Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Changing of the Guard

Sensei Micik receiving the Broken Bokken
Last evening I turned over the Broken Bokken Dojo to Sensei Verna Micik. She has been a student of the arts for 10-11 years now. She is one of the most dedicated students I ever had. Even when she blew out her knee last year and was in a lot of pain, she still showed up at the dojo. She is tough...period.

In a brief 'ceremony' I turned over our Dojo's symbol, a Broken Bokken to Sensei Micik. It is so appropriate that she recieves the bokken since she and her son, Rick (also a Shodan) came up with the name of the dojo.

Sensei Micik

Verna broke the first bokken at the was funny. When the bokken broke, she thought she was in trouble and felt so bad. When I told her it was a good sign that she was training hard and rejoiced, I think I unleashed a tiger.

Sensei Micik is going to do real good!

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

If Only...

On my journey through this life I was blessed with receiving the Dharma name, Shinzen. Trust/Faith Zen. This is my path. To trust zen. For many years I have pondered what this really means to have faith. I am learning that faith and trust are not intellectual endeavors for philosophical discussion, but a deep practice of being centered here in this moment...this moment of my typing and yours now in your reading.

One theme that has jumped at me as of late is "There is no, if only"...I was reading an article from the Dharma Rain Zen Center on "Living in Vow" and the author, Alison Shin'ei Brown had this one sentence. "There is no, if only." Wow, what a powerful statement.

How often do we say to ourselves, "If only I had ___________". Insert whatever you want. Perhaps it is a job, a car, a partner, a black belt, a whatever. It is not so much the object of the If Only, but the intention and longing behind the If Only. To live in this state of If Only is to suffer. It is living for the future, not being here now.

Begin to notice how you live your life in this manner. As you notice it more and more you can learn to step out of it. Don't try to stop it or you will increase it..."if only I could stop if only" is a trap of the mind. Stop and just watch...this is the Zen Way. This the Shin Zen's Way. Faith Zen. Trust Zen.

No more If Only. Feels good. Then we can be like Basho:

"Fleas, lice
The horse pissing
near my pillow."

Hands palm to palm,

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Samurai Warrior's Creed

A Samurai Warrior's Creed

I have no parents--I make the heavens and earth my parents.
I have no home--I make awareness my home.
I have no life or death--I make the tides of breathing my life and death.
I have no divine power--I make honesty my divine power.
I have no means--I make understanding my means.
I have no magic secrets--I make character my magic secret.
I have no body--I make endurance my body.
I have no eyes--I make the flash of lightening my eyes.
I have no ears--I make sensibility my ears.
I have no limbs--I make promptness my limbs.
I have no strategy--I make "unshadowed by thought" my strategy.
I have no designs--I make "seizing opportunity by the forelock" my design.
I have no miracles--I make right-action my miracles.
I have no principles--I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles.
I have no tactics--I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.
I have no talents--I make ready wit my talent.
I have no friends--I make my mind my friend.
I have no enemy--I make carelessness my enemy.
I have no armor--I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.
I have no castle--I make immovable-mind my castle.
I have no sword--I make absence of self my sword.

Anonymous Samurai, fourteenth century
Found in The Book of Runes. Ralph H. Blum, St. Martin's Press, NY, 1993 

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are you guilty of the 3 F-ups?

Are you guilty of the 3F's, or F-ups, as I call them?

Under attack we go into the well-known Fight, Flee or Freeze syndrome. These 3 F's will get you knocked on your ass! These are reactions based on lack of training and vision.

A Warrior has the ability to not act on these 3 F's, but responds to an attack based on vision and training....and lots of practice. This is what I call being Response-able.

A Warrior is Response-able. He/She is "able to respond" to an attack, not react. A response is more intelligent and in accord with natural ways of the Tao or flow of the Universe. With proper vision a Response-able Warrior evolves into a Warrior-Sage  and is able to manage 'attacks' not only in the seen world, but in the unseen world of emotions, thoughts and spirit as well.

Keep on training.

Hands palm to palm,

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grit, Guts, Gumption...A Warrior's 3G Network

While driving to work this morning Grit, Guts, and Gumption kept running through my head. I knew I hadn't had that much caffeine yet, but it dawned on me this is a Warrior's 3G Network.

Looking up some definitions of these words what I found was that Courage strung them together. It is the wireless connection of the 3G Warrior's Network.

Grit is unyielding courage in the face of danger. It is firmness of both mind and spirit.

Guts is fortitudinal courage. It is perserverance, nerve and audacity.

Gumption is about taking initiative, being resourceful, full of spunk and courage.

Grit, Guts, Gumption. A Warrior's 3G Network.

Could add another for a 4G Network...Glory..distinction for courage on the battlefield.

Just rambling thoughts for the day...Do you have a 3G or 4G Network?

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Warrior's Path

I've been writing a book about Warrior's and have had some thoughts. I noticed that the martial arts, the real ones, require a long time (a lifetime or two) to master. There are no short cuts to the deeper levels Budo has to offer. To begin to "see" these deeper teachings of wisdom involves a great deal of discomfort and pain.

As a counselor working with people who are addicted to substances like alcohol, pot, crack, pain pills and what ever they can find to get a buzz, I have noticed they are looking for convenience and comfort. They are no different than most of us, except their path is more dysfunctional in our society. Most of us, however, are always wanting the fastest most convenient method to get what we want. After all, Time is Money in our society and we have to have comfort.

In fact, a few years ago, when I was researching to set up a private counseling practice, the research stated people will visit the counselor who has the most convenient and easy parking! What's up with that? People don't care about your credentials, just that they can park easily and it be convenient for them.

The Warrior's Path is a lonely one. Take a look at ancient times when a student of martial arts or Zen wanted to study with a teacher. The teacher usually rejected, humiliated and scorned the student. Gave him/her impossible tasks to do and basically demean the student. The student who kept coming back, over and over, was finally accepted.

Don't have that now...I ask myself now after 41 years as a Martial I do what I do because it is easy, convenient and comfortable? If it is time to move outside my comfort zone. Why? Growth only comes about through struggle...and nothing makes you squirm like pain and inconvenience. These two allies, when embraced, lead you to dig deep within yourself and find resources you never knew you brings you to a great inner the ceasing of the struggle...ah! Budo: To Cease The Struggle.

I am moving to Madison in a few months. Perhaps I should just set up an old school will be inconvenient and uncomfortable...any takers?

Hands palm to palm,