Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Believe not...

From time to time I am asked what drew me to Buddhism and the practice of Zen...I remember reading this quote from the Buddha when I was a teen:

"Believe not because some old manuscripts are produced, believe not because it is your national belief, believe not because you have been made to believe from your childhood, but reason truth out, and after you analyzed it, then you find it will do good to one and all, live up to it, and help others live up to it."

This spoke to me immensely. Maybe because the Viet Nam War was raging and we were questioning a lot of beliefs during that era.  I was also growing as a teen with lots of 'rebellious thoughts' going on anyway...either way, this quote made me investigate more of the Buddha's teachings. I liked what I read and eventually went on to practice Zen and receive the precepts.

These wise words have always been dear to my heart. I hope they speak to you as well.

Hands palm to palm,

Friday, May 20, 2011

Let's Dance!

Let's Dance!
One of the greatest lessons my Sensei, Mr. Paul Dean, taught me was how to 'dance'...He used to always tell me it was important to dance, and or blend, with your opponent. This keeps your opponent off balance and easier to lead.

To be honest with you, I never really understood this when I was younger. To me fighting was about getting in fast, furious and full of flurry and loud noise...well, add a few decades onto my body and now "I get it"...

A Warrior knows how to have what I call 'blended engagement'...this is what Sensei Dean calls 'dancing'....In Budo, it is about 'Ceasing the Struggle"...the Struggle contains a combination of fighting and running. When we struggle we want the situation to end and so we tend to either fight it or run from it.  It's the basic fight or flight syndrome....sometimes you win sometimes you lose...mostly you lose, though.

I see people on daily basis who struggle with anxiety, depression, addictions and life in general. They are fighting and running all the time...no rest. This leaves them feeling out of control and generally very tired and more depressed than before.  Teaching them how to do zazen, qigong, daily mindfulness and hypnotic techniques takes them off of fight and flight. It suspends it long enough so they can Dance!

When you Dance, you are full of life. Blended engagement is neither fighting your opponent (whether in the seen or unseen worlds) or running from your opponent. It is about embracing your opponent and embracing the situation, pleasant or unpleasant. Embrace it and begin to harmonize and dance. Smile.  Blend and float...and lead your opponent.  Aikido is a great example of this philosophy.  It exists in Karate and most Martial Arts...Tai Chi is another great example...Kung Fu for sure...I have had many of my Fu Chen bros 'dance me around' quite well.

Working with your opponent takes 'getting a feel for it'...sort of like riding a bike. You can talk about it but you don't know it till you do it. Watch the older masters...they 'know it'...

We can do this with our emotions and thought processes as well...even physical pain. There are many great ways to dance with pain and reduce your suffering...(read my book Black Belt Healing).

Like most good things, practice is paramount...but it is Fun! Dancing,blended engagement and/or harmonizing brings forth the joy inherent in our spirit...bring it forth!

Hands palm to palm,

Monday, May 16, 2011

Zen Master Bee

A beautiful spring day today. Went for a walk and enjoyed the sunshine, the birds flying, bugs buzzing and hearing children playing in yards. My mind wandered onto the subject of how nature doesn't measure success by profit or loss. Everything is just as it is. 

Nature doesn't measure period...yet, we has humans live lives of quiet desperation (I love Thoreau)...we live in fear and fear is a by-product of measuring our lives in terms of profit/loss.

And then just as I was getting lost in this thought a huge bumble bee buzzed by and broke my trance! Fear raced through my body. I am seriously allergic to them...ahaaa!...Nature testing my thoughts and insights...I was in fear of life/death from a bumble bee! Thank you Zen Master Bee for waking me up!

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Embrace the Fight!

Take a moment and look at a coin. A penney, dime or quarter. Doesn't matter. Notice it has a heads and a tails. Two sides. Now ask yourself, "Which side is the true and real coin?

Now that might seem like a weird question as the answer might seem obvious...but let's look at another coin.
The Coin of Life. It has two sides as well. It has a heads and tails, but let's call them 'positive outlook' and 'negative outlook' 

How do you perceive this coin? Which side is the true and real coin of life?

To look and grasp at life with either a positive or negative outlook is to not see the total coin. To choose one over the other is to deny the reality of the other. Both outlooks are in many ways 'deluded'. Both are ghosts. To grab at one and reject the other is to live in suffering...even tho the positive feels better...it is still a trap of the mind and will continue your suffering...especially when negative shows up and you don't want it.

Zen is about seeing the Coin in its totality. No thoughts of one side better than the other. It is a Coin...just as it is. You use both sides all the time.

In Budo this is also very important. To grasp and hold onto only certain 'techniques' as good or bad disrupts your ability to flow with what is needed moment by moment. You are trying to use only one side of the coin...dumb! It is important to embrace the fight and use the coin in its totality. It is there. Use it. To reject one side for the other will get your ass handed to you.

Hope my morning rambling makes some sense...I have to get to work and maybe will edit this later or wait for comments.

Hands palm to palm,