Friday, August 5, 2011

Two Smart Guys Think About The Big And The Small

Human beings look outward from Earth into a universe that is Big—“hundreds of millions” of times our everyday size. On the other end of the scale, we use technologies that work on the Small—on tiny things that are “hundredths of millionths” our size. Here we are, suspended between galaxy and proton.

Two guys who loved math (Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman) gave us equations to deal with both ends of the scale of size. Those equations are used all the time to measure and change reality. They guide everything humans design, from computers to cars to earth satellites.

Without Albert’s ideas about (big) relative motion, human beings might not send rockets into orbit, carrying systems for mapping and rapid communication. Without Richard 's contributions to (small) electro-dynamic theory, the rapid shrinking of electronic devices could not have occurred.  Literally, the pictures we have of our Universe (from the space telescopes) would not have been made.

Al's theories of Relativity and Dick's Quantum Electrodynamics are triumphs of the human mind. Applying them, engineers can grasp everything from the infinitesimal smallness of atoms to the infinite largeness of galaxies. Human beings now understand and can predict the processes that cause our Universe at each end of the scale of size.

But these two theories are not in complete mathematical harmony. 

Al and Dick and their colleagues in physics spent time trying to bridge the mathematical gap between the theory of the very large and the theory of the very small. Other physicists joined them, too. In fact several systems of equations exist to define this problem. Scientists have even given it a name: the Theory of Everything. But joining Quantum and Relative turns out to be stubbornly difficult.

A good candidate for the Theory of Everything is called by the name of its most basic concept: the string. String Theory brings together work of Al and Dick and many other smart guys to try to complete our understanding of how things work. Where classical physics defined the pieces that fly apart in high-energy experiments as "particles," another way of visualizing them is as "strings."

The usual mathematics of our lives uses three dimensions of space and one of time:

Back-forth, up-down, side-to-side, and tic-tock. (Together, these are called “space-time.”) But the maths needed to reconcile Relative and Quantum use seven more dimensions! These are "folded up." Below the size of the smallest particle, they are everywhere in the vacuum of space.

Not that this is a testable theory, since the folded dimensions are below the limit of sizes that can presently be observed by humans. "You might as well be talking about God," says a physics professor I know, "because the theories cannot be falsified, so they have to be held by faith." But the origin of these insights into the nature of our Universe is science, not myth.

And it gives a new meaning to the term “Wonder.”

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why Practice?

Of Being Itself, the Mystery

Something exists and seems to be identified with both body and mind. I come to know this because the body delivers sights, sounds, smells, tastes, movement and touch. My mind experiences present sensations and combines them with all my previous experiences as thought. The owner of this process I call my self. Normally as I interact with others who resemble me, our thoughts mirror one another through our faces and our postures. This mirroring becomes the basis for the sensations in my chest I call my heart: the symbol for my emotions and connections with others.

Normally, as others and self exchange thoughts through language, I notice there are many intangibles that my mind projects. This is the sacred imagination, and the place or plane where this projection occurs, I call the soul. It is underneath or at the center of the self and the mind. In the soul occur all those intangible things that keep me in my culture, such as dreams, imagination, creativity, and interactions with art.

Belief – Experience – Belief

Perceptions arise from sense processes of my body and mind. Perceptions move through the filter of my beliefs, chosen from past experiences. My beliefs (or cultural context) create my reality. Changing my beliefs, or context, changes my reality. This change can occur all at once or over a long period of time, and when it brings me into closer harmony with others, I call it enlightenment.


Enlightenment is getting at a deep level my true nature and relationships. This body-I-mind-self discovers it’s different than first (or recently) experienced, and I change my thinking to identify with a wider context. Whether experienced suddenly or over time, enlightenment brings with it the desire for practice.

Sudden enlightenment shocks the body-I-mind-self into a new vision, often accompanied by blissful sensations. Inevitably this pleasant experience fades, and the enlightened one is left with “every-dayness”. A felt need for practice arises.

Gradual enlightenment arises when body-I-mind-self falls into a context that increases the ability to perceive true nature. The gradual practitioner may feel a kinship when hearing about sudden enlightenment. Both sudden and gradual practitioners have a need for one another. Thus a Way of Life arises, based on practice and enlightenment.

Practices Set the Context

So whether sudden or gradual, enlightenment experience calls forth some practice, such as satsang, shikantaza, constant prayer, singing and chanting, or getting into the zone. While such practices are not enlightenment, they set us up to experience or re-experience the blissful moment when the body-I-mind-self gets a new context in a moment of clarity.

Balance and Prepare

Thus the practice of enlightenment involves a continual investment in the body, mind, heart, and soul. Keeping the body strong and flexible is the foundation for a mind that operates clearly. Receiving and then giving love brings growth of emotional intelligence and capacity, the heart. And with the expanded heart, the sacred place within becomes prepared to experience the ever-present light anew.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LAYS Practice--Putting Our Sails Up In The Winds Of Grace

Grace is a wind, blowing at our backs, if we but open our lives to spiritual practice.

What is Grace?

The word "Grace" calls up both secular and spiritual meanings. It means coordinated elegance, such as a graceful dance. It means the state of your account before the interest is charged, such as a grace period. It means a free gift from that which is beyond you, and far greater. Like "olly olly oxen free" in the ancient childrens' game, Grace is the feeling of relief that results from resetting all anxiety.

Though Grace is a free gift, it requires us to be receptive. Grace cannot benefit one whose life is closed, just as love cannot warm a cold heart that stays distant. When we kindle our hearts with self-love, and warm up to giving love, others' love can provide an abundance of fuel for our life. Likewise when we prepare ourselves to receive the benefits of Grace, we change our connection to the power that can move our boat more surely and powerfully through the waters of life.

Laissez Faire Yoga is a "course in grace." C-O-U-R-S-E in grace is also the memory device that reminds us "how to be" as we begin the movements. In a broader context, this is how we practice to live a more wholesome and abundant life.

The Oars of Intentional Action

Like a boat moves through the water from the effort applied to oars and rudder, life moves ahead (at least in part) through intent. Setting goals and taking action are important, but not the only elements driving our life development--just as the force of rowing is not the only force moving a boat. Because forces beyond us push us hither and yon, too.

Currents in the water, like circumstances in our life, impel us forward or impede our progress. Turbulence, like chaos and disorder, interferes with our direction.

The Sails of Regular Practice

And like a boat that has a sail, our life of practice can catch the wind and move "all ahead full." Moving our body, clearing our mind, opening our heart, imagining the expansion of our soul: each of these practices raises a canvas. Tying the sail with regular practice, we swing our lives to fill with the winds of Grace, and to develop under the applied force of its influence.

And so at the beginning of light adaptive yoga stretch (LAYS), we use the letters C-O-U-R-S-E in grace to remind us:


Open to awareness

Unify or blend

Release tension

Sync up/sink down

Extend Ki or energize

Thus we raise our sails to its winds.

(c) Copyright 2011-2013, Leland S. Ferguson, all rights reserved. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners*.

*Photo Credit: Caribbean Sunset Image courtesy of Tim Seed |

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Announcement

The first week of March, 2011

Readers please feel free to connect with me by leaving comments.

This web site begins with an explanation of the Announcement, where it came from and how it is beginning to unfold.

The Ease and Joy of my Integral Transformative Practice

The Announcement came to me during a visualization. On the occasion of an important birthday, I went to the sacred place in my inner self, corresponding to a certain tree outside St. Helena, California. Climbing the stairs I saw open before me there, I met Ganesh, who had introduced himself to my imagination during my Hoffman process some years earlier. I asked for guidance.

I took up a pen and wrote what my guide spoke:

The Announcement

As a
* living seed of the coming civilization*
*Those Who Care*

Must now
*step beyond constraints and techniques.*

We embody
*the wise and compassionate teachings*

We've received, despite the
*seemingly endless harms*

Contravening the vision of ultimate bliss.

As a
*bridge between past and future*

*all that derives out of ancient spiritual endeavors*

*all the future brings (in whatever container),*

We seek to embody and disseminate
*Extraordinary Knowledge of Interior Awareness;*

And to intensify and transmit it to
*a wider sphere and a broader community.*
Unfolding the Announcement

And I sought to widen my sphere, within days attending the extraordinary workshop on Integral Transformative Practice(R) at Esalen. There I introduced myself as having reached phase four, teacher. But what to teach?

The ITP Kata(TM), a movement, affirmation, and stillness meditation was the greatest part of the workshop. Documented in The Tao of Practice (DVD) and The Life We Are Given (book), the Kata is to ITP what Shikantaza ("just sitting") is to Zen, what Satsang is to Yoga: a tangible form of the transcendent Way.

Integral Transformative Practice, of course, is much more than the Kata, as Zen is more than sitting, and Worship more than Prayer. And so two affirmations came to me in my work during the workshop:
  • I connect my center, my heart, and my mind, and I live out of Power, Compassion, and Wisdom.
  • All I need for my practice of Kata comes to me with Ease and Joy.

Since then I've attended more ITP events and joined a local group who do the Kata on Saturdays. Doing the Kata in any group that opens before me meant that near the end of 2010, I’d led 166 sessions. So far, it seems, I've led the Kata four or five times a week, and followed others leading it often as well. To find a place and time you can join a session, contact me.

Making the Announcement through leading the Kata is a livelihood in the sense of a pattern of practice one could lead "as a way of life." And the way is ease and joy, letting doors that open be paths to future abundance.

(c) copyright 2011, Leland S. Ferguson, all rights reserved. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners.

Please respond to this entry.