Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Natural Selection

A classical story about the birth of a Traditional Martial Art goes this way :

A young lad's father or family are killed by people from another clan. The young lad wants revenge, but he is not strong enough. So he gets into a sort of mystical training quest - in Japanese "Shugyo". Gets alone in the mountains, trains hard during the day. Prays or meditates at night. Finally one day, a supernatural creature (God, Demon, Tesshu...) appears to him and grants him his wish : he teaches him a wonderful technique, or a set of them, that will allow him to overcome all his opponents.

We have multiple examples of these  : Hayashizuki Jinsuke, Founder of Hayashizaki Ryu and Eishin Ryu Iaijutsu, secluded himself in a Shito shrine to train and pray.

Ittosai Kagehisa. Founder of Ono Ha Itto Ryu. secluded himself in a temple to train.
Closer to us, Katsuoh Yamamoto, Founder of Yoshukai Karate, travelled to some mountains and woods to practice by himself...

We could go on for a long time. It is a common story , many people founded their own victorious way by secluding themselves, getting a fantastic idea, coming back to the world and winning everything.

But... We do not hear about the other ones, those who also secluded themselves, had (what they thought was) a fantastic idea, came back to the world, and died when they tried their (not so fantastic) idea. 

This is Natural Selection. Bad techniques, and those who invented them, do not survive the battlefields.

It does not matter what kind of great idea you have. You need to test it, against an opponent. If you win, good, find a mightier opponent to test it further. If you lose, well, it was not such a good idea. 

You can also train with a master, someone much more advanced than you, who will tell you how he feels about your ideas, in a non-lethal way. This is why we get teachers and masters. To help us on the road. I recommend this way...

And THIS is true for everything. It is true for Martial Arts, for Cuisine, for Ballroom Dancing and for Zen. The other day, this brilliant guy was explaining on Facebook how just Buddha had found enlightenment by himself so would he do the same and not rely on any master. Just that ! Arrogant prick ! Even Buddha trained under several Yogis before he went on his own.

Today, there is no shortage of Self appointed Martial Arts Masters, 9th degree black belt in numerous styles - some of these styles do not even grant Dan levels... There are also quite a few Roshi's - Zen Masters, with very questionable lineage... And this is regrettable.

Whatever you want to learn, find a good master, someone with credentials from an established, reputable lineage. Short of this, you might get hurt... 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Buddhist Humour

A monk once gained a vision of devas while meditating. The monk asked them, “Do you know where the end of the physical universe is?”
And the devas said, “No, we don’t know, but there is a higher level of devas. Maybe they know.” 

So the monk continued meditating and he got to the next level of devas. He asked them the same question, and he got the same answer: “There’s a higher level. Maybe they know.” This goes on for ten levels or so.
Finally, the last level of devas said, “No, we don’t know the end of the physical universe, but there is the Great Brahma. He must know. If you meditate hard enough, you may get to see him.”
The monk kept on meditating until the Great Brahma appeared in a flash of light.

He asked his question of the Great Brahma, and the Great Brahma answered: “I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be.”  

And the monk said, “That’s not what I asked you. I asked you where the end of the physical universe is.”
Again, the Great Brahma said, “I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma,” etc. Three times. The monk was not amused and kept asking...

Finally, the Great Brahma pulled the monk aside by the arm and says, “Look, I don’t know, but I have all these devas in my entourage who believe that I know everything. They would be very disappointed if they'd learned that I can’t answer your question.”

And Brahma sent the monk back to the Buddha, who answered the question after rephrasing it, pointing to where the physical universe has no footing in the mind.