Failure is an Option

ktadmin Posted in For Kids, Quotes, Training notes, Video,Tags: ,
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I came across this old Nike Commercial that has an awesome message.  Everyone should watch this daily!

This message is especially important for kids to learn, to often we put the emphasis on winning, succeeding and forget to remember that failure is the first step toward success.

Attitude

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes
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By Charles Swindoll

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.

Meditation Point #126 – Good Motivates…

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes
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With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
— Steven Weinberg, quoted in The New York Times, April 20, 1999

At first glance this seems to make sense, but the more I ponder this quote, the more apparent is becomes that it is a total load of horse5#!7.  It amazes me how intelligent people can say some of the stupidest things…and believe them.  That does not mean that my views are beyond question as I am sure some will assert.  But this statement relies on facts that are not present or demonstrable.  First the above statement predisposes people to either do good or evil things, hence the “good” people do good things and those “evil” people doing evil things.  Hmmm if this is true than we should be able to determine who is good and who is evil, perhaps with the help of Santa Clause, and then round them up and eradicate them from society.  Then you would only have good people doing good things!  Is that realistic?  No, it isn’t very realistic, the good people would probably view this type of behavior as evil…no?  In reality, the evil people left unchecked will consume the good people until the evil people far outnumber the good people leaving the good people helpless for perpetual victimization. A good person is one defined as someone who is “good to other people”.  While an evil person is “somebody whose selfishness and perceived inhumanity or vicious behavior terrifies and disgusts people”!  But in this world without religion would people be inclined to do good?  If so why?  Without religion you would be much more prone to only be concerned with your own needs and desires.  By definition this would make you a candidate to be labeled an evil person.  This has to lead to the understanding that Steven Weinberg’s “without religion” is incorrect.  Since he knows religion exists this quote must en a dig at religion indicating that only through religion can good people do evil things.  There is that presumption that we can discern good people from evil but let’s let that slide for now.

Examining with his caveat, good people do evil things when religion is involved, we should first define religion.  For simplicity let’s leave God out of this for right now.  So this argument stands first we should define religion: “A set of beliefs and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos …”  The “often centered upon” text means we do NOT need a God to have a religion so we can continue.  If we look at this from a non-God centric view we again will quickly see that evil will most likely win over good since the tendency will be toward selfish goals.  Notice I am not putting a time line on how long this transition will take.  Giving the “good” people the benefit of the doubt and assuming we start with more good than evil people the outcome will eventually lead to evil people being the norm.  This shift will occur because the secular religion is subject to the whim of it’s parishioners, what feels good today may not tomorrow and hence lead to a morally acceptable shift over time.  This happens even with God centered religion involved so there is no reason to feel secular religion would fair any better.  Some will argue that Godless does not always equate to selfish and I will agree with the “not always” part, however, this is an exception not the norm.  Want proof?  Look at divorce, fidelity rates, drug use, pick your poison.

What if we put God into the mix?  From Steven Weinberg’s view this would provide the excuse for good people to do evil things.  I am sure he would site the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition among his reasons for such a statement since we all know that the only atrocities in the world were motivated by religious teachings!  Religion is to often used as an excuse of those without any for the problems of the world.  There is a term for that, self-justification.  Since religion is practiced by humans who are imperfect there will always be wolves in sheep’s clothing leading the flocks of the world to do wrong.  The real problem is not with the religion but with the complacent and sheeple that follow blindly when diverting from the teachings of the religion.  There again the real problem is that people often do not even understand their own religion much less what is acceptable.  This is further exacerbated by the current culture of personal morality where people feel they can select which aspects of a religion they accept or deny to follow.  If you don;t like the rules, simply change them!  Christianity is perhaps the best example of this problem.  In reality religion leads people to more selfless acts if a person truly believes and is part of a peaceful religion.  Interestingly I would say that he only got the last part wrong, meaning ‘for evil people to do good things, that takes religion’!

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for evil people to do good things, that takes religion.
— Sensei Mitch, February 4, 2009

Meditation Point #125

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes
4

wayne_john2“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway” —  John Wayne

I have a magnet with this quote on the Refrigerator and it is probably the most useful quote I’ve ever heard.  As men, that is what we do when we have to.  John Wayne was/is a great role model, to bad their aren’t more men in Hollywood, by that I mean on screen and off!

Do you have real Courage?

The Cost of Freedom

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes
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“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsel or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands of those who feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you. May posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
— Samuel Adams

As Martial Artists this quote should have special meaning to us because our practice of the Martial Arts pays tribute to those who developed the arts in order to defend themselves from unjust servitude. Yes I know that is a broad interpretation but it is the spirit of the Martial Arts that I am speaking to, the spirit to be free despite the outward bent of society.

Faith

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest, Quotes, Reviews
2

I am reading Give Us This Day – The Classic Memoir of the Bataan Death March for many reasons but mostly because I grew up knowing one of these men and what little he told me had a great impact on my life. In reading this book I am discovering something about myself as well, especially the things I take for granted like my freedom.
The following passage really struck a cord with me as we to often tend to blame God for our problems. The following passage takes place a few days before the American soldiers were forced to surrender…

We had lain the whole day in the foxhole, fearing to raise our heads. The fury of death raged above us and as the night drew on, we huddled together. I could hear a man in one of the foxholes near us praying.‘Oh God, don’t let me die. Take care of me. Don’t let me die, God. Please God, don’t let me die.’

Side by side, Rass and I listened to the man’s words. We were used to our own prayers, seldom audible, but prayers nevertheless and fervent. Rass spoke up, speculating.

‘You know Sid, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard you come right out and pray to live. I know that you want to live, but I have never heard you ask God to let you live.’

‘No, Rass, I never have asked God to let me live, and I’ll tell you why.’ I looked over at his puzzled face in the faint light. ‘When I was a little boy, at home in Watonga, there was a hardware store that was giving away a little red car. You got tickets on this car with every so many purchases at this store. I have never seen a little car like that since. It had bicycle tyres and it was big enough for three kids to ride in it. It had a real gasoline engine, like a washing machine engine, I guess, because it went “pop, pop, pop.”‘

‘Dad and Mother saved up the tickets they got. I never in my life wanted anything like I wanted that little red car. For a month before the drawing I didn’t think a bad thought. All day long I kept thinking, if I’m real good, God will let me have that car. I’d pray every night for an hour down on my knees beside the bed. I’d pray that I’d win that little car.

‘Oh, the dreams I had of driving around in that little red car. It’s funny, but my mother was running around forcing tonics down my throat. She was sure I was sick because I was so darn good. And as the day came closer, I was more careful for fear I might even think something bad, or do something bad, and then I wouldn’t get that car.’

‘I’d go down in the afternoons and look at it and run my hands over it and her the sound of the motor going “pop, pop, pop.” The I’d go home and pray for that car.’

‘Finally the day of the drawing came and I stood with all the other kids and their folks. My dad had the tickets all laid out. I waited as a blindfolded little girl ran her hand down in a cage and drew out a number. When the number was announced–why dammit, Rass! I didn’t get that car. One of the meanest little kids in town got that car. And he never did anything good. I felt cheated. I felt that God had cheated me, Rass, because I didn’t win that car.

‘As I got older I used to think about it. The worst thing that could have happened to me was if God had let me win that car. I learned right then that a man hasn’t got a right to ask God for little red cars, because that’s not what we’re here for. God doesn’t go around giving little boys or grown men little red cars just because they ask for them. Men get little red cars because the work.

‘Since then I’ve seen so many die. Good guys too, Rass, guys that believed in God stronger then I do. When I see those guys die, I think, well, life is a luxury. Even if it isn’t a luxury I haven’t got the right to ask God to live. I’m not going to ask him for a little red car. With all these shells bursting around me I’ve got the feeling that my life is just like that little red car.’

My mind flew back to the day the war started and the prayer I had made after seeing the wounded lying in the hospital yard. God had given me what I asked for and Rass knew about that prayer. Things in my personality too weak for my control I had begged God to help me with. But life, no. It was a tangible, precious thing that I wanted with every breath. But hadn’t better men then I died praying to live? And God is great and I knew He wept for them and suffered their pain.

‘I do ask God to give me strength to take all this, to be a better man and to help me make myself a better man. If God wants me to live, if He’s got anything He wants me to do with my life, He’ll help me do it. If He wants me to live, He’ll let me. But I’m not going to ask for any little red cars.’

In my mind, Sid demonstrates a much stronger faith then he gives himself credit for. In ever battle, in every struggle, in every pursuit, if we can understand that we are not truly in control, that we cannot be, we will be more able to cope with fear. We can only control our inner self, to try to control more then that is futile and a waste of energy. We can choose to be one of two men who falls from a boat in deep water. One man struggles and splashes about in the water in a fearful attempt to not drowned only to exhaust himself and seal his fate. The other man, relaxes and does a back float accepting his state and waiting for what comes next, rescue or land. A proper faith in God helps us to accept those things which we have no control over. Faith is a formidable force.

I highly recommend this book: Give Us This Day – The Classic Memoir of the Bataan Death March. It is told in the first person with vivid details that capture your attention and make real this period of history. If you are at all interested in history or in the Japanese culture at that time this book is a must read!

Useless Men

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes
4
Meditation Point #127
It amazes me who we choose to lead, regardless of party, but it is better said by a much better man…
In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.
John Adams
US diplomat & politician (1735 – 1826)

We should all reflect upon our history and the intent of our founding fathers however daunting a task that may seem.

Our Deepest Fear…

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes
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Meditation Point #126

There isn’t much that I can add to this so I will not.

Thanks to Michele and Ellen for correcting me in the comments section.  They are indeed correct.  Ellen thank you for the link.  I followed it up and the quote is actually from the novel, A Return to Love, it is still a great quote!

What do you Believe?

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes
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Meditation Point #125

It is true that a little philosophy inclineth Man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. For while the mind of Man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no farther; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity. …

The fool hath thought in his heart; so as he rather saith it by rote to himself, as that he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it; for none deny there is a God, but those whom interest it serve that there were no God. It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism is rather in the lip than in the heart of man, than by this, that atheists will ever be talking of that their opinion, as if fainted in themselves, and would be glad to be strengthened by the consent of others. Nay, more you shall have atheists strive to get disciples, as it fareth with other sects. And, which is most of all, you shall have of them that will suffer for atheism, and not recant; whereas, if they did truly think that there were no such thing as God, why would they trouble themselves? …

The causes of atheism are, divisions in religion, if there be many; another is, scandal of priests, …; a third is, a custom of profane scoffing in holy matters, which doth by little and little deface the reverence of religion; and lastly, learned times, especially with peace and prosperity; for troubles and adversity do more bow men’s minds to religion.

They that deny a God destroy Man’s nobility, for certainly Man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It destroys likewise magnanimity, and the raising of human nature. For take an example of a dog, and mark what a generosity and courage he will put on when he finds himself maintained by a man, who to him is instead of a God, or melior natura; which courage is manifestly such as that creature, without confidence of a better nature than his own, could never attain. So Man, when he resteth and assureth himself upon divine protection and favour, garthereth a force and faith which human nature itself could not obtain; therefore as atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself above human frailty.

– – “The Essays of Lord Bacon” published 1888

I collect old and antique books, it is a passion. Recently I decided I had to many books (hard to believe) and started to thin the collection a little. Some are beyond repair, some I will never read, but a few I have decided to read to help me decide the fate. The above passage is from such a book. Written in Olde English it can take a moment longer to read but to me it provides significant insight.

What surprises me as I read through many of these books that were written 100-200 years ago is how in touch the authors were of our current social and political struggles. This perspective helps me to see that we are unique but timeless in our struggles, we are egotistical enough to think that only our generation has dealt with such things. We view the past through filters that lead us to believe that problems were different and certain issues didn’t exist. While extreme topics may have been tempered throughout time they seem to rise and fall like the tides of the sea from my readings. What is interesting is the presentation of their thoughts.

In the above passage I find the example of the dog in the last paragraph the most poignant. Whether you believe in God or not this example should give pause to deeper thought. It is a calling to a higher order, an illustration of the limitless bounds of the human spirit given aspirations of heavenly targets. Perhaps that is to flowery for most, I tend to talk in extremes to make my points. I do not say these things or ponder these topics here to convert, that isn’t my concern. I ponder them because it helps me to better understand those whom I run into daily. The vast majority of people I meet do not know what they believe. If they profess to know what they believe often they do not understand what or why they believe it. God, no God, darkness and dirt, or heavenly fields, these are after all the reasons we pursue knowledge and enlightenment, we wish to know the unknown, we wish to feel some ounce of control over our path. Not all of us ponder these thoughts but for those us that do, what do you know? To know is indicative of knowledge but how can we profess knowledge of things near impossible to prove? There is the gem, there is no need to prove anything! Oh we want to convince others that we have the secret, many out of compassion for others, more out of a need for validation, very few because they have clarity of truth.

Clarity of truth is a funny thing, when you have it (and I’m not saying I do) you are unaffected by the scorn of others, because you know. This is that state of calm where you know in your gut what is and isn’t. There is peace there, yet it can make others very uncomfortable even in their calm silence. To many people are evangelical about their causes. In my opinion evangelical people are simply looking for others to validate them, they are like the 3 monkeys who hear no “opposing views”, speak no “opposing views” and see no “opposing views”! Perhaps that is the only way they can support the reality they have built. This applies to every topic from religion to relationships and politics to pollution! They over simplify the world to make it easy to explain away anything that is uncomfortable. Yes these words are a double edge sword, it cuts both ways, but that isn’t my concern because I am not worried about you.

We need to spend more time looking inwards and less time getting upset with others. Whoever said, “Know thyself and to thy own self be true” was on target. This was somewhat of a free form, stream of consciousness post but hopefully you found something useful in the reading.

— — — — — — — — — — —

Before you bring it up let me close by saying this passage is not meant to bash anyones beliefs or lack there of, but to provoke thought and introspection. Some of my previous posts on similar topics have been the subject of positive and negative discussions on other blogs. These posts are what they are presented for, meditation points, points of reflection, to stimulate thought and interospection. If you are adverse to critically examining your own beliefs and thoughts on any topic, then you have little hope for growth.

Often those that disagree with us (the global us encompassing all views) seem to feel we are simply misguided or at a lower stage of enlightenment. From where I stand my perspective on most controversial issues is clear, but to many I may seem delusional! That is their right and I respectfully support that right. Of course attacking my point of view irrationally would point to your stage… 😉 Perhaps some of the words I have used are to strong, misguided, dillusional, etc, for not everyone feels that strongly, regardless I intend no offense but do not apologize for any made.

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.