Sunday, October 23, 2011
"How long will it take me to master your teachings?" he asked. "At least 20 years" the master replied.
"But master", the samurai continued, "I am already very learned in other styles, and my parents have had me tutored in zen beliefs since I was a small boy." "How long would it take me?". "At least 30 years" the master replied.
Frustrated, the samurai continued, "But I will train harder than any other student you have had, foregoing sleep and food to learn. How long will it take me?" "At least 40 years" the master replied.
The more we seek it, the less we find it. In the modern world, we are conditioned to expect every one of life's problems to be neatly solved in 22 minutes (plus commercial breaks), just like it is on television. We have fast food, fast music, fast lifestyles. It seems children are pushed to grow up earlier, and we are all in a race to hurry up...and die. There is less time for living; for learning; FOR BEING.
It is truly a crisis of the soul.
It is a fatal flaw to concern onesself with the results of anything. Just as a master archer focuses on the technique (drawing, placing the arrow, breathing, releasing) rather than the target, we should know that focusing on the results or goals blinds us to everything else along the way. We fail to appreciate the value of the journey, which is sad since the journey is most of the trip.
In martial arts, we hope to have an enlightening moment - satori - when the proverbial light bulb goes on in our heads. The technique we couldn't get; the footwork we didn't understand; the application we never imagined. It becomes clear to us and we experience a spiritual high from our training. These are magic moments, and everyone who experiences it will agree they can be life-changing.
This can be its own addiction, though. We begin to want these enlightenments from EVERY training. We become depressed if they don't happen. We even count the time since the last "awakening" and despair long hours of training without that boost.
This is a trap.
The training is the truth. Focus on the training and enlightenment will happen naturally when it does.
The most important thing is just to KEEP TRAINING.
There is so much value in the routines of the training. The daily stretching, the daily drills, the diet, the meditation, re-working the basics, burning in the muscle memory of every small movement. These are the building blocks of enlightenment, and without them the awakening will not occur. The years teach much the days never know.
Worried that you don't see the light bulb any more? Keep training. Train harder.
Feel like you have gone as far as you can go? Keep training. Train harder.
Hit your plateau? Keep training. Train harder.
Trust your training. Be patient. It goes far deeper than you imagine.
There is ALWAYS more to learn. There always will be. Speed is of no consequence on THE WAY. If you give up to early, you don't get to see what lies just ahead, just outside your current understanding. If you give up too early, you miss it. You don't get to know what happens to you. Don't try to read the end of the book first. You miss the story that way.
I have heard it explained like this:
Some days I love to train
Some days I hate to train
Everyday I have to train
Stay the course and you will be rewarded with grace. Enlightenment will come in time.