Monday, August 03, 2009

Meditative Motorcycling

Biking is an experience deeply similar to meditation.

Think about it.

When you meditate, the most critical thing - the essence, really - is to empty out your mind completely, let go all the thoughts buzzing around in circles over and over again as if on rails, and give those tracks a chance to relax from the load, rejuvenate, free-associate again. I developed a technique - as every thought appears, I would just imagine it whooshing away into the background behind me, leaving my head clear again. Once you've treated it that way, it's easy to take everything as it comes, and literally leave it behind you. After a while, nothing new comes, and there's just the sound of your breathing and a warm, deep-brown empty room.
When you're on a bike, it's like that. Everything comes at you from the vanishing point, roars past in the reflected echo of your own engine, and disappears forever. Nothing is permanent except the road, the hum of the engine, wind and sunshine. Riding is automatic; you don't need to see. Everything happens by touch and physical memory of control positions and sequences. And it's ingrained, not needing thought. Reflex. It's like breathing, like heartbeat.
The road is Life. Events come and go, but you steer around the blocks and bad spots, slowing down and speeding up, looking for that break in traffic, those smooth stretches. Friends keep pace with you on their own bikes, sometimes coming near, sometimes far away, on the same road and the same journey but entities by themselves. If someone crashes and burns, he's left behind very, very fast, the pain forgotten in surprisingly short time. If someone skids and falls, he loses a little time, but catches up again soon. Sometimes, if necessary, you interrupt your own journey, stop and help... but in the end, we all move on.
The past is visible, but it takes an effort - of thought, of that impulse to look down at the rear-view mirrors. Mostly it's automatic, just to judge things coming from behind... but sometimes you want to look back. Don't look back too long, though, or something coming up ahead will smash you into pulp, unaware.

At it's core, it's being completely free. Your body, your machine, is doing what it's supposed to do. Your higher mind is at liberty to think, to dream, to go down whatever mental lanes it wants, explore uninterrupted trains of thought. To enjoy the pleasure of pure, uninterrupted thought, and no-thought, just sensation. Disturbing elements literally get whipped away in the slipstream.

A car, now... a car is different. All along, you're aware of the metal shell around you, the controls in front of you, in your field of vision. Wind is cut off, sounds muted, sun dimmed by the windows, smells lost in the air-conditioning. You're always careful, avoiding scratches, bumps, and dents. It's too overt a reminder of your own body, your mortality, your place in life. Traffic is a limiting factor, not a minor obstacle easily bypassed. The rat race, with all the other strugglers around you, physically limits your journey. Sure, you can carry a larger load - luggage, co-passengers, music, all the other paraphernalia of life - but there is a price you pay. The soul will always be aware of the body it inhabits and the pathways it must travel.
It can't ever fly, free in the sun, alone and one with the world around.