7 Feb 2013

Repost: personal Buddhism

My intellectual explorations and my martial arts training are very much interrelated.

I've learned a few things from martial arts, the most significant of which is that you can't expect to get by with an attitude of asserting mind over matter. Rather, you have to train your body to respond reflexively -- almost as if you didn't have a mind, because your body must think and move faster than your mind does.

A very close cousin of this principle is the knowledge that a puffed up ego doesn't help you to defend yourself. Actually, ego takes a lot of energy to generate and to maintain. You could be using this energy to make your practical game more efficient. So don't waste energy pushing it into the maintenance of an ego shield around you. Rather, slow down your heartbeat and your mind and keep a greater distance than you're used to from the centre of emotional confrontation.

The fact that it is even possible to see the world not from the perspective of ego but from the perspective of aptitude and efficiency is very interesting. Ego distorts reality by representing part of the picture as the whole. Is her punch straighter than mine? Well then I'm a failure. Is my kick better than hers? Well I am Queen of the sandpit! That is how ego functions -- slow and ponderously, taking in one bit of the environment at a time and mistaking it for the whole.

Perceiving without ego is more impartial. You see what is good and bad about everything, without becoming fixated on any one thing. You process more of reality and filter out less of it.

Martial arts has also taught me that there is no gain without pain, and that the learning process is never-ending. It is not helpful to have a know-it-all attitude, unless it is your way of suggesting that you have learned all that you need to know, and that your training stops here. Criticism -- when constructively given -- is your friend.

More stuff:

* Pain is not necessarily a sign that something isn't going according to plan, or that the experience is not in accordance with the best possible outcome.

* Describing pain in the aftermath of the experience isn't "whining".

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