When I was a kid Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum was awesome! Not only did we get a great chewy bubble gum, but we got a comic strip featuring Bazooka Joe printed on the inside of the wrapper. Bazooka Joe was always getting into some kind of mischief and I always looked forward to his antics. After all these years though there is only one joke that I remembered because I thought it to be so hilarious and absurd...and little did I know that it was a great teaching as well.
It goes something like this:
It's dusk. Bazooka Joe is outside on his hands and knees under a street lamp. His buddy comes up to him and asks, "Bazooka Joe, what are you doing?" Bazooka Joe responds, "I am looking for a nickel I dropped."
His buddy then gets on his hands and knees and begins to help Bazooka Joe look for his nickel. After about ten minutes of fruitless looking his buddy asks, "Where exactly did you drop your nickel?" Bazooka Joe says, "I dropped it in the house." His buddy looks at him in astonishment and remarks, "Then why are you looking out here?" Bazooka Joe says, "Because the light is better."
It's a classic.
It is also a great teaching that is contained in all major spiritual traditions, such as Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Sufism, etc. This teaching is that our nickel of truth, enlightenment, security and all that we seek is inside our house, not outside it. Look at the human condition today. We all seek a form of security by wanting more money, a nice car, a great relationship, family life, career, etc. We want all of these things...and you know what is interesting? It does not bring the contentment we sought.
Question: Why did you begin training in the Martial Arts?
You were seeking something weren't you? It could have been a sense of security through self-defense expertise, or improved health, or any number of things. When you look at it closely you began training in Budo to get something. I felt that when I got my Black Belt a lot of my inner insecurities would vanish. Well, they didn't! In fact, I still felt pretty much the same. I was stronger and felt more confident with a lot of kick-ass skills, but still that little nagging sense of something missing existed. It's because I hadn't found my nickel yet. I was looking in the wrong spot.
The Martial Arts was the light that I thought would help me find my nickel. I was wrong. There is one thing in the Martial Arts that you eventually wake up to...and that is there is always someone who can ring your bell. You can't defend yourself from everything and everyone. This reality then forces you to look inside your house...inside your spirit/mind/body. And this requires faith. The light isn't as great. At times, you can't see where you are going. You have to trust that you will find your nickel inside...and when the time is right, it will reveal itself. And when it does, boy is it bright!
The light is so bright you see things you've never seen before. It's like seeing or finding a 'hidden' bunkai (application) of a kata you have been practicing for over ten years, but never saw it before. You get so excited you can't sleep. Discover this for yourself. I encourage all martial artists to begin that journey inward. To look inside your house. After all, that is where you dropped your nickel.
16 hours ago