CHAPTER 1 - Prelude
“Do you hear it? Can you see it? If not, then heed the instructions of Master Dongshan and ‘see with the ear, listen with the eye.’”
—Master John Daido Loori
Hanging at Sunset—8/26/03
Beginning two weeks ago, I started hanging from the lake docks at sunset and realized I had been missing something by not doing so earlier. The first time I inverted while a middle-aged couple was sitting on the other side of the narrow end of the lake about forty feet from me. They almost immediately got up and left. Whether this was just a coincidence or not, I have no way of knowing. In any case, I then had the area to myself. There were some light, wispy gray clouds that took on new characteristics when seen from “above,” and the light seemed to soak into my eyes much more than while sitting. The next weekend I went to a different part of Lake Audubon, as well as Lake Thoreau, which is right across the road. There I learned that inverted, the sky appears bigger and more beautiful because one sees the concavity better. The vault (or actually “basin,” since it is seen as cosmic ocean) is enhanced by a perception of the horizon, which is not seen in one view if one simply lies on one’s back. At sunset, as color drains from the reflection, it too becomes a cosmic ocean when viewed while sitting fifty feet or so up the embankment—two cosmic oceans facing each other—sky and reflection. High-flying birds seen when inverted are flying fish, but a low-flying bird passing over one’s head at sunset seems to become almost an extension of the eye itself, or a particle/wave projected out from it—much better, to me at least, than seeing such a bird while sitting or standing. And Lake Thoreau, seen from the embankment leading to South Lakes Drive, is both broad and deep and it faces west so it catches all the colors of sunset over the water. However, this embankment is not next to the lake itself but up and back of it. In between is a sidewalk, so passers-by are surprised to find a white-haired man hanging from a bank just above them. Some laugh or smile but most ignore. They walk only a few feet away from me. Then the amusing and beautiful grace of the moving upside-down human body can be seen and enjoyed.
I told you about hanging upside down on the night of the Lunar Eclipse. I just did it again. One of the good/bad things about Reston is that there are few streetlights. The founder of Reston (Robert E. Simon—hence, REStown) decided that there were to be no streetlights. That creates problems walking and seeing at night (it’s best to carry a flashlight) but it also makes for great effects of house lights against the dark sky. In my early Rhythm Vision days, my absolute best walks were at night, seeing the beautiful fluid motion of porch lights against the night. The same conditions make for great inverted lake effects. Tonight, as I approached the lake and looked down the hundred-foot embankment, I knew it was going to be good because the water was placid and the sky was sporting fine cirrus clouds. What a difference a one eighty makes! Upright it is beautiful, no doubt, but it is still sky and reflection. Whereas upside down faux non-duality supervenes and there is just sky, a little darker on top (formerly reflection), but still just sky. On the other side, I can face the dam embankment. It is best when I hang off a side that puts me parallel to the embankment, because I then see it and another tree- covered bank. The dam embankment is covered only with grass and it and its reflection form a long, slightly curved rectangular shape. Again the magic of the 180-degree inversion occurs. Sitting upright, it is bank and reflection, but inverted it is a long dark partition in the sky against which airplane lights and their reflections cavort—like seeing the double birds of daylight, except now as lights in the empyrean. They are two synchronized lights, not just a light and its reflection. In the daytime I can never get much from the cars passing quickly along the top of the embankment, but at night it’s a different story. The cars become part of the embankment—like little double bubbles that slither across it.
After five sad days in Denver, my mind was distracted by a great plane ride home. The sky was clear all the way to Virginia and I was sitting in a window seat just behind the back edge of the wing of a Boeing 777, a really nice plane. I don’t think I had ever flown before at night when the sky was clear and I had a window seat—at least I don’t remember anything lasting three hours. The light show was amazing—the patterns, the colors, the hues, and then the wing was a great edge effect producer—pop pop pop, doolebop, brrrr, etc. The great bejeweled earth continuously manifesting her visual music—Take This Plane to Dada Land, Captain! Now I know why the astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, had his life-altering epiphany during his moon mission.
So much Dada, So little Time—12/27/03
This hanging upside down by sunrise and starlight is a one-two punch-drunk experience. In the morning, the aqueous experience is as previously described, but then when that is consummated, I climb the steep grassy embankment just as the sun begins to illuminate it. I look up to the top straight line where the sky begins. The curvature of the sky is barely perceptible. It is almost flat but also with great depth, especially in trance and so blue in the late December light that one gets lost in it or the glowing grasses or both. There are three stakes in the ground, which angle the eyes upward and connect bank and sky. This is the void of ordinary perception. Then at night when the water is relatively placid, the inverted lake becomes the non-duality of ordinary perception and tonight the crescent moons were hanging as though they were the eyes of a giant bank creature.
Mooning the Moon—2/15/04
When I picked up the newspaper this morning at 6:15 a.m. I noticed a beautiful crescent moon glowing in the southeast part of the sky. So I left a little earlier than usual. After a certain point the moon was just to my right and it stayed that way for about twenty minutes. It was fairly low in the sky so I viewed it as it passed behind and "through" the branches of leafless trees. The moon and I were gliding along together and I got into a nice rhythm as I kept my head turned right. The moon passed through the crystallized light of early morning and edged the branches of the trees. Then I was struck by how the moon with its convex side pointing in the direction of the walk shone like a beautiful abstract bird or alien ship. Suddenly it was no longer "just" a moon, and that was exciting.
The Sacred Grove—5/13/04
Over the years, the Reston Homeowners’ Association has placed park benches in various parts of Reston’s wooded areas. I had always thought them useless because in twenty-five years of walking in these areas I have seen only a few people sitting on them. All but three benches are on or right near the paved or dirt paths. One exception is recessed about seventy-five feet away from the main path and is accessible by a small path about two feet wide or so. I went back there once or twice over the years. Last week I went there while walking the homestretch and sat on the bench and almost immediately went into a meditative zone. The trees cover the bench in a canopy and the ground around has a gentle semicircular form. The flow of sights from side to side is very nice. But it was just the act of sitting on that bench in that location that got to me. I realized that "this was my Sacred Grove," and it was there all the time I was dismissing the other benches. Trees and especially fallen tree branches seemed to flutter windlessly. I also found myself spontaneously moving my head owl-wise slowly 180 degrees side to side—the first time that has ever happened. Then I started observing how the eyes (or my eyes) function while panning. It's not like the mechanical action of a camera because focusing makes for little jumps and pauses as eyes pick up objects. So then I started to try to duplicate a camera's action by deliberately trancing on the space, while trying to get a smooth motion and visual feeling.
I can also lie down on the bench but can't do a complete inversion because of the side arm rests; however I can approximate it by arching my neck a bit. A very interesting experience ensues. A small tree right next to me (three inches in diameter) seems to be parallel to me while we both rise diagonally from the ground. My feet do the rising while the head stays put—all a case of proprioceptive ambiguity. And the little tree seems so much more real and tactile in that position. So thank you, Reston Association, for providing this beautiful grove and bench.
Again I went to my Sacred Grove twenty minutes earlier, arriving there just before 6:00 a.m. I sat down on the bench and immediately tranced out. The trees "lit up" visually and then I seemed to be sitting in a sylvan saucer, with the curving path around and the bowers above marking its shape. Then I looked straight ahead into one of my favorite lines of sight. As I continued to zone out, a Rorschach apparition formed —it looked like a Taoist sage—wearing a robe, hands crossed at the chest inside the robe, but with glowing leaf-green bug eyes. Now part of me knew this was an imaginative projection, but another part got excited and even seemed to think this apparition was slowly approaching. Then, as I sat, I started doing some medium-tempo hand jive and, apparently because of the trance and low light, my hands, seen peripherally, looked as if they had a strobe light on them. Wow, this is neat, I thought! I really thought it was some kind of magic. So there I sat for twenty minutes more, alternately looking at one of the Celestial Immortals and hand strobing. When the light had increased sufficiently, I did my little thanksgiving ritual and departed.
I found a new place to trip. In the second of the two nature parks I frequent (Runnymede Park in Herndon, Virginia), I recently discovered a hidden field of mowed grass. It has two small storage buildings for park equipment and some big trees in the middle of the field. It also sports four picnic tables, which are in front of the trees. When I first discovered the place, I liked it for the trees in the field and those that surround it, plus its relative isolation. In its own way, hanging over the tables is as good as inverting over the lake or a stream. Reflections aren't absolutely necessary. I think I've said this before, but upside down the eyes naturally see more panoptically—Big Sky, Big Trees, Big Mind is what happens! Almost everything looks better, more interesting, more real, and stranger upside down. Also the cicadas are now in full voice and movement. They were fluttering all over the trees and bouncing off my forehead.
Cicadian Rhythm II—5/29/04
The physics book I mentioned has a chapter on "quantum entanglement"—as you know, the phenomenon in which related particles move in parallel and "influence" each other at a distance, even if they be at opposite ends of the Galaxy or more. The best visual analogue I know for quantum entanglement is watching, while inverted, small, fast insect-eating birds as they skim, dive, and ascend over the lake in morning light. In the upright position, there is no suspension of disbelief—they are merely image and reflection—but inverted, they are two related "particles" making wildly graceful coordinated movements.
The afternoon was 70-ish with light clouds, and as soon as I hung from the picnic table I entered my ecstatic, entrancing, inverted arboreal world. Proprioceptively ambiguous trees—down, up, sideways, blood-to-the-brain trees. This is some kind of semi-zen (little z), I thought. If only I could do it with more things in my life, it might even be Capital Z Zen. And then an older man in his sixties came out of the woods and walked in front of me (whom he pretended to ignore), the first time I have seen anybody else in that place. He walked slowly but with long strides and he looked so graceful and amusing and I thought: "Maybe nobody has looked at him so longingly since his first love watched him approach as she reclined in her nuptial bed."
In the Sacred Grove this morning I got caught up working on what I call Portal Vision, which is different from Tunnel Vision, as I will explain. As I sit on the bench and look straight ahead thirty feet or so, there are two young trees (foresters would call them "poles") only a few inches in diameter and maybe six feet apart. Another seventy-five feet back in that gap are two bigger trees. That is where I see my Rorschach figures—sages, creatures, animals, faces. They change with the light and growth of the foliage around them. I go into a semi-trance, which after a few minutes results in the leaves seeming to glow whitely like an infrared photograph. I'm sure this is a standard trance reaction and not especially unusual. That lasts for a few minutes and then dissipates, whereupon I look into the gap while still being aware of the surroundings and see a different kind of clearer space as though looking into another dimension, whatever that might be like. I have to see both the gap and the surrounding area in order to perceive the difference. That's why it's not tunnel vision. The gap looks like a passage to Arcadia or the entrance to the Land of the Hyperboreans. Sometimes I see the Rorschachians while doing this, but I'm primarily focused on seeing the space. It seemed particularly clear to me today. I'm sure that looking at lots of framed paintings over the years has helped me see this way.
Here and There—6/22/04
The morning was cloudy and shadowless, as I sometimes like it. A few days ago I mentioned the "mystery of here and there," which is something I often experience on such a morning. By that I mean a close visual identification with something (usually a tree or trees) that is actually far, relatively speaking. It's always a curious, puzzling feeling for me. As I was sitting upright and looking at a bank of trees across the water, I thought the way to think about this is that "I am a camera/aperture/portal through which something else is looking and I am just participating vicariously.”
Hier-Sein and Da-Sein (Apologies to Heidegger)—6/23/04
The Picnic Table has become for me as good as, if not better than, the lake. There is something about inverting in the presence of a grove of trees occupying most of my visual field that is always heady for me. I cannot not laugh when I cup my hands over my eyes and then release them. It just seems to explode in my brain—BAM, Light, Trees, Ha, Ha, Ha. Another thing about the Picnic Table inversion that's so great for me is that I imagine it's the closest thing to a blind person suddenly getting his sight back—not blind from birth, because it takes such a person time getting acclimated to vision, but someone who lost sight a few years before and can still remember what it was like to see. I would think such a person might experience a brain "BAM," a flash of light, followed by panoptic laughter (or tears), especially if s/he is outdoors. It’s “a universe
in a grain of sand” and a galaxy in a grove of trees.
Picnic Table Again—7/6/04
I went to the Picnic Table, which I hadn't visited for several days. I walked into the field and saw that all the tables had been moved right under the trees and that a pavilion tent covered them. My first thought was that "there goes my panoptic tree hang. The tent is going to block the view and the tables are no longer in the right position." But then when I got on the tables, I began to see that there were new possibilities and that the tent wasn't such a problem after all, especially if I moved the tables so that the hanging edges were about even with the tent. The particular panoptic feeling I had with the previous position wasn't as strong but I was still laughing, so something was still good. Firstly, hanging upside down is just good in itself. I can't put it into words, but there is a mystery about it. Inverted trees just seem more real and strange. They are an intimation of another reality. I also had an insight about why I experience space differently upside down. It is more liquid, oceanic. Why? Because I am “above” it and heavier substances are usually lower and more viscous or solid than what is higher. So space seems more substantial and more interesting to look at. Objects and spaces seem more related and appear to fit together better when I'm inverted. Then as I was getting used to and even welcoming my new picnic table world, I suddenly realized that it wouldn't last either. Park employees must have put up the tent for a July 4th party and soon they will have to take it down or the grass underneath will die. But as long as the tables stay, I'm still in business.
The Adoration of the Dadi—7/20/04
Today I visited the Picnic Table Grove for the first time in almost a week and realized that there is a different quality to my hang times there. In other places I experience fascination or exhilaration, but on the Picnic Tables, I can only say I feel a form of adoration. I can't put my finger on the reason yet, but it does seem to be the case. If I were with two like-minded buddies, we could have an Adoration of the Dadi.
The Adoration of the Dadi II—7/21/04
I had a little more insight into the experience on the Picnic Tables. There are several of them under the tent and I hang over them so that I proceed around the four "cardinal" directions. Seeing trees upside down is seeing that is both static and dynamic at the same time. Static because one sees them in all their quietness and solidity. They have a solemnity not always so apparent when viewed upright. And, of course, inverted seeing focuses the attention because it is unusual. Dynamic because by "hanging down" the trees seem to be growing down from the ground like a reverse Jack and the Bean Stalk and the mind seems to be the seedbed from which they spring. All the "cardinal" directions are good, but the one facing east is my favorite. I look at a relatively solid bank of trees and foliage punctuated in spots by the sky. The top (or bottom when inverted) of the tree line forms a kind of sine curve so that the middle curves inward in an indentation where the sky flows in. Then open sky forms the remaining one-third or so of the visual field. Photographers often talk about composing in thirds. That principle seems to work in this case too. It has just the right proportion of trees, sky, open spots, and curves to excite my adoration.
Mother Gaia’s Mudras—8/2/04
You bring a “message” from "Mother Gaia" or Venus/Aphrodite and something seems to happen. For the first time this summer, I decided to go to the Sacred Grove at about 11:30 a.m. Obviously, it was much lighter and less "mysterious" than usual, but I still got into a zone both while sitting and while lying on the bench. Then I started experimenting with hand positions and movements in front of my eyes and got some very interesting effects. The Greeks' theory about vision was that it was an emanation of tiny particles from the eyes, i.e. the eyes illuminate or project what is seen and are not just passive receivers—not, of course, the modern scientific notion. Sitting in the woods, at a particular time and place, I put my hands in front of my eyes as in “The Hands Observatory” in Rhythm Vision and then gradually pulled them apart and experienced what seemed like an illumination or emanation from my eyes. What happens, of course, is that the eyes do not adjust immediately to the light and so there is slight delay, which manifests as a subtle "emanation" in the front of the visual field. I was also moving my hands a few inches in front of my eyes like a dancer or tai chi practitioner and enjoying the illusion of seeing through them because of binocular vision. I am experimenting with that right now in the house and conclude that it's much more interesting with trees and foliage than with books and walls. Also I think one needs the natural light of the woods rather than the artificial light of a house to experience the "emanation." Another interesting and fun thing to do is to cup the hands in such a way that one is seeing only through a small hole, like taking a picture through a pinhole camera. Things seem both faraway and microscopically close at the same time and then when you pull the hands fully apart you get a little jolt of newness.
Looking through a slit in one's cupped hands is like a submarine captain scanning the sea through a periscope. The ocean looks different through that scope—seemingly microscopically close and far away at the same time. Everything is more individualized and pops into and out of view across the rounded edges of the scope, which also has a slightly distorting Fun House mirror effect on whatever it encounters. Then you lock onto something interesting and give the order—"Torpedo los." You surface and behold the ocean bigger and stranger than ever. No casualties, for this is only a virtual game.
Here is the phenomenological difference for me between first cupping the hands, closing them, and opening and then cupping them, slitting, scanning, and opening. In the former case, there is the apparent emanation and vibration in the center of the visual field accompanied by a little trance. In the latter, it's a bit like being knocked out or fainting and waking up and feeling the whole visual field expand and then trying to shake it off. The latter is a real "hit." Slitting and scanning the forest floor in low light is like cruising the bottom of the ocean, complete with the sound of air coming through a mask produced by breathing in the cupped hands.
Something fun to do—find a bench or other place to lie in a forest or wooded area. Do tai chi-like movements that seem to interweave the foliage. Then stroke, trace, and outline the various things you see and imagine their tactile qualities. I find it's more enjoyable on one's back.
The Beating Heart of Nature—8/10/04
Here's another of Mother's Mudras to go along with the Hands' Observatory and Slit-Scanning. I call it the Beating Heart of Nature and it seems to have the best features of the first two. I started doing it a few days ago but I really began feeling it this morning while hanging over the lake and then sitting on a bench at another spot on the lake. The little tingles and excitement built up as I was doing it and then were released when the hands came apart. Put your hands, slightly open, in front of your eyes in a "prayerful" position and then bring your touching fingers down and back up, thus opening and closing the space like a lub-dub beating heart. You can close one eye but I find that's not necessary for me. Beat the Heart of Nature for a minute or so and then pull your hands apart and "see" if you don't experience a visual rush as your vision becomes more wrap-around and panoptic.
Mother’s Mudras—The Cure for Perceptile Dysfunction—8/12/04
As the days grow shorter, it gets darker and darker when I get to the Grove in the morning, although I leave a little later also. Looking straight ahead in the semi-darkness all I could really see was a portal of two little trees leading back into blackness. I started doing the Beating Heart of Nature and found it interesting because it was a portal looking into a portal. I thought to myself. "Maybe it's better to focus on something intensely when doing the BHN." Then I lay down on the bench and the gray silver sky and dark leaves looked like the intermingling of dark matter and energy, a very galactic experience.
Tada vs. Dada—8/18/04
This morning I had an instantaneous but very interesting experience in the Sacred Grove. I've always been fascinated by street and walking tunnel lights that flick off when the morning light reaches a certain point. Just the other day I was approaching a tunnel under one of our streets and was preparing to "walk through the light" when it turned off. I was both disappointed and surprised at the same time—"Is this some kind of message?" Something suddenly clicking out—Is it like death or the extinguishment of Satori? This morning, I was sitting on the bench in the Grove when I looked up into the trees and started to BHN with the "dark energy and matter.” I became deeply focused on my BHNing and when I pulled my hands apart, suddenly it seemed that several patches of "dark energy" (i.e. interfoliated light) just popped out of existence like street lights going off at dawn or a line of Christmas Tree lights burning out. I shook my head in astonishment and disbelief because I couldn't believe it. "Where had they gone?" My explanation—I was so focused and entranced that I lost awareness of my slight head movements and thus experienced them as the clicking out of lights. According to The Three Pillars of Zen, the highest stage of Zen enlightenment is "Tada"—total and permanent unselfconscious absorption in the moment. Maybe this was a brief flicker of "Tada." The phonetic difference between Dada and Tada is very small, but the mental one is very big, so I will claim nothing more than a camera-lens exposure click to Tada Land. Well, even if it wasn't a glimpse of Tada Land, it was certifiably a surrealist's "marvelous" moment.
With clouds and the later sunrise, it was rather dark as I walked in the woods to the Sacred Grove. I almost tripped over a jogger and his little dog as they approached from the opposite direction. (He's the only one I ever see there at 6:00 a.m.) I took my seat on the bench, brought my palms together in preparation to BHN, but a kind of languidness kept me from raising them much above my nose, and then I unselfconsciously started bobbing my head up and down, like a Jew "davening" before the Wailing Wall, while watching some interesting effects on the forest floor caused by my partially occluded eyes. Then I lay on the bench and looked up into the field of "dark energy and matter" and zoned out as I had never done before. The leaves and light form lots of interesting evanescent "constellations" that change with the light and wind. BHNing seems to bring them to my imagination because it starts with an intense focus on the small and then opens up—a visual Big Bang. Then I sat up and, instead of BHNing again, decided to try the "Polishing the Mirror—Mother's Mudra," which involves making a square frame—middle fingers touching at chest or clavicle height, palms facing down, going outwards a little beyond the shoulders, then hands going upwards a few inches above the head, then middle fingers coming inwards to meet in the center above the head, and finally palms moving down going back to starting point. As I did so, I got the tingles and visual vibrations with all the movements and not just the final "mirror polishing" one. I attributed this to the low light and my zoned-out mood. I left the grove and got to the place of the fallen tree with the “Deva” form (now somewhat changed) and polished its mirror and it almost felt like the barrier between the tree and me was slipping away, as if, for an instant, we were right together. "Can one really polish the mirror away?" Today the surface of the lake was rather scummy and dirty but when one inverts in the low light of morning that all disappears (another benefit of inverting) and instead all I saw was a great void of gray and white sky made even more impressive by some BHNing and a cleansed water line and reflection. Then I just lay on the dock listening to the sky or looking behind to the pylon. I turned my head to rest with the left cheek on the dock while the pylon acted as a visual barrier. From that position, the bank above, where I could see parts of cars and trucks moving, then seemed to be on a steep downward angle. It was great to see them as they appeared to pop out from behind the pylon and speed down the bank like some kind of rocket-propelled bobsleds. For a year I have tried to find a way to get more enjoyment out of daytime viewing of the vehicles (they've always been cool at night) and now I've found it.
Maybe there is something to this Gaia Convergence stuff after all. I have been pretty pumped the last four weeks or so. After leaving the Sacred Grove, I looked back and saw one of the most beautifully subtle and interesting things I have ever seen. The Grove has some smaller trees that cover it more than the rest of the forest so it is always a little darker. In the soft, clear light before sunrise the Grove to my left was bathed in a dark green glow, while to my right the area outside was lit in a brighter shade of green. Remarkably, a straight line marked by two little trees divided the two realms. The two areas seemed like contiguous dimensions. But the difference was subtle and required a sensitivity to space that has been nurtured by the things I have been doing. The depth, clarity, and linear color separation all combined to make for an unusual experience. At the lake, I immediately inverted and as I looked at the "real" half of the scene, it seemed ever so slightly to be wobbling and shaking like its reflected counterpart. Even when I sat up, the "real" trees seemed to have a little shake on this almost totally breezeless morning— "Maya, Maya everywhere and always a drop to drink."
Magical Moments of Maya—8/24/04
When I was a "young" Rhythm Vision guy in the 1980s, I loved light above all else, but these recent experiences have shown me that I now most honor space and subtle differences in light. These are best seen, at least in the spring and summer, before sunrise when the rays are not directly striking but only softly suffusing. Then one can use straight trees (or nearly so) to frame "dimensions" of different light values. Of course, these also exist in the later hours, but the stronger light does not cast the same mysterious spell. Seeing these framed dimensions in pre- and early dawn is like looking into a holographic painting into which one could easily walk if provided with the right incantation. They are mayaesque in their beautiful unreality.
You know the word "scrim"—a term for a gauzy translucent screen or veil? I have a love/hate relationship with the word. It has a nice sound like a combination of "scream" and "cringe," but it also conjures up something effete. "What's this scrim. . . . It should be scrimmage." But this morning I must also use the word "scrim." Since it was cloudy and moderately foggy, I did not expect to see the space "dimensions," but when I got to the same point on the path as yesterday and the day before, there they were in all their glory, maybe even a little better because more subtle. "How do I describe this?" These various arboreal framed light dimensions seemed to be covered, and thus, separated by their own most ethereal "scrims." This is what imparts their mayaesque beauty to them and the feeling that I could disappear into them. Speaking only metaphorically, in the pre- and early dawn one can see light's more wavelike aspect, its "scrimmage field."
Gettin’ My Ohs—8/27/04
Gettin' my Ohs (Owl head swivels, that is) in the wee light of pre-dawn is most interesting. Doing that and Mother's Mudras in that enchanted hour really sets my chi channels atinglin'. Then as I left the Grove, I saw the best scrim dimension so far. I was right up next to it and it was as if part of the forest were covered in the finest jungle netting. I could not resist. I slowly walked into it expecting—what? and then I held two treelets. "'Hold me, Squeeze me, Never let me go my little darlings'— No? But my friend said that. . . Am I not worthy? Oh, that's all right. Just coming in here was thrill enough." I have never seen Indra's Infinitely Reflective Net, which supposedly connects all creatures great and small, but now I have seen Tada's Looking Glass Jungle Net, which is a "real" optical phenomenon. Then onto the playground and basketball court. You would like this place, I'm sure. The surrealists were fascinated by early morning geometries, starting with de Chirico. There are few things stranger and quieter than a basketball court at dawn. And the baskets themselves? You know from Rhythm Vision that I have always seen the backboards as Buddha Nimbi. The rim and netting are abstract faces and the post is the facsimile torso. Looking at those two creatures confronting each other across the court, I want to say "Draw" or I think maybe it's the beginning of Dharma Combat between two alien Monks.
This morning I skimmed the Post, and came across an article in the “Sky Watch” column entitled "In the East, a Planetary Embrace," which informed its readers that "Dancing cheek to cheek, Venus and Saturn waltz across the East until sunrise washes them out." Venus, the Goddess of Love, and Saturn, according to Gustav Holst the symbol of old age, conjoining. Then I went for my predawn walk as the full moon hung low in the southwestern sky. Soon, I saw Venus and Saturn, seemingly parallel to the earth, about as distant as if you were to put your first and middle fingers an inch apart and stretch your hand out, leading me on as I walked eastward towards the Grove. Two Goddesses and an aging Titan— an astrological MÈnage to lighten the heart of any geezoid walker. Practiced the tingles in the Grove, got into a great groove to the Lake, saw the inverted wispy-clouded sky, and discreetly exclaimed, "Take this Tingle Toid to Tadaland."
Maya Be Messin’ with My Mind—9/9/04
That old Illusionist Maya is messin' with my mind with mirrors. I went to the Grove about 11:00 a.m. and looked down into it from a point on the path where I had seen nothing unusual before, but this time it was like I was in some arboreal version of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. It was something to behold with all those scrims, depths, spaces, and ethereal surfaces, but I also felt I was being teased—"Show me the Real Deal, Madam Maya, and not this beautiful photonic trickery. You be messin' with me again!" After leaving the woods, I went to the restaurant and as I neared it, a piano piece came on the radio, which sounded like something by Debussy, but I couldn't pinpoint it. I've always loved Debussy and Ravel (and other French composers) and I started to get lost in this piece. It turned out to be "Gypsy Dancers" by Joaquin Turina. Then Shirley and I drove to a store and another "impressionist"-like piece came on, but as much as I liked it, I turned off the radio because the signal was breaking up. But as I drove, I seemed to hear a very soft music coming from the car and the road and I checked to see if I had really turned off the radio, which I had. "Very nice. I hope I can keep this up." Then I got into a little zone. A few hours later when I left the restaurant, I again seemed to hear a subtle road music. This is not an entirely new experience because I often hear a kind of "Music of the Pipes" as air flows out of air-conditioning and heating vents. I hope the road music continues because it will make me a much more relaxed and tada driver.
Oh My, Oh Maya—9/14/04
It was a bit misty and foggy and when I arrived at the Grove nearly thirty minutes before sunrise. Sitting down, I immediately felt relaxed and enveloped in the darkness. The only illumination came from the general ambient light, which is less in Reston because of a policy of restricting streetlights. (The town founders did that for aesthetic reasons and it has stuck for nearly forty years, despite the danger to pedestrians. Dog walkers and others usually carry flashlights in the early morning. I have a pocket-sized one to help me navigate the path to the Grove.) I could faintly make out objects within twenty or thirty feet, and animals, including some deer that were foraging near me. I then started doing some slit-scanning, which in that low-light environment made me imagine that I was seeing successive x-rays of parts of Gustave Courbet's dark forest paintings. Interesting—I want to do that again. When I released my hands, I got my usual panoptic jolt plus "photisms" that might be imagined as forest sprites. All of this was interspersed with some Owlish Oscillations, which have become a regular part of my routine, and, which I now firmly believe subtly help tweak the visual consciousness.
I then lay down on the bench and looked up at the gray interfoliated light and leaves. I started moving my head and soon the Christmas Tree Light Effect was really working for me. Move my head this way and a few lights pop out. Move them another and another bunch are extinguished, etc. As I was doing that, I noticed that the increasing light was becoming a beautiful pinkish-orange color because of the mist. I sat up and saw how other parts of the woods were being bathed in this light. Should I remain seated or should I start walking?
I was conflicted for a few minutes and then got up. This was a heavenly light into which I walked and the arboreal portals by which I stopped and looked beckoned most teasingly. When I hit the paved path, I was feeling very good. If high spirits and musical energy could be transformed into acceleration, I might have achieved liftoff during my walk to the lake. Fortunately, I encountered only two other walkers so my hand jiving was totally unrestrained. The lake was scummy with algae but was cleaned up when I inverted. When I righted myself, I looked into the flowing water and noticed some water bugs and then a whole lot more moving against the current in a broad file. It was like watching runners at the beginning of the Boston Marathon from a hovering helicopter. A Water Bug Marathon, a laugh-inducing animal encounter for a change.
The remnants of Hurricane Ivan will drop rain on us for the next two or three days so I made sure I got some down time in the Grove this morning. I really like getting there in the ambient-light darkness and today I combined some of my routines. I slit-scanned the area and immediately followed that with a Polishing the Mirror routine and I got a really neat photism that actually unnerved me at first. Imagine a small light-brown cannon ball coming towards you in slow-mo from what seems like fifty feet away and then just passing by your right ear and shooting up and away. Then I lay down on the bench and just tranced out on the interfoliated light and leaves until I remembered to do the Christmas Tree Light Effect. There is only a brief window of opportunity, maybe ten or fifteen minutes at the most, since it won't work if it's too dark or too light. This time I found myself moving my eyes and head to a simple melody and, of course, the popping tree lights followed the beat. I've only got six weeks more weeks to do this.
At the lake, I reflexologized my ears while inverted and was tingleaciously autoeroticized. If an Apsara (a Southeast Asian goddess) had suddenly appeared on the dock, I would have been helpless before her charms. I sat on a pylon at the second dock and for the first time slit-scanned the big tree that seems to loom over and draw me in. When I released my hands, it seemed to expand and actually move towards me. Roth's First Law of Slit-Scanning—Slit-Scanning a tree or other object that is of some distance but seems emotionally much closer will result in its apparent temporary expansion and movement towards the viewer.
Tingletoid and the Super Duper Novae—9/20/04
Yesterday on the first morning of wearing my Celtic charm, I was lying on the Grove bench doing the Christmas Tree Light Effect when I realized I was moving my head and eyes very slightly to a tick-tock beat, so that lights were popping in an out like clockwork. Tick Tock pop pop Tick Tock pop pop und so wei-ter (German for etc.). This morning it was darker than ever when I got to the bench, so after a few desultory slit-scannings I lay down. It seemed still too dark for the Christmas Tree Light Effect, but I started moving my head and eyes anyway. I sensed the popping below the threshold and then it started for real after a few minutes. For about ten or fifteen minutes I continued doing it metronomically. Then I stopped, relaxed, while looking straight up, panoptically. Soon a strong surge of tingles began to move from my feet towards my head whereupon some more lights seemed to pop out, although I was lying motionless and wasn't aware of moving my eyes either. That apparent anomaly made me laugh, which was immediately followed by my visual field being lit up by thousands of blazing “Supernovae” in what has to have been the most intense light experience of my life. This was a trance phenomenon brought on by the metronomic play of light and heightened by the anomaly and laughter. This lasted for two or three minutes, but, of course, I really lost all track of time. I then sat up and the woods were just coming into view so it must have been about 6:30 a.m. or about thirty minutes after I had arrived at the Grove.
Naturally, I was feeling really pumped and I decided I needed to walk it off. If the jogger with his little dog had arrived a few minutes earlier he would have caught me in flagrante embracing a fallen tree trunk that has often been the object of my panoptic affections. I believe this was the first time that I was ever drawn to do this by an emotion outside of my will and perhaps outside of myself. But he may have spotted me as I raised my arms in rapturous salute to an old friend, one who was the subject of one of my first photographs in 1987. I dropped my arms when I heard him coming, experiencing rapturous interruptus in the process. But a few minutes later I found consummation in the branches of another who had struck me by standing forth so mysteriously yet solidly in the early morning light. The subsequent hand jiving was particularly intense and manic. Now it’s time to calm down.
Morning, Mist, Clouds, and Lassitude—Stir and Invert—9/24/04
The stars were out so it looked like it would be a clear morning, although the newspaper did say "morning clouds and fog." After leaving the Grove, I stopped at a few places on the unpaved path, but it was still not very light. In a few minutes I was on the paved path when I saw the sky filling with big ellipsoid clouds that mostly covered the sky but left room for the blue between their imperfectly conjoining spaces. Since there was also a little mist, I knew these were ideal conditions—diffuse, shadowless, ever-so-slightly pinkish light.
And so they were, for I soon found myself looking through arboreal portals of the most delicate depth and clarity, enhanced by the mysterious beauty of the barely perceptible pink light. Trees shape space, and several working together can create their own interconnecting space worlds. Then when I inverted over the lake, the ellipsoids looked like giant pastries set out for the gods. I hung for several minutes taking in the visual feast. When I arose, I felt pleasantly drained and languid and thought I was on the verge of something. If only a Zen Master had come up from behind and hit me on the back with his stick maybe I would have dropped Mind and Body. Perhaps next time a tree will drop a branch on me. A few days ago in the early morning, the inverted sky was light-blue, silvery color, and instead of being a Cosmic Ocean it seemed to be more a Cosmic Mirror—without any reflections, of course.
Two days ago at the Lake I had an experience I thought I couldn't top—overcast gray sky, calm, clear water so that reflection and "real" world looked about as close as they'll ever get. So when I inverted I just dropped into a non-differentiated Looking Glass World. I couldn't help but emote. But today, after the passage of the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne, the sky was baby blue and it was partially covered with wedge and ovoid cirrus clouds. When I inverted it was the closest thing I can imagine to seeing the Earth from a satellite one hundred miles up. Looking down on the clouds and then seeing through to the blue-sky ocean. The only thing missing was the land, but it could just as well have been only ocean I was crossing at the time.