Thursday, November 20, 2008

Remember Rule Number 6

The Bible of Karate, "The Bubishi", states that we are to let anger be our enemy. Not a knife carrying thug or foul-mouthed punk or someone who just wants to bash your head in for fun. Anger is to be what we need to defend against. Why?

Odds are most of us will never encounter a self-defense situation where we get to punch, kick or throw an assailant. So why practice?

Well, you see, Anger is a force that we meet daily. It comes in many forms, usually frustrations. I have a 12 year old son who doesn't like to get up in the morning. Very frustrating to get him going some days. Without awareness of this, my frustration can easily turn into a tyrade of yelling and screaming to get his butt moving. In short, anger has overtaken me. I have been attacked and it has won. I am out of control and operating from a place of self-centeredness and delusion.

The Martial Arts teaches us about awareness. There is the outer awareness of danger, but also the inner awareness of danger. Authentic Budo is about learning how to non-violently defend yourself as possible, but also to defend yourself against the inner attack of negative emotions that harm us. Anger, or any negative emotion, left unchecked for a period of time can cause physical distress and in some cases, even death. It raises your blood pressure, causes relational problems, legal problems and causes intense guilt for those who can't seem to control themselves. The writers of the Bubishi knew this.

At work recently, an incident happened that offended me and I could feel my frustration and anger starting to rise. This is when I remembered Rule Number 6. And I want to share it with it helped me to calm down and gently let anger go. I first read of Rule Number 6 from Wayne Dyer's book, "The Power of Intention". Rule Number 6 is explained with this story:

Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: "Peter," he says, "kindly remember Rule Number 6," whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws.

The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again, the intruder is greeted with words, "Marie, remember Rule Number 6." Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology.

When the scene is repeated a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: "My dear friend, I've seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?" "Very simple," replies the resident prime minister. "Rule Number 6 is 'Don't take yourself so goddamn seriously.'" "Ah," says his visitor, "that is a fine rule." After a moment of pondering, he inquires, "And what may I ask, are the other rules?"

"There aren't any."

What I love about this is so often, at times daily, our ego get bruised or feels offended because it can't get what it wants. It can take the form of feeling your reputation was harmed or someone simply cutting you off in traffic. Ego, in order to feel real, loves to create drama. Anger is one of its tricks to keep the drama going.

Rule Number 6 reminds me not to take myself, especially my small ego-self, too seriously. It help me to reconnect with the Peace of Sky (Kara) Mind. I can then just step back, watch and let go of the clouds of frustration, anger and revenge. Then peace prevails. Self-defense at its best.

Practice as if it is an internal Kata. You will have many opportunities to practice.

Hands palm to palm,

Sensei Dave

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