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#267368 - 06/28/06 09:58 AM Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
There is often a large difference from knowing a thing to knowing about a thing. Claims that Zen offers a philosophy for martial arts falls into this category.

Zen refers to Zen Buddhism, the Japanese pronunciation of Chan Buddhism. To be a follower of Zen, first and foremost you must be a Buddhist, and more correctly almost certainly a Japanese student of the Buddha. You revere life, you do not destroy life, you are a follower of the Buddha seeking enlightenment, you are a vegetarian, you daily perform physical work at your temple pulling your share of cleaning, gardening, cooking, etc. You regularly go out and beg for a living. You engage in focused meditation practices, sitting for interminable long hours on a cushion., dealing with the onset of pain in your legs as you try and find an answer for a question that has no answer to show your master you have reached some stage of understanding on the path, only to be tested again and again, unless there is a life shattering awareness event.

I believe that is a fair statement of what a Zen Buddhist is.

Or you may be a lay student, who only undergoes such activity periodically.

Zen isn’t experienced by reading a book, nor is it a brief period sitting in Seiza quietly before and/or after a martial arts class.

Zen is a whole lot of very, very hard work, both to commit yourself to the life style and the continual effort to progress to mastery. It’s also extremely painful, forever.

There appears to have been some movement where after the real combat years in Japanese history, some Japanese weapons experts may have tried to incorporate some aspects of Zen training into understanding awareness into their sword arts, or kyudo arts.

But this was never universal in those arts, and it is questionable if there was much penetration into those arts in the long run.

But it has been written about. Herrigal’s “Zen and the Art of Archery” or Keggett’s “Zen and the Ways’ both talk about martial zen practices. But be warned, there is considerable scholarship disagreeing with their writings too.

The best description of really trying to study Zen is found in Janwillem van de Wettering “The Empty Mirror”.

As for the arts from Okinawa, except for Nagamine’s later attempt to incorporate some Zen training in his dojo (and all of the dojo associated with him didn’t apparently follow his lead from what I’ve read), such is not a common occurrence within the Okinawan arts. From what I understand most Okinawan’s weren’t Buddhists, but followed a wide range of differing religious practices.

Of course at is core, being a Buddhist is nothing about fighting, except perhaps your self, or trying to lose yourself.

The parallel that does exist, in experience of in various stories, is that at times when engaging in combat, or preparing for same, martial artists had sudden insight into many things.

But the Zen path is much more difficult than many MA’s would ever attempt, and if they make it work, they’re likely no longer martial artists anyways. They’ve become something else.

Look there’s nothing wrong taking a moment before class or at the class close to breath quietly, to prepare for or to leave from the state of martial practice.

I once had a former student of Shorinji Kempo visit for a few weeks, and he took the time to show me how to meditate. It was an interesting experience, but it’s not what I do.

Then again, ‘What is the sound of One Hand Clapping’

victor

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#267369 - 06/28/06 11:16 AM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Victor Smith]
andy4 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 53
Hi victor.

Fine.

But there might have to be some kind of cognative mind training with anybody who is entering a self defence/fight scenario other wise the normal human mind /response will take over and with some people that will mean they will freeze, not respond and get beat or even worse.

So some where along the line there might have to be mind training of some description unless a person is one of the lucky few.

Many doorman/ martial artist go on courses run by a guy called Jeff Thompson.(6th dan)
On the courses he teaches some form of self mind contol?
It is certainly not Zen but it seems to work.

Gavin(I think he is a moderator) on the ju jitsu/martial arts thread poss knows more about this than I do

The label can be anything
http://www.fightingarts.com/

The label to me is the attempt to clear the mind.
I have seen some people after being hypnotised perform far better and have a far clearer mind set.
I have seen people who claim to be able to hypnotise who were complete con artists.

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#267370 - 06/28/06 12:14 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Victor Smith]
Ed_Morris Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
Victor, although zen buddhism (or any other philosophy/religion for that matter) and martial practice are not exclusively linked in either a historical account or traditional practice - people use it in this capacity nonetheless.

to me, it's as foreign of an idea to combine bible study with TKD class. but it can and is being done.

as far as I know, the only connection is that a 'zendo' (place of meditation) is also referred to as a 'dojo'.

then of course we the unsubstantiated connection myth between Bodiharma bringing fighting arts AND zen to the shaolin temple...

how many have the ink drawing of Bodiharma in their dojo?

also, C. Miyagi is recalled to have made numerous connections with buddhist gesture/symbolism and kata positions.

I think connections are there, but they are personal in nature and do not signify anything globally essential, legitimate, standard to understanding - any more than any philosophy we choose to better understand ourselves.

If someone becomes a better person thru Christianity and wishes to see their Karate practice thru those eyes...then all the power to them. Should they manufacture historical links saying people who practiced karate on okinawa, were Christian? or that Jesus inspired karate practice 2000 years ago? no. thats mis-information since no such historical link evidenced anywhere. same with Zen and MA. sure there have been MAists thru history who happen to be Buddhists....but that isolated evidence doesn't not create an inseperable link between the two practices.

actually, I remember reading of a MAist from China living on okinawa who converted to Christianity and continued practice. forgot his name, sometime around the late 1800's.

Victor is correct though, religion didn't play a big part in okinawans lives...they had cultural ritual and religious diversity. strange how a culture downplaying religious homogeniality ends up being the most peaceful in nature.

any links of philosophy that are made to martial arts are personal and don't speak to anything more true, accurate, effective, essential, historic, etc. If you do make such links, it will have to backed up. If it's personal choice...be in peace, bro.

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#267371 - 06/28/06 12:33 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: andy4]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Andy,

I'm just trying to be scrupiously correct as to Zen's role in karate. It never serves anything to make assumptions that don't hold up.

That does not imply that individual additional practices don't have personal merit.

But I wasn't talking about them or the wide variety of faiths individual practioniers may follow finding those paths of value.

Just that Zen Buddhism is what it is, and it is questionable whether Zen should be extended beyond that range.

But anyone can call any tissue Kleenex after all, but that doesn't make it Kleenex either.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#267372 - 06/28/06 12:41 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Ed_Morris]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Ed,

Making a personal association or analysis is one thing, but that doesn't imply its correct or not. One assertion may be linked, or it may not be.

Look the Chinese had thousands of martial practices long before Bodhidharma came into existence or the Shaolin Temple. But a good story makes a good story in the end. And some stories are so good everyone wants to borrow them.

In such light Okinawa's use of Shorin or Pine Forrest do show they tried to link back to Shaolin, at least a far as naming went.

But even more interesting, pre 1900 were those names used?
I don't recall anyone making that distinction.

Where there is no factual evidence and only oral history, how far you can believe anything rests solely on faith.

Faith is fine for an individual, but rarely sufices for someone trying to investigatge the past, more so for the skeptic.

My own effort is just to try and understand what Okinawa wrought without embellishment or interpretation.

Which is very, very hard to do as we've been surrounded by the embelishment all our martial careers.

One of my instructors personal faith made him work to become a Minister in the Pentacostal Church. Yet he was able to distinguish his christianity against his martial practice, which on the surface his church was against long ago.

I understand the value of personal faith, and I'm sure the Okinawan's had theirs too.

But as I see it, the arts were just the arts, maginficent in their own right, and hardly someting else.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#267373 - 06/28/06 12:45 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Victor Smith]
oldman Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5884
Quote:

Zen is a whole lot of very, very hard work, both to commit yourself to the life style and the continual effort to progress to mastery. It’s also extremely painful, forever.




Certainly from a Southern Baptist perspective

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#267374 - 06/28/06 12:47 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Victor Smith]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Victor...your original post covers a lot of ground. I would agree with Ed, that MA need not have any religious, or spiritual connection. It does not even need to be a journey of self-improvement. I have heard it said that 'you make karate your own'...and that that is the proper attitude to take when teaching a student. Offer technique...and it is up to the student to integrate karate, or any MA, into their personal ethos and life.

As to the historical connections between specific religious traditions and MA/karate, I am sure it has been written about by others (Karl Friday, etc.) and would defer to the academics on that.

However, the statement that Zen IS Buddhist is fundamentally incorrect. The zen state is not a thing, not even represented well by language ('the word'), and certainly not 'owned' by any spiritual tradition.

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#267375 - 06/28/06 01:03 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: harlan]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Harlan,

I'm afraid I politely disagree. Your use of Zen is a linguistic abstraction from the way Zen Buddhism followed Chan Buddhism developing a tool to help a practitioner move toward the goals expounded on by the Buddah.

Which is not my path.

Using Zen as an unattached linguistic abstraction of a state of being, non-verbal in its experience is a very non-standard way to use language.

This type of discussion reminds me of Ludwig Wittgensteins work on how language is twisted and meaning becomes convoluted.

I grant you 'Zen' may be applied as you contend, but that use of the term doesn't describe what Zen Buddhism is, nor does it mean much unattached from the developmental process in the temples.

And I question, really question if an unattached state of awareness, as I perveive your use of Zen, in and of itself, truly links to the development of martial practice, except in books and discussion.

Alfred Korzbsky makes it very clear 1) the word is not the thing, 2) the word is not all the thing and 3) words are self-reflexive.

Thereby proving, unequivocably that Zen is not Zen Buddhism.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#267376 - 06/28/06 01:11 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Victor Smith]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
I politely disagree. You state that Zen refers to Zen Buddhism. I say, not always. I agree that Zen Buddhism is not a martial philosophy. BUT, my observation has been that most karateka who suscribe to some 'zen' are not following Zen Buddhism.

Yeah...I read K's 'Science and Semantics' in 9th grade. I didn't do the samurai thing of 'burning it' afterwards, but basically let all the stuff go with age.

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#267377 - 06/28/06 01:16 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Victor Smith]
eric235u Offline
Member

Registered: 05/22/05
Posts: 38
Loc: MA
i practiced zazen for a couple of years and at another time in my life practiced karate for a couple of years. i never heard the zen guys talk about martial arts.

"In the 6th century a monk name Bodhidharma developed a series of fighting technique to help the other monks become stronger physically and mentally."

that quote is from a respected traditional karate school. whenever i see a modern martial artist talk about Bodhidharma doing martial arts i want to giggle.

is there any historical accuracy to the statements tying these two schools of thought together so early? i haven't seen any.

odd to have a doctrine of nonviolence as a "Martial Philosophy". how many sutras talk about kicking ass? 0.
_________________________
http://www.newmag.org/

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#267378 - 06/28/06 01:23 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: eric235u]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
I'm not a scholar, but my understanding is that there is no proof of the existence of Bodhidharma or this legend.

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#267379 - 06/28/06 01:30 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: harlan]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Harlan,

My basic question is, outside of the sounds of the word, how do you prove zen outside of zen buddhism? Especially if it is a nonverbal state.

Or are we just dealing in tags of abstraction that can only be experienced and not explained, and if so how do I know if others are 'correctly' using the label for what they experience.

Within the Zen Buddhism tradition, there is a long series of steps, that may or may not be followed, but it does follow a process of sorts.

When you walk outside their process, is there meaninful communication (which is where Wittgenstein really got hung up), and if there isn't meaningful communication is there anything to discuss?
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#267380 - 06/28/06 01:34 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Victor Smith]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Victor, you must have experienced all sorts of abstract cognitive states in your life. 'Mushin' is one of them. Your experience of said states is the only proof you have, and you can't give it to others. Just because you can't convey such a state...does not mean it wasn't real...as experienced by your self.

As far as Zen Buddhism is concerned, I will drop out here...as I am not a Zen Buddhist. I am not Zen. I have a tantric understanding of said states, which also does not equate to Tantric Buddhism. Although, I find it convenient that Buddhism does have a language, and a sequence of steps, that is useful to mind science.

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#267381 - 06/28/06 02:07 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: eric235u]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
eric, I agree, there is no historical evidence of the link. but the buzz was out there and it spread like wildfire...too good of a story to confirm if it was true or false - it just spread and was accepted.

In regards to the topic, what are the thoughts on this article:
http://www.fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=233

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#267382 - 06/28/06 02:11 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: harlan]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Hi Harlan,

I'm not sure if I've experienced abstract cognitative states in my life. I lead a pretty boring life, family, work and some MA.

I get in just as much trouble in my trying to describe my tai chi chaun studies these past 29 years. On the whole I think I've been pretty fortunate to have extremely skilled instructors in all of the arts I've studied. But in each case Okianwan, Japanese, Indonesian, Chinese, whatever, the discussion has never been other than physicial description of the art.

For example I have not been allowed to experience tai chi as moving medidation. There is far too much focused concentration involved to do it correctly. Perhaps focused isn't the best choice of words, but rather infintately small continually moving concentration. But unless you've been trained like I have, the words mean far less.

But tai chi literature forms an entire universe of abstraction, and sometimes brilliant analysis (one very old text totally describes what I'm trying to speak, in more detailed process, too).

In fact I do believe in Chi, but as a demonstratable trainable unspeakable physical state of practice. Try and get a handle on that.

No matter how hard or how soft I've practiced, I've never moved beyond the current wave front.

In fact one of my instructors, trained in very old style Shotokan and Aikido and Tjimande, his father being a follower or islam, refused to allow any discussion of the tjimande states in his presence, as being wrong.

Descriptive terms wrap around many experiences.

Unfortunately, while they may have great personal meaning, it often is difficult to get others to see them as we see them too.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#267383 - 06/28/06 04:22 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Victor Smith]
WuXing Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/05
Posts: 481
Loc: Idaho, USA
Why even have this discussion?

If you practice martial arts only to learn to hurt people, to compete with people, to be "better" than others, or out of fear of attack from others...in short, feeding the ego...then no, your martial arts practice is not "zen", and is not compatible with Buddhist practice.
If you practice karate and don't practice zen, good.
If you practice zen and don't practice karate, good.
If you practice both together, good.

Spirit doesn't have boundaries in one's life. If you live a life of sincere spiritual practice, everytyhing you do is included. No one is forcing anyone to do or be or believe anything. Just practice. Don't let yourself be distracted by thoughts and words and definitions which try to enclose that which cannot be held.


Edited by WuXing (06/28/06 04:26 PM)

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#267384 - 06/28/06 04:45 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Ed_Morris]
eric235u Offline
Member

Registered: 05/22/05
Posts: 38
Loc: MA
i am so in love with the feeling that a charming buddhist story gives me, especially one that mixes in some violence. it's so strange that i fall for that rap. if i ever found a dojo that really combined the two my heart would compel me to move in and call it home. but it's not difficult for anyone to poke holes in that article. ah the duality. i'm a terrible student. i think this guy says it best,

If you practice karate and don't practice zen, good.
If you practice zen and don't practice karate, good.
If you practice both together, good.


one of my favorite boxing analysts (teddy atlas) often talks about how a fighter needs to do the right thing in the ring and out. that there's a connection between the two. it seems similar to what others say. i like it. but i don't know if it's true.
_________________________
http://www.newmag.org/

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#267385 - 06/29/06 07:13 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Victor Smith]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Victor,
I attended a clinic with a "zen master" from the Kodokan when I first started martial arts back in the sixties. He explained to us that zen was a "practice", not a philosophy... it was the idea of "now". Everything that is happening "now" is zen, or "for the moment"...

The breathing and concentration exercises passed off as "zen" are actually "zazen", or breathing and concentration exercises. In those exercises, you attain different states of conciousness, such as "mizo no kokoro" (mind of water) with specific exercises designed to attain each mental level of the practice...

Utilizing those practices in martial arts training is commonly used, and applied to attain the state of "mushin" or "no mind" in which you are not distracted by outside influences, but focused on the moment (zen) with your act or martial maneuver (technique).

The Bhuddists also use the practice of zazen in their practice of religion, and different sects of them are known as "zen Bhuddists" from the analysis of their philosophy, but zen, of itself, has no philosophy.

Almost all martial arts have a "breathing develoment" series of exercises that are identical to the zazen breathing exercises, but only mechanically, for there is no "clearing of the mind" practiced at this time, only breath control... Done in Aikido all the time, for instance.

The closest to zazen that is done in most dojos is "mukuso", which is a closing exercise where the students will sit with their eyes closed and breath, and clear their minds for entry to the outside world... sometimes practiced before class to clear the mind for training.

Now, with all that being said, if you need a "martial philosophy", read the rules put out by Ghenkis Khan, who had one of the best philosophies for governing warring states in history.... but of course, peeing on the campfire was a capital offense...

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#267386 - 06/29/06 07:56 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: wristtwister]
eric235u Offline
Member

Registered: 05/22/05
Posts: 38
Loc: MA
Ghenkis Khan!

mmmnnn...

the spartans stand at thermoplyae always gets the blood boiling -

Herodotus reports that just before the Battle of Thermoplyae, a Spartan warrior named Dienekes was told that the Persian archers could blank out the sun with their arrows. He replied "Good, then we shall have our battle in the shade."

so what is a proper "martial philosophy" then? is it measured in victory?
_________________________
http://www.newmag.org/

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#267387 - 06/29/06 08:00 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: eric235u]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
"We do not train to win or lose, but to remain undefeated"...

If that doesn't work for you, then "We train because there is training to do..."

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#267388 - 06/29/06 08:37 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Victor Smith]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
There are many different sects of Zen Buddhism, each with their own set of rituals, methods, and practices - some with an unusual mix of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian philosophies. I think it is important to note that Zen, of itself, has no religious or spiritual underpinnings. And that the association of the ritualistic trimmings with the practice of Zen is as far from the path of Zen, insofar as the attachment to such things is counter to ideal of Zen.

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#267389 - 06/29/06 10:26 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
I always thought that the "cool" thing about zen was that it had no goals... it is "for the moment" thinking, so if you have a goal in the practice of zen, you're not practicing zen... if you think about that, it makes your head explode...


Let's see... if I'm practicing without goals, I'm "zenning", but if I'm practicing zen with a goal in mind of not having a goal, I'm not doing zen...

Time for kryptonite....

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#267390 - 06/29/06 10:37 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Much ado about (doing) nothing!

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#267391 - 06/29/06 10:54 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: eyrie]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
Is there any other religion, other than buddhism, that claims a connection/co-existence/merge (whichever is the proper term) with Zen philosophy? sure there are individuals either thinking they are, or are essentially in spirit doing so...but is there anyone making the claim of "Zen Confucianism" for example?

If not, then why the distiction by combining terms 'Zen + Buddhism' ? The reason is in the popularity of the combination, such that the combo 'required' definition. It's just a label to describe what a bunch of people believe/practice. and I suppose like any other philosophy/reality it often isn't sought...it finds you....and I'd also suppose that if it did, the label would no longer have meaning.

As far as a named philosophy and martial arts, I see many more connections to Dao. The philosophies in Dao relate (if only in metaphor) to physical philosophies of combat. They seem to be better suited to strategical/method philosophy. Whereas Zen philosophies seem to relate more to the state of mind during such practice, preparation and/or AFTER such practice. If you are thinking Zen DURING the act, then you missed it's point.

It's almost like a conditioning of the mind before and after. whereas Dao/Tao addresses wisdom WITHIN the action.


practicle example: you are sparing in class against an opponent you know has more skill...you are bunched up, stiff and nervous. you take a moment between 'rounds' ; close your eyes, tell yourself to breath easy, tell yourself to relax, tell yourself to think no thoughts...you fancy yourself as incorporating Zen philosophy 'mushin', or another word you learned/were taught. It's not Zen. What you just did was a relaxation technique using visualization and self-suggestion. which is good stuff, it works. but from what I understand about Zen is that it just is a state of mind. To train for that 'just is' state is subject to debate, and I certainly don't have the answer. It's a non-way that everyone finds for themselves I suppose.

another example: 'the last samurai' movie. when Cruise has that practice drill with his instructor and then end in a draw. just before that it shows Cruise relaxing, visualizing, then 'letting go'. enabling him to allow his head to process more information in real-time due to the fact it's not bogging itself down with details. It has the effect of time slowing down since your brain is able to keep up and surpass the moment. ...it's not Zen. 'Zen' is just one type of elusive training to be ABLE to enter the stream....once there it's non-Zen.

The reason Zen and Martial Arts are not inseparably linked is because there are other ways (for the purposes of MA) to get the same effect....and many DO choose other ways. hours upon years of physically practicing what you wish to be able to do without thought is another way, 'second nature', 'in the zone', etc. people who do that and never meditate or speak in terms of 'Zen', are still able to enter the non-Zen state. Therefore your philosophy and whatever MA you practice is your own link and does not require a term....but put it there if you like...just don't assume it's the 'right' way or only way or best way...it's just A way - and it's certainly not tied to MA by definition. from where I'm standing today anyway - I'll probably evolve how I look at that.

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#267392 - 06/29/06 11:27 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Ed_Morris]
eyrie Offline
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Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
What wristtwister said...

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#267393 - 06/30/06 06:27 AM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: wristtwister]
andy4 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 53
This is confusing mind state perhaps some where some one teaches it?. what?

A bit like another thread where the instrucor said the technique doesnt exist yet ?

A mind state has to exist in self defence.Label or name is irrelevent.

A person who is attacked will either run or panic or fight back. Training a mind state might help in a self defence situation when the attacked has just been struck very hard , hurt but is not yet down and able to continue and their natural reaction would normaly be to give up or not fight back with maximum abilities

Very early Japanese instructors would check this mind state on students. Call it bullying in this day and age but it did condition a student for a self defence situation.


I agree with Ed in this one


Edited by andy4 (06/30/06 07:04 AM)

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#267394 - 06/30/06 06:28 AM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Ed_Morris]
andy4 Offline
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Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 53
Yep

I agree

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#267395 - 06/30/06 07:01 AM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: eric235u]
andy4 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 53


Hi I’m no academic or historian but wasn’t the execercise routine Bodhidharma invented also to include self defence?

Because the monks for some reason got mugged?
Although given they were poor monks there wouldn’t be much to mug for. Maybe in that day and age they were that poor that even the monks clothes were of value or some other strange reason such as Cannibalism?

Monk stew?


And to the best of my very limited none confused state of mind(brough about by constant maki wari practice)

doesn’t the buddist/zen religion allow their students to defend them selves if attacked?

So all told with some kung fu styles having seemingly exercise as well as fighting methods in their system perhaps this might add up.


Pacifists perhaps who following a path who needed exercise/self defence(because Bodhidharma was tired of looking at beaten un fit monks) or he figured they might no longer be able to practice their religion because they are not around any more.

I don’t know I am only speculating

I still think a mind state of clarity while being under pressure needs to exist in the martial arts

The name or label Im not sure of.

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#267396 - 06/30/06 07:39 AM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: andy4]
harlan Offline
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Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Personally, I am not interested in speculation. I have not spent any time researching this....perhaps someone learn'ed in this topic could 'enlighten' us at some point (plenty has been written on it).

The question is: is Zen a martial philosophy. All ancillary, and interesting aspects aside, the answer is probably 'no' on various levels.

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#267397 - 06/30/06 06:00 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Ed_Morris]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Quote:

practicle example: you are sparing in class against an opponent you know has more skill...you are bunched up, stiff and nervous. you take a moment between 'rounds' ; close your eyes, tell yourself to breath easy, tell yourself to relax, tell yourself to think no thoughts...you fancy yourself as incorporating Zen philosophy 'mushin', or another word you learned/were taught. It's not Zen. What you just did was a relaxation technique using visualization and self-suggestion. which is good stuff, it works. but from what I understand about Zen is that it just is a state of mind. To train for that 'just is' state is subject to debate, and I certainly don't have the answer. It's a non-way that everyone finds for themselves I suppose.




Ed, if you replace "philosophy" with "practice" to reach "mushin" you'll be about right. Zen has no philosophy other than "now", but it has different methods of reaching differing states of mind, such as breathing exercises, self-meditation, contemplation of riddles, and self-hypnosis.

Some people relax by breathing exercises, others by physical drills they might have, or just by mental "coagulation"... but the end result is what's the goal (which you can't have and it be zen)...

Uh oh... time for the head to explode again...



_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#267398 - 06/30/06 11:30 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: wristtwister]
Ed_Morris Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
how 'bout that...I think we agree on something! (and it's not exactly a trivial topic either...) I think there are probably layers deep depending on how far you want to get into it. with Zen-like talk, the surface level is about all my brain can handle.

harlan, it's all speculation.

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#267399 - 06/30/06 11:35 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Ed_Morris]
harlan Offline
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Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Except for those who know.

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#267400 - 07/01/06 10:30 AM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Ed_Morris]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Ed,
the pattern of practice is like a style in karate. There are different methods using the same exercises, different results using the same techniques, but its all mental and there's no measured success except success or failure. Either you reach your goal of a clear mind, or you don't.

The idea of "no goals" is put in place to stop you from concentrating on the goal of having no goal. By concentrating on the technique rather than the goal, you get closer to it...

Hey, that's just like martial arts practice. it's just done inside your head...

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#267401 - 07/06/06 09:02 AM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: wristtwister]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Touching on the topic, a review of 'Zen at War'.

http://www.bpf.org/tsangha/loy-victoria.html

And since speaking of Zen, we are really talking about the (Buddhist) ethic of non-violence:

http://www2.hawaii.edu/~stroble/BUDDWAR.HTM

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#267402 - 07/06/06 12:37 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: harlan]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Pretty good articles, but they seem to more address the institutional zen practice and ethical side of it (or it's failures) in connection with nationalism and propogating war.

"Institutional" zen is more attuned to "group mentality" of a particular group, rather than the actual practice of zen by it's members. That particular "type" of zen is more like a political philosophy than true zen practice, and it makes it confusing to people who don't understand zen practices in the first place.

I've had the debate many times about the differences between zen practices and the actual differences between Christianity and Bhuddism with regards to personal behavior. Both religions require personal introspection, and the method of using or not using zen to accomplish that aim is a great debate, but not for this forum.

The idea of zen as a martial philosophy is more the application of "zen" to the philosophy of a group that has a martial philosophy. Again, "now" is "now", and it has no philosophy, tenats of conduct, or anything... except practices.

I'm sure that simplified it...

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#267403 - 07/06/06 02:45 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: wristtwister]
Ed_Morris Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
good observation WT. following that thought (or I could be just repeating it), on an even more subtle level is 'way of life' group mentality framed within a philosophic practice. The larger the group, the stronger the mentality and more justified they feel their way is....which is why they want you to 'join' them....for your own good of course.

Zen doesn't work that way, or shouldn't have to. but it is often used that way. not so much brainwashing - I wouldn't go that far; but it's often about narrowing the path.

There are a range of opinions about that. some might say limiting a path helps a person by lessening the confusing choices along the way...others might say that learning to navigate the choices is part of the way.

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#267404 - 07/06/06 04:01 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Ed_Morris]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Maybe the best "instruction" I ever got at a seminar was from the zen master who accompanied some Kodokan judo players who gave a demonstration in Winston-Salem, NC in 1965 (I think that date's correct). I spent most of my time talking to his interpreter and taking notes on his information.

He taught me that "zen" is what you're doing... it can be, as the books have been written, "zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance", or "zen and the art of archery", or "zen and the art of fishing"... but the "practice" of zen is applicable to any activity. It is "mental focus" on the activity, much like "thinking on something" relates to analysis of a problem.

Maybe the best explanation is "you can have rocket science without rockets, but you cannot have rockets without rocket science". Where the "potential" is always available, it is only "true" when the "practical" is added, and it is only true at the moment it does whatever it does.

That is why "practicing zen" is always connected with an activity, and even if it is as simple as the "zazen" activity, it is still a practice connected to an activity. The "zen moment" of that activity is when it's potential is realized, whether it's total calm from mental practice, a punch from martial practice, or simply "being" as in the rocket's flight.

Here's my best "zen position"...

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#267405 - 07/07/06 01:43 AM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: wristtwister]
Mr_Heretik Offline
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Registered: 05/20/05
Posts: 1074
Loc: Bronx NY, USA
Well done wristtwister!

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#267406 - 07/13/06 11:24 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Mr_Heretik]
Dauragon c mikado Offline


Registered: 12/09/04
Posts: 1246
Loc: Oxford, England
Good WT!

Personally I always find myself practicing zen or MA in some form or another, somethimes both, but I also find it always starts of as an idea.

For example when me and my uncle talk the subject of MA nearly always comes up and he often tells me how MA and his trade (carpentry) are related in a big way on the principles and mental attitude (though he does not practice MA).

He tells me that a martial artist and a caprenter are the same in terms of they are both on an endless journey of constant learning and perfection of their art/trade, and as soon as they cease learning, thats them done for (in metaphorical terms I think he meant).
And after he explains that to me, I tell him of how MA and fishing (uncles hobby) are also they same in terms of principles and practice , because in fishing you must watch the line and hook the fish at the right moment, once the fish is hooked you must then have a physical battle with the fish, watching it's every movement making sure it stays in your site and in a place where it is advantagous to you (fish often try to hide in deep reeds where the line often snags then breaks, thus you lose the fish), and then when the fish is worn down enough and ready to be caught you then net it (metaphoricly = the final blow) and so you win the battle.

But I always notice how zen is also involved with the two, sometimes in the same things, for example in carpentry AND zen you must always keep an open mind so you can find new possibilities of how to do things and how to think in in times of difficulity (some carpentry jobs are really hard) perservering through hardships an challenges you may encounter along the way.

And fishing, zen also applies to that to, but form me personally the most zen period of fishing is waiting for the bite, you may even say this period resembles meditation for some, the way you focus only on the float, waiting for the moment in which you pull on the line to catch the fish, ignoring all outside distractions, only waiting...and waiting...

But I do this type of thing with nearly everything, I suppose its kinda easy if you know what to find and compare.

Maybe I'm just addicted to Zen and MA...

dcm
_________________________
The way of the warrior is a resolute acceptance of death. -Musashi

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#267407 - 07/14/06 04:12 AM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Dauragon c mikado]
ButterflyPalm Offline
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Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 2637
Loc: Malaysia
I am a Buddhist; I hesitate to add 'practising' because I am not sure what that really means. Perhaps it is a 'western' derivative where one has to 'do' something, like perhaps attending a religious place of worship at certain days of the week to qualify as 'practising'

The drift I get from all the above posts is that the link between Buddism/Taoism and eastern MA is more artificial than actual, and this enforced tenous connection gave rise to all sorts of philosophical/semantic difficulties. For myself, I prefer to say the link is more 'accidental' than artificial. Let me explain.

First, the difficulties stem from calling/treating Buddhism/Taoism as religions. There are not religions. There are just structured physical/meditative methods having the ultimate goal of transforming the mind to a state whereby it liberates itself from the confines of the physical body and thereafter becomes a Buddha or a Taoist immortal, existing in multiferous dimensions forever. It has nothing to do with MA at all, unless you really twist it and say that while in these multiferous dimensions you get caught up in the eternal fight with some unkillable primodial evil, which actually is strewn all over traditional Buddhist/Taoist folklore and literature, ala the 8 Immortals.

The temples with incense burning to statues/idols are historical/human corruption and should have no place at all in the practice of Buddhist or Taoist meditiation. Much like the rosary, which is just a physical aid to counting cycles of prayers, to becoming a religious object in itself, sometimes imbued with supernatural powers.

Once Buddhism/Taoism is stripped of all religious connotations, and seen as mere mental training for selfish personal cultivation, the accidental connection is easy to grasp, for me at least.

Like many MA practitioner of the old school, I started, as children, with the usual 'hard/external' MA styles. The only 'religion' involved is burning incense to long dead ancestors or the founders of a particular system. It is not a religious act, but a historical extension of a Confucian edict of worshipping your ancestors who are to be revered, almosts as 'gods', because without the ancestors, there would literally be no us.

Having no idea then of the internal systems, there was no need to talk about any connection with Buddhism/Taoism.

Many years later, when the training of internal strength (neigong, now more popularly called chigong) became part of the regime to attain a higher (not different) level, meditation (both sitted, with and without specific postures, and moving) was seen as just another MA method without any religious connotations; any mention of the teachings of the historical Buddha or Lao Tse was more for the uplifting of one's moral character; non-violence and to do good with your MA abilities, that sort of thing.

The so-called Zen Buddhism, though with Chinese historical origins (and hardly practiced there, then or now) was seen as a typically Japanese thing which has so much Shintoism and the Japanese love for minimalism grafted onto it that it is not easy to separate the two; much like the Christmas tree and jingle bells having anything to do with Christianity.

So the accidental connection between Buddhist/Taoist meditative practices and the physical side of eastern MA becomes clear when internal energy (which in a remote superstitious age was seen as almost god-like powers) cultivated through these 'religious' meditative practices, was used to enhance one's combative abilities, whether in attaining an absolute focused clarity of mind and thus readily anticipating your enemies' every move or the use of the cultivated chi for muscular/tendon development to gain the so-called whole body power.

It was, and perhaps still is, convenient and altogether natural to claim divine assistance when asked to explain the then unexplainable; it was no easy thing, then and now, to explain something that was felt rather than seen.

Coming to Bodhidarma, the Indian monk who through force of circumstances happened to spend some quality time in an existing Buddhist temple, my view is that when he taught some meditative techniques to those lazy monks (which had to be Yogic in nature having came from India or thereabouts) he had no idea or intention that is has any use in enhancing combative abilities. As someone who has gone through using meditative techniques for MA training, I could see how the link could have been made, sooner or later.

There is a limit to how strong an arm acting in isolation can be, and sooner or later the use of meditation (especially the moving variety which multiplies many fold enhanced introspection) which gave conscious access to the internal struture of one's body, force can be concentrated and applied by the body as a whole and not as an isolated action of a single arm; meaning that excessive tension is not necessary and without needing excessive tension to generate power and having an almost 'relaxed Tai Chi state of mind' being 'in the zone' is easier to attain and your opponent's actions seem to slow down and thereby giving you an anticipatory edge.

So, yes, Bodhidarma taught meditation; No, he did not (and couldn't possibly have) taught the use of meditation for combat application. It would be like crediting your personal gym trainer as your MA sifu.
_________________________
I'll rather be happy than right, anytime.

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#267408 - 07/14/06 02:46 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: ButterflyPalm]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Interesting post Butterflypalm...
Quote:

So, yes, Bodhidarma taught meditation; No, he did not (and couldn't possibly have) taught the use of meditation for combat application. It would be like crediting your personal gym trainer as your MA sifu.




So, if Bodiharma didn't teach martial arts, where DID the 18 palms system come from?

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#267409 - 07/15/06 12:09 AM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: wristtwister]
ButterflyPalm Offline
Enigma

Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 2637
Loc: Malaysia
Where did the 18 palms come from?

I have no aboslute historical proof, though it has always been associated with the historical Shaolin Temple and, rightly or wrongly, credited to Bodhidarma, as so many other things in Chinese martial folklore.

Actually this proves my point. The 18 palms, which when done as a form of 'moving meditation', is done for the cultivation of internal energy which, when applied for the enhancement of actual combat techniques, is purely accidental and, may I say, a corruption of its origianl purposes. The 18 palms, per se, do not necessarily have martial or combative application. It was not originally meant to be a set of fighting techniques but for the cultivation of inner energy for meditative not combative purposes (though like the sanchin kata, people when only taught the physical side of it, began to "see" fighting techniques in it because unless you are told or taught its real purpose, you haven't a clue what or where the internal elements are and how to get it)

There are two basic ways to meditate. You can start with the mind and eventually going down to the body, a very difficult route given the difficulties in taming the restless monkey in the mind or an easier way which Bodhidarma thought more suitable for the lazy monks, start with the body (ala 18 palms and its many historical variations) and eventually going up to the mind. I've done both, and let me tell you, Bodhi was right. It took him 9 years sitting in a cave to work it out. He (my view of course) simply reverse engineered the sitted meditative variety, which is why, I suppose, you do not find this in India, the sitted meditation capital of the world, ancient or modern.

Actually the internal elements of the sanchin kata have 'essential' similarities with the 'Yi Jin Ching' (muscle/tendon changing set) another set of internal (Yogic) excersize credited to Reverent Bodhidarma. Having done these (or its many modern manifestations) and the Taoists equivalents (for decades now) and having gained the internal energy from it, I can say that the transmigration from the basic non-combative movements of the excersizes to applying it in actual combative techniques is quite easy (and so, with hindsight, obvious) to see and will happen to anyone sooner or later. So I am not surprised at all that the pioneering 'lazy' monks then saw the obvious. Like what some say that if Einstien had not come up with the Theories of Relativity, someone eventually will and Einstien didn't have the nuclear/atomic bomb in mind when he thought about these Theories, did he?

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#267410 - 07/16/06 06:25 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: ButterflyPalm]
Dauragon c mikado Offline


Registered: 12/09/04
Posts: 1246
Loc: Oxford, England
Interesting! my brain get bigger! wow!

Now I dont want to go too much off topic but could it be fair to say theres a good chance that Buddha himself did yoga and perhaps a martial system of some sort "before" he sat under the bhodi tree and in turn created buddhism, I just wondering because I read that buddha did many religious practices on his quest to enlightenment and being in India, who knows what he found?
_________________________
The way of the warrior is a resolute acceptance of death. -Musashi

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#267411 - 07/16/06 07:46 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Dauragon c mikado]
eric235u Offline
Member

Registered: 05/22/05
Posts: 38
Loc: MA
great explanation by ButterflyPalm. "...cultivation of internal energy which, when applied for the enhancement of actual combat techniques, is purely accidental and, may I say, a corruption of its origianl purposes..."

"...but could it be fair to say theres a good chance that Buddha himself did yoga and perhaps a martial system of some sort..." no Dauragon c mikado it does not seem fair to say that. are you trying to say that his royal military training was somehow incorporated into the darma? i've yet to see any proof of that.
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#267412 - 07/16/06 08:24 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: eric235u]
Dauragon c mikado Offline


Registered: 12/09/04
Posts: 1246
Loc: Oxford, England
I wasnt saying that, I was just asking what practices did he encounter during his 'journey', I only asked this because I wanted to know if he had tried a martial way to attain his goal (though I doubt it, if he did he didnt include it in the precepts).
_________________________
The way of the warrior is a resolute acceptance of death. -Musashi

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#267413 - 07/17/06 07:51 PM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: Dauragon c mikado]
eric235u Offline
Member

Registered: 05/22/05
Posts: 38
Loc: MA
it's almost like it doesn't matter what the historical buddha may have said, we're gonna do what ever we want anyway. so what's the final verdict of the thread? one did not come from the other but nothing is wrong with combining them? mmmnnn...

these pics got me giggling.

http://catholicshopper.com/products/media/DE_3985.jpg

=

http://drunkenmaster.tv/Merchant2/graphics/00000001/00504.JPG



The gods too are fond of a joke.
Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)


Edited by eric235u (07/17/06 07:53 PM)
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#267414 - 07/18/06 02:36 AM Re: Zen – Not a Martial Philosophy [Re: eric235u]
ButterflyPalm Offline
Enigma

Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 2637
Loc: Malaysia
The 'catholicshopper' figurines reminded me of a story.

A man was seen doing some juggling in front of the altar in a church. When asked why, he replied that he was told God does not demand that everyman be able to do great and wondrous things, but only do what he is best at and God will be happy. Well, I juggle for a living in a circus and its the only thing I am best at.
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I'll rather be happy than right, anytime.

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