Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tools For Change: The Main Ingrediant

In our fast-paced world of trend, immediate results, and fast-food mentality, one would think that there are tons of useful books, videos and Tv shows that can solve our problems. Apparently, this is not so, for I see new products and methods on the market all the time. It makes me wonder why, for I have read some of them, and they all seem to have some valid points. Well, I have a theory.

What is the one constant in all these self-help rituals? You, of course. So instead of trying to change your clothing, hair, or other surface 'artifacts'- environment alone- or trying to change your comfortable way of thinking- I am suggesting that we change our view of things instead.

The most damaging is how we view ourselves. Do we we see ourselves as winners, losers, victims? As a catalyst for change, or a repository for misery? Where did we get these self-conceptions, and why?

In my life, I discovered that I have many 'knee-jerk' attitudes- that is, I react automatically to some stimulus, but I really don't know why I do it. If you had to explain, you would be puzzled. Somehow, these ideas became our dogma, and we can't place the source.

My first real experience with this came when a celebrity was mentioned. Actually, I recall it was Mr. T. I began to ridicule Mr T. for his jewlry, wearing a weight lifting belt, etc. My friend pointed out all the good works Mr. T has done....and, I immediatly wanted to defend my position, yet I had no position. I merely spurted out what I said, with no real thought or insight. This gave me something to think about. After careful thinking, I realized that I had heard these remarks from a friend years before. I didn't bother to research Mr. T, or think about him myself. It was easier to allow my friend to create my opinions for me. In later years, I found many interesting and inspirational things about Mr. T, when I bothered to look for myself.

Childhood is another breeding ground for these reactions. We react to things, people and situations that are no longer applicable. We are still relieving the pain or experience, even though the reasons are no longer valid. For example, I was adopted. Most of my relatives never seemed to mind, but I had one Uncle- my favorite Uncle when I was young- that seemed to enjoy letting me know that I was different, that I was out of place. For a long time, I had real issues about acceptance and betrayal due to this man. It took years of realizing that his views were no longer true, that they were simply his opinions, and it was a closed issue. The man is dead now, yet at times I can still feel his cold, icy fingers reaching up from the grave! My sense of feeling that bad things happen to me and I have to take it for some kind of attonement come from this man. Yet, the experiences of mychildhood stopped being valid when I broke free of my attatchment to him, and realized he was treating me differently. He was no longer my favorite Uncle, but I still acted on the venom he planted in me for decades to come!

I still have revelations regarding my thoughts and actions. And, in the end, we really control so little of our lives. We think we do, but really, we don't. One of the few things we can do is adjust what we say and do. By that, I mean living in the moment, right now. What you say and do affects others, and for that you are responsible! First, be good to yourself. After all, this is your vehicle, your vessel here on earth. Try to be a person of character, say and do the right things. When you don't know, say so! If you do, act on it! Be somebody you would folow, would trust and look up to. Try. I will if you will.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Way of the Warrior

Yamamoto Tsunemoto was a Samurai at a time when things were changing in Japan. The Tokugawa Shogunate no longer had need for mere warriors, but for administrators and leaders, men to run the government. Tsunemoto mourned the passing away of the old values, and foresaw a corruption of the Samurai ideals. He eventually retired to a monastery, and dictated Hakagure as a guide for the young Samurai of his clan, so they did not lose what he thought made a Samurai a Samurai. His most famous saying is that 'The Way of the Samurai is found in death.'

Obviously, he did not mean for them to rush right out and behave foolishly. He basically meant for them to not concern themselves with life or death, just 'do it'. He stated that philosophy was for the old, and young men should concern themselves with 'vitality'- action. The old Samurai often stressed that you cannot follow different ways- Miyamato Mushashi said, "The Way of the warrior does not include other Ways, such as ... certain traditions, artistic accomplishments and dancing. But even though these are not part of the Way, if you know the Way broadly you will see it in everything. Men [and women] must polish their particular Way".

So, as modern warriors in a chaotic society that seems to value thrill-seeking and temporary pleasures, how do we rise above? How can we attain the inner peace, the solid grounding that we need?

Many turn to religion, philosophy, alcohol, drugs, or live in a fantasy world. And, I don't mean the delusional world of the schizophrenic, I mean not facing your situation as it really is. For that is the rub: to live in a sheltered environment, like a monk, who couldn't put their philosophy in action? But when the bill collectors are calling non-stop, your boss is a total creep, all things seem to turn against you- what then? Will your chosen method for coping with reality help you deal with a cranky child, or a disconnect notice? How about a death, or a contentious marriage or relationship? How about when you really want to be with that 'certain one' and they don't feel the same about you? What then?

Well, the Way is in death- but not always a physical death. Developing the ability to face challenges as a challenge, not as a personal affront, is a good place to start. If you feel the world is against you, life is not fair, why can't you get all the good luck, etc.- you have lost. You are afraid of death- the death of your unattainable ideals and goals. Obviously, the world isn't going to oblige you by restructuring the nature of things to your advantage. It was here first, so you get what you get. My strategy is to change my goals and desires. My old ideas, the ones that keep me unhappy, discontent, feeling less than the other fellow- they need to be faced, conquered, and cast aside. Not easy! But this is a journey, remember- we start today, and don't fret over immediate results. As warriors, we develop our warrior spirit thru trials and test ourselves daily. The world is our battlefield, life our dojo. (Training hall- place of the way.)

You don't need to know how to fight or to use weapons to be a warrior. You need spirit, discipline, and faith in yourself. You need the courage to look at your life as it is, accept yourself and your life as is, and then....go out and change it. Think of it as a project. The needs and requirements have changed, so you alter the plans and keep working. We are works in progress, and sometimes the plans need to be changed.

Next blog, I will look at tools for change.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Making the most of Your Day

Time is really a fleeting thing. It passes quickly, like a very swift river, or it seems slow and stagnant, like a swamp. The hard thing is to make the most of it, regardless....

Time usually hangs during difficult or annoying times, like work, jury duty, renewing tags, any government office. Sometimes, for no reason, it just seems to hang heavy, and you feel despondent and detached, a kind of yearning, but you don't know what for.

Zen teaches us to enjoy every minute, for it will never come again. Each second is unique, and has it's own value. Also, the theory is that anything can be withstood for a minute, and life is made up of minutes. I know that I employ various ideas to get through particularly long and tedious days, or days that I just want to end.

Jesus worked against a timeline, as well. According to the Bible, he knew he didn't have much time before his death, yet he never seemed to worry about it. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Encouraging words, and true! I believe we make things more difficult by stressing before they happen, during the event, and after. Mark Twain said, "I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."

So how to get through a trying day, or an awkward moment that seems to drag? Comments and ideas welcome!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Welcome To The Journey

WE, all of us, have something to say, something to share. The key to surviving this chaotic, uncertain world is to develop a sense of community, a bond between what I like to call 'Survivers of the Sojourn.' We have developed an ethos, a code, a list of behaviours and ideas that are not the norm. In fact, we are throwbacks to a time where honor and dignity were common, where we were valuable members of society, saw ourselves as usefull peices of the whole, and not just consumers or thrill seekers. We have purpose. The point of this blog is to share purpose, and to support each other with ideas and by bringing new enthusiasm to mutual problems.

I chose the Warrior ethic because I am not only a practicioner of Tang Soo Do, but because today's warrior meets far more moral battles than physical. In todays world where ego is the ideal and respnsibility the aberration, we often stand alone.

I would like to stress that I am not advocating any sort of militancy, unless it is sort of a zen hobbit militancy...I believe we all deserve a good life, and we don't often get it. I think we create our world, regardless of what we must endure. We must develop the tools to continue making the world a better place, starting with one

Please share your thoughts and ideas!