Saturday, May 25, 2013

Holding the Center

A man walking up the mountain to enlightenment encounters an older man walking down the mountain with a radiant smile and a stick with two jugs of water on his back. Curious, the younger man asked the older man with the smile, "What is enlightenment?!"

Still smiling, the older man put down his water jugs, looked to the sky, opened his arms and breathed in the warm, morning sun. After a moment, the older man stopped what he was doing, returned to a normal posture and looked at the young man.

"What comes after enlightenment?" the young man again queried.

The old man pointed to and then once again shouldered his water jugs, settling them squarely on his shoulders, and once again began carrying his load down the path.

The moral of the story is that after enlightenment we all need a drink.

Actually, that is not the real moral of the story (but I suppose it could be). The real moral is that enlightenment, actualization, or self-realization is not an end, but a beginning. Getting to somewhere in life is only part of the journey. What comes after our goals is equally important and equally part of life. It's not always exciting and usually looks like work. The old saying that it's not the end that counts, but the journey has meaning here.

Recently on facebook, I posted up a video of a hardcore isometric breathing exercise practiced in Goju Ru Karate called Sanchin kata. For three years, students had to endure this training and other strengthening exercises before they were ever shown techniques. Of course, technique is important, but by the time one had finished their initiation into the art, they were already bad asses and could handle most situations. Their character was forged along the way, and perhaps without realizing it, they had achieved their goals.

This is sort of a romantic way of saying don't eschew the journey. Pick up your cross. Do your duty. Event if you haven't achieved your desired outcome, what matters is what and who one becomes along
the path.

For me this is a hard saying. The daily loadout can be overwhelming sometimes and not in conformity with our desires. Sometimes the problems that arise are outright bullshit, or seem to be, especially since they come at the "wrong time."

The truth is we can't always pick our battlefield, regardless of our visualizations and ideals. Sometimes we simply need to set our jaws and ready the artillery. Learn to take the hit and hopefully to dish one or two out.

Kick ass and take names.


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