The Language of Mary Burmeister 1: Rhythm

Matthias Roth tells us a little about Mary in The Main Central Jin Shin Jyutsu Newsletter, issue Number 46, Fall, 2004:

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“It is the daily application of the simple sequences that will accomplish results as well as develop patience,” Mary Burmeister promises on page 9 in Self-Help Book I. “Well good,” you think, “because patience is just what I need to read this book!”

Just leafing through the long unnumbered pages of her Self-Help books, looking for the first bit of “real writing” to sink your teeth into, you find your patience tried by blank pages leisurely alternating with almost blank ones which, like minimal music, restate the same few words or expressions with just slight variations. Right there you realize this isn’t like the stuff you are used to! But patience, time and experience can unseat this prejudice.

When I first held Self-Help Book I in my hands 22 years ago, it was by no means love at first sight! I had been taught the Art’s simple application before I ever the book, so when I got it, all it provided was a welcome memory support for something whose efficiency and comfort I already knew. Who cared that it was full of repetitions, funny language and…blank spaces! Everyone I knew who had met Mary spoke admiringly of her presence and energy, so I just settled for the assessment that writing was not this gifted woman’s strength.

Then came my first class with Mary, in New York City in 1984: I saw a teacher who said she wasn’t a teacher, one who said she wasn’t a master, masterfully flow with the moment, expressing with unwavering calm whatever the moment moved her to express! At all times, she was exactly where she was, and never had I seen a more perfect, if unpretentious, dance. I can’t believe I was the only one in the room seeing it, yet many were ruffled by what they felt was an absence of structure or plan! Does water lack structure when it eddies and whirls? Does a tree lack plan when its bark doesn’t grow in straight lines? To me, Mary’s flow was as ordered as anything in nature: supple, changing, surprising but always gently structured from within.

She spoke the way she wrote, with repetitions, funky expressions and…blank spaces. Yet seeing, sensing and experiencing her as she did, it started to make sense. This woman spoke and expressed from inner experience, from a rhythm that was slow not from inability to race, but from the carefully cultivated ability not to! It was a hint at reading the book differently than I had.

It took years to realize just how precious the slowness of the books is, and the process is still ongoing. It required my slowing down to its pace. Then I saw that, as deliberately repetitive as breath itself, Self-Help Book I and those that were to follow didn’t hammer information in but gently let it roll on the shores of your “awareness and understanding” again and again. with no hurry and no airs of great importance.

Life knows no “etc.” You eat AGAIN, you breathe AGAIN, you love and sleep and laugh AGAIN, not skipping any of these because they have been done before. There is the model for the book. Real life, not a description of real life! Not instruction for the mind, but Art of Living exemplified. Get into its drawl and let it change you, Each side of each flow, each finger hold is described at equal length, no “etc.”!

No less than thirty-six times are we reminded in Self-Help Book I that it is simply (the) “Getting to KNOW (Help) MYSELF.” And no more than thirty-six times!

Thank you, Matthias.

Thank you, Mary.

Thank you, David.

Gassho, Namaste, Blessings

All three Self-Help books and all issues of The Main Central Jin Shin Jyutsu Newsletter are available at http://www.jsjinc.net.

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