AG: How many here sit? (How many) have sat? And how many have not? Raise your hands. Of those that raised their hands, how many have not gone to get instruction in sitting? Do you know? I guess you may or may not know about that, but part of the Naropa services includes free sitting instruction, which you can get by going up to the Naropa office at 1441 Broadway, and they'll assign a meditation instructor to you, who will show you how to sit. It's in what's called the samatha style, which is related to, or very similar to, Zen sitting style, basic Zen sitting style. The instruction doesn't take a long time, so, while you're here for the summer, you might as well check it out and get it under your belt, so you'll always know, from the inside, what the other people are doing (since the majority are sitting). You can find out very easily. And, actually - that's a homework assignment for this class. It's not assigned that you sit for the rest of your life, but it is an assignment that you go to sit at least an hour, as part of this course, so you know what mindfulness is, in Buddhist terms, because (in these lectures) I'm relating that to mindfulness in poetic terms, in relation to William Carlos Williams. The sitting meditation practiced here involves attention to the breath, and that intersects with Williams' poem "Thursday" (which I read in the first session), which goes something like [Allen paraphrases Williams' poem] - "I have had my dreams, like other men, but it has come to nothing, so that now I stand here with my feet firmly planted on earth..on the ground, feeling the weight of my body in my shoes, the brim of my hat passing before my brow, my coat hanging on my shoulders, the breath passing in and out of my nose, and resolve to dream no more". So that's related. That's sort of an intersection point of American direct observation and mindfulness of primary phenomena, and Buddhist-style mindfulness, and, really, it's, for me, the main reference point of this course in poetics, sort of an intersection point between Buddhist metaphysics and American Yankee pragmatic metaphysics. A serious point, because, basically, what I've been dealing with all during the summer, (though maybe a little less directly in the last few days, because I've been reading long balloon-like passages out of Wordsworth and Whitman), the main point that I've been trying to propose, is that poetic yoga (to the extent that it involves yoking the mind to the body of the world and observing particular detail) involves an investigation of consciousness, or involves mindful consciousness, or involves recollection of the phenomena of your own consciousness, the procession of thoughts in your head, the rising of preoccupation or thought, the flowering of mind-forms and the decline of mind-forms, in that one method of poetry is notating the procession of thought-forms that go through the head, or rhythmic forms that go through the body, at any rate, notating in verbal form some of the phenomena of consciousness, when you directly observe your consciousness and when you're mindful of it. So that the homework assignment to go sit down and be mindful of your breath, and, as a side-effect, observe the procession of thoughts in your head - (that's) a logical homework proposition. I should have started the class with this suggestion and I kept forgetting to do it - but most have been sitting, so that's alright.
(All of you), you should be checking that out. It's one background depth thing that Naropa can offer that other schools don't generally offer, or other schools either of poetry or any other kind of writing don't generally offer.
[Audio for the above can be found here, starting approximately three-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding approximately nine minutes in]