Keep one point

One of the tenants of Aikido is keep one point. Move, think and be from a central point in one’s person; this is a physical consideration and something that extends beyond. One quickly understands in practice that it’s difficult to throw someone by separately using hands, arms, torso and legs; but if the movement and intent comes combined from one point, the result is fluid. It’s the same with accepting a throw from a partner; if one tumbles through as an assembly of limbs and body, it’s like hitting the mat in pieces.
Of course, one can’t think too much about it or the body does not hear what the mind is saying. It’s difficult to think all the kinetic necessities together. It’s difficult to do something that is beyond doing; it’s a matter of being. There is a risk here of falling into a wash of abstract language that covers over any sensible meaning; I’ve read many descriptions of one point and it’s often difficult to tell if the writer is far beyond us in understanding—or completely full or fooey. But I don’t think it’s a paradox to say this idea is so removed from the physical that it’s the most concrete notion we can experience.

I think this may have saved my life.

In the accident there was one position I could be in to remain uninjured; everything else was a mangle of metal. That point is where I came to rest in the end; inches removed in any direction were steel bars, pipes and the underside of tractor-trailer that had, a split second before, shuttled past my body at high speed. There was no way for me to think myself to a place of safety—no time to consider where to be or what was happening. There was just one point.

It’s synchronicity; I believe there is something in or connected to me that found that place without my conscious participation. There were a series of moments, a succession of otherwise awful consequences that came to one point—life. We talk about how frail life is; yet, despite all the apparent dangers, we are obviously alive more than we experience death. Life and consciousness seem to be our normal state; we are connected moment by moment to that place of safety.

Synchronous Afghan Lake

This morning I was reading about using Bolex cameras for travel documentary work; I came across a story from a filmmaker who visited Afghanistan in 1969 and lost his camera over a waterfall at a remote mountain lake (he later retrieved it and it was reparable…Bolex are incredibly tough). He noted in the story that hardly anyone outside the country knew of this area.
So, of course, this evening I turn on BBC news and there is a story about how the Afghan government is attempting to promote tourism in this lake area. Some of the pictures in the report looked like shots from this fellow’s visit in 1969. I think the probably showed the same waterfall.

Somebody please tell me what the odds are of my stumbling across this random story on the internet and then seeing a BBC report on the same place the same day.

Update (a sort of pathetic update that reveals my taste in humour): I checked to see if there was a new Strongbad today and, par for the Synchronicity course, it’s about independent films and includes an animated representation of a Bolex.

The Blast

I dreamt last night that I was in a village outside Hiroshima the day the bomb was dropped (it was a village I have actually visited in Japan, but the house was my childhood home in the States). I knew it was coming but could do nothing to warn anyone or stop it; I awoke feeling the heat on my skin.
Then today I saw the word ‘Hiroshima’ four separate times.

Location of the psyche

I’m reading Jung’s Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle from Volume 8 of his collected works (Pantheon, 1960). In it, he makes this astounding claim:
bq. Synchronistic phenomena prove the simultaneous occurrence of meaningful equivalences in heterogeneous, causally unrelated processes; in other words, they prove that a content perceived by an observer can, at the same time, be represented by an outside event, without any causal connection. From this it follows either that the psyche cannot be localized in space, or that space is relative to the psyche. The same applies to the temporal determination of the psyche and the psychic relativity of time. I do not need to emphasize that the verification of these findings must have far-reaching consequences. (Paragraph 996)

Indeed. That statement is just sort of hidden at the end of the essay’s appendix; but has huge implications for the discussion of spirituality and human nature (and our connexion with…everything else).

Must read more. I’ve the house to myself at the moment; sitting here with a cup of tea; rainstorm outside; perfect conditions.


I’m beginning a new category here entitled ‘Synchronicity’ as it’s becoming an ongoing theme.
For the past week or so, I’ve engrossed myself in C.G. Jung’s Psychology of Religion and Synchronicity by Robert Aziz (it’s not exactly beach reading). I’m going to make an extensive quote here as it’s directly pertinent to recent life experience. I should note that, though I’ve read Jung for the past year and kept my eye open for anything on Synchronicity theory, I did not specifically seek out this book. I came across it in the library whilst looking for something else—which is how Synchronicity works anyway (though that is arguably the sister concept of Serendipity).

For those of you not familiar with the theory, here is a brief definition (though there are many more layers as, at its heart, it delves into how everything is related to everything else—from oneself to the cosmos). The Wikipedia definition (which is as good as any) follows: Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events which are causally unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner. In order to count as synchronicity, the events should be unlikely to occur together by chance. There is a larger related question regarding the timing of the events that I’ll not go into here (as simultaneous Synchronous events might not actually occur at the same moment because we have a limited understanding of time in the relative sense. We are talking about the underlying order of the universe and, basically, though the universe is coherent, it doesn’t necessarily meter out time from one moment to the next. Something can happen in my grandfather’s childhood and my old age at the same moment ...but that’s for another posting).

Jung speaks of synchronous events as if they are a way for the Universe to ‘course correct’ an anomaly in the stream of things; there is a natural imperative to bring a ‘compensatory effect’ into play. These occur, in an individual’s life, to aid in the process of individuation (the becoming of a whole person—or development of a harmonious connexion with the order of things). However, the key thing is to become aware of the presence and meaning of Synchronicity. It’s important to foster a keen sense of recognition:

The ability, for example. to recognise at the earliest possible point when one has drifted, either consciously or unconsciously,from the more comprehensive pattern of one’s individuation is particularly important, because it is not uncommon when one is so floundering for the synchronistic compensatory response of nature to become increasingly aggressive until the situation is satisfactorily corrected. It is, therefore, very much in one’s interests to catch such developments in their beginnings and to take the appropriate action
as quickly as possible. Jung refers to such a situation in a letter to Philip Metman dated March 27. 1954. Metman and his wife, apparently had just narrowly escaped serious injury in a car accident. In writing to Metman, Jung very notably, as we shall see in the following drew Melman’s attention to the possible synchronistic relationship between their narrow escape from injury and some writing Metman was engaged in at that time. Jung’s essential point was that Metman may not have been giving his creative energy sufficient freedom in his writing, and consequently he found himself at odds with the synchronistic flow of outward nature. “I gather with great concern,” Jung writes, “that you have had a hair-breadth escape from a car accident. The accident has affected only the outer shell, but evidently you and your wife were not affected physically by this broad hint. Naturally this may have an inner connection with what you are writing, for experience shows that accidents of this sort are very often connected with creative energy which turns against us because somehow it is not given due heed. This may easily happen; for we always judge by what we already know and very seldom listen to what we don’t yet know. Therefore we can easily take a step in the wrong direction or continue too long on the right path until it becomes the wrong one. Then it may happen that in this rather ungentle way we are forced to change our attitude.”

Much as is the case with dreams, synchronistic experiences, such as the above, tend to repeat themselves, as Bolen explains, “until the inner psychological conflict or the conflicting external situation changes,” that is to say, until the desired compensatory effect is realised. Bolen, interestingly enough, presents a case that is rather similar to the above, only with her example, not one but three car accidents took place before things were put back on course. Bolen relates how a woman with a perfect driving record found herself in the very awkward position of having to make two “it’s me again”—type calls to her claims adjustor. Particularly troubling about these accidents was the fact that in each case the woman herself was blameless. In the first collision, she was hit from behind while stopped at a traffic light by a woman who failed to brake quickly enough on a rain-wetted street. On the second occasion she was hit again by a woman who was changing lanes. The third accident was similar to the first, only more serious still. She was again struck from behind while stopped at a traffic light, but in this instance by a woman whose brakes had failed. This time the impact of the accident was so great that her gasoline tank ruptured. fortunately without igniting, and her vehicle was dangerously pushed forward into the intersection. After this third collision, the analysand, we are told, finally began to give serious thought to a possible synchronistic connection…

... We see from the above examples, therefore, that when one is at odds with the compensatory flow of one’s individuation, it is very much to one’s advantage to discover as quickly as possible how the subjective position is not right, and then to make the needed adjustments immediately, lest the compensatory synchronistic pattern take an even more sinister turn.” (Aziz 161-62)

I sat in an armchair on Thursday evening reading this; for a moment, I put the book aside and considered the import of the words. My mother looked over at me and said, “Did something strike you?” Yes—indeed; I think I’ve been stricken.

There is a pattern; and we can even take the notion of a triad as described in the example above. Over the past year, there have been three occasions where I’ve been severely stricken off course. First was an issue with my MSc; I was not able to finish the program as I had hoped (for reasons I’ll not go into here as the discussion on this has swirled round in other quarters). Second, was my inability to obtain a UK visa and stay in Europe. Third, of course, was the road accident that could have easily taken my life. All three incidents were, in many ways, ‘beyond my control’; however, in all three, I was in some sense ‘in the driver’s seat’. At the time of each incident I felt that I had control of the situation till it was clearly and suddenly made evident that I was not. Each incident pivoted on the narrowest of margins; a few points, a few Pounds, a few centimetres one way or the other and the outcome would have been different. (As an aside, though I was not listening to music at the time of the accident, I looked at my iPod the next day and the last song I had listened to beforehand was Lose Control by Evanescence.)

I am at the threshold of something significant in my life—it may have already happened and I’ve just not yet come to comprehend all the pieces; but, I know it has begun. And, the mind boggling thing is, as I hinted at above, I think it’s possible that the beginnings of it may have been long before I was born. It’s a continuum of events. Everything happened just as it had to happen. Every decision of mine—and everyone before me—leads on to here.

Or, perhaps, rather than say, ‘I’m at the threshold of something significant’, I should say that I realise there may be more significant than previously comprehended.