite these negative associations, the value of touch also plays prominently in our usage.  In the fine arts, touch is a hallmark of aesthetic sensitivity and expressiveness.  A sculptor’s touch with hammer and chisel or hands is a high degree of refinement in his or her shaping of material.  Pictoral artists seek out the brush, the pen, the pencil, the charcoal that has the right “touch,” and artists’ adeptness at applying their marks to paper or canvas is their touch as well.  And touching-up is the addition of further refinements.  In photography, retouching is the adjusting of visual elements that were not captured in the original image.  Attributes of musical instruments--the responsiveness,  of a violin, say, or a piano is the measure of its range and effectiveness in conveying the expressiveness of the musician--are said to be their touch.  And the skill of performance is likewise referred to as the musician’s touch.  George Shearing once described perfectly this mutually sensitive relationship between the touch of the artist and the touch of his instrument:
“The problem with electronic keyboards--and I’ve played a few notes here and there--is that there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of room for the tender loving care that goes into some pianistic touches, the feeling that you have caressed the depression of this note to such a degree that it will sing rather than shout at you.  Generally, this individuality of touch, and being able to recognize one pianist from another, is all but absent in computerized instruments.  It’s “OK, you want an A (Knob).  You want a B? (Knob).  You can’t dismiss the marvelous variety of tone colors available on the electronic instrument, but tone colors are one thing; degrees of sound and touch, and all the inconsistencies and therefore unpredictableness that go into a human addressing something as sensitive as the piano are another thing.”
Touch is a journey’s end, as when an airplane touches down or a ship touches shore.  It is also a beginning, as when a sequence of events is touched off.  It is the oldest of the senses, already active and discriminating in the membranes of primitive single-celled organisms, and in an embryo.  And the touch of death is the last we will receive.
If these words on the subject have touched you, then we will have touched upon both the earliest and the most enduring aspects of our lives.  We will have hit the mark exactly--touche.

Body; Mind; Body-Mind; Body/Mind; Bodymind; ?

Guest Blog by Dawn Jordan

With this title I confront myself with a central dilemma of my own being.  A duality, a polarity, a confusion, a riddle, a fork in the road, a labyrinth--a dilemma that aches for resolution, a unifying idea, an encompassing feeling, an over-arching field theory or revelation that can cradle and nourish the entire motley litter of the layers of my existence: cells, tissues, sensations, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, history, future.  What is the chaos of molecules and symphony of energies that I call my life?

There is certainly a body here.  It has an undeniable location, feel, presence.  But is it that I have a body, or that I am a body?  Is body my vehicle or my baggage?  And who is driving?  Is this body a part  of what I have and am?  I certainly think so.  And the rest?  Where exactly do I locate and feel that other presence?  Is in within me, outside of me, in the sky (that infinite repository of unlocatable entities)?  These are not semantic questions for which I have ready replies; they are existential and easily muddled.  I do not experience my most thoughtful answers to them as solutions, but as further riddles.  Descartes felt whole-heartedly that he had found his anchor in this sea with "Cogito, ergo sum."  "I think, therefore I am."  But for me this bold statement simply puts a finger on the central question.  It touches not the resolution, but the heart of the confusion.  Who is the "I" in "cogito" and what is the "am" in "sum"?

In our language and in our inherited conceptual frameworks we have no word or words that adequately expresses a unity of mind and body.  Other languages may possess them, but their words do not bypass for us our difficulty in translating them into an immediate understanding.  It is not simply that we lack the word;  it is that we lack the idea, the historical, cultural and linguistic context  that could give a translation a transferrable meaning.  Nor do various machinations with our own dualistic vocabulary bridge the gap.  "Body-Mind." Body/Mind," or Bodymind" do not really serve the purpose.  No hyphen or slash or artificial fusion can suture together two realms of being that our traditional concepts have long regarded as separate and distinct.  We can only talk and think about them as one or the other, an then try our best to articulate chains of cause and effect  springing from a physical world and from a mental world that somehow imply their interconnection.  We do not have a historical, religious or scientific context that can embody the idea that "they" are one.

However, in my experience as a bodyworker (one more stunted verbal hybrid) I have discovered for myself another dimension of language, one that is at the same time more personally articulate and more universal in nature.  Traditionally we have come to regard language as words, but through my work I have discovered within me and my clients and my students a very different streaming of information, a language that is far older, far deeper, and far more imbued with an organic immediacy of meaning--the language of touch.  There is a vocabulary, a grammar, a syntax--a history and a poetry--that is generated only by the touch of flesh with flesh.

You cannot touch a body anywhere without engaging the entire organism in all of its physical and mental dimensions.  You cannot excite a nerve anywhere without sending a ripple through the whole nervous system. Any point of contact creates a shift of attention and arouses a complex array of sensations, images, feelings, memories, novelties, associations streams of thought and cascades of responses.  You cannot experience a sensation, an emotion or a thought without generating a muscular response.  You cannot have a single muscular response that does not generate others, which in turn generate new sensations, feelings and thoughts.  And you cannot experience a change in any of these elements without shifting in one way or another the whole gestalt of awareness.  These interactions cannot be described in terms of linear chains of cause and effect.  They are simultaneous and global in nature, and the fullness of these responses flow back into the organism of the toucher.  There is, in fact, no duality between the "touched" and the "toucher."  The contact is both mutual and immediate, and the multiple array of responses within each individual flow simultaneously through its conduit.  There is an instantaneous communication, and if the exchange is mutually open and sustained there is a communion.

Every therapist who wants to increase their effectiveness, who wants to most deeply reach another individual, to help them grow and to heal must study the silent vocabulary of this language, learn to comprehend and articulate it and to communicate through it.  This is a primary skill that underlies all modalities, and without it no theory or protocol is of practical use.  Unless the mind dimension of the body and the body dimension of the mind are mutually unified in this dialogue their oneness cannot be perceived.  The function of words is to excite an interest in having the experience.  After having the experience there is no need for the words.