Meditation on Death

In general, death is not an exciting topic for conversation but it is the ultimate destination for every single living creature so it merits some attention.

The idea of an afterlife Renaissance Skullsatisfies the human organism’s desire for continuity since the alternative, obliteration, is so difficult to comprehend. Nature imbues everything with a will to live, from the simplest bacteria to humankind. The continual drive to exist is what enables life to grow and evolve but it also contributes to the inability to imagine no life after death.

This chapter from The Demon’s Sermon on the Martial Arts entitled, Transformation of the Sparrow and the Butterfly, encapsulates my view or understanding of death. It somewhat ties in with the Hindu concept of the deshin, or life force, that exists in every person but somewhat as a third-party identity or energy that exists in our personas but then migrates on after biological death.

This is similar to Aristotle’s meditation on death by comparing it to the burning of wood. The wood burns and becomes ash. The smoke and heat rise up and disappear but, since energy in nature only changes but does not wink out of existence, they must go to some other place or time.

Existence, according to the dying man in the story of the sparrow and the butterfly, is dependent upon form. Form is what drives the various types of behaviors and thoughts and, when that form is destroyed, so too is the persona of that creature.Yet, the energy of that creature moves on to something new, forgetting what it once was; living in an eternal and universal present that goes beyond individual consciousness.

Going back to the Hindu concept of deshin, our life is a gift that we hold temporarily. It is our duty to make the most of it, to grow and develop it like an organism; simple or complex, striving to to be our best. Then we die our works embodied in that energy migrate on.

Is this empowering or is this so frightening that it stifles action? For me, it empowers because it frees me from consequence save for the consequence of wasting time and opportunity.

Mindfulness

Buddha StatueMindfulness is all the rage right now with studies showing that living fully in the moment and being aware of your surroundings and body drive the right behaviors in terms of nutrition and stress reduction.

More importantly, being mindful opens you up to your immediate surroundings and enables you to see more broadly and deeply.

In a stressful situation, being mindful allows you to see details that you wouldn’t if you are overwhelmed and in tunnel vision. Being mindful also helps you avoid those situations!

This also includes non-public safety situations like tense meetings, aggressive co-workers and managers, etc. Frankly, being mindful during the job interview process will reveal those issues and allow you to make the right decision.

Being mindful essentially allows you to say “no” to negative experiences. It empowers you to live the life that you want.

Re-Post

Repost from my hitherto forgotten blog on Google’s Blogger.

I must have 5 versions of blogs across different platforms and it is the equivalent of screaming into the wind.

Anyway, I’m in a Tully’s waiting for someone so I will write something about…something.

One of the best shows on TV is definitely Hannibal and the books are equally as good, though I think that the books portray the Anthony Hopkins version while the TV series speaks more to me because of the excellent cast, especially Mads Mikkelsen. 

In a nutshell, Hannibal is a the fusion of passion, steel, love, and desire. A keening want that exists in all of us. To be heard and to be special; to be remembered even though we know that dust and air are our ultimate destination.

It’s the grisly now that holds us in awe and keeps oblivion well away.

 

Coming Back

Dying GaulI’m returning to the interwebs.

Unlike the Dying Gaul (pictured here), I am standing back up. I’d like to post more thoughtful and open posts, with the understanding that I am probably the only reader.

In life, we are always alone so why not too our blog?

 

Bhagavad Heat

Bhagavad GitaWhen I am not slaving away for my corporate masters or my family, I find quiet moments in kendo training. Well, quiet in the sense that I seek moments of clarity and peace in bouts of sweaty and loud sports combat (kendo). The Bhagavad Gita has a beautiful and true quote about just that and have inscribed it upon my heart, seeking it in many places and times of my life.

The current heat wave in Seattle has contributed an additional layer of intensity to everything, especially kendo where, once you don the face mask; you are transported to a very uncomfortable place. It is a sweaty Gita!

Hotengahara

Using the lesson plan from GymJones (no equipment) I’m starting to feel more strength and energy as I did when I was doing CrossFit. I’m also incorporating a basic breathing exercise, adopted from by free divers, called Kapalabhati (it is a system with 50 different exercises but exploration would require a qualified instructor).

On Friday I did my lesson plan and then went to kendo which really pushed me to the edge. By the end of class I felt as if I was walking submerged in water. I felt depleted physically but, on a deeper level, I felt good.

Saturday was a rest day and then Sunday was, Hotengahara. If you’re not sure what that means, Hotengahara is an arid plain that, in Eiji Yoshikawa‘s fictionalized story of the Japanese sword master Miyamoto Musashi, in which the famous swordsman spent two years working as a farmer, trying to master the land as part of his physical and spiritual training. Historically, Musashi, did work the land for two years but no one knows anything beyond that.

So my Hotengahara was spending all day Sunday clearing my yard, digging up the soil, planting, and breaking down old furniture. All under the sun and without proper hydration.

By the end of the day I was done and done. Tired, muscles aching, dried out, and mentally fuzzy. I drank water, had a great curry chicken and went to bed early.

Today I woke up and felt great. Physical development requires breaking mental barriers. You need to both feel and *know* that you have broken through and progressed, even in a small way. For that, I have my own little Hotengahara to thank for that.

Taikai Prep (or lack thereof)

With the UW Taikai coming up this weekend, I’m in no way ready for it. I’ve been traveling on business and haven’t touched a shinai in over a week. It would be great if that led to some kind of “sword-of-no-sword” epiphany in which I become a master athlete by Saturday but somehow I doubt it. I have a higher chance of winning the lottery…

In an earlier post I did outline my program for my sandan test in 2015 and really that is the long game that I am focusing on. For the taikai, my best steps are to be aggressive and single-minded, not thinking about victory. Beyond that, being there to support my fellow team-members and assist at the event will be part of my day there.

This even sounds like a cop-out to me but it would be presumptuous to expect anything better, given my other commitments and poor time-management.

That’s all for now.

My First Day in San Francisco

View of Golden GateThe city is great, with busy streets, places to eat; and plenty of people to watch. As a small-town boy (Seattle), it is a shock at times but I am enjoying San Francisco while still missing home.

Here people move faster, are more direct (no “Seattle freeze” here), and there is a greater diversity of people and styles. As a friend said to me, “This is the home of the internet,” and that is true (for example, my office is right across from Uber and Yahoo is not far away).

Below are some more of my amateur cell phone pics.

 

St Patricks

End AnnieSFO StreetAlley Stop

Word Cloud

Greek HeroQuestion: Right what dominates my thoughts?

Answer: Learning, developing, heroes, swords, the mind made real by the physical. Cutting through space with thought and deed as one.

Our minds are at their best when they are tied to physical action. The heroic is manifested in commitment and effort. And the mind sharpens.

A productive rain will come from this word cloud.

Litterae Primum Anni

2014

2014 came in like a lion for me. It was a busy December and with work, vacation, family responsibilities, and assorted errata, I’ve only just had time this week to consider my plans for 2014.

Everyone does this, of course, and most plans do not survive the first series of challenges or obstacles (to paraphrase the military maxim that no plan survives the first day of battle). So I’ve decided to make small but meaningful or fun goals.

And not for the entire year but for smaller chunks of time (months or a quarter). Small steps are what make up a long journey (paraphrasing yet again, as “…the journey of a thousand steps begins with a single step.”).

So some immediate goals or steps for me:

1. Kendo: practice with intensity or meaning as opposed to going through the emotions. Even if that means I gas out sooner, I will over time grow my mental and physical stamina. Small failures lead o success in this sense.

2. Work: be more mindful of my own needs and goals. Ensure that, while I achieve the goals given to me, that I also benefit from my efforts through learning more and taking away positives from every project and initiative that I am involved in.

3. Personal: Take time for myself but in a meaningful way. Sitting in front of a screen passively is not beneficial. Instead, take smaller bites of personal time but enjoy them and make them useful.

Three goals to apply in the next several months in ways both big and small.