Pondering the Finger or the Moon
I’ve been thinking a lot about a Zen teaching concept – “Finger Pointing at the Moon” – and just how valuable a lesson it is in so many aspects of my life from my yoga practice, in herbalism, etc.
Or more elaborately when you overly focus on the minute details of the teachings and practice as if they were the point but instead they are just the finger pointing the way to the moon (goal.)
This shows up for me in yoga practice far too often where I can overly focus on those nagging Pitta Perfect Self questions like am I doing this asana right, etc. And tending to forget where the practice is pointing in general. More often than not this shows for me in not letting go enough by aiming for a non-existent “just right” asana – instead a looser spiraling exploration of myself in the journey of asana.
But occasionally I have funny moments of letting go like when I was kicking up into headstand the other night and did it with a bit too much gusto and instead of obsessing/panicking as I fell – I just let myself fall and enjoying my butt whopping into the bed and my feet whacking into the workstation sending the keyboard and mouse of my computer into their own lunar exploration! Then I laughed, and set myself up and did it again! 😉
In herbalism, this is part of the reason I’m not big on leading plant walks. There’s always something that has bothered me about going around just categorizing (identifying) and talking about how you can use things.
Mind you, I love me a big old fact filling info buffet as much as the next geeky herbal sort, but it seems too using and ungrateful. I think I want to create a plant (un)walk where instead you go around thanking the plants and sharing how you have worked together with them.
Kind of like how one Thanksgiving instead of doing the normal nonsense we do that day in America. I wrote thank you letters to the people in my life. Giving THANKS! Which is the point of the holiday isn’t it? -Rather than all the other stuff which just points to that goal.
One final way of looking at this all is how I explained cooking and life to a friend once. I’m one of those folks who can just throw things together and yummy magic happens. I said recipes are great but you really learn how to cook once you get to the point of letting go of them and playing in the inspiration of the moment and ingredients you gather. And you really start living when you let go of the idea of a path (recipe) and starting playing/living your own way.
- Just like in yoga when you learn enough to really play in the asanas, then you’re on your real path as a full yogi.
- Or in herbalism when you learn enough to play with the herbs in ways that inspire you then you’re on your way to true herbalism.
- There are no recipes/paths in your life. A path is what is formed in your wake as you go forward. Following others paths too closely never lets you create your own way.
Ponder the finger but let go of the finger once it helps you find the Moon. Then you can dance in the moonlight.
Just my insane .02