As an academic refugee, I have fond memories of graduate school and everything
that brought me there. I began as an organic chemistry major and ended up a philosophy graduate student. Both of these paths were expressions of my search for what I referred to as “The Crystalline Structure of the Universe.” The unified field, GUT, the principle of principles, the One in the Many. That. Whatever that was.
Ten years, a misguided marriage and a fellowship in, I finally saw what the Wittgenstein and Heidegger seminars had been pointing towards, and what Plato had explicitly said all along: you can’t write it, speak it, say it or teach it, because our words are based on a way of cutting up the world so we can grasp it that ruptures the structure of experience and renders it mute. Plato told us that Philosophy is a practice, not a subject. Wittgenstein said that nothing of importance can be stated because language depends on dualism and everything we seek – Love, Truth & Beauty – are logically prior to dualism. Words can point, but not correspond. Heidegger tried with his hyphens to wrap the arms of his words around presence, but grad school reading is nearly the opposite of practice. And preparing for the blood letting and score keeping of seminars is most certainly its death.
And so one day, after practicing yoga from a book, taking T’ai chi from a master, rising daily for form – “No practice, no breakfast” – I arrived in the Ancient Western Philosophy class I was to teach and asked the class to stand. I taught the simplest of chi kung warm ups, transferring weight while rolling the ball. I told them all the answers arose from that simple play of opposites and what underlay them. I dismissed class and left graduate school.
I’ve never abandoned the search for Love, Truth and Beauty (yes, all with capitals), I’ve only followed it through practice. Often wordless, but sometimes giving rise to what you’ve read here. I’ve come up with the following, non-traditional, definitions of these three values (not ideals), practical values. These guide my practice and my teaching, because they are never more than a mindful breath away, even when I am. I know little, but am certain of this.
Love, Truth, Beauty: Here, Now.
Love = the act of creating open, listening spaciousness for life to reveal itself in all its wonderous, annoying, mad and inscrutable complexity.
Truth = Being, revealed. What shows up in that space, in all its wonderous annoying, mad and inscrutable complexity.
Beauty = the quality of Being so revealed. Being so revealed also reveals the one who clears the space, the Lover, and transmits this quality of Beauty.
Here, Now = Injunction not to cover it up by hiding, playing small or lying for effect. Same as “Claim it.”
The search that is not a search, for “Love, Truth & Beauty” is revealed in the presence of “Here, Now.” This is what draws me to yoga practice, class, asana, technique, pranayam, teacher or other vehicle. I’ve never had anyone say they felt worse after class. They feel “better,” “liberated,” “free,” “relaxed.” The result of presence, of “Love + Truth + Beauty.” Their presence. Their “Love + Truth + Beauty.” Got nothin to do with me, or the specific poses. All these things create the conditions for us to fall into the present moment – which is, of course, not a moment, but an eternal relationship to what is through what changes. When we put ourselves in the position, when we create these possibilities for ourselves, we find all the Love, Truth and Beauty that exists, which is far more than what we need or can create on our own.
There is nowhere to go, nothing to do, but everything to express and every reason dive deeply into that expression with our body, breath and … whatever else follows. Wanna call it ‘mind’? Cool. ‘Soul’? Cool. ‘Heart’? Sweet. I’ll see you there.