Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Unity of Mind and Body - 01

Kyuzo Mifune taught along with many of the other greats of his time (Dr. Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo, Morihei Ueshiba founder of Aikido, Gichin Funakoshi founder of Shotokan Karate, Dr Tsuyoshi Chitose, founder of Chito Ryu Karate) that Martial Arts were about perfecting one's character.

“Action of a man done without the unity of mind and body, may be indecent and cause harm to the people around him.” (Canon of Judo, p. 27)

As long as I am not able to see through my own nature, I cannot know what the consequences of my actions are. Consequently whatever I do to try to make things better is liable to have in the long term some negative consequences.

The West acknowledges this when we say that : "The way to Hell is paved with good intentions"
Once I saw a mockingbird stunned in the middle of the road in front of my house.I lifted the bird off the ground and laid im in a branch of a nearby tree. After 30 seconds, he flew away. I had saved him, it was the compassionate thing to do. But now think about the family of earthworm that he swallowed for breakfast that next morning. Or about my cats who would gladly have had him for breakfast. How do these creatures feel about my saving the mockingbird ? 

The story of the arsenic contamination of the groundwater in Bangladesh is a tragic one : 

Prior to the 1970s, Bangladesh had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world The death were mostly due to diarrheal diseases due to ineffective water purification and sewage systems as well as periodic monsoons and floodings. 

As a solution, UNICEF and the World Bank advocated the use of wells to tap into deeper groundwater for a quick and inexpensive solution. Over 8 millions of wells were financed and constructed as a result. Infant mortality and diarrheal illness were reduced by fifty percent. 
However, it has been found since 1993 that approximately 20 % of these wells are now contaminated with very high concentration of arsenic. As a result, many people have died, and more will. About 80 millions people are at risk. Arsenic causes both physical and intellectual damage to the human beings. It is a carcinogenic 
which causes various diseases, especially of the skin.

Does that mean we should do nothing until we harmonize Mind and Body ? (For whatever that means!) Of course no, some situation do call for actions. There are situations when we should act. If I see a creature suffer, I will try to help. But I must be aware that my actions may have consequences different from what I expected.

Lets keep training.

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