Monday, January 27, 2020


     In surfing and in life, it's true that one can't have a "too willful will," as the Zen master says.  One won't be very well attuned to things beyond oneself without paying careful attention to them, and it is difficult to pay close attention to other things if one is preoccupied with oneself.  Perhaps one need only withdraw certain "attachments" consistent with one's aim of hitting the target, such as an attachment to performing well, or to winning, or to pleasing one's parents or oneself.  But Zen seems to require more, and indeed nothing less than "withdrawing from all attachments whatsoever, by becoming utterly egoless: so that the soul, sunk within itself, stands in the plentitude of its namely origin."
     Surfing simply can't be so exactingly ego-free.  No aquatic movement is so fixed to permit falling into a fully passive state;  there's no time for not actively adapting.  If you had to find a trance state or wakeful dream sleep, and the wave's next movement was coming quickly, you'd eat it, or quickly become out of sync.  The bodily dynamism and moment by moment demands on one's attention naturally draw one's consciousness out into the waves, away from oneself.  But this ego transcendence serves the surfer's active purposes, of being adaptively attuned.  If that isn't Zen, it's a blessedly easy way of being while doing.

-Aaron James: Surfing With Sartre:  An Aquatic Inquiry Into A Life Of Meaning

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