Sunday, May 23, 2010
In our neverending pursuit of mastery in Budo, our one true enemy will be ourselves. Not so much as an enemy that we can defeat with our martial prowess, but one we have to overcome with our mind, our spirit and our action. Its easy to talk about it and even to think about... much like, yes I'll wake up tomorrow for that early jog, or I'll have a vege day tomorrow... easy to think and plan about it, but harder to execute.
Now those were definable things that we can see and do. What if the things are more grey? Things like, dislike and like, inclination and preference, or about habit? Human beings are a creature of habit. We do certain things habitually like maybe drink coffee in the morning, even though we really don't need it that day. Or we go for teh tarik, when actually we really need a glass of water. These habits, they rule us.
What about ideas and knowledge? Dare we say these things rule us too? Maybe we have a certain level of skill, we feel that we know certain things very well. When others try to show us something new or their own idea of it, we politely decline or even ignore them. We feel that other people really have nothing to show us since we are much better than them.
When you were a student, didn't it ever frustrate you that the teacher never gave you a chance to question him/her? Even though she was wrong, and you can prove it, typically the teacher would be very very reluctant to accept correction from her student. Mostly its pride that gets in the way of progress.
And there's really nothing wrong with pride. Proud of your country, your children, your work... these are good things. When you're a proud person, it means that you place value in yourself. And we are valuable, who we are, a sum of many things including sacrifice from our parents, our teachers, our life experience, our friends... This is nothing to be discounted. But, beyond pride is hubris... and therein lies the problem. We have to know that line, and we cannot cross it... ever.
So... there we are, years of practice have honed our skills. Our body moves effortlessly, our techniques are marvellous. Suddenly, this new guy happens to stop us short. We struggle, we sweat, we forget... and we fight to regain control. As we fight, we forget all the principles, all the understanding... everything goes out the window.
If you do find yourself in this situation, accept it. We are human beings, and we have good and bad days. Osensei fell down his front steps once...when he saw Kisshomaru in trouble. Gee, what happened to ukemi? Well it went out the window and landed on his bum that's what. So if Osensei can fall down, so can you... probably a lot more than he did. Accepting it is stage one. Learn from it. Accept that you need to eat the humble pie every now and then, and appreciate that you've been given a chance or opportunity to learn from it instead of it being the final mistake you ever made.
Finally. Remember Sensei's story of the beggar confronted by those powerful men. And remember Rei.