dhammapal wrote:...I was looking for a stable, commonsense world-view in order to do things like hold down a job.
As the others have pointed out, it is difficult to translate some of the specific teachings about anatta in terms of 'movement'. But nevertheless, if you're simply looking to find a 'commonsense', non-technical way of applying the general teachings, the notion of 'movement' can be helpful if you take it as a poetic device or general metaphor for guiding your day-to-day interactions. As you've suggested, our very 'being' can be thought of as a constant movement: from the minute biological process within our body to our breathing to our day to day actions. If this is the case, then, we can reasonably take 'movement' as a metaphor for life. It can be said that it is our daily movements of thought, speech, and action where the movement towards Awakening, peace, happiness, etc, occurs. In other words, that much we think, speak, and act in line with the Eightfold Path, that much we are Awakening.
There's a phrase I discovered recently which is apparently used quite commonly: 'walking as controlled falling' (Moderators: the following is not related to Buddhism as such but I think it addresses dhammapal's aim above and I think it can be related to some general Buddhist ideals). The Canadian philosopher Brian Massumi has talked about it, and even though he doesn't speak of any specific, concrete real life situation I find it to be a very helpful advice for negotiating the responsibilities of everyday life where we inevitably face all sorts of constraints. This is what he says:
I like the notion of ‘walking as controlled falling’. It’s something of a proverb, and Laurie Anderson, among others, has used it. It conveys the sense that freedom, or the ability to move forward and to transit through life, isn’t necessarily about escaping from constraints. There are always constraints. When we walk, we’re dealing with the constraint of gravity. There’s also the constraint of balance, and a need for equilibrium. But, at the same time, to walk you need to throw off the equilibrium, you have to let yourself go into a fall, then you cut it off and regain the balance. You move forward by playing with the constraints, not avoiding them. There’s an openness of movement, even though there’s no escaping constraint... [this reminds me of walking meditation]
Experiencing this potential for change, experiencing the eventfulness and uniqueness of every situation, even the most conventional ones, that’s not necessarily about commanding movement, it’s about navigating movement. It’s about being immersed in an experience that is already underway. It’s about being bodily attuned to opportunities in the movement, going with the flow. It’s more like surfing the situation, or tweaking it, than commanding or programming it. The command paradigm approaches experience as if we were somehow outside it, looking in, like disembodied subjects handling an object. But our experiences aren’t objects. They’re us, they’re what we’re made of. We are our situations, we are our moving through them. We are our participation — not some abstract entity that is somehow outside looking in at it all.
One possible Buddhist objection to the above is that he is implying that the conditioned world is all there is to reality, while Buddhism posits the possibility for letting go of this conditioned reality. Yes, this is true. But I prefer to think of the above in terms of the Four Noble Truths which, generally speaking
, is telling us: 'Life is always full of constraints. Accept it as it its. There's not avoiding it. You are not and cannot be separate from this fact of life. But that much you are willing to move--to think, speak, and act--in line with the Eightfold Path, that much you are Awakening: that much you are unconstrained.'
That's my two cents on the notion of 'movement'. I'm NOT saying that 'movement' is a good explanation of anatta as such
. I merely suggesting that 'movement' can be a helpful metaphor for navigating, to paraphrase Sayadaw U Pandita, this very life.