• The day Jim rowed 25 miles on the open Atlantic to benefit a young Canadian cancer patient

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Invincible Sanity

rowga 10

A real boat and water and sky overhead. longer a burden, becomes an invitation we can accept and embrace.
photo by Stella Ducklow

The practice of rowga involves an exercise and a principle that bring body and mind together in a sanity that is irrevocable and indestructible—an invincible sanity. From the  well of this well-being flows all good qualities—love, compassion, creativity, generosity, focus, effort, patience, peacefulness, strength, protection, leadership, discipline, equanimity, joy. The list goes on and on, because the well is so deep it can never run dry.

The exercise is rowing. With a real boat and water and sky overhead. A machine in a gym will not do, any more than the meal the snail brought—of chalk bread, cardboard chicken and alabaster fruit—would do for poor Pinocchio, the wooden puppet who wanted to be a real person.

The principle is that this sanity has always been ours. Each one of us has it. It does not come from somewhere else. It is ours beyond reference point from the very beginning. Whether we are weak or strong, rich or poor, quick-witted or slow makes no difference. This absolute sanity is our human heritage. It comes with the package and is not an accessory. Once this is pointed out, we have a basis for a practice that realizes it. As we actually realize it for ourselves—this inborn and ineradicable well-being—our suffering fades and finally vanishes altogether. Our responsibility to the world, no longer a burden, becomes an invitation we can accept and embrace.

You do not need much in the way of a boat. It should float and have oarlocks. The oarlocks let you engage. They are the resting place and pivot for your oars. With good oarlocks, you can extend yourself powerfully. They enable the stroke that is the basis of meditation in rowga.

If you want to be called to your practice, pick a vessel you can love. If your longing is strong enough, any leaky old bucket will do.

You can row anywhere. The ocean is best, being vast and the playground of waves. The ocean mirrors the mind. But you can row on a pond in a pinch. The main thing is to be out and afloat and directly engaged with the water, the very substance of uncertainty.

There is no special stroke. Sometimes you row steady, sometimes you row hard, sometimes it almost happens by itself.

Sometimes you drift.

No matter how slow or fast your world moves, or your mind, when you learn how to rest in invincible sanity, you know peace all the while.

  • Available October 2013

  • Book 1 of A Travellers Guide for Lost Souls