Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Zen and the Bicycle

According to Wikipedia, Zen “is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism notable for its emphasis on practice and experiential wisdom.”  Many people associate Zen with the pursuit of greater awareness to achieve perfect balance in their life.  This “balance” is the idea behind VeloZen … and here’s why:

Balance is essential to maintaining all life.  When things are out of balance, something must happen to restore it or else really bad things will happen.  For example, earthquakes are a result of imbalanced pressure at a fault line.  When the imbalance becomes too great, the earth moves to reset itself.  Although we don’t like earthquakes, they serve a necessary purpose, which prevents our planet from completely exploding under pressure (a really bad thing). 

The very act of riding a bicycle is a demonstration of balance.  After all, if we don’t balance, we simply fall over.  Of course, we must remember that balancing on two wheels is something we all learn through … yes, you guessed it … practice and experience … Zen!!   Do you remember how it felt the very first time you rode your two-wheeler without help or training wheels?  Nirvana, anyone?

The Zen corollaries do not end with the physical act of riding alone, though.  No, grasshopper, there is more to ponder and meditate upon.  Think about riding … and how your awareness becomes heightened … you become one with your bicycle … one with your environment … you feel the wind and sun (or rain) on your skin … you are moving under your own power, magically balanced and moving forward, experiencing the world around you.  If you’re like me, you’ve put forth a great deal of effort in selecting the perfect bike, components, clothing, shoes, socks, sunglasses, helmet, and so on.  Research can be a great help, and there are many resources of great teaching to guide one in narrowing the list.  Even so, nothing replaces the Zen principles of practice and experience in determining what is right for one’s own needs.  It hasn’t been easy, but your Zen balance of practice and experience has led you to the perfect combination to make each ride … well, perfectly balanced Nirvana.  If nothing else existed but this ride, we would live forever in this balanced state.   But, alas, we are adults, and must lead adult lives, being responsible to our jobs, families, friends, neighbors, dogs, cats, hamsters, and so on … another state of being that requires balance within itself.  Therefore, we must pursue yet another balance … the balance between our balanced-bicycle-state-of-being and our balanced-everyday-life-state-of-being.  

This is a complex pursuit of multiple balanced states.  And yet, I find that one balancing act often leads to the self-balancing of the other.  My fiancé tells me over and over that she knows when I’ve been out for a ride, because I’m more centered and productive.  She’s right about that.  Even when my ride is brief and less than spectacular, I return with a peaceful energy that makes the rest of the day easy, and I find it much easier to focus on my task list.

This blog is born out of knowing that I am not the only being in this world to experience this often convoluted path.  I hope that sharing my own observations will provide some enlightened light-hearted views of simultaneously balancing two balancing acts … of course, with a focus on the two-wheeled side of the scale!

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