On Verticality
by Antero Alli

Verticality refers to sources of energy and information coming down from above through the top of the head, the crown, while simultaneously rising up from below, the earth, through the soles of our feet. The plumb line of our spinal cord acts as a kind of cable where this verticality current traverses as long as we are alive, linking us with our innate spirituality - free of any belief, religion, dogma or philosophy - if we can still experience it.

Alignment with our verticality requires the cultivation of a habit not taught in schools; it must be learned on your own or in groups of individuals learning it on their own. To cultivate resonance with vertical sources is not easy; it’s a little like praying with no immediate results. Praying to what or to whom? Real self work continues as an uphill struggle with decades of socially-conditioned, externally-directed habit patterns. For those who persevere, this struggle has its own rewards; there is no fire without friction and no life without heat. Not everyone wants or needs liberation from the creations of conceptual mind to experience life more directly. Imagine the least mediated perception and experience you are personally capable of.

The shock of authentic vertical contact, no matter how fleeting, can shatter unchecked assumptions about the world around us and who we think we are. Any real intimacy with void can stir deep questioning about identity and the nature of reality. Some vertically-oriented experiences can act as wake-up calls to widespread socio-political oppression in our personal lives. In extreme cases, we are bolted into upright renunciation or rebellion against all social dogmas, religions and any externally imposed belief systems if they have been severely compromising our autonomy. However any revolt, no matter how sincere or energized, turns futile when our very resistance binds us further to the source of our oppression; we become what we resist. While breaking out of oppressive self-imposed and socially-conditioned habits and reflexes, we must also be willing and able to replace them with a greater force of commitment to our own truths. It’s not what you fight against that matters as much as knowing what is worth fighting for.

Not everyone has the patience, compassion and drive for surrendering to their vertical sources and sharing this presence with others. Nor can everyone muster up the compassion to live with the more difficult truths about ourselves and the world. Those who do eventually face and hopefully learn to live with a terrible yet liberating fact: hyper-materialist, overly-literalized societies have been lockjawed into non-stop, horizontal feeding frenzies for a long, long time.

As we lose touch with our vertical sources, we lose perspective. Our lives become trivialized in a tangle of meaningless pursuits. We do things without knowing why. We lose track of what is essential to our nature, what matters and what doesn’t. All symptoms of power loss. In an attempt to regain lost ground, we try and assert external control by imposing rigid rules and structures over the spontaneous fluidity of life -- our own and others’ -- resulting in a vain and vicious cycle. Loss of vertical context can also result from over-identification with ideas and images lacking connection with the realities those concepts supposedly represent; we eat the menu instead of the meal.

On the other extreme, when we lose horizontal connection we suffer loss of humanity and community, or common-unity, with our peers. Alienated and isolated, the ego grows brittle, the will to live withers and we suffer a slow death on the inside, going mad from sheer isolation. Who has the time and energy to care about such things? Whosoever cares about the miraculous presence of soul.


excerpted from
A Paratheatre Workbook by Antero Alli
(Vertical Pool Publishing, 2003)