The Middle Way

Zen Spot #196 — Mindfulness, meditation and the size of any wave August 20, 2018 00:00

Excitement and joy

I’ve always found joy in wrestling water — diving, flipping, body surfing, racing, treading and wondering. At the beach, in the summer, in my youth, I would race toward the waves with reckless abandon, hoping I could dip my shoulder, at full speed, and slam into a wave at the precise moment its full force broke. Exploding through the wall was a near-spiritual experience, as was being splattered to the sand when the water had its way. Despite being skinny and possessing very little physical strength, I was fearless in the face of a wall of nature’s rhythm.

Too, water elicits primal fear from me. In particular, deep open water terrifies, especially if I can’t see the bottom. My mind’s eye fill with predators. 

Eating and getting eaten

In the face of the abstract, with an emphasis on one’s view of expectations of the other human beings, I believe that one is what one believes other people are. If one believes humanity is cruel, it is because the believer is cruel. If one believes humanity is kind, it is because the believer is kind. To expect predators to arrive as soon as I am vulnerable says something about me. The truth, I know, lies somewhere in the middle, but the fear — and belief — is instinctive.

Banzai pipeline

Much to the chagrin of archaeologists roving the planet with back hoes and dust brushes, the north shore of Oahu is the resting place of the Holy Grail. Perfect waves break. Ten feet high at least. In January, they can be three times ten. 

An adolescent’s shoulder, however, could never blast through to the other side. The water itself is a predator. Pipeline drops houses on surfers. Blood and bone are extracted at will. Its rhythm can sometimes cough up bodies. Apparently, though, life inside the tube, for twenty seconds, transcends all else. Those with skill, and guts, can get to the other side.

Ankle deep

Standing in the shallowest of water, while the sand and water around one’s feet races underneath the next small breaking wave, offer a cool sublime pleasure. Contemplating the horizon, eyes open and arms spread out, almost expecting to fly, can be as immersive as a cannonball off the deck of a sloop. Eyes closed, it can feel as though it’s possible to fall into eternity.

Any size wave can open the door.


About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?