The Birth of Effort & the Arising of Ease

Movement should be easy.

I entertained this slogan in The Way of the Elbow business’ salad-days. “Movement should be easy” because the body is designed to move. Activity ought not to feel like a burden because it is what is natural. Very few things are more steadfast than the hills, but how much effort do they exert in their stern majesty? And yet many of us expend much greater effort to much lesser effect. We proverbially bear about all sorts of psychosomatic baggage with us (in every possible extension of this metaphor) such that sometimes indeed, to lift a finger feels like one of Hercules’ labours, as though we were compelled to pivot the entire cosmos off this single digit. This cannot be what Archimedes had in mind & furthermore, it’s no way to enjoy life, or supple fingers (in the humble opinion of this website’s warden & scrivener).

In ease, there is a joy that arises naturally. Imagine driving your Volkswagen down the freeway with the parking-brake engaged. Or pedaling your Peugeot around with the brake-pads rubbing—hardly what might be called husbandry of effort, and naturally it wears out the mechanics. Yet we so often conduct our bodies with even less concern for efficiency than we give to our automobiles. If we manage to get through life with only one proverbial parking-brake engaged, we are comparatively well-off, I should say.

Lao Tzu likens life to a stream—we can struggle or we can abide. We can swim against the latter’s current, exhausting every ounce of our strength in a heroic resistance to what is natural. Or we can float with it like Oriental royalty. In either case, life bears us to the sea.

“Movement should be easy:” this is the description of a result. The river is a metaphor. Some readers doubtless imagine a more concrete prescription would be more practically useful. What, then, is the method to achieve this promised bliss?

The method is…

No method.

Because methods suggest effort. Effort is the antithesis of effortlessness—to wit, EASE.

The experience of effort arises from contradictory activities in the body.

Contradictory activities arise from fragmented intention.

Fragmented intention arises from unstable attention.

Our attention must therefore be stable so that our intention will be pure & our actions will be true.

Having slain the Minotaur of a misconception, we can re-trace this thread that delivers us from the labyrinth of our experience & as we emerge, perceive a clear prescription for practice:
Being attention directly into the body.
Like the sun that melts away the mist on a November morning, attention pierces through all foggy intention.
With the resulting clarity of a true intention, all unnecessary activity ceases on its own & EASE is the result. One does not smooth ripples in a puddle with a flat-iron. Rather one attends to the cause of the disruption. Then tranquility arises.

(1)Sit calmly.
(2)Allow attention to the settle breath.
(3)Intend to raise a finger.
(4)Feel the body’s unalloyed inclination to comply.
(5)Execute the movement.
(6)Experience action born by the river of intention that is not fragmented.
(7)Movement should be easy…


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