Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Circle And The Trance

Funny how things come "Full Circle"...
An article I read recently talked about medicinal opium poppy fields in Tasmania that were being raveged by stoned Wallabies, sheep and deer.

"We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles. Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high," The Mercury newspaper quoted Ms Giddings as saying.
A manager for one of two Tasmanian companies licensed to take medicinal products from poppy straw said wildlife and livestock, including deer and sheep, that ate the poppies were known to "act weird".
"There have been many stories about sheep that have eaten some of the poppies after harvesting and they all walk around in circles," added Rick Rockliff, a field operations manager at Tasmanian Alkaloids".

Dong Hai Chuan, recognized as the founder of Baguazhang (Bagua, or eight-trigram palm) is said to have created the circle-walking fighting style. But walking the circle has a much more ancient origin - as Michael P. Garofalo writes:
"Tung Hai-Chuan (1813-1882) became a member of the Chuan Chen (Complete Truth) sect of Taoism. This sect was part of the Lung Men (Dragon Gate) school of Taoism which was originated by Chou Chang-Ch'uan. Interestingly enough, Chou also invented a method of meditation whereby the practitioner would walk in a circle and, wouldn't you know, this method was practiced by the Chuan Chen sect. Delving further into this Taoist connection, Professor K'ang Kuo Wu was able to find a section in the Taoist Canon which reads:
'A person's heart and mind are in chaos.
Concentration on one thing makes the mind pure.
If one aspires to reach the Tao, one should practice walking in a circle.'

Internal arts expert Bruce Frantzis explains here the trance-like aspect of Bagua circle walking:

Yet, circle walking was not just an Eastern practice; here's a picture of some Druids demonstrating a circle-walking ceremony at the Spring Equinox in London:

As well as the fantastic designs on the Plains of Nazca, often thought as of maps for space visitors, may have been huge walking labyrinths:

Classical labyrinth:

Circle walking also has uses in tool and engineering work, as in this hay press and the use of millstones:

Years ago, I read Fritz Capras "The Tao Of Physics". In one chapter, he shows a diagram of ancient Sufi dancing, which was composed of overlapping circles. next to it, he overlaid the patterns of the atomic structure, which was nearly identical:

In this way, modern physics is proving things that ancient shamanic practice realized at a very deep level embeded in the human psyche or the DNA itself, perhaps suggesting the existance of a "Unified Field Theory", or the interconnected-ness of all things...


Anonymous said...

Great post. I've heard of circles and labyrinths as meditation techniques before, but the photos you included really made the point where words never quite sank into my brain.

And the story about stoned wallabies was just plain funny.


Dojo Rat said...

Yup, I can just see a bunch of stoned Wallabies and sheep walking around in circles stomping all that valuable Opium crop into the ground.
Thanks, I love the idea of the circle and the trance. I came up with a few more examples, but I think I'll leave the post as is.

Scott said...

Cool. I've got a few posts on this bagua trance subject coming up.
It's was just like that studying with Kumar. He always sounds both like he is exaggerating and as if he is talking to rank beginners. The instruction he gives is clear and he has a good reason for giving it. But he makes it sound like practicing bagua is not only a cure for everything, it is extremely dangerous if you don't have his secret techniques!
I often had this feeling that Kumar was a puppet being worked by someone behind the scenes who would take a lot of tea breaks and let Kumar add his own opinions too. As if his teacher or his teacher's teacher was hiding somewhere behind Kumar hurling ideas through time, as if throwing something over a wall.

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