The Radian of Our Being
by Charles Carreon
The earth, being a large sphere, is shot through from its center to its surface with lines called “the radians” of the sphere. An infinite number radians pass through the earth's center, which is also true of a golfball. The radians in a golfball, however, have but slight gravitational pull, all effects being masked by the overwhelming pull of the earth, as even Tiger Woods has learned. Radians are everywhere in evidence. But for the wind, raindrops would always fall straight down a radian. All radians are essentially the individual expressions of a single principle -- the earth's radian.
It’s the triumph of living things that they defeat gravity. Rocks can’t manage it. They roll downhill, they stay there. We roll downhill, we get up and walk back up the hill, at least if the fall didn’t kill us. And death, of course, puts an end to our mobility, our ability to ambulate, to make our way from one place to another.
We defeat gravity is large ways and small. The biggest feat of all is circulating all that blood through all the tiny little capillaries in your cells, aerating all those hemoglobin-carrying red cells through the immense complex network of your lungs, square miles of tissue, if you spread it all out, and all crawling with your cells, breathing, absorbing oxygen – your lungs really contain a vast hacienda of breathing surface. The heart keeps fluid pumping through all of that vast liquid circulatory system through a dynamic tension system that gets help from strong leg muscles and the hydraulic assistance of the diaphragm. Our body is a pulsing bubble of liquid that stands up against gravity, and delights in speed and acceleration, even the utter defiance of gravity through flight.
With all this speeding about, however, we forget the health and spiritual value of utilizing the radian in all our activities. In this essay I discuss first physical, and then moral and spiritual uprightness.
To appreciate the value of the physical uprightness, consider the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which has departed structurally from the radian due to a bad foundation. While the citizens of Pisa would not want to lose this structure, if they were allowed to have only one building in the entire city, I’m sure that would not be it. The tables will slide, or at least pencils will slide across the room. Without continuous maintenance, the building would become unusable and hazardous. Compare this with the two WTO towers, so well detonated that they fell right down along the radian, violating every rule of how buildings fall in the absence of controlled demolition, unless of course, like Tower 7, they were in fact the targets of controlled demolition. The science of controlled demolition of course involves a detailed utilization of the power of the radian, but it is a corrupt, tragic application of it, much like the dropping of bombs. Fie on these black magicians of death. We must use the radian for better purposes.
Purposes like standing up straight under the sky, like a redwood, for example. A redwood silently utilizes the quiet energy of wind and rain to pump enormous daily volumes of water straight up, hundreds of feet – up to a thousand liters per day, which is 440 gallons. Yet, as everyone what has inspected a Sequoia can tell you, the pumping apparatus is invisible, silent, and no human has yet duplicated the feat or adequately explained the mechanism involved. In “Shakespeare In Love” Geoffrey Rush couldn’t explain how all the backstage chaos congealed into a dramatic presentation, and instead admitted “It’s a mystery.” Similarly, botanists come up with the same answer when asked to explain the mystery of the great water pumps of the ancient forests that transport water far more quietly and economically than humans, contributing oxygen to the air as a by-product of their labor. Built in perfect harmony with the radian, Sequoias grow straight up, keeping the pumping distance as short as possible, and the trees to standing straight and tall for hundreds of years, in high winds and heavy rains. Such are the virtues of physical uprightness.
Moral uprightness is traditionally expressed as loyalty to ethical standards, as Marcus Aurelius put it in his Mediations: “He is a competitor in the greatest of all contests, the struggle against passion's mastery; he is imbued through and through with uprightness, welcoming wholeheartedly whatever falls to his lot and rarely asking himself what others may be saying or doing or thinking except when the public interest requires it.” In his essay entitled The Clear Sound of Jewels, Takuan Soho reveals a more penetrating view of human uprightness:
“Within this body solidified by desire is concealed the absolutely desireless and upright core of the mind. This mind is not in the body of the Five Skandhas, has no color or form, and is not desire. It is unwaveringly correct, it is absolutely straight. When this mind is used as a plumb-line, anything done at all will be right-mindedness. This absolutely straight thing is the substance of right-mindedness.”
Takuan Soho thus urges us to use “the desireless and upright core of the mind” as a “plumb-line.” What is he talking about? A plumb-line is a tool consisting of a plumb bob and a piece of string. A plumb bob is a weight, traditionally made of lead, that is allowed to hang straight down from a string, and thus used by carpenters and bricklayers to establish lines perpendicular to the earth. Careful use of the plumb-line is essential to create a structure that is in harmony with the radian of the earth, and therefore, will stand directly on its foundation. A structure that deviates from the radian is already in the process of collapse.
Thus, like carpenters and bricklayers, who constantly consult the earth’s radian by means of their plum-bob, those who wish to possess “right-mindedness” will constantly consult the “absolutely desireless and upright core of the mind.” This is to rely upon the Radian of Our Being.
What is the Radian of Our Being? Is it a physical attribute like the radians emanating from the enormous, spherical earth? Indeed, it is continuous with and energized by the radian of the earth. Passing through each of us is a radian of the earth. When we stand, sit, walk or lie on the earth, we are directly on our spot, and that spot is our personal radian.
What aspect of us directly senses the presence of the radian of the earth, and hence, the Radian of Our Being? That organ exists, and it is not the eye, ear, nose, tongue or the cognitive organ, the cerebellum. No, it is the most sophisticated organ of touch in our body, hidden away in the core of our head, the vestibular system of the inner ear, which maintains our equilibrium. Interestingly enough, Takuan Soho identifies all of the senses with desire, but states that the upright core of the mind lies within and unaffected by the traffic of sight, sound, smell and touch. Our sense of balance is satisfied, not by waves of sensation and perception, but by the simple return to the center of one’s physical being.
The Radian of Our Being is thus accessible through simple, upright activities. Since the earth supplies a radian wherever we find ourselves, it is an inexhaustible resource. Like the trees that manage the labor of standing straight for hundreds of years and pumping hundreds of gallons of water a day, our bodies are aided in their labor by standing, sitting and lying on the radian of the earth.
When you settle into the Radian of Your Being, the fluid circulation through your body, the distribution of air through your cells, the pressure between your head and your lower body, and many other liquid phenomena, will equalize, easing the labor of your heart, lungs, and veins. The sense of settling will deepen as your inner ear records less and less motion in your body. From settling comes the sensation of thoughts precipitating out of your mind like solid matter that settles to the bottom as our choppy mental atmosphere, and clarity ensues as floating thoughts diffract less of the light of consciousness. Self-awareness then shines like the sun, and flowing breezes of continuous mind energy stretch our perceptions like cloudy wisps across the sky.