Curious to learn about Justin Stone, creator of Tai Chi Chih that became part of my life after terminating Freudian psychoanalysis, I invested in Stone’s book: Climb the Joyous Mountain.

Velcro straps secured the infra-red heating pad around my freezing calves as I started reading Stone’s book on a day temperatures in Iowa hovered around minus 7 degrees. I was drawn to begin with Chapter 2, Cold Kyoto Morning. In this chapter, Stone described his experience at the small Tenrikyo Church community. 

  When I encountered the second paragraph I was horrified to read this: “With no central heating system to ward off the cruel winds in Kyoto, the cold is piercing. Nevertheless, by custom, most windows are opened wide at morning.”  

Just as I cannot imagine having the courage to design a new style Tai Chi as Stone did with Tai Chi Chih in 1974, I cannot fathom why anyone in their right mind would have opened windows when it was so cold.

I hate being cold. I would not want to be there despite the lure of a promised ancient Emperor’s Palace nearby. Reverting to my time on the couch, I began to free associate remembering how my analyst would imply, using her skillfully constructed interpretations, that my need for comfort prevented me from fully participating in life. Often this irritated me! Who doesn’t want to be comfortable?

I felt a tiny bubble of competition well up inside me. Will Stone agree that comfort has merit, or will he side with my former analyst’s contempt for comfort? Will he be on my side? Or hers?

 I turn the page.   

“If I am cold in my heavy winter underwear as I leave the futon, so is everyone else. Consequently, it is not so bad. When we do not suffer alone, we do not really suffer.”

I turn off my heating pad in solidarity with my new friend Justin Stone, but I draw the line at opening the window.  


4 Responses

  1. I, too, do not like to be cold. I remember being miserable a couple years ago when the winter was like this one. This year I decided to have a better attitude and wear enough to keep me warm. I watch my screens under my Grandma’s twin-sized comforter folded in half. If a teacher told me to suck it up and practice in the cold I’d say, “Bye bye! I’ll find a friendlier teacher!” As for adventure and “participating in life” I can play my “old lady card” and find adventure more in my own style.

    • Great to hear from you – a woman who understands the important things in life! I love the image of your Grandma’s comforter comforting you as you
      swish off into the land of the internet with all its comforting offerings.

      My old lady card scored me a vaccine shot so I agree about the importance of flashing that card!
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting – I so appreciate your presence.

  2. “When we do not suffer alone, we do not really suffer.”

    I’m afraid I must disagree here, Nicky.

    Being uncomfortable is not the same as suffering.
    Being uncomfortable together may indeed bring comfort.
    But I don’t believe the Jews of the Holocaust or soldiers
    of war or starving children in third world countries suffer any less just
    because there were/are millions of them suffering together.

    I, too, don’t like being cold and I would choose the comfort
    of warmth without question.

    Often in suffering there is not an option.

    • Nancy – thank you for a thoughtful response to my question of what price comfort.

      Your thoughts bring to my mind (a free association I guess) what I’ve heard about the difference between pain and suffering.
      That we usually don’t have a choice about whether we have pain but we may have a choice about suffering. This is assuming
      the pain is physical I think and refers to what thoughts we have in our mind about the pain which maybe – I don’t know and there
      is no way to know as Justin Stone is no longer living – another way of thinking about what him saying we don’t really suffer if
      we are with others.

      I like how you used the word “often” when saying that in suffering there is not an option. I know that I am prone to want an answer that fits all
      situations and have learned that this is not very likely. It seems you have learned that lesson too.

      I so appreciate your perspective and hope to hear from you again.

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