Tipping Point

Posted on Sep 21, 2017

At Windhorse we’re busily preparing for the upcoming sesshin that starts this Saturday, right after tomorrow’s Autumnal Equinox (4:02pm in these parts). Roshi Philip Kapleau used to like to remind us, especially during sesshin, of the four ‘power points’ of the day—dawn and dusk, noon and midnight–potent times when energy tends to be strongest and most available for zazen. The yearly cycle also has its four power points, the solstices and equinoxes, which can be seen as corresponding to these times of day.

The summer and winter solstices, then, are the noon and midnight of the year, when either Day or Night is at its peak. These are times of intensified stillness, when the sun ‘stops’ (the meaning of ‘solstice’), and holds steady over many days, rising and setting around the same time and in the same arc.

Equinoxes, of course, are momentary balancing points when day and night equalize, and then immediately the balance tips. This Fall Equinox is the ‘dusk’ of the year, when the northern hemisphere cools and darkens, and an almost palpable sense of quickening change is in the air. It’s a great time to begin anew–and a perfect time for moving into our own depths in the sustained and intensified zazen of sesshin, to discover within our own hearts what Camus has called “an invincible summer.”