Monday, May 2, 2011

Dokkodo #3 and 4

#3: Do Not Rely On Any Half Hearted (or partial) Feelings.

It is very difficult to enter into a world that is not your own. Education, experience, culture, language- there are a host of barriers to other worlds. Age brings it's own generational gap, as does financial positions in life.

The direct translation of the above would say: Don't harbor prejudice or have an attitude about everything. What is meant, is don't view the world with only your own knowledge and experience, or you will be able only to see what you are trained to see- that would be a 'half hearted feeling.' In order to understand others, we must not take sides or harbor preconceived notions.

We have all heard of the story of the university man that went to the zen master for instruction. He was very proud of his knowledge, and instead of listening, he wanted to impress the zen master with his learning. The zen master suggested tea, and when he poured he did not stop. When the university man told the master that the cup was full and to stop pouring, the master told him that his mind was like that- he had to empty his cup to absorb anything the master could teach him. So must we!

The 'stopping or abiding' mind is what prevents us from true understanding. We must, in Musashi's words, "Not stop the mind in one place but keep moving." Not becoming fixed, we can have empathy with others, and understand and enter into their world. By treating all people fairly and equally, we also are able to enter their world. Using simple, knee-jerk reactions and jumping to conclusions about people and thing we really know nothing about is acting without all the truth. A Warrior needs intell before he comits himself. Acting without knowing is not responsible.

#4: Think Lightly Of Yourself and Deeply Of The World

Most of our world veiws or philosophies are limited to our ability to anylize, our intellect. Thinking only with the mind is likely to give you false impressions because as humans we are embarrasingly limited according to our mindset. We meet people that seem balanced and focused, but this mindset seeps through. I have been shocked by the most seemingly nice people that make racist remarks worthy of an Eichman, or condone acts that are questionable or even illegal. This is because all their thinking is done with a shallow, self absorbed mind.

Musashi sees the flaws in depending on your own intellect to see the truth of the world and what is around us. Is is a delusion of egocentricity, where all is based on us and our experiences. It is the same for a maggot at the bottom of a slop pail- it looks up and thinks it sees the entire universe. (Harlan Ellison's metaphor, not mine!!)

The problem then is to see ourselves as flawed, and understand that our own sagacity is flawed, by corrupted data. So we must see beyond our own intelligence. Most people, in their daily affairs, use a certain ammount of discretion. This stems from a feeling of overconfidence in our ideas. By disconnecting the intellect, we can see past it, to veiw the world deeply. Otherwise, we wind up satisfying our own mind, or having excessive confidence in our ability and do not seek further.

The darker side of this is reflecting on your own limited mind- a complex of reliving your own mistakes and failures. When you do this, you give up your aims. Really, you forfeit you own life. Depression and regret follow. And, you are still obsessed with yourself!

The mind also tends to make cold comparrisons and criticisms about others. Labels and blame are the same as thinking with a shallow mind. We are still being selfish and greedy, and placing our trust in our ability to understand what we cannot with the active, thinking mind.

The tool to conquer this is meditation. To quell the mind, or at least to reign it in, is the first step to thinking deeply of the world and lightly of ourselves.

Dokkodo: #2

The sword is the most common weapon associated with the Warrior. In the east, we most often think of the Samurai and his katana as the ultimate duo. However, this is a later concept, as the bow was the primary weapon for quite some time. Essentially mounted bowmen, swords were used to strike from horseback, and it required elaborate training. The need for dismounted warriors came during the civil wars and the various Mongol invasions.

Musashi believed that you should have some experience with all useful weapons. The sword may have been the soul of the Samurai, and Musashi used a sword and sword-like objects, but would be able to use something different if need be.

Code number two on his list: Do Not Seek Pleasure For It's Own Sake.

This is more complex than it sounds. Obviously, a life with no joy is not really worth living. You may say that it would depend on the things that bring you joy. We are not really talking about a hedonistic lifestyle devoted to pleasure, either. I think we are talking about those that see their purpose in life to grub for happiness and immediate pleasure at the expense of others and of their own personal development.

How many of us live in a sort of fantasy world, where we do not really attach any importance to what we are doing? Do we blunder through the day thinking only of the reward waiting later, or do we make the most of the day and reward ourselves as part of our structured 'down time'? I think most of us do not know what to do with our free time, so we become voyeurs and potential consumers. All I know is that when I gave up TV, I had more time and freedom. I no longer have the ad men telling me what to wear, what to buy to be cool and happy like the model on TV.

I don't think this is always evil. Following a good show is fun, and if you do it with others, very rewarding! My family used to faithfully watch CSI and Bones together. It was fun. But, I didn't neglect important things, it was a planned event that took 2 hours out of the week. It is kind of poor family time, but my kids are grown, and it gave us something we could all enjoy, a hard thing to find after they are grown.

I think for the modern Warrior, balance is most important. We all have days when we are on the edge of burn out and need simple things to recharge our batteries. These usually are light entertainment or hobbies that require little investment from us. When that becomes your daily routine, you need to figure out if you are simply avoiding the challenges of life, or hiding. In this respect, you are not really seeking pleasure, you are avoiding responsibility.

How to define a true pleasure seeker? Obsession is not enough, as we all know people obsessed with things that are healthy in moderation. I think we are talking about those seeking an easy life, to avoid all pain and the mundane trials of life. If there is a problem, avoid it. If there is serious work, shirk. Immerse yourself in the things you like, do not do those you do not like. And..the reward is? Nothing. A shallow, empty life devoid of purpose.

Musashi would have clarified it according to Buddha's Shiseitei, the four sacred things to give up upon awakening, to know the truth about pain and suffering. Since ease and comfort are always dependant on pain and suffering, we give ourselves needless anxiety, as they will always come around. Basically, come out of the world of ignorance and break out of the shell of irreverent desires. For us, this would mean to see the things in life as they really are, and not as we want them to be. Work, responsibilities, family, bills, cars- these have to be dealt with. And, you need to accept that this is the way it is.

Bad boss? Naggin spouse? Misbehaving kids? Bill collectors ringing the phone off the hook? Feeling hopeless and powerless? Welcome to the real world, baby. It isn't just you. The difference is how we deal with it. Number one, do deal with it! Don't shirk, evade or run off to your favorite distraction. Moping and whining about the unfairness of the world won't help, either. Anger won't help, unless you use it to motivate yourself to action. Realize that you are not guarenteed a life of pleasure and fun, and that you must forge ahead regardless. Find repose in action, for the Warrior is a man of action. The great paradox of the Warrior is that he is both passive and agressive. The secret is to find peace in the midst of chaos, to forgo your personal desires for a good, easy life and plunge in. When I gave up resentment over the dissapointments in my life, I felt a lot better.