21 September 2016
“Many, many thanks for the recent seminar. As with all the previous events, I found it overflowing with so much of what I consider to be excellent, necessary, useful and precious content. I’ve been thinking about the weekend and going over my notes on and off since then and I’m constantly amazed at the sheer breadth of material that was covered. I can’t quite believe how much was accomplished in two days and I suspect that we didn’t even cover everything that you had planned.
And reading the latest entry on your Blog, it is sinking home even more so. Thank you for attaching both the quote and video relating to Michael Phelps. Yes, it is excellently adventitious (of course it is, that’s why it’s there)… But yes, all those hours working away in the dark, all that time spent honing skill, all those Ben Franklin hours at work and contriving and prosecuting the day’s training and in the evening asking, ‘What good training have I done today?’
I write all this by way of saying that I found, in this last seminar, a great sense of the practical application of what we learn there. Not that the other events I’ve experienced did not have this, but for some reason I was very conscious of it this time around – maybe it’s finally settling in and taking root. And that is very beneficial to me. Too often I remain in the more abstract areas of understanding and knowledge, so to continue to learn how to apply is a great gift. And by application I mean ‘real attention must be paid’ application ………
Life is Real.
Acting with the knowledge that Time runs out.
Developing one’s awareness.
Helping to generate happiness in others.
Availing of the ‘opening doors’.
The importance of Rituals and creating them for oneself.
Supple enduring concentration.
Taking the ‘long’ route.
The three circles and the importance of arriving at #2 with the fullness of #1 and #3.
The role of the Elder.
The list could and does go on and on.
Of course, I do not achieve all these and I struggle with many but I’m becoming more and more aware of where I need to focus my attention. I am very guilty of ‘fidgeting’, as I may have been all my life, but these days, even thinking or writing that word ‘fidget’ is starting to have a physical effect on me that will hopefully help me stay away from it. But to be reminded of this, to really become aware of distraction and its dangers and to have all this presented in a vibrant, lucid, emphatic and supportive way, as you present it, is invaluable to me.
An image comes to mind from one of the first seminars that I attended. It was a seminar where you had some ‘raw’ and previously unused bamboo sticks and we set about preparing them for the work. There were many of us and just a few sticks, so at times some of us could stand back and watch the process. And I have this image of Guy bending over a stick, like a cobbler of old, honing and smoothing and working the stick, making it safe for a hand to hold. For some reason this image – the attention to the smallest of details – has come to mind in the weeks after this retreat. The idea of ‘taking the long route’ to our destination.”
Thank you, Paul, for bringing all these ideas, virtues and skills home through your own “real attention must be paid application,” for honing and smoothing and working so as to make them “safe for a hand to hold.” I believe you’ve covered everything on your list and more, and with kind generosity. It’s a real joy to stand back and watch the process realized with such excellence.