in this very place

Our intrinsic Buddha Nature is right here now, in this very place, and there are endless ways to awaken to this fact. The Zen tradition is full of stories about the different ways teachers have provoked a realisation with their students, In the Fukanzazengi Dogen Zenji talks about how teachers used “a whisk, a fist, a stick or a shout”. There are accounts of people awakening by hearing the sound of a pebble or by seeing the morning star. You can just as well realise profound enlightenment by stubbing your big toe! Anything can work because the Truth is the essence of everything and permeates everywhere. Our senses can lead us to believe otherwise. We look at other people and may not see their true nature. We look at ourselves and may only see our incompleteness. We easily perceive all sorts of forms and colors, we experience all kinds of emotions and thoughts but we don’t see the essence that connects all phenomena. Maybe that’s why we don’t appreciate this life- we only look at the surface of things and end up missing the heart. The surface will never bring lasting satisfaction. Remember, the word shin points to the way things really are: it can be translated as heart-mind and as essence. Reality, or the essence of everything, including ourselves, is heart-mind, Buddha Nature.

Excerpt from a recent teisho given by Tenkei Roshi on Fukanzazengi, 2005

the dark side

cults-kids2

A site I stumbled across doing some research on “Warriorship” …do a google on that term and take a look at the results. It shows you what the problem is IMO.

http://warriorschool.blogspot.com/2008/07/reading-and-viewing-list.html
http://actionskeptics.blogspot.com/2007/04/my-brush-with-cult-part-1-background.html

This looks like the dark side of having a wanting and/or needing to be a warrior but taking the wrong path..into cultism. No offense meant to any Ninjutsu/Bujinkan folks out there, but they are amongst the biggest offenders of MY whole warrior rant here (again this is just MY OPINION…Im not implying that there is anything inherently wrong or Bad with emulating warriors, I just dont personally agree with it). The Ninjutsu folks really play up the whole “Warriorship” angle, some outright proclaiming themselves warriors. I grew up in the 80’s “ninja craze” days, which as a kid was great. I gobbled up all the Hayes/Hatsumi books I could find…still read them every once and a while…but :

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I
thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish
things.” -1 Corinthians 13:11

Some people are apparently so invested in being “Warriors” that they can become victims of some unscrupulous instructors with “issues”. In those links the main offender is described as a former USArmy Officer with combat experience (claimed..people lie about that sort of stuff). If true, it only goes to show yet another issue with this whole topic. He could very well be a “True Warrior” (combat vet etc.) yet still be a slimy bastard. Being a Warrior and being a “good person” are not always necessarily the same issue. People..deep down..if they can be honest with themselves…want to be “Warriors” for the power, fear and respect that they believe comes with it. That desire is natural as I see it, but once recognized it has to be tempered with thought and reason. Most people just cloak those base desires with the “high minded” gobbledy gook rather than face the truth and deal with it.

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kill the buddha

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness t...
Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness techniques can help alleviate anxiety , stress , and depression (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From:

http://www.ordinarymind.com/koan_killing.html

Killing the Buddha

There’s an old saying, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

Who’s that Buddha? What does it mean to “meet” the Buddha? What does killing the Buddha imply?

The historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, on attaining enlightenment, is said to have realized that all beings, just as they are, are Buddhas. If that’s so, meeting a Buddha on the road should be a pretty commonplace event! So should being a Buddha on the road! But that’s where the word “meeting” comes in. It implies encountering something or someone outside or other than oneself. We all come to practice carrying around images or
ideals of who we should be and what we imagine a Teacher or Buddha should look like. And we may chase after individuals that for a while seem like they live up to our image, ignore those who do not, and generally treat ourselves with contempt for not living up to the standards set by our imaginary inner “Buddha.” All this may keep us pretty busy, but it has nothing to do with real practice, which is an awareness of who and what we actually are, not the pursuit of some ideal of who we think we should be. So “killing the Buddha” means killing or wiping out this fantasy image, and “the road” is two fold: the road outside where we look outside ourselves for the ones who have all the answers, and the inner mind road, where we set up all the “shoulds” we must obey to turn ourselves into the Buddhas we don’t believe we already are, but think we must become.

It is said that Shakyamuni’s last dying words to his disciples were, “Be a lamp unto yourselves.” Be your own light, your own authority, your own Buddha. Kill off every image of the Buddha, see who and what you are in
this very moment, see that there is no Buddha other than THIS MOMENT….

I think this article, if read with an eye toward our discussion of Warriorship can be quite “enlightening”.

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my definition

I believe a true “Warrior” is someone who fights our enemies and puts his/her ass on the line for something bigger than himself. Pick the service that applies. Sporting events and dancing around in a dojo, or strutting around a gunrange in your 5.11′s and thigh holster doesn’t count. Many people want all the glory with none of the sacrifice and risk. And I mean REAL sacrifice and risk…as in risking your very life.
Private Joe Snuffy in Afghanistan is 110% more a “Warrior” (even if he never fires a shot in anger) than some hobbyist martial artist. Same goes for a volunteer fireman who wakes up at 3 am to pull someone out of a burning building. Just because someone wants to be a Warrior doesn’t make them one IMO. There’s a price to admission so I guess that does make Warriors “elite” in my definition. Making it “common” is the problem as I see it.
That said, theres nothing wrong with studying, emulating and training “as a Warrior”. But a person leaping into the fantasy of “being” a warrior who just happens to really be a guy who works at the Best Buy help desk and goes to class 2X a week is a bit lame IMO.

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thoughts on the phenomonea

A photo of The Thinker by Rodin located at the...
A photo of The Thinker by Rodin located at the Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t want to come down too hard on the “warrior lifestyle” proponents because I can see its benefits. Epically for the teenage-twenty something male set.

I recall a couple of young guys who used to run the neighborhoods in camo/ninja garb in the 80’s honing their “warrior skills”..reading everything military, mystical and martial they could lay their hands on. Backyard sparring and training out of Stephen Hayes books to supplement the McDojo training from the local small town school. Scaling buildings, cliffs and towers because they may need these skills “in combat” someday. Wargames in the woods and waterbaloon ambush/counter-ambush attacks, hunting as “warrior pastime”/”combat drill” etc etc. It served to fulfill that need in a male of that age…a need to belong to something…a need to feel skilled..powerful..doing things that few others did and experiencing things few others experienced. Its a gateway from Boy to Man that’s lacking in our society.

As those guys got older and had a bit more money (and fewer obligations) those “games” turned into rock climbing, skydiving, paintballing, firearms and so on. Then eventually military service and jobs in education, security and law enforcement. Many people, mostly male, have that desire to be a “warrior”. To be a “man amongst men”, to be the one that people look to when the chips are down. “Feared by men..loved by women” yadda yadda. The difference is in how a person chooses to fill that desire. Those guys were self aware enough to realize where their fantasies of youth began and ended and used the skills, limit testing, technical skills and experience they gained for other “adult world” purposes (facing fear in skydiving and climbing had its role in taking risks to accomplish goals. Fitness, basic military concepts and so on all gave benefits down the road). Some guys need to actually fight and compete to get that fulfillment (MMA competitors/barfighters/motorcycle gang members). Some need the substitute of professional sports fandom, some need martial arts. None are “bad”…none are “good” in and of themselves alone. Its all about how you choose to live your life.

Eventually, I began to feel like I was leading a “Xerox life” and wanted something more “authentic” to make MYSELF feel more fulfilled. Other people may not feel that need. Or they just do this stuff as a hobby and are content with the life/profession/family they already have. Their fulfillment, contribution to society and self-worth is just as valid as the “warriors”. But we aren’t talking about them. They are well adjusted and self aware. I am talking about those who ARE NOT content with who and where they are. Instead of making the big move or the scary commitment to make REAL change in their lives to reach their goals, they grasp onto their “warrior” training at their corner dojo and walk around in their Mandarin collared silk Chinese shirts or
their “psudo-uniform” 5.11 tactical clothes, ball caps, vests and “operator” dodads. I just caution people to avoid placing all of your self-worth in something without “real world” foundations.

In our niche here though (MA’s) you see some people who decide to authenticate that Xerox lifestyle by making up a history of “combat”, either street or military. Some want to “authenticate” but dont or cant commit to the sacrifice or effort that requires.

In the end I guess Im saying that we all need to look at why we do what we do with an honest eye and determine what are real motivations are. Any honest person will admit to themselves that there is always a little bit of that teenage “warrior fantasy” in themselves…from the experienced Special Forces Soldier to the MA Grandmaster…that boy in themselves that is pleased in who they have become. That’s normal. If its a monster in the closet..that’s a problem.

finish the day

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays. “
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

rainstorm wisdom

“There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.”
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo (山本常朝), Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai
 
 

 

 

that time of year

The air is growing colder, the sky is growing greyer and the change of the season is something that can be felt all around, like the coming of rain. Something that has always marked the change of the year to me has been the beginning of deer season. As a child I remember my father, grandfathers and uncles going off to hunt. It always signaled the start of the holiday season to me back then, shortly after opening day came Thanksgiving, then Christmas and the New Year. Then snow was something looked forward to.

When I was old enough to hunt it was back when my grandfathers were alive. Opening day was a ceremonial event, remembered for the gathering of my father, my grandfather, my uncles, my friends and their brothers and fathers. For a while even my sister participated. Opening day was a valid excuse to be absent from school in my hometown. The hunting was enjoyable, but the real memories were in the gathering around the thermos cups of coffee and telling tales of the big ones that got away, the hunts of years gone bye and the family legends and tales that we all have.

As the years have gone by, the grandfathers have passed away and the friends have moved away or moved along. For a number of years it was just my father and I. Now, after his bypass, I have gone out to the woods only a handful of times. While I am blessed with three beautiful daughters, none of them are interested in getting up in the early morning hours and braving the weather and the cold to walk the woods. Last year my partner decided to pick up the shotgun again and we went out a for few days and plan on going again this year. While it is still enjoyable and my partner has become a good friend, in some ways deer season has changed from being a ceremony of community and continuing tradition, to a symbol of the changing of human life.

crossfit

crossfit_anarchist_shirt_web2

I have started my spring/summer workout cycle. This year Im trying the latest rage in LE/Military/SWAT/SpecOps conditioning. Its called Crossfit. Im a regular exerciser, I lift, I run, I do martial arts classes, but Crossfit is like nothing Ive ever done before.

For example; in one WOD (Workout Of the Day), I had to do cycles of bench press, deadlift and cleans in descending repitions. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1…of all three movements, back to back, continious. Thats the “standard” for that workout. You are allowed to “scale” the workout in terms of weight used and rest between sets to complete. Needless to say I scaled the crap out of it and I still have been a sore puppy for the last two days. Like I said earlier, I run regularly, but this had me huffing and puffing harder than a 400M sprint.

My rationale for this torture stems from a practical application. Anybody in LE or the military who has ever had to sprint, all-out with a ton of gear on, finds that no matter how far you can run in shorts and sneakers, your legs turn to rubber after a few hundred yards. Throw in having to jump a fence or two and wrestle with a bad guy at the end and you are left “smoked”. This protocol purports to be the answer, and judging from the people who do it, it looks like it may be.

The Crossfit philosophy in a nutshell is:

– Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.
– Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.
– Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense.
– Regularly learn and play new sports.

The gymanstic and specialized powerlifting skills are going to be a sticking point for me, but I used to be able to hold a handstand for a few seconds..years ago…so maybe Ill ease into some of it.

The key to it all appears to be interval training. While the WOD mixes in lower rep. max lifts, the bread and butter is grueling ammounts of squats, chin-ups, presses and lifts in sequence. Anybody interested in really being “fit”…I mean REALLY fit will benefit from looking at their website. I have high hopes for this summers results.