Solitude

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing
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Meditation Point #119
So many stones are thrown at me
that I no longer cover,
the turret’s cage is shapely,
high among high towers.
My thanks, to its builders,
may they escape pain and woe,
here, I see suns rise earlier,
here, their last splendors glow.
And often winds from northern seas
fill the windows of my sanctuary,
and a dove eats corn from my palm…
and divinely light and calm,
the Muse’s sun burnt hand’s at play,
finishing my unfinished page.

Anna Akhmatova
(translated by Anthony Kline)

A great poem reflecting on the blessings in life from someone whom seems would have nothing to feel blessed about. This is a reflection we should all make in our lives; to often we focus on the negatives and miss the small wonderous treasures life gives to us even in our darkest moments. Quiet your mind with your worries and your wrongs and your injustices; and take notice of the quiet, sweet blessings that otherwise go unnoticed.

Putting Things in Perspective

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest, Video
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Sometimes we need to pause and put things in perspective. It isn’t often that I run across something that covers the big picture so well, so when I do I like to share it. Hope this helps you gain some perspective for without perspective there is little we can do. Perhaps watching this will give you the perspective you need to shape the future?!

The Lesson of the 5 Monkeys

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest
9

Monkey BusinessWe begin to learn the lesson of the five monkeys but putting five monkeys in a cage and in the cage hang a banana on a string and put stairs leading up to it.

Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.

As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey will make an attempt at the bananas; again spray all of the monkeys with cold water. Keep this up for several days with every attempt at the banana.

Now we turn off the cold water and observe.

If, later, another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it even though no water sprays them.

Now, remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new monkey.

The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

Replace the third original monkey with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four monkeys that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing the fourth and fifth original monkeys, all the monkeys which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs.

Why not?

“Because that’s the way it’s always been done around here.”

———————————————————–Meditating Monkey

There are many lessons to learn from this story. Tome the first is that we should always question and seek to understand the reasons for things, regardless of the push back we get. Fortunately I live in a society where you can (to a lesser extent) still do this. There are more places (countries) then not however where this is not the case and asking questions or questioning the norm or expecting more can get you into trouble or killed. Unfortunately those who don’t question are no different then the monkeys and often deserve the cages they live in because they are not willing to take a chance or question in favor of security and comfort. History shows us that most people are sadly like the monkeys.

Another lesson here is an examination of the effects of trauma and/or stress on our reactions and beliefs. Your own reflection or discussion on that idea is left to the comments section (a challenge?!). Why can/does trauma or stress lead to otherwise irrational behavior being viewed as rational? Just to get you started…

Self Doubt

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing
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Meditation Point #118

The more intelligent and cultured a man is, the more subtly he can humbug himself.

– – Carl Gustav Jung

Mistakes

We all doubt ourselves and to some extent put ourselves down, it is part of human nature. Occasionally we will meet someone who is so full of themselves that they are delusional, this isn’t about them. What this is about is perception, because often we think those that are more intelligent then us, or richer then us do not have the same problems or inner turmoil that we wrestle with. This is most definitely untrue. While there are those who can put on a good show or ignore for a time their self doubts or self criticism we all face these demons sooner or later. We start at a very young age coping with perceived failures (real or imaginary) and these grow with us into adulthood. It is sad really. Imagine what we could accomplish if we worried less about our failings and insecurities. Perhaps the delusional people are on to something?!

Live

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing
2

Meditation Point #117

Buddha Quote  - Live

Patient OR Cowardly

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing
2

Meditation Point #116

Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice.

– – George Jackson

I am a patient man though less so with each passing year. Perhaps I am becoming more brave? Though I have never been one to keep my mouth shutIf only we had spoken up sooner… or to not act when injustice presents itself to me society for a while dampened my response. You could say that society had made me cowardly for I was tired of flying in the face of popular culture. (Notice I said culture and not thinking or logic.) What I have discovered over the past year as I began to break my silence and speak up again was that complacence is a form of cowardice. Recently, I was faced with confronting a particular authority figure and honestly I didn’t want to. They hadn’t done anything horrible but they were not doing what was right. They don’t take well to personal criticism so I knew my words would undoubtedly be unwelcome. Yet in the back of my mind this constant mantra kept coming to me…’if not you, then who?’. I guess that is when it hit me and my path was clear. Yes, I spoke with the person and it didn’t go well; they reacted worse then I even imagined. But the deed was done and like it or not someone had called them out for their behavior. What struck me about this situation and led me to reflect about how complacency is a form of cowardice we how insignificant my task was. Then I thought of others who have faced greater tasks with more fortitude then I had at first shown.

I am happy to report that I am back on track and standing my ground and speaking up when needed. Don’t send me a cap and tights because that isn’t my meaning! But I did get to thinking what if we all stood up and did the difficult tasks? What would the world look like? It IS difficult to stand up to authority or go against current “socially acceptable” topics; but think what happens if we don’t. Well the answer to that is pretty easy, you get to live in a society just like we have today. What does your tomorrow look like? Unfortunately the fortitude of our forefathers seems locked away for fear of mass media and the special interests. The only way to change this is for the good people to stop being quietly complacent and to speak up and say enough! Until then good luck to those who do speak up and do stand up for what is right, I know you are out there.

One Truth

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing
1

Meditation Point #115

Absolute Truth

All you have to do is look for it.

Well that isn’t entirely true that is only the first step to finding truth.

Once you look for it you need to remain objective and test its validity.

But rest assured that Absolute Truth does exist, absolutely.

Visualize Success

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Training notes
2

Meditation Point #114 
Visualize Success

This is a great picture that I came across which nicely demonstrates what I was telling my students last week. In order to achieve true success you MUST visualize not only success but your opponents. Whether we practice Kata, forms or even bag work it is important to visualize your opponents. Here we see the swimmer preparing to practice for a race and along with her in her mind are her opponents. This practice will elevate your adrenaline and the ability to push yourself even when practicing. We can only improve when we push ourselves and the time to do that is when we practice. This means you need to take very seriously the art that your practice.

Visualizing is a unique way of preparing for advancement or competition. Visualizing is actually competing against yourself and we tend to be harder on ourselves then others are. Repeatedly visualizing keeps our minds and bodies sharp. The only thing to beware of when visualizing is not to plan for a specific opponent for the danger in that is you will not expect the opponent to do anything other then what you visualized. Aside from that visualization is the tool of every great athlete.

Train Hard, Train Often

Failure

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing
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Meditation Point #113First step towards Failure

Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
– – Confucius

There are many variations of this saying and I have written about them here before. But there is something significant in every way it is said that bears repeating. You see we are all imperfect, we all fall constantly because of this. Each time we fall it is easy to stay down and give in to our failure. However, giving in to our failure and imperfections is the only true failure. Fighting is hard and often doesn’t seem worth it when we are taking our lumps; however in the sparring ring we learn that those lumps teach us valuable lessons. Unfortunately in Life it is much harder to see the value in some “lessons“. This is mostly because they are long term lessons unlike those we learn in the sparring ring!

Failure means one thing, we are trying to find perfection and that is always a good thing. But avoid the pitfall of hiding in repeated failures so you do not have to continue on your Journey to perfect imperfection! Remember the sparring ring the next time you fail and like the sparring ring close the opening and get back in there! Perhaps Homer understand Confucius better then I thought!

Meditation Point #112

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest, Quotes, Training notes
5

“Sighted people do not know
    the way the sightless come and go;
They seldom seem to understand
    what light can be in this dark land
Where ears can hear and noses smell
    Much more than sight could ever tell,
Where touch and taste answers true
    to questions sight may think it knew.
Better senses, some believe,
    are those four left they can’t conceive
That better use of senses remaining
    Makes the world a place for gaining
Knowledge, understanding, strength–
    I surely could go on at length,
But best I stop and leave with you
    The thought I hope I’ve gotten through;
That though they see less with the eye,
    they ‘see’ much more then you and I.”
– – Patti Cataruzolo

I read an very interesting and heartfelt story the other day in the Hartford Courant called “Seeing Life as Good“. It was the story of a Hockey Coach, David Cataruzolo, and his inspiration, his parents. The above poem was written by his Mother, Patti Cataruzolo. His story and her poem has been replaying in my mind since the reading.

In the Martial Arts we are supposed to teach us about spirit, independence, faith, respect and courage. I often wonder how many students actually learn these principles? Many people do not think of the Martial Arts (or any sport for that matter) as a path to faith or the spiritual, they are wrong. Through our own physical trials, success and failure, we grow and connect with something greater then ourselves. Many choose to ignore this and indulge in the base pleasures of life. This is a growing problem with our so called athlete role models. It is refreshing to read about a coach, a shaper of young men, who holds to these ideals.

As Martial Artists there is much we can learn from the above poem. At a basic level it reminds us to trust things other then our eyes which so often do deceive. All is not as it appears and our eyes can often seal our fate. If we look upon an opponent with trepidation then we are doomed to fail for we quit before we started. Periodically I have my students practice blindfolded. This is an exercise in perception and it is a powerful tool. At first students learn how much they depend on their eyes and how little they trust themselves. As they progress they learn to use their other senses and their self trust improves. Sparring blindfolded is perhaps the biggest hurtle a student faces. Yes sparring. Obviously the sighted opponent has an advantage but the exercise trains the student to use their other senses. It expands their situational awareness making them observant regardless of sight.

Like the line in Patti Cataruzolo’s poem, increase your “Knowledge, understanding, strength” by opening yourself to a new world where independence and trust take on new meaning. Maybe in the process you will learn to respect the plight of others different then yourself.