As I walk into the Lindisfarne Guest House at Green Gulch Zen Center, it hits me once again — geometry is sacred. Oh don’t click away when you read the “s” word. An octagon on the outside, on the inside the ceiling of the first floor opens hexagonally, framing the atrium. That the second floor rooms are arranged at the hexagon’s corners, with their wooden balconies and openings for light transmission, is no accident. I don’t know exactly why this and other buildings here are built just so, only that they are, and that their careful arrangement is satisfying. I am relieved by the order I find myself in. I wish I knew more about the habits of the hexagon — how its center might be a meeting point for two circles and the point could be a circle that may circumscribe another hexagon (and on and on into the holy maps of math); or how a hexagon might hold a hexagram made of two triangles sometimes called male and female, one pointing up and the other down (and really, is it obvious which is which?). I don’t know, but I know that this particular arrangement of wood and plaster and tile is both dynamic and still. It’s an arrangement that makes movement possible, as in what makes a dance. Architecture can be that, an organization the mind can move into, can still against, like music.
I went to Green Gulch for Ada Lusardi’s winter solstice daylong yoga practice. She uses the word organized in her brilliant teaching quite a bit. If you get your shoulders organized in this pose, she might say, you’ll have less pain. We spent the day, as she promised we would, almost entirely on the floor doing careful, deep, exercises to help us get organized. And what would be the purpose of such organization, you might ask? A deep dark rest. An ease that comes when the structure permits forgetting. Propped up by bolsters and blocks, we fell in. We made this geometry and it held us.
So began for me this year’s return of the sun. We walked to the beach after practice and watched it go down. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen the ocean, that rawest raw power. It has been a year of terrible displays of power, particularly of the power of rage and reactivity. I don’t know what’s to come, but I do know that there are ways to organize that can help us lay down sword and shield (lay them down, as Toni Morrison would say). What we build can be an invitation to be here together, right now, like circles meeting, just once, in the center of a hexagon.
And thanks to Yvelle for showing me the guest house!