Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Retro ~ Traditional Story: True Mastery

Story of True Mastery

Three Silly Samurai sat down at a table in a crowded Japanese inn and began to make loud comments about their neighbor, hoping to goad him into a duel. The master seemed to take no notice of them, but when their remarks became ruder and more pointed, he raised his chopsticks and, in quick snips, effortlessly caught four flies wings. As he slowly laid down the chopsticks, the three swordsmen hurriedly left the room.

The story illustrates a great difference between Martial Artist and wannabe's thinking. The average wannabe would be intrigued by someone’s ability to catch flies with chopsticks, and would probably say that has nothing to do with how good he is in combat. But the Martial Artist would realize that a man who has attained such complete mastery of an art reveals his presence of mind in every action. The state of wholeness and imperturbability demonstrated by the master indicated his mastery of self.To the wannabe the finger jabs, the side kicks, and the back fist, etc, are tools of destruction and violence which is, indeed, one of their functions. But the masters believe that the primary function of such tools is revealed when they are self-distracted and destroy greed, fear, anger and silly folly. Manipulative skill is not a Masters goal. He is aiming his kicks and blows at himself and when successful, may even succeed inknocking himself out. After years of training, he hopes to achieve that vital loosening and equability of all powers which is what the three swordsmen saw in the master.

In every day life the mind is capable of moving from one thought or object to another – “being” mind instead of “having” mind. However, when face to face with an opponent in a deadly conflict, the mind tends to stick and loses it mobility. Stick ability or stoppage is a problem that haunts every martial artist.

Kuanyin (avalokitesvara), the goddess of mercy, is sometimes represented with one thousand arms, each holding a different instrument. If her mind stops (999) will be of no use whatever, it is only because of her mind not stopping with the use of one arm. But moving from one instrument to another, that all her arms
prove useful with the utmost degree of efficiency.

Thus the figure is meant to demonstrate that, when the ultimate truth is realized even as many as one thousand arms on one body may each be service able in one way or another.“Purposelessness”, “empty – mindedness” or “no art” are frequent terms used in East Asian Tradition to denote the ultimate achievement of their tradition.  According to Zen, the spirit is by nature formless and no “ objects” are to be harbored in it. When anything is harbored there, energy is drawn toward it, and when energy loses its balance, its native activity becomes cramped and it no longer flows with the stream, where the energy is tipped, there is too much of it in one direction and a shortage of it in another direction.

Where there is too much energy, it overflows and cannot be controlled. In either case, it is unable to cope with ever – changing situations. But when there prevails a state of “purposelessness” - which is also a stage of fluidity or mindlessness. The spirit harbors nothing in it, nor is it tipped in one direction; it transcends both subject and object; it responds empty – mindedly to whatever is happening.True mastery transcends any particular art. It stems from mastery of oneself – the ability, developed through self – discipline, to be calm, fully aware, and completely in tune with oneself and the surroundings. Then, and only then, can a person know himself.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Don't Lose Personal Faith in a Modern World!

The focus on today's entry is on prayer. We live in stressful and at times for some a world that all may be lost. It is not, its our personal disconnect from nature that's lost. In many of my classes I introduce the meditative traditions of China and Japan into peoples life and see remarkable changes occur. Many come to these practice because of the disconnect, and the lost of tradition in our modern world. Personal Prayer, Meditation and Spirituality are part of Qigong. Its important to have these in ones life, prayer is a practice that is in all the spiritual traditions. Prayer has been called the heart and soul of spirituality. Without prayer, spirituality would be void of its main means for connecting individuals to God, the gods, saints, ancestors, or whatever is taken to be a divine or spiritual source of power. Prayer, then, is connection via communion. As such, prayer is what establishes a relationship between individuals and a spiritual power or the Divine.

 We have many kinds of prayer. In our world we have individual, petitionary prayers directed to Divine/God. Public, institutional prayers to serve their purposes; however, it is the individual, personal prayers that are most significant for the process of connecting and establishing a relationship. The focus on petitionary prayers (prayers where specific requests are made and wishes are shared) is justified given that this is by far the most common type of prayer.

As for the focus on prayers directed to Divine, God, or Tao; such prayers have a similar, if not identical form to prayers directed to gods, saints, and ancestors—so we may assume that there is carryover with respect to what prayer means for these other prayer contexts. Prayer as a form of communion and relating follows
similar patterns to those found in relationships between persons.

Therefore, we gain a better understanding of prayer if we see prayer from the point of view of how our human relationships develop. One of the most striking features of modern culture, is the ways of communicating and relating to others has to do with the difficulty we have in distinguishing our own perspective or point of view from that of others. This difficulty comes from I believe the inability to distinguish and coordinate perspectives. Many just cannot be objective and causes divisions within us.

The Different Shapes of Prayer Throughout Life

A life of prayer in the spiritual traditions takes many shapes and maturity and uses. As a young person or maybe even now; our prayers are non resistant for the way we request that the divine is there to answer our wishes. That is, as a young people that had an active prayer tradition, we usually demonstrate an unshakable faith and conviction that our request will come true and our life and the way of the divine's are unified as one. For people of personal faith and spirituality, the attitude is that "The Divine, God or Tao exists to hear and answer our wishes and requests. We have a unshakable Life Path of Inner Meditations, Prayers and Communion with all that is.

In the early part of American history we seen prayer used by world leaders. During the American civil war,one of Abraham Lincoln’s generals once said to him, “Let us pray that God is on our side” to which Abraham Lincoln responded, “No, let us pray that we are on God’s side.” The contrast being here is a contrast in general attitude. For Abraham Lincoln if this is true - it still demonstrates a unshakable faith and one of personal ethics.

 Prayer develops also as a shift away from taking a passive to taking an active stance toward life’s problems. It is used for empowerment to help people to take first steps forward into the unknown. The abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, who was raised a slave, said as a child, he prayed asking almighty to free him. Later on, he said, “My prayers got down in my feet, and I ran away.” This empowerment shift in prayer is most commonly seen in the shift away from asking " The Divine, God or Tao" to change external reality to asking "The Divine, God or Tao" for support needed for the praying individual to have the hope, courage, wisdom, or whatever to act more responsively or effectively.  This empowerment concept is praying for strength, then, makes a significant shift to raise the spirit of the human individual of the "Now". For many of us that made a life change we can recall that time in our life, and remember such spiritual empowering prayers.

The Power of Presence

Many of us will find that prayer’s functions and development has to do with feeling "Universal Presence".

In all the traditions with a concept of  "The Divine, God, Tao etc., there is the practice of keeping the power transcendent and powerful. I feel that many that practice paths like Qigong, Yogic traditions, Native Medicine and Eastern Spirituality find also their private prayer's serves to aid a sense of "Universal Presence". For the adepts of these traditions do not pray so much because they believe in "The Divine, God or Tao" but, rather, the adepts of the path, believe in the tangible, feelable reality and presence. This is  because they actualize a "oneness" with what I call here "Universal Presence". 

Simply, prayer functions and develops to make "Universal Presence" reality and presence felt because that feeling can be empowered. People who have the meditation quality to prayer work, have deeper, more spiritually meaningful transformations occurring. There just seems to be a magical effect always around these types of individual one could say. The wise elders in most traditions will tell one that  there is a clear distinction between appearance (empty prayers) and a deeper intrinsic spiritual reality here.

If one begins to merge meditation, cultivation within prayer; I believe one begins as an effort to harmonize the"Universal Presence" in ones life. 

It functions first and foremost to change the reality outside of ourselves. It begins with a process of prayer which  becomes a way to discover and mold ourselves to what is felt to be Universal Consciousness, will, to feel connected to the breath of the way in order to cope with or change troublesome feelings, and to experience closeness with and the presence of : all that it is" and thereby become empowered.