In 1997, after studying the works of Taoist Grand Master Mantak Chia for a number of years, I attended a brief seminar he presented in Northern Virginia during one of his tours of the USA. Based in Thailand, Grand Master Chia’s work and teachings in the areas of Qigong and Taoist Transmutation of Sexual Energy over the last forty years have earned him recognition as one of the world’s premier authorities on those topics. Needless to say, I was quite excited about getting the opportunity to meet this learned practitioner; although I had no idea of what to expect.
For roughly two hours, he spoke about the importance of the sacral pump. As I stood there in a room with about twenty other people (the females outnumbering the males, almost three to one), we were guided in an exercise that had us thrusting our pelvises rhythmically in and out, in a motion very much like that which occurs quite naturally during sexual intercourse. At first, it was a little embarrassing. But after a few minutes of standing there and pumping myself in the air, I began to feel a warm sensation rising from my tailbone up through my spine. As the sensation continued to rise toward the crown of my head, I heeded the master’s instruction to attach my tongue to the roof of my mouth. Suddenly, I began to feel a somewhat cooler surge flow downward through my chest area and toward my stomach. It was a very subtle energy. But, it was real…and powerful. As I kept on with the pumping motion, I almost felt as though I was beginning to levitate.
That was my first real encounter with the Microcosmic Orbit. Although I had read so much about the processes of consciously moving energy within the body, up until that time, I was only really aware of the Stillness meditative approaches (whose focus is primarily on correct methods of breathing); and I wasn’t so good at them. However, under the tutelage of an expert, those rhythmic undulations of my torso got the ball rolling (so to speak).
The Rhythm of Life
Life is replete with its ups and downs, its ins and outs – its back and forth. When we awaken in the morning and see the sun shining brightly, we might even say aloud “Oh yes, it’s gonna be a good day!” Conversely, if we find the sky overcast when we arise, many are less motivated to face the day. Why is this?
We have yet to fully grasp the degree to which our minds create the world in which we live. Even after the sunny day has gone sour, or the rainy day has become one of triumph, it somehow slips our recognition that we had a powerful hand in the outcome. With respect to the demands of critical moments, it was the manner of our response that imparted the spin (whether positive or negative) to circumstances that actually might have been inclined otherwise. Attitude matters, greatly.
The primary purpose of our discussion remains the cultivation of Discipline and Integrity. To that end, we will now turn our focus toward the development of three essential faculties:
- Rhythm (Timing)
It’s all relative
Before we delve a bit more into how those three faculties might best be understood, and developed, we must appreciate a principle that is essential to our common existence: EVERYTHING is in motion!
Although we could quickly get lost in our thoughts about how pervasive is the principle of motion, let it suffice us to say that if a thing is perceived as not moving, then it is of little concern to us. In fact, if we sweep our thoughts momentarily from focusing upon a microscopic view of the atoms that make up our bodies to a macroscopic perspective of the farthest reaches of the Universe, we find that we only recognize that which we perceive to be involved in the process of motion. Even in the case of the black holes that exist in deepest space-time, we’re aware of them only because they are peculiar regions in which there seems to be a complete absence of motion; as not even light itself escapes their internal gravity — and as objects move closer toward them, they suddenly disappear.
The motion of an object can only be described relative to something else: the framework within which that relationship is described is known as a frame of reference. Depending upon how the frame of reference is selected, the motion of a particular object might be described in various ways.
For example, let us suppose that you are sitting on a train, reading a magazine about the Louvre museum, as you are leaving Brussels (Belgium) and heading toward an exciting vacation in Paris (France). It appears to the woman who just walked past your compartment that you are at rest, in a fixed position within the train. However, to the man standing on the platform at the station, who briefly spotted your head through the window of the train as it exited the station, you were clearly in motion — because you are a part of the train’s motion. Similarly, even though you might later perceive yourself to be in a stationary position inside the Louvre, standing transfixed in admiration of the Mona Lisa, you’re actually hurtling through space on a planet that is orbiting the Sun — at a speed of 108,000 kilometers per hour.
The above is a more straight-forward example of how different frames of reference impart their own meaning to various phenomena. And although this concept can be expanded to encompass even the relativistic physics of Einstein, we needn’t carry it that far.
For the purposes of our immediate discussion, we need only be aware that, at any given moment, multiple frames of reference might be applied to one’s thoughts and/or actions — and also to the various phenomena that occur in one’s environment.
In a somewhat more subtle example, we will examine how, for any given frame of reference, there is incomplete information about all the forces that might be acting upon an object that is in motion. Let’s suppose that a man has a mobile phone in his pocket, and in his left ear is an earpiece which is connected to the phone. As the man walks down the street, he quietly listens to the other party on the phone call. A woman who is sitting on her front porch observes the man, although she can only see his right side (and thus, she is unaware that he has an earpiece in his ear). Suddenly, the man stops in front of the woman’s house, and as he begins to shout angrily in response to his phone conversation, he turns and looks toward the woman. The woman quickly gets up and runs inside her house, fearing that the man is insane. After the man finishes his brief outburst, he continues walking down the street.
Clearly, the woman’s frame of reference (in which there was no information about the man’s phone call) influenced her interpretation of the man’s actions – and to the degree that she became alarmed when his motions changed.
A firm grasp of the concept of frames of reference will serve us well in the discussions in the following sections.
Don’t cop an attitude
No, there is no such thing as a “Bitch-O-Meter”! However, given the often perilous climate that prevails in these modern times (where human interactions are still deeply influenced by the Bitch Politic), if such a device actually existed, indeed it might prove quite useful.
Instead, the instrument pictured to the left is an Attitude Indicator — otherwise known as an “artificial horizon.”  Used in aerospace applications, it provides the pilot of an aircraft with information about the vehicle’s orientation relative to Earth’s horizon. In the field of Flight Dynamics, the term “attitude” relates specifically to motion; a vehicle’s attitude actually determines the direction in which it will head. This definition is quite different from that of the more casual attributions to one’s mental state or posture. Among the many definitions of attitude in the Collins English Dictionary, we find the following:
- the way a person views something or tends to behave toward it, often in an evaluative way.
- a theatrical pose created for effect (esp in the phrase strike an attitude)
- a position of the body indicating mood or emotion
- informal — a hostile manner: don’t give me an attitude, my girl
- the orientation of an aircraft’s axes in relation to some plane, esp the horizontal
- the orientation of a spacecraft in relation to its direction of motion
- ballet — a classical position in which the body is upright and one leg raised and bent behind
With the above set of definitions in-hand, we are now equipped to synthesize our own definition of Mental Attitude — one that will provide us with an operational tool to move toward a state of internal Discipline:
Mental Attitude — the orientation of one’s will and receptivity such that it impels one toward a given manifestation or outcome.
Quite far from the passiveness implied by the commonly accepted definitions of “attitude,” the much more active stance afforded our new definition actually places the power (and the responsibility) to determine the course of events within the grasp of the individual.
More often than not, by simply attuning one’s mind toward a given outcome, one will cause that outcome to become manifest. However, one must be careful to remain aware of the distortions that arise from one’s immediate frame of reference — understanding that there exist limits to one’s ability to correctly interpret the events that occur within any given moment. In this regard, Mental Attitude is better applied as an orientation-in-principle — an overarching thrust to one’s actions that stands above frames of reference and even above time itself. It is this application of Mental Attitude (when it is positively directed) that sets the stage for the development of patience. At the same time, it should be recognized that such an ambitious application of Mental Attitude also depends upon patience for its maintenance.
When one’s Mental Attitude is more negatively oriented, there is greater reliance upon immediate and increasingly narrow frames of reference (with all their accompanying distortions) to maintain one’s course. In spite of the negative orientation, there often occur quite violent vacillations toward a positive orientation; and these shifts are quieted only by one’s clinging ever so tightly to the distortions of the moment. In this case, one’s Mental Attitude rapidly becomes an orientation-in-fact, as one’s accumulating actions begin to resonate with the prevailing negative character of the times. Strangely enough, the alert individual will see even this as further evidence of the general inclination of all things toward the positive.
Gimme a beat!
Despite the seeming chaotic nature of things that are beyond our immediate control, there is a natural rhythm to all processes. However, owing to the limits imposed upon our sensibilities by our immediate frames of reference, it is quite impossible for us to determine the rhythm of the majority of processes that have impact upon us. In many cases, our frames of reference are limited by time; and thus, events such as earthquakes, floods, and the like, catch us totally by surprise — for we simply have not been on the scene long enough to discern the rhythm(s) of our planet. When the period of a rhythm spans hundreds of thousands of years, or longer, its frequency is too low to be perceptible to us. Toward the other end of the spectrum, the frequency of a rhythmic process might be 100 kHz or greater — a frequency too high for us to hear and too low for us to see. Similarly, our frames of reference are also limited by proximity: there are countless forces (each with its own ebb and flow) operating on our world, in ways that are well beyond our perception.
Still, we have a fair measure of control over our responses to much that occurs within our immediate realm of perception, even though we ultimately remain subject to the rhythms of the phenomena themselves. In Chapter Three of the Book of Ecclesiastes NASB, we find a most beautiful commentary on the pervasiveness of rhythm in our world:
- There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven —
- A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
- A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
- A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
- A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
- A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
- A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
- A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
In the Kybalion, the topic of rhythm is addressed with a bit more rigor. It serves as one of the foundational principles of Hermetic thought:
The Principle of Rhythm
“Everything flows, out and in; everything has its tides;
all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in
everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the
measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.” — The Kybalion.
This Principle embodies the truth that in everything there is manifested a measured motion, to and fro; a flow and inflow; a swing backward and forward; a pendulum-like movement; a tide-like ebb and flow; a high-tide and low-tide; between the two poles which exist in accordance with the Principle of Polarity described a moment ago. There is always an action and a reaction; an advance and a retreat; a rising and a sinking. This is in the affairs of the Universe, suns, worlds, men, animals, mind, energy, and matter. This law is manifest in the creation and destruction of worlds; in the rise and fall of nations; in the life of all things; and finally in the mental states of Man (and it is with this latter that the Hermetists find the understanding of the Principle most important). The Hermetists have grasped this Principle, finding its universal application, and have also discovered certain means to overcome its effects in themselves by the use of the appropriate formulas and methods. They apply the Mental Law of Neutralization. They cannot annul the Principle, or cause it to cease its operation, but they have learned how to escape its effects upon themselves to a certain degree depending upon the Mastery of the Principle. They have learned how to USE it, instead of being USED BY it. In this and similar methods, consist the Art of the Hermetists. The Master of Hermetics polarizes himself at the point at which he desires to rest, and then neutralizes the Rhythmic swing of the pendulum which would tend to carry him to the other pole. All individuals who have attained any degree of Self-Mastery do this to a certain degree, more or less unconsciously, but the Master does this consciously, and by the use of his Will, and attains a degree of Poise and Mental Firmness almost impossible of belief on the part of the masses who are swung backward and forward like a pendulum. This Principle and that of Polarity have been closely studied by the Hermetists, and the methods of counteracting, neutralizing, and USING them form an important part of the Hermetic Mental Alchemy.
One will notice how curiously the phenomenon of compensation operates in our world. Left to its own natural rhythm, a pendulum will swing equal measures to the right and to the left, for a period of time that reaches into infinity. This is provided that no external forces (apart from gravity) operate upon its movement. However, because there are endless opportunities for interaction between things in our world, nothing is left to its own natural rhythm. Instead, the “rhythm of this” merges with the “rhythm of that” and there develops a higher rhythm even to their merger itself.
Our minds themselves impart a form of chaos to the natural rhythm of things. This chaos is partially responsible for the evolution of our species, as it also continues to be one of the most important by-products of our evolution. Through the portal of the mind, new things are conceived and brought into manifestation. And as these things that are new to us subsequently become those things that are old to our young, so the beat goes on. This is the point at which one’s respect for rhythm and the laws of compensation will be seen to play a crucial role in the development of discipline.
One must be careful to recognize that, at any instant, the imposition of one’s will upon the processes of the moment will alter the current rhythm of things; and thus, it will impart a new rhythm — with a completely new set of compensations that must be considered. Therefore, one should remain mindful that multiple frames of reference are applicable to one’s intuition of the set of rhythms of which any given moment is a part. Patience is required to enable one to correctly assess the point at which one might act (or reserve one’s actions) so as to bring about the best possible outcome.
Timing is everything…or at least, so it is said. Patience is the key to determining whether one’s perception of the timing of the various influences upon the moment is accurate. Without patience, neither one’s positive mental attitude alone, nor just one’s recognition of a seeming opportunity in the rhythmic currents of life, will help one achieve a positively oriented outcome.
Patience — one’s ability to actively work toward manifestation of the dictates of one’s will, while recognizing that any process of manifestation is subject to the rhythms of multiple frames of reference. Seen in this light, periods of action and those of inaction are merged into a rhythm that brings about the desired end.
Listed among the Seven Heavenly Virtues, patience is often thought of as a faith-driven state of inaction — a preclusion to the sins of wrath and vengeance. Unfortunately, this common misperception of patience as being somewhat a passive form of waiting for things to get better prevents many from using it as an effective tool of accomplishment. For those of us who are more aware, the periods of inaction that accompany the exercise of patience are recognized as simply being nodal points of the rhythmic process of manifestation.
Through the active exercise of patience, one allows time to reveal the interplay of the various rhythmic frames that influence a given situation. Thus, as one works toward a certain manifestation, one is better able to minimize undesirable compensations that might occur throughout other established rhythmic processes.
All things occur at their appointed times. We are more fortunate than we realize when we don’t get exactly what we might want, precisely when we might want it. However, realize that we always get that for which we ask.
Never one without the other
Blessings and Challenges,
never is there one without the other.
Contained within each Blessing is a Challenge all its own.
And it is only through the embrace of Challenge that
Blessings become manifest.
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