By DON HANLON JOHNSON, professor in the Somatic Psychology program.
Don is currently in Japan to present a lecture and symposium for the Japanese Transpersonal Association meeting at Kyoto Bunkyo University. He will also visit Kyoto University to meet with faculty and present at lecture at Kansai University.
I am sitting in my inn, an ancient building in a park surrounded by temples and monasteries in the ring of hills that encloses the city. As always, I come here to this ancient seat of wisdom wondering what on earth I, of an adolescent culture, child of rough-and-tumble gold rush immigrants to Calfornia, have to offer people growing up saturated by wise practices and thoughts, gardens and trees sculpted to carry one's eyes out on into the far skies, the constant sounds of deep monastic bells, thousands of texts about what it means to sit, walk, breathe?
So I respond almost automatically by going into a deeper sense of inquiry than usual. For instance, I did a four-hour workshop yesterday at Kyoto Bunkyo University for about 50 members of the Japanese Transpersonal Association, about 30 of whom were grad students; the rest clinicians. The somewhat daunting topic I was assigned was The Body and Sprituality. Not being so foolish as to propose any sort of answers, I settled on four specific inquiries.
One was what happens to our consciousness when we settle more sensitively into the outside environment, cultivating our body' capacities for opening to sounds, colors, space, textures, light. For this particular hour, I asked people to gather in a garden in a quiet corner of the campus. Unlike the transcendental gardens of Kyoto where the placement of stones, bridges, carp, shaping of trees and course of the paths carry the visitor far beyond the distant hills out into the ozones, this one was somewhat dried out, murky ponds, somewhat feeble trees, sparse grasses, sounds of traffic. All the same, it was still a tranquil and living place on an otherwise sterile modern campus with few signs of natural growth.