Some things are very hard to explain. Even the title, 'Ki", is really only one aspect of what I want to explain, but I can't see how to seperate all the related concepts, so I won't. It seems easier though I'll probably end up explaining things or referring to them many times in many different ways, specifically or incidentally to other things I want to explain and hope that from these various rambles, quite possibly at different times, you'll get an idea of what I'm trying to say! This is not a well thought out philosophical treatise like I should write, it is a late night ramble like I am able to write.
For everyone there are key events, significant formative or pivitol experiences in their lives. Perhaps explaining how I got to where I'm at, the experiences that led me to it, will shed some light on it. Its also a fact that my philosphy developed from practical application, rather than strict contemplation, so it developed as I basically tried to see what worked, practically, without attempting to understand or explain nescessarily how or why it worked.
I was recognized as being clinically hyperactive back in first grade. Back then, it wasn't a matter of diagnosis so much as stating the obvious. I was out of control and bouncing off the walls, too smart and too much trouble, though actually a nice kid, all told, not out to hurt anyone. Still, the result was after 1st grade they said I couldn't come back to school unless I was under a docter's supervision and treatment for hyperactivity. As a side point, they tested my IQ and said if I did come back, I would go to a special pilot high-IQ program the county was running.
What happened then marked a critical point in defining my life and who I am, even what I am. I was given a choice, and that changed my life. I could either choose to go on the standard drug therapy from the regular doctor, which is the same as today, they addict you to speed and put you on a maintainence level dosage (Ritalin is just a marketing name for methedrine, "speed", back then they might have used biamphetamine instead, still just "speed"). But I was given another choice. One of my parent's best friends had become an organic homestead farmer and novelist, along the lines of Helen and Scott Nearing. He suggested that my problems might be linked to diet and to atificial colors and flavors, from articles he'd read. So they found a doctor who perscribed an "all natural" treatment, consisting basically of a natural food diet low on refined sugar and sugar-filled "foods" with no artificial colors and flavors, along with yoga, martial arts, and other forms of mental/physical diciplines simply for their techniques for relaxation and self-control. That was the key aspect, self-control. I had to choose, and I had to learn to do it myself and make it work, or I'd be forced to take the drug therapy and have it done for me, have it control me instead. I chose to learn to control myself.
An important fact was that I wasn't learning Yoga, or Transcendental Meditation, or even Judo, really, not in terms of following any of their beliefs. I was studying them to extract whatever I could use in terms of mind and body control techniques, just as I studied bio-feedback, dreams, and nutrition and applied them for practical effects. I started a lifelong awareness of what I ate and what it did to and for my body, studying nutrition and metabolism, again looking for practical effects. I also ended up living and working summers for the person who had suggested this all in the first place on his organic homestead in southern Vermont, studying beekeeping and organic gardening and farming, living without electricity, but in a seriously literate, educated atmosphere. Though that is another story.
Back to the main story. It was also the times, I grew up through the 60's, when the philosophies and practices of the Orient and India were entering America in a new wave. I started to study my mind and body from the inside, and with a need to practically apply what I learned, and a method of looking at traditional disciplines and beliefs to extract the practical knowledge from them while discarding or ignoring their attendent dogmas and belief systems. I started to study energy. They call it "ki" or "chi" in the orient. While personal energy, "chi", is a fundamental concept in eastern thought, it is basically unknown in western thought. They call it psychic, mystical, or spiritual, though there are significant differences in meaning and practice as well as significant overlaps. I was launched upon that path at the beginning of my life, free from the traditional cultural bonds of eastern thought, and western religion, free to chart my own path. I learned to become aware of and conciously control my mind and body, and to be concious of my energy. I learned to percieve and be aware of energy. Thus I was led to be aware of the energy of everything around me. It is often hard to delineate the difference between "inside" and "outside" the self, or the delineation also affirms an underlying continuity. I studied traditional knowledge and the latest scientific studies of the mind and body, and I went beyond them. I was so young I had no idea what I was doing, and just as important, knew no limits or boundries. I saw no distinction between "mysticism"/"spitiuality" and "science", or even "magic", and still don't, really. In short, though it wasn't expected or intended, I found the "doors of perception" and unknowingly walked right through them into another world. It was a one-way journey. Once my awareness had been so altered, I could never be as I was before. Though I still can't explain what happened, I became something very different from "normal".
On the surface, this led to a long fascination and study of the mind and spirit, the heart and soul, the mystical and magical, of para-psychology and meta-physics, and the psychological amd physiological workings of the mind and body, of conciousness and perception. I am certainly more scientific, and a practical pragamatist about it. I believe that just as great strides in physics and biology revealed the empirical and scientific underpinnings of phenomena that were once the subject of only theory and conjecture, and frankly, as much superstition as understanding, further research and discoveries will do the same for mystical, magical, para-psychological and meta-physical phenomena and experience. For me there will never be anything "super-natural", it is all natural, and obeys "natural law", ie physics, even if we do not yet understand or even percieve what to study, what and where and how. A weakness of the scientific method is that you have to know what to measure, and how, where, and even when to measure, and have something to measure with. It also made me accept that the very nature of perception is fluid, just as easily illusion as actual, and often a mixture of both, even when caused by some real stimulus. I also had to accept that in many cases it didn't matter what you believed, if it worked. That grain of truth, the penicillin in the moldy bread, was still as effective no matter how it was applied, cloaked in superstition or as a scientifically explained fact. You don't need to understand the physics behind it to throw a rock and down a flying bird, or build a working compass
It is what happened beneath the surface, however, that is most important. I became, well, no longer normal, not by a long shot. I don't know how I can describe to someone what it is like, except to say that I live in another world of perception, where senses I believe lie in many people either unconcious or dormant were awakened, exercised, made concious and often dominant within my senses, withing my perception. When I am percieving the world, the same world as anyone, but it is like being a sighted man in the land of the blind. I percieve things.. or more, aspects of what is there. Often, the rest of my perceptions.. the "normal" senses, fade into a sort of hazy reference that isn't really important to me as I use my "other" senses and percieve the world through them. I was able to do things and "Know" things that I really can't explain, though I was concious of doing them, usually in an off-hand, natural, casual manner, like an experienced musician tunes a guitar. There were also times in my life when I tried to suppress my differences, my "other" senses; either wanting to be "normal" or because I felt it was unethical to use my abilities, or I quite literally didn't want to be able to do things I couldn't understand, was scared of I was able to do. I remember clearly a time in elementary school where I realized I could manipulate people quite easily, get them to do what I wanted, and decided that this was wrong and that I would not use my abilities to manipulate people any more.
research has shown the the brain is very "plastic" and develops in response to stimulous. It may be that I just developed areas of my mind simply by using them. I remeber early on reading about the aboriginal sense of direction that allowed them to bee-line to a point hundreds of miles away over rough terrain, not in terms of remebered directions but as an innate sense of direction to a spot. I'd spent a lot of time in the mountains rambling about cross-country. So I started to try and develop that absolute sense of direction. And I did. I would test it by placing a rock or a stick as a marker, then go off on a hike of many miles, then find I could bee-line directly back to my marker. I could find my car parked on a city street not by remebering where it was, but by knowing where it was, and going towards it till I reached it. It was expanding the range of my conciousness of place so that I never left something, and always knew where it was, in relationship to whatever movements I had made. I can't say how this worked, but I know from long experience that it does. I was able to "awaken" that ability by trying to consciously use it, as a sense, untill it worked better and better. So too with many other senses that I consciously or unconciously developed from the potentials of my brain. Like music, again (I relate to music a lot) it is an innate ability that all share that develops with use, at the same time, there are certainly individual variations in ability. I am unnable to tell what it is like for anyone else, how different or universal any of this is.
I sense the energy beneath manifestation, and I live in that world, and that is what moves me and drives my actions and decisions as surely as the manifest realities drive everyone else. I spent most of my young life trying to develop these senses, this ability to percieve this world, to dwell in it. I did it in practical application, living by it and using it in hard, practical application day to day, not as some abstract philosophy, but a practical way to work and function in the world, as a way of life, see what I could do with it. In fact, early on, I began to call it a Way, or even the Way, because it was not doing anything in particular, but it was a very specific way to do everything. The simple fact was that it worked. Sometimes I succeeded or failed, but I couldn't blame it on some fault in the Way, but only in me, like using any skill or sense .. quite often because I refused to heed and act upon what I Knew. Whatever my odd abilities, I am still a fallable human being. Maybe I'm just slightly autistic, maybe I'm just nuts (though it seems to work pretty well anyway). Even though I don't always understand what I am doing, or why, except that sometimes I just Know that it is what I must do, and it is learning to trust that ability that is an essential part of it, while not depending on it absolutely or fanatically. Always good to remember I can be wrong. If you do understand, or even if you just Know that you need to understand, if what I say speaks directly to your personal experiences with life, experiences that you can't deny even if you can't explain or understand them, then that is a foundation to build on. It isn't the whole thing by far, but it is the key aspect, what I call, "experiential truth".
I think that there are many of us out there, that we are not so uncommon as all that, that's why there's a word for people like us, "fey". I have used the word "Sensitives" to describe people like me, since I don't believe I am unique at all, though I figure we are out on the edge of the bell curve. We are a usefull if rare variety of the human animal, so we didn't get totally weeded out of the gene pool! I use both fey and Sensitive because it conveys the nature of being something that also places you in another world because of it. Its also a matter of degree, just like music. Most people have basic normal ability, while some are out on each side of the bell curve. I think people of extreme sensitivity often apply it to many different things, good and bad, conciously and unconciously. What I have done is try specifically to develop that ability, in and of itself, to be as sensitive as I can, as well as applying it to things I do. I can't say that this is new, though probably more common in eastern disciplines like martial arts. Though it has made life a bit problematic, living in an insensitive world, so I spend a lot of time in the wilds, where my sensitivity isn't a pain. This is a key aspect of my life. Being a sensitive is being born into a world without armor, where most people are born with armor and casual swing about sharp swords and throw rocks. A Sensitive, conciously or unconciously either puts on armor and loses sensitivity, or remains unprotected and sensitive and gets hurt a lot, even seriously damaged or mortally wounded. A strange bargain, where the pain is more painful, yet the beauty is more beautiful, and life has an indescribable richness and depth.
It is like I live in a different world. I feel I do, though it is still this world, I see it with other senses, And quite often those other senses are the more important to me, often stronger and more vivid than the normal ones, other times they are confusing and hard to descern, too. It is a strange, subtle, thing. It's so hard to see, yet when you do, or can, it is so obvious. And it is this world, this state of being, that is important to me, where I want to be. It isn't something I can explain, nescessarily, but that is where I feel really alive, awake and aware, and the rest is like I'm sleeping.
I should take some time to explain more what I am talking about, how I put it into words, really. I can't really explain it, nor do I claim to understand it. I wish I could. Though there are things I have come to believe, I do not believe them to be undeniably true, or articles of faith. They are more like.. "working concepts", things that seem to work on a practical level, though this doesn't mean that they are correct assumptions, simply that they seem to work. Moldy bread did help wounds heal, even though people might not know why, or understand, or might have all sorts of incorrect reasons as to why it worked. I feel the same way about this, and that is perhaps my root belief. That there is a empirical and factual, natural basis for my experiences and perception. That I do sense something, just as my ears sense compression waves in air and my eyes sense photons or frequencies in waves of electromagnetic radiation. That if I knew what to measure and how, I could quantify what I sense, and it would be in accordance to the laws of physics (though we are still working on those) and not "super-natural". In fact, I sense what I do most clearly in nature, which is why I spend so much time in the wilderness, where the energy is clearer and easier to percieve, or as much, good to dwell in. I have called it mystic and spirituality, but I am not religious, it is not a belief in god or gods, in supernatural, omnipotent beings (though they could be out there, I can't prove they aren't, but that's not the point and not what I am talking about). What I believe in.. no, it is like asking whether I believe in the sun. Or in sound, or light, or anything else I experience with my senses. It is there, all the time, day and night, everywhere. I believe that all people experience the sense of this world beneath manifestation to some degree, like musical sensitivity, and this experience gave rise to what has developed into religions, combined with a need to explain everything, an inability to accept mystery and the unknown without explaination, and even the concept that knowledge of something, giving it a name, gives one power over it.. an ancient concept in magic. This same sense gave rise to the concepts and practices of magic as well.
Yet I want to stress that I am not talking about the "supernatural" and I am not really much interested in someone who is caught up in a lot of irrational concepts. I am someone dedicated to reason and rationality, a "scientist" perhaps. I neither affirm or deny what I can't prove, yet there is also what I know, what I experience. I do not need to an explaination of what the sun is to know it shines, to see by it, to feel it on my skin. There is that which I can't deny, even if I can't explain it. One of my greatest desires has always been to know what it is that I am, what these abilities I have really are. I have always dreamed of setting up a lab where I could try and find empiric data, but the fact is we still don't know what to measure or how to go about it. Still I believe it should be possible, that "meta-physics" is still physics, and just as electricity and magnetism, or lots of other forces, were once mysterious, unmeasurable, and "supernatural", well, now they aren't. I have tried to apply whatever I think might work practically. I have done things knowing that while the surface action might based on superstition, like the moldy bread, it might also have somewhere within it, practical and useful if I can discern it. Practically, I would say that I am sensing the energy beneath all manifestation, its ebb and flow, its nature as patterns of frequencies, harmony and dissonance, resonance. Just as I sense the patterns in sound waves that we call music and speech, as I sense the patterns and frequencies, the direction and intensity of light. It seems to have a lot in common with the way I sense music, like I listen for it more than the way I see things, I don't tend to look for it.
I want to try explaining just one core principle. I call it "Rightness". Rightness I can explain in musical terms. It is both the feeling of "rightness" or "justness" that you experience (remember these are senses, experiences) when you tune a string instrument, getting two strings or the entire instrument in tune. You sense the rightness when the harmonics come into alignment, when the strings ring and the instrument sings. It is the feeling of "rightness" when you are playing music and play the right note, in the whole context of of the music and rhythum. While there are many possibilities, each one changes the nature of the whole, and just as surely there are notes that are wrong, that disrupt the harmonics, some worse than others. I take this same feeling of "rightness" and use it in the context of the energy I sense, trying to sense and do what is Right. It is often quite clear, sometimes it is not. The world is way too complicated compared to music, and full of dissonance and conflicting patterns. Sometimes it is only clear what is wrong. Sometimes I can turn the sense not to what to do but to feeling the Right direction. I feel that whatever these senses are they have risen out of senses we developed for other purposes, so many of them correlate to senses like music or directional ability.
When I look at anything, I look at the energy, not the manifestation. The surface really doesn't matter to me, because it is just that. I look at a person's character, not how they look or how they dress. I listen to the meaning, the energy in what they say, how they say it more than what they say. I often said that I was listening to the song they were singing, rather than the words. When I think about something I've done, or plan to do, I look at the energies that flowed in that experience. When I am seeking something, it is an energy that I want to manifest, and I am not so concerned what manifests that energy, or how, as long as it is there. To me the energy in things is the reality, while the manifestation is just the packaging. I see a lot of troubles when people get hung up with getting something specific, when they really want an energy and think that the thing contains it.. which may or may not happen. If you seek the energy, you either have a lot morte options, or you only seek the thing, no matter what it is, that will really give you what you want. Often I seek an energy I know, without any idea or real concern about how it will manifest. The same way, energy can move, and I follow it, move with it, so I stay with change rather than getting stranded in a place that has lost the energy I once found there. I seek not to do things, but to manifest certain energies through my actions, and so can be both spontaineous and focused on a particular outcome. No matter what I am doing, a large oart of my perception is focused on the energy of everything, being aware of it, trying to follow it, trying not to get fooled by appearances or manifestation. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't, sometimes it is clear, sometimes I am confused. Still, that is the way I work.
There are a lot of working concepts like "Rightness", some related to it, or applications of it, that I use for what I do or have experienced. In my writings I capitalize them, like "Knowing" or "Resonance", and other various terms and general explainations or guesses as to what might be going on if I could only figure it out. There are a lot of things I do that I can't explain, but I've just developed over the years, and I just do them, and don't try to explain them, though I would like to, I know I can't, still, they work, or I sense what I am doing, like hitting an object that makes a resonating note, I can't say why, but I know that it happens. Personally, I always dreamed of setting up a lab just to experiment with trying to quantify and empirically measue and test and explore whatever it is I experience. I really haven't tried to explain it much though, as I have tried to live it, use it, apply it, dwell in a state of awareness of it on a par with the rest of my senses. I have experienced both incredible peaks of sensitivity and ability, and times where I have retreated from it, been traumatized so I couldn't function, or just gotten tired and discouraged with life, whatever my abilities, just like with my musical abilities. I can't explain it all here, but the Way, and the senses surrounding it, has been and remains perhaps the most important part of my life, certainly one of them. Everything seems to stem from it. It is at the root of who I am because it is at the core of what I am, the root of my experience of self and life and all I do.
Some of these concepts relate directly to human relationships, what I call "Resonance" and "Recognition". They are related, and is a way of looking at interpersonal relationships as I experience them. I will say that I don't expect my friends to be like me, or live like me, or have any expectations of them at all. I don't want to have disappointments stand between us, and expectations relate directly to disappointments. The fact is, I Recognize my friends, instantly, and then have to work on accepting who my friends are. I often counsel people by saying that in life it is much more important to know who are your real friends than to know why. In my life as a traveller, you had to be able to judge people instantly and accurately, without trying to justify or explain it, just Know whetehr someone was a friend or not, and act accordingly. There isn't time to get to know people, you have to trust them or not, chose to spend time with them or not, in a moment. I don't know or care why someone is my friend, I just Know they are, and act upon that knowledge. This type of connection is something beneath personality or circumstances. The truth is that the facts of personality and/or circumstances can make a friendship impossible, or limit it to a small common ground, despite the underlying connection. As a person who travelled a lot all my life, it was practically very important to know who my real friends were, so I could continue the connection. I've also noticed that one of my abilities is to find that "common ground" where we can express our friendship, and this extends not just to my friends but to people I meet generally. I've also found that Recognition applies not just to people, but also to place and time., to anything where I Recognize some significance, some need to act. In that sense, I might meet a person who I can share a small but significant conversation with, be a true friend in the moment, with no continuity involved. I have called it the moment when the cosmic clockwork is suddenly revealed in its terrible beauty and I see the pieces falling together to create a moment of significance where it is very important I add the Right energy to the situation. Again, it is not ourselves that is so important, our personalities or lives, but this moment when we each somehow embody some piece in an important connection. It might be as simple as a single word, but the difference is, I Know it. This is the Way.
Another problem is the fact that we are dealing truthfully enough with the "lunatic fringe" here. Maybe because people have always had a problem with mystery and need to explain their experiences in terms of some pattern, they end up extrapolating quite elaborate explainations for their perceptions with little basis in fact, except that illusive "experiential truth". Even more difficult is the fact that it doesn't matter how you explain your perceptions and senses, how you define them, if they give you a workable framework to use them, make sense of them, practically. Is that not what both religion, philosophy, and psycology are about? Whatever you believe, if it works for you, makes you a compassionate, sensitive, unselfish person, allows you to deal with life, it is good enough. On another hand, problems arise becuase maybe being "Sensitive" or "fey" and all that can drive you crazy, which I am certain it might, or that these abilities are part of a complex of brain functions that in either degree or combination can end up scaling into various types and degrees of inability to function. I often feel that I was lucky to have the early training I had to be able to control the storms and floods of emotion, to be able to keep a lid on my self, keep under absolute control as nesessary, or maintain a rock solid calm within whatever situations happen inside or out. Perhaps the very nature of the abilities I have is related to other abnormalities, so we are in the same boat, except they are crazy and I'm not (easy to say, but true). Perhaps Autism is simply Sensitivity in a pathological extreme. Just as much, I find that Sensitives can be off on what I consider irrational, superstitious beliefs, from fundamental religion to any variety of fantasy worlds. It might be strange to say since I have often used what I could call "practical magic". Yet the most basic principle I have is to seperate the practical reality from the superstion and fantasy. One of the problems is that historically, the only expression for what I experience and do has been within the structure of these superstitous beliefs and practices. I accept the principle of "mystery", that there is so much I do not know, and even more that I can't explain, many desire to have some complete framework. My desire was to leave all that behind while taking what practical knowledge I could from them. Still, the end result is that I have allways had to deal with occupying the same part of the bell curve with folks who are in fact, mentally ill, or lost in fantasy worlds. At the same time, I know that they can teach me things from their experiences if I can just manage to get some truth out of them, or recognize it amid the rest. I can also extend serious compassion from knowing at least partially where they are coming from, what drove them where they are, and I feel the responsibility to relate. At the same time, for better or worse, I am locked down to a solid, practical, pragmatic reality. In fact, my world is more realistic than the world a great number of "normal" people live in. I used to say that I know I am sane because I have upon occasion tried to drive myself crazy, to leap boldly off the edge of sanity, and I just couldn't do it. I remained, and remain, stuck in the real world and I can't get away from it. I am disgustingly pragmatic and practical, and realistic, and just sane. Sometimes I feel it is this very sanity that has allowed me to go so far off into the mysterious, simply because I knew I could'nt lose touch with reality. Those who know they have trouble controlling their emotions, or their grip on reality, are much more likely to fear to let their emotions or their minds loose. I have no problems with this.