Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Zen and the Martial Arts

As I've said before (I just don't seem to learn) it is a really bad idea to do nothing physical for 2 months and then to jump right back into practice. I don't think we had a hard session last night but I was exhausted before too long. Morii sensei had me working on Hikiotoshi and the final strike in Ran-ai (I don't know if it has a name...?) He said I was doing it too slow, and he was quite right; I was doing the strike at geriatric speed. So he had me doing it over and over again for quite a while, striking as hard and fast as I could, and stopping an inch short of a big pile of mats.

I have read that Zazen (seated meditation) is not about having an empty mind and thinking about nothing, because even rocks can do that. This writer was saying that Zazen is really the act of continuously pulling yourself back to that state of empty-mindedness after your mind has seized on some passing thought and drifted away with it.

Well, last night I was experiencing kind of the reverse; I was physically exhausted and mentally in a strange state as well... there were times when (at the risk of sounding idiotic) I felt like I was the jo, and I was the target. Pure zen stuff, right? But then I would think, oh wow, what's happening to me? And ruin the whole no-mind kind of thing. I kept jarring myself out of that nice mental state with my own awareness of my mental state...

(And by the way, no I haven't been experimenting with any illicit substances lately!)

In other news, I might be able to try for my 4-Dan in Jodo this October. Keeping my fingers crossed!


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