Moss-covered Monk

Moss-covered Monk

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Daily Musing - April 26th, 2013 - Form - 形式 - Xíngshì

Form - 形式 - Xíngshì

In the beginning,
one must learn form.
With form, doubt is dispelled
and inhibition evaporates.
Eventually, form merges with joy
and expression becomes formless.


In all fields of study, one must begin by studying the structures, procedures, and forms of the particular subject. Looking at the masters in these disciplines, it is easy to become discouraged by the disproportionate difference in skill. The master has achieved effortless virtuosity, but he has spent a lifetime on the craft. It will take some time before you will achieve this proficiency.

Consider dance for a moment. The novice must drill the steps constantly, isolating each movement and bridging each gap with meticulous attention to form. Although structure takes precedence in the beginner's initiation, the time dedicated to fundamentals pays great dividends down the road. Once the dancer has been sufficiently trained in the basics, the mind can be turned off and the body can take over. The master says, simply, let go.

The steps have become part of your natural movement, and the dance becomes a celebration of joy as opposed to something to conquer. The newly matured dancer may be spontaneous without losing step; the gradual accumulation of skill appears almost magical. The master would say, it has become formless.

Be like water.

Form emerges from fluidity, originality, grace, and beauty. The same is true for spirituality. At first, the practice may seem restrictive, constricting one's expression. Eventually, the stage is reached where meditation and awareness flow naturally. Every day is full of wonderful insights and fresh perspectives. The beauty of the world shows itself. Doubts fade. No longer bothered by the boredom and monotony of ordinary life, spiritual angst is replaced with awe and grandeur. Your soul expands - this is true formlessness.