Towerland and the impulse to dance by Karen Suskin
Entering the land of the tower “with its tip in the heavens” and its foot deeply planted in the deep, dark earth, I seem to float somewhere in-between, between the land’s mass and the airy heights, between my inner nature and the outer nature, the here and there, the far and near, between light and dark, day and night. This in- continuous- creation-landscape beckons me to grasp the inner principle, the intention behind, and to bridge polarities by engaging with the process in-between.
In the land of the tower, a place predisposed to the awakening of the pilgrim, the wilderness appears touched. By the very nature of the work being done here, I am touched, both by nature and my fellow travelers. As I stand at the threshold of Self-inner and World-outer, I feel myself both-as the centre and the periphery in a gently supported breathing, contraction, expansion, in and out. This dual stream enables me to be inside and outside the process simultaneously. In breathing, I focus my attention on the moment when in breath becomes out breath. This takes me in ever increasing circles to larger breathing rhythms -those of the solar system, moon, planets and stars.
I focus on the movement which bridges complementary polarities and sense a primary place, a place where the inner principle or generative idea resides. Through this activity I start to seek the living expression of this principle or idea in all living manifestations. I find it nowhere and everywhere.
Each morning as we sing I listen into every moment. I give weight to time and space as I am touched by the beat, am inwardly moved by the rhythm, am lifted out of myself and returned by the rise and fall of pitch as I seek to recognize the individuality behind the timbre of the instrument. So it is, that I reach out to a music infinitely beyond the plane of two dimension, beyond the audible material realm, beyond Self, into a deep sense of listening. It is this deep listening, a listening into that I practice in dialogue with others, and in dialogue with the nature around me.
In the song attention is drawn to a threshold moment where we pass as if going through an opening gate. This gate imagery allows association of the tower of Towerland with The Tower of Babel, the “Gate of God”. And this in turn links with the song we are singing, Siyahamba…. “We are walking with God”.
In awakening to this gateway of transition I was able to look for this moment in every plant, finding it again within two opposing forces, growth and decay. I sought to identify the nodal points in my own life and attempt to access the generative idea that guides my living process. Discovering the on-going nature of these processes and their implicit underlying pattern makes possible new learning processes for personal growth and transformation.
Using music as a metaphor for the Towerland process has helped me think in familiar pictures, until such time as I am more literate in reading from nature. The song sung in its many parts challenged me to hold my centre and my own authentic voice, whilst being receptive to the periphery and open to the others in the group. In our togetherness each voice gave expression to the whole and spoke of an interactive relationship, weaving one part into “an-other”. Just as one plant leaf in the sequence unfolds into another, one colour merges into another and one musical tone resonates with another!
I ask: Does each leaf really carry the whole plant? Does each colour represent the whole rainbow, just as each tone carries the whole score? And if this is so, what is it that I carry within myself? Where do I begin and where do I end? And what gives expression to the underlying pattern of my life? I try to live into these questions with the reassurance of Rilke: Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer…
Every now and then a discord disrupts the flow forcing me to acquire a deeper and more imaginative grasp of where the order is in the chaos. The embodied permanency of my thoughts gives rise to newness of expression. I dip even deeper into connection, awareness, and engaged interaction with the world and find that I must live more flexibly, finding comfort in the discomfort of changing forms, of continuous metamorphosis. I am now in the process.
Through singing the song I exercise the muscles necessary to dance the new dance. I open my ears and listen to the lost- in- time music of the spheres. No longer do I cast a glance or only “look”, but learn to see the wisdom in every living thing. I am the poignant and pregnant point, the balance, the in-between.
When next asked “where is the generative energy in the plant and what gives rise to it?”I will answer “It originates in specific activities outside the plant and between different aspects in the- rooting, sprouting, stemming, blossoming or fruiting of the plant. It is the formative force of these processes that gives rise to the continuous work in progress, the harmonious arrangement between order and disorder between life and decay.
In order to climb inside the process I will take myself away for a moment from the noisy world in which I live, loosen my sense for the known and wiggle into being in the knowing, until the essential connections become evident and the underlying principle is revealed.
It appears it is I who constitute the gate between heaven and earth! Fully present I respond to the invitation that the generative energy extends, enabling me to think into the world of possibility. I am committed to seek the pattern that connects and illuminates. I shall be on the look- out for connections where there is apparent disconnection. I shall look for the regenerative source which is iterative, and participate in the rhythms of resurgence.
This series of encounters at Towerland goes under the title of: Reading from Nature- discovering the nature of process from the processes of nature. It is precisely reading from nature that has allowed me to more readily experience the movement between the centre and periphery not as polarized points but as partners in the dance.
This has been made possibly by the wisdom of Al and Sue, the constellation of participants and all those who support the work of the Proteus Initiative. Thank you from the depths of my heart.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” Albert Einstein