Teaching April 2009: The Tide

Teaching April 2009: The Tide

My thesis, my conviction, not just belief, and my passion are contained in this short phrase, you can rely upon the tide. I have spent the last 15 years analysing, testing, working with and then teaching the truth of that statement.

Today, 120 years or so after William Garner Sutherland D.O.first voiced that statement, I am going to try to explain where I have been and what I came up with, so far. Let’s take this slowly and start at the beginning. I first heard this phrase when I was training in CST with Franklyn at Karuna. It was here I first heard the words…You can rely upon the Tide. I began to think “what Tide, and what does “rely on” mean. The word rely was the big one. Does rely mean work with or manipulate in some way? Why did Sutherland choose that expression, “rely on”? I came to believe that if he said that he was independent enough to know what he meant and that he meant rely, literally. That means someone else or something else does it, whatever is to be done.

As to the Tide, I did not assume that Sutherland was trying to say one of the body’s autonomic rhythms was the source that we could rely on so devoutly, I did not think that even the Long Tide, which many of you will be familiar with, was being suggested as the motivational energy of all life, these are, after all objects of our awareness, not the underlying foundation of our awareness.

What I came to truly believe that he was talking about was the hypothesis that there is an Intelligence that is not part of the individual and personal ego structure, not subject to the Intellect, which can be absolutely relied upon.

What I later came to fully understand was that, in the same way that there is no being a bit pregnant, there must be no reservation about trust or reliance. It needs to be total.

Shakespeare said, “there is a Tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” Even that is not it but it is a shade closer. It implies an “other.”

This raises a big conflict: If there is an “other” that can be relied on, what place is there in there for me. How will I know what it is doing, how will I know what is happening to the other person?. Supposing something goes wrong and I get sued-what a litigious country this is! You see what is happening here, the poor old personal ego is having a bad time already, getting really anxious.
We could go on further, “we have to have boundaries, I can’t not know what I am doing. How do I explain what I am doing? It’s not scientific and best of all; I have got to be present, fully present at all times.” How often are we told that.

Oh, boy! Now nobody can be trusted, not even me!
It’s not that bad. What we need to do now is have a look at what being present means in this context.


What I mean by being present is to be mentally still, just noticing what arises without getting attached to it in any way.

Without making any judgements about what something means. Just noticing that it is. If we don’t get attached to meaning, the phenomenon will pass and another will most likely take its place. Then another and another and they are all acknowledged and all let go of and sometimes, just for a while, nothing will arise and there is just empty awareness, empty of all objects, and from that emptiness a new object arises.
Movement arises out of stillness and nothing truly goes anywhere. It just is, in movement. There is a coming together in this moment of everything that ever was and this is its expression right now. The Spirit takes form and we as witness are in joint practice with that form.

This, then, is the dramatic unfolding of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy as I have come to love and understand it. Forget Craniosacral Therapy, if you like and think in terms of; this then, is the dramatic unfolding of work in relationship!.

Let me unpick this a little and unfold it into something a little more expansive; all objects come and go, don’t they? Some take longer to go than others. Everest, the planet, my hard rock playing neighbour, but sooner or later they all go and that is what all things, and thoughts and feelings, have in common. They all go! I shall go, I don’t know when, perhaps I have outlived my sell-by date, but I shall go. And this is the most important bit, whatever came in to form as me, will come into form as something else, sooner or later. When the conditions support another form, another form will be there. No beginning, no end. No cause, just revelation.

I can’t help laughing at myself for trying to be logical. It is not what I do best, I think that in Jung’s model I am probably an intuitive, at least that is my intuition, but try I must if I am not to remain lop-sided.
My logic is that the more I can objectivise everything, including myself, the closer I am to the unexpressed, the non-dual, that out of which all objects arise,. The subject.

Where I am leading to is that if everything is, in a sense, not concrete and is impermanent, including myself, then nor is, impairment, illness, suffering and dis-ease. If this is the case, then what tool am I going to use to effect ease?

Patently my intellect, not only impermanent, but also limited, can only hold a partial answer. Unless I claim to be omniscient and know everything! The best I can do, in this form, is to take my limited knowledge and apply it to my limited assessment, call it diagnosis, and hope for a limited beneficial result.

Further rambling around this thought leads me to realise that so often even the client, or the “other” does not actually know the cause of what is wrong with her. That compounds the problem.
That’s what we work with the whole time, though, isn’t it?

We are conditioned, I think, to think that that is the only way to go.
Nowadays, I have a slightly different point of view, not as an absolute, but I offer it as an invitation to consider that there is possibly a different perspective to examine.


In the model of Groucho Marx, who once famously said “I would not join any club that would have me as a member,” I am very careful about who tinkers with my suffering. My sense of unsatisfactoriness. Which I also observe to be impermanent. Sometimes, in fact, everything is perfectly satisfactory.

Suppose I just get out of the way and let the Spirit or the Intelligence, as opposed to my intellect, do the work. Let it get the pathology of the system back into a better adapted state where we are no longer suffering from what are, in effect, undigested life experiences. It would be super-intelligent to let Intelligence do the work instead of relying just on my intellect and partial knowledge.
That would, in my view, open the possibility of rebirth, right now, in the present into a form no longer modified by my undigested life.

It is my belief and to some extent, experience, that rebirth is not just about what happens when I fall off my twig, but rather more, combined with awareness, what is happening right now, in the present. As Aldous Huxley said, “In actuality, there is no life outside the life of experience.” Let us revere the experience, not just the theory or the concept.

There will be more discussion around doing nothing and not doing, in later articles.

Who I Really Am

No beginning, only Process.
The Spirit reincarnates.
Birth and Life
The meeting of the unfolding and the experience.
Layer upon layer of delusion.
I have become I and forgotten.
Yesterday was and tomorrow will be-or so it seems.
No now.
A tide there is,
An ocean then.
Beneath the waves,
There is only still.
The Mother.
Pure awareness,
And I remember who I am.
The Ocean stirs.
There is only process.

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[audio:http://www.theemptychairteachingfoundation.com/teaching/audio-media/The-tide.mp3]

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One thought on “Teaching April 2009: The Tide

  1. “Suppose I just get out of the way and let the Spirit or the Intelligence, as opposed to my intellect, do the work. Let it get the pathology of the system back into a better adapted state where we are no longer suffering from what are, in effect, undigested life experiences. It would be super-intelligent to let Intelligence do the work instead of relying just on my intellect and partial knowledge.
    That would, in my view, open the possibility of rebirth, right now, in the present into a form no longer modified by my undigested life.”

    This is the essence of my work in organizations. In the past I held it as my responsibility “to fix” organizations, teams, work groups when they hired me as a consultant. I have let go of that after recognizing 1- it didn’t work and 2- it was disrespectful of the inherent wisdom in the system.

    It is not comfortable to let go of the security of figuring it out ahead of time, having the “answer” and telling them how to fix it.

    My intention is to get out of the way, trust in the inherent health, and focus on creating a space for the work to do the work. My intention is to be internally still, to ground, center and orient in the present. This allows me to listen on channels that I can’t access when my mind and mouth are engaged.

    By listening deeply I am able to listen beyond the stories and patterns to the suffering that they express. Organizations need healing too.

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