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Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:38 pm
by admin
Chapter 4: Hara as Secular Power

From the beginning to the end of his life man is filled with anxiety about his standing in the world. He wants to maintain and to prove himself and therefore, strives for stability and security. He must be able both to make his way and to defend himself. If he has lost the connection with the Greater Life within himself or not yet regained it, he has to rely upon the faculties which he possesses in his I in order to master life. The man who has Hara builds not merely on the strength of his I, for he has already experienced two things: first, that the powers centred on and guided by his I as well as his personal self-feeling have their actual source elsewhere; secondly, that wherever he has entrenched himself within the narrow circle of his I, he becomes in fact weak and insecure. The influx of a deeper strength is blocked. One who has Hara, although using all the faculties of the I has learned when and how to withdraw his ego and to base himself on a different foundation from which his real strength, as well as his I strength, flows.

The man who has Hara at his disposal stands upright. He is not likely to lose his balance, either literally or figuratively, and if something happens which does upset him, or if circumstances temporarily force him to over-reach himself, he soon swings back into his vital centre.

1. Horyuji-Kura, Boddhisattvis, from K. With, Buddhistische Plastik in Japan

2. Japanese tea ceremony

The Kabuki Choir: from Werner Bischof, Japan, Manesse-Verlag, Conzett & Huber, Zurich

3. Horyuji-Kondo, Yumechigai-Kwannon from K. With, Buddhistische Plastik in Japan

4. Master Kenran Umeji

Master Ekyo Hayashi's painting of Kwannon -- the Goddess of Mercy (in the possession of the author)

5. Mary Magdalene, from the Holy Sepulchre. Augustiner Museum, Freiburg

The Synagogue. From Der Bamberger Dom und seine Bildwerke, by Walter Hege and Wilhelm Pinder, Deutscher Kunstverlag, Berlin

6. Yakushiji-Kodo, Nikko Bosatsu from K. With, Buddhistische Plastik in Japan

Young Zen monks in meditation. The Master sits in the chair

The Forebears of Christ, Chartres Cathedral. Photo: TEL Editeurs, Paris

Kakamona Meditations A-ji-Kan

The Repentant Buddha, at Gandhara, N.W. India. Lahore Museum, Pakistan

One who has mastered the practice of Hara is also less easily tired. By re-establishing the connection with his vital centre he always has access to reliable springs of new strength. He does not consume himself and he never spends himself completely. The more he learns to anchor himself in Hara the more he can shake off the disturbances of body and mind caused by the yoke of the I and clear the way for the powers regenerating him from the depths.

There is no sick person whose recovery is not blocked by inner cramp or tension. And no recovery that could not be hastened by loosening of tension. To exactly the extent that such tensions are connected with the fears of a troubled ego or the defiance of an obstinate one, they are released when a man has learned to drop his I and to surrender to that deeper strength which Hara surely opens to him. Hara thus means the capacity for physical renewal and 'stepping up'. It is always astonishing to see how much a person who has Hara can renew, increase and conserve his energy. One example can serve for many: Kenran Uneji, the archery master, bade his pupils test his arm muscles at the moment when his bow was drawn to its fullest extent -- a bow which nobody but himself was able to draw. His muscles were completely relaxed. He laughed and said, 'Only beginners use muscle power -- I draw simply with the spirit,' and he meant by that the power that comes from Hara.

Whenever a physical performance results from the right use of Hara that is, 'using one's middle', all the organs work as if in play, as functions of a whole, accurately and without straining. And, even in the smallest partial action, the great whole is at work. But the whole includes more than the powers comprehended and guided by the I. If the basic centre which releases the strength of the whole is missing, the limbs then have to be consciously directed by the will. The effect is unco-ordinated, without inner flow. There is fatigue and cramp soon follows. This is true of every action demanding physical strength, carrying, pushing, pulling, speaking, singing, writing, typing, dancing, climbing, cycling, etc. It is also true of every sport and every kind of work in house, field or workshop. Wherever work is done from Hara, that is, with a tranquil I and with the strength rising from the vital centre, the effort is reduced to a minimum because the movement occurs organically and is not executed by the I.

Hara also enables one to bear pain to an unusual degree. Indeed to the extent that a man has learned to drop his anxious safety-seeking I and to collect himself in his basic physical centre, he does not feel pain. It is as if the part that suffers physical pain were not present.

The I-imprisoned man diminishes the basic strength originally given to him by nature. There are many accounts of people in great danger who, by eliminating their I and meeting all resistance with Hara, passed through barriers which would have defeated them had they relied on themselves alone. It is as if there grew out of Hara a sphere of strength from which danger rebounds, before which obstacles yield and in which attacks find no lodgement. He who has no I-position to defend offers no target to the attacker and the enemy strikes thin air. Anyone resting securely in Hara is also immune against contagious diseases.

The man who has Hara can wait. He is patient in all situations and always has time. He can also look on calmly, feels no urge to interfere constantly. The more practised he is in Hara, and the more he has come to know this power which gives him tranquillity and patience, the more quickly he recognizes, in every stirring of impatience, that he has deviated from his own true centre and has fallen under the sway of his I.

The man who has Hara is composed. Thus Hara is salutary for every form of nervousness. Unnecessary movements cease and all restless jerking and twitching of the limbs. It is as if peace had entered the body, an inner calm which is not lifelessness but the expression of a tranquil, self-collected harmony.

People without Hara easily lose 'form'. They are quickly roused, irritable and lose face in untoward situations. Irritations either fail to touch people with Hara or they know how to deal with them.

Health and recovery from illness are also connected with a person's being in form. Just as cramp and tension obstruct recovery, so also does the lack of inner form. Even a merely ethical intention to maintain a right inner attitude towards illness is helpful, but control by will-power alone prevents the development of the inner form which corresponds to the deeper nature. When man has Hara he releases in every situation -- including convalescence from illness -- he unconscious creative forces of nature.

The bodily movements of the person with Hara are free and unforced; he sits, stands and moves with natural command. With his weight rightly placed. In the basic centre he is firm and stable, his limbs free from all rigidity and inhibition and so his own personal form emerges more clearly. From the right centre grows the right form both in repose and in movement; and that form is right which 'gives' naturally, which is instantly ready to change and adapt and yet always preserves its organic flow from within outwards.

Hara re-establishes man's unity with, himself. In regard to his body this means that he is not in constant opposition to his elementary impulses which require freedom and action, nor is he obliged to be constantly deciding whether to affirm or to deny them. It is as if Hara opened within us a completely new region where our tangled energies can swing easily without necessarily discharging themselves in action. Many life-impulses which for one reason or another have to be suppressed, can, with Hara, be dismissed into a secret inner region whence they return as increased over-all strength. When this is understood Hara gives man a legitimate power over his sexuality. When the I with its imagination takes possession of a man and demands particular forms of fulfilment his sexuality creates an unbearable tension which has to be either repressed or lived out -- alternatives often equally damaging. With Hara an inner door seems to open. Going through this door he lets fall his ego-based imagination-ridden idea of fulfilment destructive tensions are resolved and the dammed-up forces acquire positive creative significance. To summarize: anchorage in the vital centre which is Hara guarantees man enjoyment of a power which enables him to master life in a new and different way. It is a mysteriously sustaining, ever renewing, ordering and forming power, as well as a liberating and integrating one.

As a spiritual being man seeks something beyond and above secure existence. He seeks completeness within himself and in the world. He is in search of an accomplished form which will perfectly actualize the inner meaning residing in it. Both in recognition and in action he is serving the objective, the idea latent in a thing, a work accomplished. He feels himself obligated by inherent laws and in addition he seeks his fellow man for what he is. He perceives him in his unique being.

Significant and effective accomplishment of any given objective is hindered by the pre-existence of firmly fixed ideas and concepts, and fixation within the ego results in an ineradicable entanglement within the sphere of the personal -- all-too-personal.

Effective recognition, action and creation pre-supposes a detachment which, will enable a man to perceive the other in the other s own nature and at his own value. Only real detachment from an ego clinging to its position, and freedom from fixed pre-judgments makes possible an elasticity of functioning which is indispensable for the accomplishment of any objective undertaking.

All ability is blocked when a person is bound within his little I, when .he faces his tasks with and from the wrong centre of gravity. For then he is either fixed or trapped. If he is able to free himself from the yoke of the ego and to place himself in the right centre he soon gains not only a correct perspective but he can also make the best use of his knowledge. Thus precision of functioning presupposes that flexibility-in-depth which is tantamount to the ego's ability to release its grip on the steering wheel to which it clings so tenaciously.

The highest kind of skill is shown in the long run by a 'letting-it-happen', which implies abandoning the already achieved, but it is blocked when each repetition calls for a conscious act of will. Such abandoning is synonymous with the letting go of the 'doing' I. When it no longer interferes, when ambition and self-seeking are absent and the necessary effort is unforced, skill and ability come into full play. For then a man allows his ability, freed of all personal factors, of all fixations, to be used as an instrument in the service of the deeper power which will do the work for him. For this power to take effect there must be an anchorage in Hara, where there is no ego.

Any clinging to the ego position is also a cause of intellectual poverty. It actually blinds a man to the new perspectives which open out at every step of advancing perception or understanding. It impedes the creative powers of the mind. But the man whose ego is continually held in check is constantly discovering new possibilities.

Hara liberates the creative imagination. One who is freed from the ego becomes aware of new images arising from deeper levels. This is proved by the inexhaustible wealth of imagery arising in dreams. The tissue of established concepts and images hampering the imagination becomes penetrable, whether in sleeping or in waking, only in the degree to which the ego withdraws and to which the individual in his waking state finds his centre of gravity elsewhere.

Thus in the mental realm, achieving Hara means the release of powers latent in the depths which endow man in all his activities with creative energy and a sense of actuality. Freed from the bondage of established patterns from the past, he is creatively united with the task in hand.

Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:56 pm
by admin
Chapter 5: Hara in Experience Insight and Practice

Hara always has a two-fold meaning: possession of it gives one a special strength for living in this world. But this strength merely proves that one has gained contact with the other-worldly powers of one's being. Only through it is one enabled to realize consciously one's own being in the Great Being which is the ultimate meaning of life.

Man's integration with the Great Life and the evolution of his own true Self is the meaning of the inner way. To achieve Hara consciously means entering the inner way, and the strengthening of Hara means advance on the way. The mundane power which Hara bestows, seen from the inner way, is merely a by-product of the strengthened contact with the Greater Life. Supernatural power is released through man's liberation from the limitations of his ego. What that power is in itself cannot be explained. But it is possible to show the conditions on which it depends, how it appears as a force in the world, as well as in certain peculiar qualities of inner experience, and how it may be developed and put into practice in daily life. All progress on the inner way is dependent on three factors -- experience, insight and practice.

Without experiences which render life unbearable and which make the hope of something new appear alluring and promising, there is no impulse towards inner change. But if painful life experience is not pondered and questioned, not raised to the level of insight, that impulse remains merely a feeling, a momentary desire. Only insight into what is necessary for real change can prove that that experience has been something more than a mirage. And if insight remains merely insight into the meaning of an experience (for man is always in danger of believing that he already is or can do what he has merely glimpsed as insight) still nothing will be changed. A new attitude has to be cultivated in order to ensure progress on a new path.

It is astonishing that the idea of training or practice as a decisive factor in personal development has disappeared so completely from the mind of modem man. Yet man can achieve nothing without practice. From his infant beginnings he has to learn what the animal knows by instinct; in childhood he has to be taught the practice of the first and most self-evident virtues. And all religions have constantly emphasized the necessity of practice. So it is hard to understand why people of our time should believe it possible to realize the Transcendental without 'exercitium', spiritual practice. There can be no progress on the way to integration without practice in that state of mind which is its perpetual pre-condition. On the other hand practice without insight will be just as short-lived and sterile as insight without practice. Thus in regard to Hara we have to make clear the importance of experience, insight and practice. The decisive experiences for the realizing and strengthening of Hara are mainly those which one undergoes during the process of achieving it, that is, during the moments when one passes from the old to the new, from being without to being with Hara.

The most important insight along the path to Hara is the understanding both of the relation between ego and Being and of man's destiny -- the manifestation of Being in the corrected life patterns of his 'I'. Furthermore insight is required into that whole condition of mind which obstructs the channel from ego to Being and from Being to ego, and understanding of what is necessary to free it. In consequence Hara practice has a two-fold aspect --

(1) an inward turning towards life and Being which is indispensable for right living, and

(2) the cultivation of a new attitude to life by which this inner-relatedness to Being can be fortified and proved. All that we have said of Hara so far has been concerned with insight. What now are the specific qualities of experience which present themselves in the achievement of Hara?

Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 12:09 am
by admin
Chapter 6: The Strength, Breadth and Closeness Engendered by Hara

When awareness of Being arises in man his life-feeling undergoes a radical change. This awareness leads to the experience of definite qualities which have an unmistakable significance. Everything is permeated by a different light, attuned to a different key and brings a different taste. It is as if an invisible veil were lifted which had hitherto separated man from the world, from life and even from himself. All his experience and activity acquires a different character and a different valency.

It is no accident that the qualities revealed by the senses are frequently the first to indicate the new relation to life: since Being, is not apprehensible, and not to be fixed, conceptually they reveal the incomprehensible more easily than anything else.

All colours, for instance, as colours of conceptually fixed objects lose their immediacy and with it their original luminosity and transparence. But to one established in Hara sense-given qualities unfold their own depth. Again and again people who are beginning to experience Hara within themselves relate with amazement how, for example on a walk or a drive through the country, the intensity and depth of the colours depends on whether they are walking or sitting with or without Hara. Thus a man who had recently begun to practice -- this is one example out of many -- reported after a bus ride: 'I am sitting at the window looking out on flowering meadows. Everything passes quickly. I want to retain the pictures in my mind. The thought arises, "In half an hour it will all be over, you will get off the bus." The landscape outside immediately becomes dull and devoid of meaning. The breath becomes short, meets resistance below. The belly is pulled in, tensed, the inner organs are drawn up and tight, without life . As soon as I am aware of this I try to laugh, to let go, to "drop it". I succeed, the belly comes alive again, the intestines fall into place by their own weight, the abdominal wall curves outward, breathing is once more easy and free, a pleasant feeling rises from below. Everything is elastic, nothing untoward can happen to me. And now everything outside me is also changed; the same meadows are fresh and as if newly created, the colours are full and brilliant, the landscape is mysteriously alive. True, it passes almost before I have seen it, but in each moment it is wholly there. The thought of "afterwards" is compensated by the fullness of the moment, I know that then too it will be beautiful, just as it comes.'

Another example of changes in the colour-sense is to be found in Aldous Huxley's treatise on Mescalin -- a strange and interesting treatise, though dangerous in its implications. Huxley relates his experience of the incredible deepening of colour impressions during the Mescalin intoxication. His explanation of it is perfectly correct, that the fixing ego is dissolved by the action of the mescalin and with it all those meanings which things bear only in relation to the ego. In the shadow of pre-conceptions life loses its original luminosity and so also does colour. The experiment is interesting and instructive but it would be dangerous to recommend it as a way of gaining access to Being, for the experience here described is not .legitimate. The only experiences that are legitimate are those that prove inner growth and result in personal development. All 'wonderful experiences' arising through intervention from without (e.g. through a drug), are illegitimate, for in such cases nothing remains but the memory of the intoxication.

It is certain that anyone making progress on the way will have experiences of a quite new kind and quality. He must take them seriously because they are road signs. Everything depends on recognizing and on taking seriously the signs which, as witnesses of Being, also denote progress on the way.

One of the special experiences connected with Hara is the sense of a new inner state of health which results from the downward shift of the bodily centre of gravity. The first thing one perceives is the freeing of the upper region, the I-region, as soon as one succeeds in letting oneself drop down to the lower body and, conversely, the feeling of tightness and stiffness as soon as the centre of gravity shifts upward again. And it is not only a physical liberation when the shoulders relax and the diaphragm becomes flexible and alive, when the lower body begins to support, relieve and free all that lies above it.

The presence of a Greater Life, noticed by one who is gaining Hara, is shown in the development of an entirely new life-feeling. And with the increase of Hara he will experience unfailingly sensations of a new strength, a new breadth and a new nearness and warmth.

The strength experienced is the strength of an inner firmness not created by us but given to us which cannot be explained by reason. It is in a miraculous way suddenly there. Ont; needs only to yield to it trustfully and it bears one. It is a continual joy and surprise to learn from experience how the feeling of helplessness produced by some painful situation gives way, for no apparent reason, to a feeling of inner power, if one has only dared to free oneself from the grip of the frightened or angry ego and its defence-reactions of will, and instead, yields oneself trustfully to one's basic vital centre. The confidence which comes with the new strength cannot be explained rationally. But this precisely is the gift of Hara, that it opens man to the sustaining and protecting power of a Greater Life not to be comprehended logically.

It is as if a hitherto hidden spring had bubbled up within man giving him a vital strength and making him clear-sighted, forceful and shock proof. It enables him to accept every situation just as it is, to say Yes to it, neither approving it nor rejecting it. It enables him to accept quietly what the I would instantly and automatically thrust away, to accept anything and everything without asking why, and if necessary, to endure the unendurable. With this force a man can face danger fearlessly and meet it calmly. One who is really established in Hara can bear the threat of annihilation without falling a prey to weakening fear. It is as if he were in contact, indeed, as if he were at one with a Reality which nothing can threaten and which, even if he is bruised or broken, can be relied upon to restore him. No wonder that with this supernatural strength, which becomes more dependable the more he trusts it (but vanishes as soon as he mistrusts it) -- no wonder he gains a new sureness in life and thus a new self-confidence.

Even more important than this new outward strength is the experience of the mysterious power itself. It is not a power one has but a power in which one stands. In it a man feels his share in a Reality to which he belongs more truly and is committed more deeply than he is to the 'world'. He senses that this power is something in which he as well as the world not only shares, but that out of it speaks his own life-ground (Lebensgrund) as well as that of the life-ground of the world (Weltengrund). But such insight, in its fullest depth and significance, comes only gradually in the course of long Hara-practice. One thing, however, he experiences at the outset: an expansion of his Self due to the experiences of this strength.

The Self he now knows is clearly no longer the old I but a wider, more comprehensive one. He becomes conscious of a new inner breadth, he feels an increase of inner volume as if he had burst the bonds confining him in his physical body. A strange feeling of boundlessness arises, a liberating breadth. He does not lose himself in it but, on the contrary, truly finds himself. A new breathing space, scope and sphere of action opens up and he realizes only then how confined he had been before, how imprisoned and isolated. The man without Hara has only a very small space within and around him.

The man who gains Hara enters into a new relation with the world which makes him both independent of it and yet connected with it in an unforced way. Uninhibited and without fear he can unite with it because he has found within himself a broader base of action. He can embrace the world and let himself be embraced by it because in his being he feels at one with it, and yet he can detach himself from it because his new Self, as distinct from his old I, is no longer bound down by it. The man without Hara is dependent on the world precisely because he lacks real connection with it; the man with Hara is constantly connected with it because he is independent of it.

For the prisoner of the I the world has no breadth. His whole consciousness at any given time is filled completely by what he sees at the moment or by whatever has taken possession of his feelings. When a man has found his basic centre the limited space-time realities take on a transcendental significance. His inner vision remains unlimited even when much assails him or when the particular intrudes on him and demands all the attention of his I. Because the man with Hara lives from a reality which cannot be pinned down he remains open in his relation to the world even when, at superficial levels of consciousness, his attention has to be sharply focused on something particular. And because all his feelings, conditioned by his world-experience, are embraced and permeated by an awareness of the other-worldly life and its order, they do not throw him off balance but are all transmuted into impulses which open him even more deeply to the Being which speaks from his deepest centre.

With Hara increasing a man joyously experiences a new closeness to himself and to the world, to people and things, to nature and God -- a closeness beyond the opposites of near and far, cold and heat, sympathy and antipathy as felt by the I.

One can give explanations and causes for the feelings of strength, warmth and closeness -- or their opposites -- when they arise from the ego. His strength and his weakness can be explained by reason. But the forces arising from Being can never be explained for Being is the primordial ground of all things. What emanates from it is beyond the pairs of opposites into which all life is split when seen from the standpoint of the I. When the primordial Being fuses with the being of the individual he feels a support beyond any explainable worldly security, finds himself surrounded by a clarity beyond the reach of the world's sense and nonsense, and by a love transcending the world's loves and hates. The new breadth, is also beyond any contrasts of narrowness. Even in an environment oppressive for his I the man anchored in Hara experiences an immeasurable breadth of life in which a meaning is disclosed and where everything has its place even though his I can find neither sense nor comfort in it. The new Hara-given power lies beyond the opposites of strength and weakness which man feels only because of the inherent structure of his ego. So too the sense of closeness and warmth that he experiences are quite independent of the actual conditions of his life.

From the new centre a man feels a closeness to his fellow men that liberates him from loneliness even when, in his ego he is thrown back on himself and stands alone in the world. He feels neither accepted nor rejected by others, but sheltered and secure in life as a whole, and he radiates kindness quite indiscriminately. He stands anchored in the all-embracing unity of the ground of Being.

Thus Hara conveys to a man 'qualities' of transcendental significance. They are signs of his affinity to a life-reality both penetrating and surpassing all that is 'possessed, known and achieved', in fact everything that springs from the I's relation to the world. In Hara he participates in a deeper Being which fundamentally is his true nature but from which in his former condition, in the prison of his I, he was cut off. Through Hara he learns what essentially he is, as if he had now actually found the secret well-spring of his nature which formerly he knew only dimly and at odd moments. The emerging of his true original nature and with it of his new relation to Being now clears the way to his real Becoming.

Yet for all the importance of the signs showing the growth of Hara, it must be understood that the Being of which every man has a part at his deepest level is incorporated in Hara only as 'original Nature' and is real for him only at that level. It is still not real for him in any personal sense, let alone as 'Logos'. At first Hara opens the earth centre. only later comes the opening of the heaven centre. Man learns through Hara what he is as a living being. Later he learns who he is as an individual. He senses the law of primal Unity, but still does not know his individual structure. Through Hara he experiences the happiness and fruitfulness of something like a cosmic love, but not through it alone the love from person to person.

To everything that we have said so far about Hara -- its capacity to give new strength, new understanding and the feeling of higher commitment -- it should be added that all these are but fleeting gifts to anyone untrained in the practice of Hara. The reality that will renew a man's whole life and permanently transform him can be won only by long, faithful, and dedicated practice.

Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 12:19 am
by admin
Chapter 7: The Order of Life in the Symbolism of the Body

If you ask anyone where in his body he feels his 'I', he will probably consider it a strange question at first, but pressed for an answer, he will reply either 'in the head' or 'in the chest' or he will indicate with a vague gesture the region of his stomach and heart. Only very rarely will anyone indicate a region further down. And this is understandable. Head, chest and heart, like everything above the navel, represent the spheres of the consciously thinking, willing and suffering I.

If a man localizes the position of his 'I' above the navel it is correct in so far as he has developed, as an ego, beyond the sphere of his unconscious life to the light of consciousness, since his general psychic level lies in the I-self'. The more he identifies himself with his I, however, and the more he bases himself within the sphere of its consciousness-pattern, the more he comes into conflict with everything excluded from it. This conflict will be the greater the more he allows the conscious to take precedence over the unconscious.

It is completely natural that a man should tend to give greater importance to the sphere he knows well and which he can control than to the one which he does not know at all and which moves him irrationally. It is also natural that he should put a higher value on the mind than on nature working within him, and should seek the Transcendental only above. It is natural because people nearly always view higher development as increasing consciousness in the purely rational or intellectual sense. But this idea leads into a blind alley because the only realities then perceived are those which the I can admit and comprehend. For the I-centred mind, with its moral values, the blind natural drives constitute a repellent and unworthy contradiction. The resulting conflict erects barriers against the natural life striving upward from the unconscious and obstructs the way to an all-round human development, more particularly the unfolding of that mind which transcends the overlords hip of the purely rational. Instead of a hierarchic order based on the Way leading to the fully unfolded Self, a conflict arises in which the mainly rational man excludes and represses that part of his nature which he feels to be irrational, less valuable or even value-destructive. 'Above' and 'below' are then evaluated as high and low, noble and base, spiritual and material, light and dark.

Finally, such a man begins to see in unconscious Nature nothing but the threatening abyss, the downward pull. But in so seeing he not only cuts off and rules out the instinctive and emotional in the psychological sense, but also the sustaining, informing and liberating forces of Great Nature. To the extent that the tap root of his existence has disappeared from his awareness, he will, while striving for the 'crown of life', aspire misguidedly to heights existing only in his imagination. He becomes sapless and weak and gradually his life-stem dries out. By clinging to an impoverished and lifeless concept of values he blocks any integration with the underlying depths.

The tendency to depreciate and reject Nature is perhaps understandable at a certain level of development because the I naturally rejects whatever may threaten it. The man who at first knows the working of the unconscious only as the dark urges of instinct and desire, feels continually threatened in his well-ordered I by the power of his desiring nature. Whether it is a question of the repressed powers of his instincts or of the Greater Being prevented from unfolding, he feels himself driven by the unconscious, or threatened by explosions, and he likes to speak of the 'demon of the depths'. But what he calls 'demonic' is nothing other than the untamed vitality of the Whole, struggling towards consciousness, against that small part to which, in his limited 'I' he tries to reduce himself.

It is the suffering of man's heart which leads to the beginning of all actions. Whether or not such suffering is fruitful and leads him to self-fulfilment, that also he perceives in his heart. Around it is the chest expanding in exaltation or contracting in grief, then liver and stomach become involved -- one speaks of 'butterflies', or a 'gnawing in the vitals'. In the centre of this middle region beats the heart which is uneasy and longs for peace. With the unrest of the heart all that is specifically human begins, and in its peace comes fulfilment. The unrest may be caused by the sorrows of this world, or it may also denote lack of the fulfilment of Being. But in the final analysis it always reveals man's separation from the divine Unity and his longing to merge himself with it anew.

The position of man between heaven and earth corresponds to the position of the soul between mind and nature, and this is represented in the symbolism of the body, by the position of the heart between head and abdomen. Heart, head and abdomen symbolize, even for the naive man, soul, mind and nature, and represent three forms and three stages of consciousness. The dark, instinctive, sensual consciousness appears in utmost contrast to the light consciousness of the head. In between stands the intuitive-perceptive consciousness of the heart. And this triad, seen intellectually, constitutes not only a genetic, organic sequence but also a scale of values.

To begin with, man regards the instinctive consciousness merely as the opposite of the mind, for he knows as yet nothing of a development from the pre-personal, via the personal, to the supra-personal, wherein each stage pre-supposes and includes the preceding one. He sees, at first, only a succession of mutually exclusive forms of consciousness through which he ascends from his instinctive nature, through entanglement in personal feelings, to the height of rational thinking, clear and free from the shackles of instinctive as well as of emotional attachments. The development of the human being as a totality appears, from the viewpoint of the rational I as follows: first, the mastery of the instinctive drives, then overcoming the limitations of the subjective I and finally the ascent to the real 'objective' morally developed I. On this scheme his striving should result in his being the master of his instincts and the servant of his mind or spirit in the realm of his heart. But actually something quite different appears. Out of his heart's need it may one day dawn on him that the lost connection with the Ground of Being which he has regarded merely as Nature's dangerous dark work is ruining the wholeness of his life. In the same way he may realize that in orienting himself upwards by the sole strength of his mind, which lifts his conceptional thinking into a guiding principle, he is missing the truth of life. And one day the moment may come when the sufferer will perceive something beyond the boundaries of his shrunken understanding which opens up a new horizon. If he takes this experience seriously he will soon doubt the trustworthiness of his three-pronged scheme of development. The distinction of Below, Middle and Above in the sense that lower body, heart and head symbolize merely the instinct-bound, the worldly, and the rationally-fixed consciousness, will no longer satisfy him. For now it will be obvious that the way in which nature, soul and mind have been understood is merely the way in which the whole pattern of life has been reflected in the mirror of the I.

When the little I withdraws and its working pattern is no longer the sole guide to the recognition of reality, life will disclose different horizons, gain new dimensions, increase in breadth, height and depth. Those formulae in which man perceived his reality as threefold and arising from nature, will indeed recur as a pyramid of concepts, but then they will have a new meaning and a broader base. The region of the heart, as the medium of endurance and of self-proving in the world will still hold a central position. But like nature below and mind above the heart region itself will gain a wider significance. Nature, soul and mind will no longer be separate, self sufficient spheres but pointers to a supernatural whole. In the total experience of a wider life, instinctive nature, supporting the I from below, expands into Great Nature. The confined and suffering soul, enmeshed in its subjectivity, deepens into the Great Soul. And the mind, chained to the intellectually comprehensible, is lifted to the level of a Universal Consciousness.

In what sense does Nature in the new vision rise to Great Nature? It will enter into the inner life as the operative unity of the Primordial which a man will sense as his life-ground in whose undivided, pregnant unity all possibilities are contained.

What does the released mind find? It will continue to perceive life in images and patterns, but then every pattern, image and structure will take on a significance beyond all assertions and contradictions. It will then stand open to that Being which speaks intimately to man in symbols. Here the light of knowledge will be different in kind from that of conceptual thinking, where the fullness of being streams away in multiplicity, where the in-dwelling order of life is fixed in static patterns and where the primal unity of the Divine eludes the I-limited mind.

And what is meant by the deepening of the soul? Then, as before, the sphere of the soul will remain the specifically human element driven always by joy and sorrow and battling for fulfilment. But the meaning and origin of suffering will then be seen differently. A man will no longer suffer merely from the unfulfilled desires of his natural being, but from the lack of fulfilment of his true being which is part of the Greater Life. Indeed it is the Greater Life which will then suffer within him, for it is always striving with all its force to reveal itself in the love of man according to the laws of the awakened spirit.

So the effect of transcending the ego-centred pattern of life is threefold: as a clarification of the senses opening anew to the Primordial, as an illumination of the mind in the light of which the pattern of Being is disclosed, and as an awakening of the revealing function and nature of the heart.

When a man begins to feel again the original Unity of life, and in his widened consciousness, begins to know the true meaning of consciousness, he will realize to what extent the development for which he is destined is obstructed by the way his heart dwells within his fixing I, and his I within his unpurified heart. He will feel, perhaps only dimly, the necessity for a fundamentally different attitude demanding a new standpoint and a new start. As distinct from the rationalistic attitude of the I, in the new vision he will see the need for an ever renewed merging of himself with the undivided Unity. Compared with his hitherto accepted rule of holding fast to what he has already achieved and undertaking new things only within the framework of the old, this new challenge will constitute an extraordinary demand on him. And yet the renewal of his life depends on his complying with it.

To be able to fulfil his vocation, which is to prove and to bear witness to the Divine Being in his life, to ascend to the new mind, a man must first go down into the deeps of his whole and original nature. In order to go out to grasp the fullness of the Primordial Unity he must first go into the original emptiness. To be able to find his way to the true light he must first plunge into the darkness of the untracked Unity. Where these insights are glimpsed the necessity for a fresh orientation will arise, and a new relationship to nature, soul and mind. There must be a reversal of the twisted, upward pull, imposed in good faith by the I, and a swing back to the perception of the underlying reality whence all life begins its way and its upward climb. The way to Truth for the man held tight by his ego must be a 'backward turning'.

In the new vision the symbolism of the body also takes on a different meaning. The head and the space above it symbolize the mind and its realm as the totality of the Divine order. The heart and its beating symbolize the soul and its world -- the realm where man testifies in love and freedom to Being. The lower body symbolizes Nature working in secret -- the realm of the Divine Source. Here, everything concerned with the Greater Life, is conceived, carried and born. Here all renewal has its beginning and from here alone it ascends. And here, therefore, everything which the I regards as valid must be re-absorbed -- idea, image or concept -- for all that contradicts the eternally creative Being can be released only through transformation and renewal. The consciousness-pattern of the I, the heart stultified in the I, Nature confined within that I -- all these must be given up and left behind on the journey downwards before man can begin his pilgrimage upward to the great heights and the true light. First he must be reunited with the earth which is his home. To achieve this is the real purpose of the practice of Hara.

Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 12:24 am
by admin
IV: Hara as Practice

Chapter 1: The Purpose and Pre-requisite of all Practice

In the centre of all practice serving the Inner Way stands the 'backward turning'. For this the ego caught on the ladder of its concepts and ideas, and struggling always to maintain its foothold, is not necessary. What is necessary is a movement which leads downwards to the all-dissolving, all-absorbing depth of the Source.

Even the ordinary man at the level of natural consciousness knows about the renewing strength of primordial Nature. Although the thinking and reflecting man, dominated by the intellect, seeks transcendence always and only 'above', unreflecting man has known since time immemorial, and still knows of a transcendence 'downwards'. A man who constructs a scale of values based only on his intellect puts Nature, understood as mere 'material', in the lowest rank. In his scale of values rational consciousness comes next and rising through the values of the true, the good and the beautiful, the peak is reached in the sacred. Nevertheless, from some inborn sense man knows that this order contains only half the truth. The analysing intellect knows, as the realm of Nature, only the values of the pleasant, the comfortable and the sensually desirable, all of which can be elevated only through 'sublimation' -- by the efforts of the ego-will and consciousness. But in a less intellectualized inner life something quite different appears. Anyone who has ever had the experience of finding himself, after the unbearable strain of life with all its duties and entanglements, once again among mountains and forests and running streams, and who feels the joyous affirmations of Nature released in himself knows very well that the glory he now tastes has nothing to do with any intellectually-imposed sublimations of his lower nature. It is a value in itself, bearing its own rapture and its own obligation. He senses the release of an in-dwelling life-force freeing him from the hampering rationalism of his life and healing him through a widening and deepening sense of being alive and a part of life. If it is then possible for a man to surrender himself wholly to the depth which breaks open in such an experience he is filled to overflowing with the numinous. It is as if, in the beneficent abundance and healing strength thus arising in him, he experienced Primordial Life itself as something divine, directly, quite apart from any consciousness of values such as truth, beauty and goodness. This shows that for the man living by his natural consciousness, there is already a sensual awareness of Transcendence out of which the divine Being speaks more directly than out of any intellectual structure of values or ideas. And as everyone knows, whatever it may be that releases the experience of Great Nature's abundance is the same which releases the heart trapped in its suffering and clears the mind to the brightness of its own light.

An understanding of the renewing powers of Primordial Life is revealed not only in that love of nature which is frequently the last refuge of the man lost in his ego-world, but has existed since time immemorial in the wisdom of myths and fairy-tales. No wonder then that a new discovery of man has also led in recent years to a new discovery of myths and fairy-tales. Here, in a thousand forms, recurs the theme of the descent into the depths which has to be endured. Without it there can be no right way to the heights. Knowledge of this downward journey into the dark realm of the earth, as a pre-requisite for deliverance from delusion and for a break-through of inner light, is the ultimate meaning not only of many fairy-tales but also of ancient rituals. The way of initiation, as taught by medieval alchemy, points to the same knowledge. It is mainly present day psychology which in response to modern man's suffering has revealed anew the significance of descending into the depths in order to reach the heights. To this field also belong the possibilities, as yet little recognized, which lie in work on breathing and posture. Too often they are belittled and considered by many merely as 'helpful methods'. Today the paramount problem is how, literally, 'to earth' people who are caught in the hypertrophy of the rational intellect. But if this 'earthing' consists merely in providing a temporary, good-for-the-health relaxation, or in releasing inhibited instinctive drives it becomes dangerous nonsense, for as such, it will simply lead from one blind alley into another.

Hara, as practice, means above all else right earthing.

Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 12:31 am
by admin
Chapter 2: The Purpose and Limits of Practice

Only an understanding of the purpose and limits of practice will safeguard the aspirant from following wrong paths.

The more he opens himself to the way of practice the more important it is for him to realize clearly what he can in fact achieve. through it. 'Whoe'er aspires unweariedly' may easily fall into the error of taking to himself the whole credit for any success he may have, especially as regular practice presupposes a tenacious will. This error can be avoided only if the aspirant continually remembers that the forces of nature, working without his knowledge and assistance, are always striving to heal and integrate him. No matter how deeply a man in his consciousness pattern may have estranged himself from Being, in his innermost self he will always have a share in its ever-unfolding and beneficent activity. Being works unsolicited. in man and in all living creatures as the divine Life which strives ceaselessly to manifest Itself in the perfection of its own creation. It is this vital urge within him that compels even the I-imprisoned man to strive for the blessings of Being. Thus, unknown to his conscious striving, Being is ever at work trying to break through man's shell and to enter the light of his consciousness. Fundamentally this urge of life towards the light is the primal force behind all human life and activity, but if the only channel it can find in a man runs through a hard ego-shell it will be choked and blocked. Yet the primal driving-force of the human will is basically co-determined, animated and winged by the striving of Being towards the light. Thus, even in practice carried on by personal will-power, the real motive-power of the seeking resides in what is sought. If then through practice a man begins to feel some contact with his Being, it is not an earned reward but a gift whose essence was already alive and at work in his endeavour. In other words, practice does not generate the experience of Being but only prepares the way for it. The grace which may flower from this experience is not the product of a doing but of a permitting of what fundamentally is, of what the aspirant himself is by reason of his participation in the Great Being within his own being. Practice therefore means ultimately just this: learning to let the in-dwelling reality of Being emerge.

Because that tb which the aspirant methodically opens himself is at work without his help as a basic drive in all men, it can emerge also even in those who do not practice! The revelation of the divine Unity of Life does not depend simply on religious habits to reveal itself. Shocks and catastrophies can occur which pierce the armour of a man's I and these can bring sudden enlightenment. Indeed, if only the longing for it remains somewhere alive in him and the heart in its depth is ready, there can still be a hidden but progressive opening-up of the Divine Life without any deliberate practice. What man is capable of achieving by his own effort is very little compared to the quiet working of the Divine Being which unceasingly with a gentle force prompts him to open himself and pours into his life in countless ways unasked.

'What is the highest that man can achieve through practice?' I frequently asked Eastern masters. The reply was always, 'The readiness to let himself be seized'. However, a man is never released from the obligation to do his part in preparing for a break-through of the Divine. To the extent that he recognizes that he is on the wrong track and becomes aware of the attitudes and forces bedevilling and pushing him to self-destruction, he is bound to do everything m hIs power to find the right path. One means to this is by systematic practice. Practice is nothing but work towards illuminating that power which separates man from life. It means the adventure of opening himself without fear, of hearing and heeding all the signs through which Being speaks to him. At the beginning and end of all practice stands the re-rooting of the conscious life in that centre which epitomizes the Original Oneness. To make this rerooting possible to strengthen and establish it -- all this is the meaning of 'Hara practice'.

The man who is either imprisoned in his ego or has not yet achieved one is suffering from the loss or non-existence of the right basic centre. True he strives in every way for inner oneness, but he seeks it from his I both in knowledge and in action, by means of intellectually-conceived systems, or alternatively he seeks it emotionally by a resolving of all contradictions. But in either case the wholeness of life will be missed because the split dividing it into subjective and objective still remains. The growth of consciousness which truly reveals the primal oneness is made impossible.

There is only one way out of this blind alley -- to take the risk of leaping into that realm which the ego believes it has surmounted and which it fears. Only if a man dares to entrust himself again to the depth of his origin can he reach the height for which he was destined. In abandoning the consciousness anchored in his I and in relinquishing the world of opposites rooted in it, lies his sole chance for the unfolding of a higher form of consciousness which corresponds to the primal Oneness of Life. Only when the ego's form of consciousness is quickened by a higher law can it render man that service which is its real purpose. One way of winning this consciousness which is open to life itself is the practice of Hara. For Hara means nothing but that condition of man in which he is open to the primal Oneness of original life and which he can manifest in his everyday living. Hara is a connecting link between Being beyond space and time, and our existence in space and time. Hara is the germinating centre of that total state of mind in which man, liberated from the despotism of the I, becomes transparent to the creative and liberating influence 'of Primordial Life whose transcendental unity he shares in his own being.

Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:21 am
by admin
Chapter 3: The Pre-requisites of all Practice

The practice of Hara, if it is to be successful, presupposes certain conditions and proceeds through certain stages. The conditions are:

(1) A need. A person must feel that his present form of life is unsatisfactory. Only when a real need is present can practice be seized on as a necessity and pursued effectively. Without need nothing new can come into being. This need results from the whole deep suffering of life caused by man's estrangement from the divine ground of Being. Neither the pain of failure in some particular life undertaking nor damage and loss in the field of worldly action is sufficient motive. Nor is that kind of interest sufficient which seeks new sensations (perhaps in the form of occult experiences), or some magical extension of the normal faculties, or recovery from poor health without too much effort.

(2) The second pre-requisite is an attitude in no sense related to the wish for increased outer efficiency but solely to the wish for inner growth, that is, progress on the inner way. The inner way is man's integration with his Being. The practice of Hara has meaning only as work towards and on this way. But as the aspirant must necessarily begin to practice in the light of his natural consciousness-patterns it is difficult for him to start rightly, as he is always inclined to see the meaning and value of practice in the increase of his vitality and efficiency in the world. The fact, therefore, that practice does produce an increase in worldly efficiency further endangers the formation of a right attitude, and the beginner is therefore all too easily inclined to see the purpose of practice in these results. And so again he subordinates whatever he may have achieved to the service of his I which is and can be interested only in mastering life in this world. Such abuse of the supernatural, even 'magical' powers released through Hara can produce disastrous results. The I in its self-conceit, instead of being subdued or neutralized by practice, becomes further inflated. And it may happen one day that the forces illegitimately developed will turn against him who practises wrongly, exploding his still I-centred wholeness, and destroy him. Only to the extent that a man learns not to take himself as the measure of all things and the master of his life, but as a subjectum dei, as one submitting and owing obedient service to the Divine, will his practice be wholesome and right.

(3) The third, pre-requisite of all practice is a strong will. New things are always stimulating, but there can be no real inner growth without great perseverance. Practice as such is often easy but it is difficult to become a 'practiser'. Anyone not possessing great strength of character should not set out on the path of practice. He should indeed be warned against it, for the discontinuation of practice is disastrous to precisely the extent that it may have already helped a man to achieve some results. Anyone who has for a moment beheld a glimmer of the light, thanks to his practice, and has then abandoned it, will fall back into a greater darkness and for the rest of his life will never lose a feeling of guilt.

(4) Closely connected with the third is the fourth prerequisite which is the capacity for total commitment. Only one who is able to subordinate his life as a whole to the obligation of practice will make progress. As long as exercises are carried out only 'on the side', limited to certain hours or minutes, and as long as the whole day is not informed by them, nothing will be achieved. Also one who gives only a part of himself to practice -- one who partially withholds -- will accomplish nothing. The whole man is needed. What really matters is single-mindedness.

(5) The fifth pre-requisite is the capacity to keep silence. It is very natural that the beginner should want to speak of his practice and the new experiences gained through it. But in doing so he destroys everything and prevents the growth of the new man. In practice a new inner body grows secretly and it does not thrive on talk. The NEW which is developing can/grow only in silence and draws strength from being dammed up. The only discussion which is permissible, which does not weaken, is that between master and pupil.

To sum up: the fundamental pre-requisites are: an inner need, right relation to the inner way, a persevering will, total participation and the capacity for keeping silence and, above all, a turning to the Divine. Only when practice is completely imbued with and supported by the aspirant's submission to the Divine will the door open to those experiences of Being which will permit further progress on the inner Way.

Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:22 am
by admin
Chapter 4: Posture, Breath, Tension -- as Starting Points of Practice

As the practice of Hara concerns the bringing forth of the transcendent unity of Primordial Life and with raising it to consciousness, the question arises as to where in man this oneness is manifested. The question is best answered by an observation familiar to anyone who has ever practised even for a short time sitting perfectly motionless. If he does it correctly he invariably notices after a while that it has a wholesome effect both on body and soul. Here a third factor clearly comes into evidence which is contained neither in the terms 'body' nor 'soul'. But what is this third? Nothing other than the whole man, that is, the sum total of those apparently separate functions in which the individual exists as a whole and which he never sees from the I-viewpoint. Of these functions there are three in particular: his individual posture, his way of breathing and the interrelation of tension and relaxation prevailing within him. His general make-up or state therefore can be recognized and studied by the wrong working of anyone of these functions and put right by practice until correct posture, correct breathing and the correct relation between tension and relaxation are all achieved. So the practice of Hara, understood as the whole content of a right life condition, can be approached from these three functions which are in themselves neutral.

It is surprising for the Westerner that training in posture, breathing and right tension should be of such far-reaching significance for the achievement of the right vital centre. It is bewildering for him because he sees these functions merely as bodily ones and therefore fails to understand how training them can give legitimate access to the Transcendental. This attitude, shown in the derogatory phrase often used about Yoga-practices, 'You can't realize God by breathing him in', is typical of the Western mind. Its naivety shows the narrowness of the usual thought-pattern which regards the wholeness of man as split into the opposites of physical functions on the one hand and of psycho-spiritual functions on the other.

A more comprehensive thought-pattern cannot be achieved by the efforts (common enough nowadays under the general concept of psycho-somatics ) to reconnect the two poles (body and soul) while still clinging to the idea of their separate reality. Rather it is necessary to explore paths which lead to the whole, as a whole. A good first step in this direction is the understanding that the unity of life is clearly expressed in all genuinely religious postures and gestures. In them one sees the individual in his entirety open and penetrable to the divine Being, so that all content and all states then become transparent. It is the reverent gesture or posture of the whole man that matters. But it is not only in specifically religious postures that the whole man can be seen. A similar wholeness is evident also in composed posture, right breathing and right relation between tension and relaxation. So it can be said that the starting point of training for the essential right human condition is by work on right posture, right breathing and right tension.

If then in the following pages we speak of the training of posture, breathing and the interaction of tension and relaxation it is not -- it must be emphatically pointed out -- a matter of teaching any new exercises for posture, relaxation or breath control. It is much more an introduction to the exercise of such training to be understood as the means of progress on the inner way. Therefore we do not intend to add to the already existing arsenal of breathing and posture exercises any new methods for reaching old goals, but rather to point out what is necessary for placing posture, breathing and relaxation in the service of the inner way, never merely for the restoration or increase of efficiency and power in the outer life. We are concerned only with practice in the service of man's inner vocation.

Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:54 am
by admin
Chapter 5: The Practice of Right Posture

What right posture with its centre of gravity in Hara means in the purely physical sense, can be easily demonstrated. A man standing in his ordinary posture will fall forward if he is suddenly pushed from behind. If he stands with Hara he feels surprisingly stable. Even a hard thrust cannot topple him over or even push him forward.

Right posture can be acquired only if one does three things: drop the shoulders, release the lower belly and put some degree of strength into it. For this it is sufficient to say 'I am, I feel myself down here, a little below the navel'. It would seem so easy to follow these instructions, but not only is it far more difficult than we suppose to effect a change in the bodily centre of gravity but long, long practice is needed before It becomes habitual. Indeed to learn to feel oneself constantly down there is tantamount to overcoming the unconscious dominance of the I, and to feeling oneself permanently rooted in a much deeper region. This new placing of the whole centre of gravity comes to full fruition only after years of practice. Yet, as with all spiritual exercises, everything is contained in the very first lesson. But the beginner cannot realize this.

The mistakes commonly made in this first practice are the following: the shoulders are not just allowed to drop but are pressed down. The belly is not simply released, it is thrust out. Distending it is not what is meant. If done in the right way the pit of the stomach falls in while the abdomen comes slightly forward. In this way the third mistake is avoided, the most usual and most easily concealed one, namely the mistake of tensing the region of the stomach while tensing the abdomen. What matters is that everything above the navel should be relaxed.

Further, the right practice of Hara requires first of all the discovery of a new support for holding the body upright. The aspirant must find this support in the lower part of the trunk. Until he does so he is either tense, wrenching himself upwards in order to stand, or slack, sagging down completely if he does not forcibly hold himself up. Support from the lower trunk, although most clearly felt in the belly, lies actually in the whole trunk. So the whole trunk will gain in firmness as soon as the belly is free and able to take weight from above, while the small of the back in particular will acquire a new vitality.

The achievement of right posture is soon noticed by certain signs. If a man has found his proper centre of gravity he soon feels, to his own surprise, not merely a physical freedom in the whole upper region of his body but also that his whole personality is different. His knees which in the old, hunched-up posture were stiff and pressed back have become supple and his whole person is less rigid. The firmness of the trunk gives a lift to the spinal column as though it were being pushed from below upwards. When holding himself erect in the wrong way a man forcibly thrusts his shoulders back, pushes his chest out and draws in both his belly and the small of his back, with the result that his vital middle region is constricted and diminished.

At the same time the neck becomes rigid, bull-necked indeed, while the head is bent back and the chin thrust out. This leads to cramp. But with Hara the uprightness of the body is no longer the result of will-power but comes by itself. The whole body finds itself in flexible equilibrium. The difference in the tension of the neck is a special criterion of right posture. It is as if a secret power soared up lightly from below and culminated in the free carriage of the head. And so the letting-go above gives concentration of strength below and the resulting easy freedom of the head has its counterpart in the sustaining weight of the trunk.

Thus the practice of Hara consists from the beginning in a constantly repeated letting-go or dropping down movement. Then one notices how from the vital middle region strength rises straight upward through the back and produces the sensation of being uplifted.

Actually it is difficult for most people to give up a certain top-heaviness connected with wrong posture. Even if for a moment an aspirant is able to shift his physical centre of gravity downwards, the next moment it shoots up again. And while he is gradually learning to hold Hara for longer periods he loses it again as soon as he is seriously occupied with something else until, after a long time, he has finally incorporated it as a permanent part of himself. Only to the extent that he carries out the exercise not merely in the physical sense, by dropping his shoulders, but also by dropping his persistent, clinging I, will he be able to achieve permanence in the new posture. Then indeed the inner transformation has begun. The 'new' is not merely a hitherto unknown physical support in the form of a fine strong spinal column but a new backbone to his whole feeling of life.

Anyone setting out to practice Hara naturally begins by straightening up his body into place. This is the first and lowest step. As soon as he experiences and realizes that this new intentionally adopted posture gives him a different feeling of life and that it brings with it a new inner attitude, he can, and indeed must, begin his work with this new inner attitude. He must not only stand differently, but stand as a different person for indeed the man who stays. calmly in. his body-centre is different from the one who either forcibly draws himself upwards or weakly sags downwards.

However, the practice of right sitting, standing or walking fulfils its real purpose only at the third stage. When the aspirant realizes that with increasing Hara-force he has become different from what he was before, he may suddenly realize that the power flowing into him from below is not the product of his will hut comes from somewhere else, and that he has only to let it in and to guard It. It is this experience and the realization of its significance that raises the exercise to the third stage, when the aspirant by means of his reverent and upright posture becomes aware of Great Nature within him. He then realizes that his previous posture was not only blocking the forces now flowing into him from hitherto obstructed depths, hut also that by his wrong posture he was violating a higher law, a law which he should express even in his outward appearance. So he tries to obey this law. The significance of this stage of realization and practice is fully clear only when both become fused with his everyday life. From then onward It is a continual source of wonder' how this sinking into and yielding to his deepest level of being results all at once in a transformation and deepening of the meaning-content of every situation, in life as well as in the possibility of his mastering it, and how everything thus acquires a new perspective. It is only in this perspective that the full implications of Hara practice become visible and fruitful.

Re: Hara:The Vital Centre of Man, by Karlfried Graf Von Durc

PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:08 am
by admin
Chapter 6: Sitting with Hara

What is meant by 'sitting' with Hara and how it must be practised is best understood by those who can ride. One rides with Hara. Only with Hara does that flexible and yet firm, relaxed posture which keeps the rider balanced, and which gives him that unforced control over his horse, release that 'action in non-action' to which the horse willingly submits. The good rider sits erect but without tension, in form but without rigidity. Rider and horse form a unity -- a unity of symbolic significance. The horse adapts itself to the rider because the rider has adapted himself to the horse. They feel each other, as it were, from centre to centre. And whatever the rider demands is achieved not by his conscious will but by the force of Hara which produces it, as it were, involuntarily.

Hara in sitting then means, as in standing or walking, a power of inner directedness brought about only because and In so far as all self-will has been eliminated and which permits the appearance of an outer form that is not made but has grown organically from within.

Right sitting in Hara is best understood by comparing it with wrong sitting. Very few people of our time still know how to sit correctly. It seems quite natural to us that a person when unoccupied should lounge and feel uncomfortable if he cannot lean back in his chair. But equally when occupied with sedentary work most people tend either to slackness on the one hand or rigidity and wrong tension on the other. So, in activity or in inactivity alike, they lose the benefit which correct sitting could bring. This benefit could be theirs if their lives were lived, consciously or unconsciously, from the strength lying in the vital centre.

Training in correct sitting should begin in childhood. But our educators are helpless in the face of the bad posture habits of children. The only thing teachers can do is to give the command 'sit up straight'. This produces nothing but a momentary rigid straightening up soon followed by a relapse into the old posture. It is impossible to calculate how much lasting damage is caused by the too tense or too slovenly postures in which children do their work at desks or tables, or what opportunities for character forming are missed merely because children do not learn to carry themselves in the right way. But how can they learn as long as the educators themselves in their ignorance pay no attention to the matter? Proper education and training ought to begin in early childhood. Children straighten their spines naturally and adults should not be too quick in urging them to do so. Particularly the natural straightening up from the small of the back which babies and children do involuntarily should not be interfered with by premature admonitions and help. The ability to bear himself upright from his own strength is one of those essential early experiences of childhood which are decisive for the foundation and development of a proper self-assurance In later life.

In right sitting as well as in right standing the shoulders are relaxed. Only in the released belly is that slight tension preserved which gives strength to the while trunk. In the Hara-seat the aspirant feels the centre which keeps him in form, perhaps even more clearly than while standing. He is not rigidly anchored in it but swings constantly and lightly around it. Even when a person of sedentary occupation has to bend forward in outward activity he still remains in touch with his vital centre if he has Hara. The inner and the outer maintain their coherence.

The practice of right sitting is not necessarily confined to certain fixed times and conditions nor is it, as some believe, only possible cross-legged in the Buddha posture. Only one thing is Important, the knees should not be higher than the hip-bones. With raised knees it is impossible for strength from the vital centre to flow in.

In right sitting, standing and walking Hara proves the threefold strength of the life-giving centre. First, it carries, forms and releases not only the body but the man himself as a whole. Second, it supports and gives him his inherent form. Third, it sets him free. The foundation which man gains through Hara is therefore not only of a physical nature but also of a psychological nature which can help him to overcome the malformations of the ego. By his posture when sitting the man without Hara gives evidence of a handicapped I. One. of the surest signs of imprisonment m the I is the slightly raised shoulder. It is the expression of the suspicious I safeguarding itself. In this posture a man allows nothing to come close to him for fear that it may hurt him. He is not composed and never open to what comes his way. Let him root himself in Hara and the ego-tension will be dissolved, and with no over-susceptibility he will be receptive to whatever may come his way.

Practice of the sitting-posture should not be limited to certain hours but should be maintained whenever the aspirant sits down. The exercise of sitting is the most fundamental of all. Here the practice of stillness has its source. A thousand secrets are hidden in simply sitting still. A person who has once learned to collect himself completely in his sitting will never again let a day pass without practising for at least half an hour for it is this which gives complete inner renewal, especially when he has learned to concentrate exclusively on the sitting, emptied of all thoughts and images. When the aspirant has fulfilled the basic condition of all work -- to be turned with all his mind towards the Highest -- sitting in stillness will one day lead to his becoming one with Being.

In the legend 'Of the Good Morning', the pauper asks Master Eckhart, 'Who made thee holy, Brother?' and the Master answers, 'Sitting still and my lofty thoughts and my union with God.' And it is said of Master Dogen (the founder of the Soto sect of Zen whose sole exercise consists in sitting), that when asked his opinion of the method practised in the Rinzai sect, he answered, 'Very good, very good'. 'How so?' the other asked. 'They practice the Koan don't they?' (the solving of an insoluble riddle). 'Well,' said Master Dagen, 'there may be people who can sit still only if they have something to think about. However if they achieve enlightenment that way it is not thanks to their thinking but to their sitting still.'

The practice of sitting as an exercise on the way demands not only the right centre of gravity, but at the same time the right 'tension-relaxation', and above all right breathing.